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Decade of Discord 1964-1974 Vietnam: Containment on Trial Cold War assumptions shared by Democrats and Republicans about the nature of world communism lay at the center of Vietnam policies. American policymakers were thus prone to misconstrue the rise of nationalism in areas like

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vietnam containment on trial
Vietnam: Containment on Trial

Cold War assumptions shared by Democrats and

Republicans about the nature of world communism

lay at the center of Vietnam policies.

American policymakers were thus prone to

misconstrue the rise of nationalism in areas like

Southeast Asia. In reality, nationalism in Vietnam

and other developing regions operated independently

of the Cold War; the perception on the part of

American leaders was distorted by focus on the

Soviet Union and China.

In the end, Vietnam would force the rethinking of

Cold War assumptions – by both liberals and


Vietnam Policy before 1961
    • French Indochina and Vietnamese Nationalism
      • Ho Chi Minh
        • Communist leader of anti-French nationalist forces
        • French hoped to reassert colonial rule after WWII
        • Truman administration did not press French to leave Indochina
      • Dienbienphu (1954)
        • By 1954, U.S. was subsidizing 75% of French effort against insurgents
        • French force surrounded at Dien Bien Phu
          • Surrendered after Eisenhower hesitated to intervene
          • Negotiations conducted at Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva Agreements, 1954
    • Arms agreement
    • Geneva Accords
      • Elections to be held in 1956 (U.S. intelligence predicted Ho Chi Minh would win)
      • Independent status for
        • Cambodia
        • Laos
        • Vietnam
      • Vietnam divided at 17th parallel
        • North: Ho Chi Minh & Communists
        • South: Republic of Vietnam, backed by U.S.
Eisenhower’s “domino theory”: if Vietnam falls to communists, then all Southeast Asia will fall
    • Ngo Dinh Diem placed in power in South Vietnam
    • 1956: U.S. & Diem cancel elections
    • Viet Cong: South Vietnamese communists, supporters of Ho Chi Minh
    • Ho Chi Minh Trail: supply line into South Vietnam
    • American advisors = 650 by 1961
Kennedy and Vietnam
    • “Flexible Response”
      • Counterinsurgency: spies and intelligence gathering
      • Elite forces (e.g. Green Berets) for difficult, specific missions
      • Study guerrilla leaders & warfare
    • Digging In
      • Increases in spending and supplies
      • Advisors: 16,000 by end of 1963
Escalation: “All the Way with LBJ”
    • Gradual escalation of advisors and support
    • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 1964: take “all necessary measures” to repel attacks on U.S. forces and prevent further aggression
    • Bombing: Operation Rolling Thunder, 1965-1968
      • Targeted Ho Chi Minh Trail and North Vietnamese harbors
    • U.S. combat troops introduced, February 1965: 540,000 by 1968
Vietnam and the Crisis of Liberalism
    • The Anti-War Movement
    • Tet Offensive, Jan. 1968
      • Surprise assaults by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong in the South shook confidence of President and American public
      • Johnson decided not to run for re-election; negotiations begun in Paris
    • Agonizing Reappraisal
      • Idea of monolithic communism and containment being rethought by liberals
the rise and fall of richard nixon
The Rise and Fall of Richard Nixon
  • Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994)
    • Background
      • Elected to Congress from California in 1946
      • HUAC
      • Vice-President under Eisenhower
      • Lost 1960 election to JFK
      • Ran for governor of California in 1962 and lost
      • Began reestablishing political credibility by campaigning for Goldwater in 1964

