February 12, 2017, 13 Leslie Clark, “Walter Cronkite: Witness to History,” PBS.org, accessed February 12, 2017, 14 “Vietnam War Protests,” History.com , last modified 2010, - war-protests 15 “Vietnamization,” History.com, last modified 2010, 7
Vietnamization would transfer all military responsibilities to South Vietnam while leaving U.S. honor intact. Nixon sought to use this “search for peace” policy as a cover for the planned removal of U.S. troops within Vietnam. Nixon began the withdrawal of troops in 1969, yet also authorized bombing campaigns within other parts of Southeast Asia to keep pressure on the enemy. In this same broadcast Nixon states: “Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” 16 Nixon notes that the sentiment of the American public is the reason why the situation in Vietnam is so detrimental to American society, reinforcing even more of a need to put the Vietnamese situation to rest. Nixon slowly, yet drastically reduced the amount of soldiers from its peak of 549,000 in 1969 to 62,000 in 1972. 17 However the Vietnamization strategy was handled very poorly as the Vietnamese soldiers relied too heavily on U.S. air forces. After the “Christmas bombings” of December 1972, Congress called on full U.S. withdrawal in Southeast Asia and Nixon began peace talks with North Vietnam in Paris, January 1973. The U.S. agreed to pull out of the war in exchange for a cease-fire, the release of American prisoners of war, and for North Vietnam to recognize the legitimacy of Saigon’s government (South Vietnam’s capital). However, North Vietnam violated those agreements and full-scale war began the next year. The last few American troops were airlifted out of Vietnam as Saigon fell to Vietcong forces April 30, 1975, marking the unification of Vietnam and the American loss to the forces of communism. The Vietnam War was the second-longest, most unpopular and first loss within the history of the United States that haunted America for years to come. U.S. failure within Indochina was constituted by a mix of hidden agendas, untrustworthy government actions, and an unnecessary expansion of war. U.S. foreign policy was caused by a paranoia that Soviet expansion within 16 Richard Nixon, “Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam.” 17 “Vietnamization.” 8
Southeast Asia would deter trade with Western nations. U.S. policy was clearly unreasonable and impractical as it Americanized the Vietnam War unnecessarily. However, this loss was key in waking up the American public to the reality of war and the hidden agendas of U.S. government.
- Fall '19
- Vietnam War, south vietnam