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Nixon and the Vietnam War
U.S. History Paper

American History
Nixon and the Vietnam War
When Nixon first gained presidency, people were beginning to think that the Vietnam war was unwinnable. The cost of the war was beginning to be too high for people to continue fighting. Nixon promised this saying while in office, “peace with honor.” This was to show that the US had to continue fighting no matter what happened to fulfill their pledge to their ally, South Vietnam. If not, it would be a betrayal and it could undermine America’s credibility to the world. Nixon had his security advisor end the war and took all the credit in doing so. The advisor said that it improved security and made the international system more stable. There was an article in the Washington post by Robert Dallek saying “Nixon campaigned in 1968 claiming to have a ‘secret plan’ to end the war.” Now no one knew this until Robert wrote about it in in the Washington post. Though Nixon did this, the fighting continued for four more years. The US backed the south Vietnamese offensive in 1971 and the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam in 1972. They knew it would be impossible to win but they had hope that they would win.
The Nixon Doctrine was Nixon’s “secret plan” and it called for many nations to join together and fight with the US using bombing and other heavy- handed means to take them out. In 1969 April the US soldiers were at an all-time high of 543,400. While fighting in Vietnam raged, Nixon had a negotiator peruse peace talks in Paris with north Vietnamese. This new news provoked an escalation in antiwar protesters. Making them enraged at the president and many other countries. There was lots of de-escalation when Nixon was elected in a close race against Hubert Humphrey in November 1968. In July of 1969 Nixon announced that he would withdraw 60,000 US troops from Vietnam, while secretly ordering a bombing. The number of soldiers dropped from 554,000 in April 1969 to 475,200 by the end of 1969. By 1969 over 40,000 American soldiers were killed. This was a huge deal with the war and the US, because it made the antiwar people calm down about the war. And the de-escalation of the war means the Vietnamese will calm down their troops and maybe surrender.
Nixon had a very difficult strategy that made it hard for them not to gain land. Their goal was to make a victory on the battle field. Nixon used middle men. There was a time that Vietnam wrote an agreement to help all that was lost. The war continued on as the agreement did not state anything about ending the war and restoring peace. Nixon went to fulfill his plans to support and supply Saigon and employ airpower to protect. Meaning they will receive more supplies as well as fighter jets/helicopters in the air to take down many people on the ground. The US military could achieve a stalemate in Vietnam. If the Americans get a loss of optimism and confidence the US economy would plummet. As time was passed the details became clearer, the fog in the solders minds began to lift as we figured out what exactly we were doing in the war. Nixon’s madman theory was an important element to the strategy. Many writers wrote “there is no way to win the war” that could be true but sometimes it isn’t. Their thought process was that there was no way to defeat the other military without lots of firepower and weapons. One-person can’t do it alone. The mad man theory was not about winning the war, it was about getting the opponent to comply with Nixon’s demands. They want the opponent to sign a document to end the war. The Vietnamese got word around and heard that Nixon might send nuclear missals their direction, causing tons of damage. The writers us “military victory” a lot while the war is going on and people don’t like that term because it is a stalemate. No one can win this war because if anyone tried they would die.
Kissinger began to deploy the long-route strategy. This was sent out to protect Vietnamization and the long route withdrawal strategy, not by achieving a military victory but by achieving more troops and land. De-Americanization and Vietnamization were default strategies and Nixon had abandon it. Nixon had concerns that he might not be able to hold the government and the nation for another six months. Nixon had continued to apply military force in Vietnam and the mad man strategy to achieve their goals. Their mad signaling included protective reaction strikes in north Vietnam. Nixon issued madman threats that relate to other events.
People outside the war trying to get in on what is happening with the war would go to the FRUS which covers a lot of what Nixon did/is doing. They also got their hands-on transcripts and war documents that people have written. All these documents are important documents that describe Nixon’s life and what he did during the war. There is plenty on the war today to read about him. There are different perspectives, interviews, and conjectures both available and unavailable in document form. People have made connections between people in the war and countries fighting with each other in the war. Some wrote biographies and journals about themselves, just in case they die and it is found by someone. This is so people later on can find it and read what it was like back in the Nixon times. They would write about their day to day lives and how many they shot and killed or how hard of a day it was. Some would even go insane over the war. Lots of people even had shell shock over the war it got that bad. But a lot of people survived and served their duty during the war. So, they are here to tell about it today.
Giving the other leader a reasonable chance is way better than giving them all the power and way less risky to let them have all that power. There was an agreement that south Vietnam would be a separate and independent entity. This means that the North and South Vietnam split up and are fighting against each other. This had to be done because it would give the South Vietnam a chance to survive as reasonable free people. But this didn’t last long. There were a few strategies that were not documented in a book and are lost forever. The ones that did survive are very interesting to many people. The newspaper writers took the strategies and wrote their articles all about the strategies. This helped the world and US know what their families in the war were doing.
Nixon had made madman threats to many different troops and most of them backed off because they are afraid of what Nixon would do. Some would even back out of the war all together and not come back. Nixon had a plan to help the North Vietnamese. He wanted to help the north Vietnamese take over the south Vietnamese and that would give them full control over Vietnam.