Election of 1968

  • Haunted by assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert
  • F. Kennedy
  • Democratic nominee Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey
  • hurt by police riot during Democratic National Convention in Chicago
  • and war in Vietnam
  • Independent campaign by George Wallace, segregationist governor
  • of Alabama, who tapped into the anxieties of white voters
  • angered by rioting, anti-war protests, and intrusive government
The Nixon Presidency, 1969-1974
    • Exploiting Social Issues
      • Intent on wresting wavering working-class voters from Democrats
        • White southerners, blue-collar union workers, and anxious middle class voters who felt abandoned by elitist liberals
        • Distinguished people he called the Silent Majority and Forgotten Americans from radicals, students, hippies, “black power” activists, etc.
        • Vice-President Spiro Agnew attacked college radicals (“effete corps of impudent snobs”) and the media (“nattering nabobs of negativism”)
Innovative Domestic Policies
    • Affirmative action (Philadelphia Plan, 1969)
      • “set asides” on contracts for federal projects
      • Public support for “equal access to opportunity”
    • Reorganizing government
      • Shift funding to states & local governments
      • Revenue sharing
      • Reduce bureaucracy
      • Reorganize federal departments
    • Family Assistance Plan (FAP)
      • Direct payments to the poor
      • Guaranteed minimum income
      • Proposal never became law
Abuse of Power: The Watergate Scandal
    • May-June 1972: electronic surveillance (“bugging”) equipment installed at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building; five men arrested while attempting to repair equipment on June 17
      • August: Nixon announces that internal investigation shows no one from the White House was involved in break-in
      • September: seven men indicted for their role in break-in
      • January 1973: Watergate break-in trial
        • E. Howard Hunt and four others plead guilty
        • G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord, Jr. convicted
    • January 1973: U.S. Senate creates Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities
April 1973: White House staff members H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and John Dean resign
  • May 1973: Senate hearing begins; Archibald Cox named Special Prosecutor
  • July-August 1973: Senate Committee & Cox subpoena White House tapes & documents; Nixon refuses to comply; Senate Committee sues Nixon
October 20, 1973 (“Saturday Night Massacre”): Nixon orders Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Cox; Richardson refuses & resigns; Cox fired and replaced by Leon Jaworski
  • July 27-30, 1974: House Judiciary Committee adopts articles of impeachment
  • August 9, 1974: Nixon resigns
  • September 8, 1974: President Gerald Ford pardons former President Nixon
Nixon and World Order
    • An “Honorable Peace”: Nixon and Vietnam
      • Negotiations and Vietnamization
        • Program to train and equip the South Vietnamese army to take over the bulk of ground combat
        • U.S. forces scaled back to 50,000 by 1972
      • Bombing
        • North Vietnam
        • Cambodia & Laos
          • Suspected enemy bases targeted
          • When word of secret bombing campaigns and invasions was leaked, campus protests revived
          • Kent State shootings, May 1970
Secret meetings between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger & North Vietnamese, 1972
  • Paris Accords, 1973
    • Cease fire in place
    • Repatriation of POWs
    • U.S. withdrawal
  • War Powers Act of 1973
    • President required to consult Congress within 48 hours before sending troops into combat abroad
    • Must withdraw U.S. forces within 60 days if Congress had not approved deployment
Détente: easing tensions between U.S. and Soviet Union and China
    • New realities
      • Nuclear parity
      • Costs of arms race
      • Threat of nuclear proliferation

Balance of power: stabilize relations among five power centers

    • United States
    • Europe
    • USSR
    • China
    • Japan
Opening to China, 1972
    • Objective: reach out to China to pressure Soviets
      • First contacts in 1969
      • “ping pong diplomacy”
      • Secret trip by Kissinger in 1971
    • Nixon’s trip to China in 1972
      • Set stage for diplomatic recognition in 1979
      • Also led, however, to Taiwan’s removal from UN Security Council
Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) with the Soviet Union, 1972
    • Two sets of talks
      • Official
      • Secret
    • Provisions
      • Five-year agreement
      • Restrictions on anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs)
      • Soviets allowed more intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) but numbers frozen

Leonid Brezhnev

The Middle East
    • Arab Oil Embargo, 1973-1974
      • Retaliation for U.S. support for Israel during October 1973 war
      • Oil shortages, skyrocketing prices, and rampant inflation in the U.S.
    • “shuttle diplomacy”
      • Kissinger’s efforts resulted in Israeli-Egyptian cease-fire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from Egyptian and Syrian territories, and an end to oil embargo