At home during the war, Moratorium, a peaceful demonstration was occurring. Members from the Students for a Democratic Society called the Weathermen called for more violent action. “It was now a real revolutionary’s duty to shed his or her ‘white skin privilege’ they argued” (The Vietnam War 430). The revolutionists wanted to break cars and apartments and kill all rich people. Around two million people to have participated in cities and towns across America. They read the names of the dead out loud. Classes were canceled and high schools took part in the demonstrations. When this Moratorium ended, they started to plan another. During the demonstrations, 287 were arrested and 75 policemen had been injured. President Nixon went on the television to say that the US was planning on fighting or until the communists agree to negotiate fair and honorable peace or South Vietnam can defend itself against the North. United States was really divided on this war. So, the press was less enthusiastic.
Nixon had a plan of Vietnamization. This plan entailed providing South Vietnam training and improved weapons and to frighten North Vietnam by bombing urban areas and harbors. There was hope to have Soviet and Chinese pressure on North Vietnam to end the war. He was elected on the promise to end the war. Soon after his election in 1969, Nixon began to take troops from Vietnam. Then he also replaced the military draft with a lottery in December. There were controversial aspects of the strategy, there was an effort to cut Ho Chi Minh city supply trail, this occurred by bombing North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia and invading Laos. South Vietnamese and the US incursion into Cambodia which helped destabilize the country and bring to power Khmer Rouge. Khmer Rouge is a communist group that evacuated Cambodia’s cities and threw thousands into re education camps. The action of the incursion of Cambodia, again, sparked violent protests on campuses throughout America.
Peace talks were done regularly when Nixon took office. The first was in Paris in public and used as propaganda by both sides. Henry Kissinger had a private session with North Vietnam Leadership, they met intermittently over several months and no progress towards a resolution of war. Kissinger was the Presidents assistant for National Security Affairs, he was great help for Nixon to help end this war. Nixon and Kissinger thought that coercing the North Vietnamese into negotiations via a series of “Short, sharp blows” by air and naval sources. Many meetings had occurred with the idea of planning on the full American withdrawal from the war. American casualties were declining, anti-war efforts still rallying in the United States and no political military solution is in sight, the “silent majority” speech was delivered. Nixon needed to rally the American’s toward support for a protracted war, the only strategy in effect is Vietnamization and negotiation. Nixon and Kissinger thought that building relationships with North Vietnams superpower allies in Moscow and Beijing, there was a dilemma created for the Soviets and Chinese (they needed to choose between North Vietnam and the United States). Several battles had been invoked by the US. Operation Linebacker, Easter Offensive, and many air battles improved South Vietnamese defenses. North Vietnam wanted to engage in serious negotiations. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho reached an agreement on a peace settlement, both sides working to reach that end before the November election. President Thieu rejected the settlement, North Vietnam forces were left in South Vietnam. Kissinger was forced to resume negotiations, there was an inability to find any common ground between the two parties. In order to change the outcome, Nixon ordered B-52 attacks on Vietnam known as Christmas bombing. The US continued to threaten the stop of money, military and political support for the South, this didn’t stop Thieu to accept an agreement. Negotiations finally resumed and an agreement was reached on January 23, 1973 between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, this was signed on the 27th.
The peace settlement allowed the United States to withdraw from the war and welcome American Prisoners of war back home. Neither side of Vietnam abided by the settlement, however the war continued. Nixon gained Thieu’s adherence of the agreement through the letters promising US military support if North Vietnam violates the agreement. This commitment was not upheld because of a combination of factors, domestic and congressional. There was a huge reluctance to want to re-engage in the war. Nixon ended up moving on because of the Watergate Scandal, this weakened and distracted Nixon.
Viet Cong was also known as the National Liberation Front, was a massive political organization in South Vietnam and Cambodia with their own army. Viet Cong fought against the United States and South Vietnam during the war. This group had both guerrilla and regular army units as well as cadres who organize peasants in territories. Viet Cong was a communist led army and guerrilla (an irregular armed force that fights by sabotage and harassment) force in South Vietnam that fought its government and supported by North Vietnam (Wikipedia). The Viet Cong used old America gear to fight. They found the left overs just lying all over the place. Viet Cong wanted Independence from the government. The fighting for Viet Cong was shooting without looking which led to their own lack of safety. And in war, no one really survives. Viet Cong was really haphazard group that had no structure and just went for their cause.
Some people might say that Nixon became president to end a war. He knew ending the war was important based off his election and re-election later on. Nixon was tough, determined to succeed as well as solid with foreign relations. Unfortunately, around 58,318 were killed in combat or non-combat related deaths, while 766 were prisoner of war and 153,303 were wounded. This was a brutal fight for Americans which forced us to pull out and leaving South Vietnam to defend themselves. After two more years of war South Vietnam and Viet Cong got together with treaties and peace to finally end the war once and for all. Today Vietnam is together as one country, they are not divided. Nixon did get us out maybe not the way he intended. There was a lot of trial and error with strategies and many attempts to negotiate. In the end, they figured it out themselves and became a unified country once and for all.

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