Nixon and The Vietnam War

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  • Nixon and The Vietnam War
    • Henry Kissinger National security adviser 1969 - Secretary of state 1973
    • 1969 Nixon faced an unsupportive public who wanted to focus on domestic issues and cut military spending rather than be the 'policeman'
      • Nixon realised reducing Americas commitments to South Vietnam was key to addressing these problems
    • Wanted 'Peace with Honour'
    • Sino-Soviet split
      • Nixon hoped he could play the USSR and China against each other
    • Nixon followed a policy of 'Linkage'
      • Did not want Russia and China to be friends as they would out number him
    • Troop levels remained high in 1969 and peaked in April at 543,000
    • Viet Cong now aimed to maximize the number of US deaths as it was a powerful piece of propaganda in the US
      • In the first 6 months of 1969, 8000 US soldiers were killed
    • Morale was low within the US forces and there was multiple cases of enlisted soldiers attempting murder officers
    • 'Phoenix Program'
      • Secret programme to disrupt the enemy
      • Trained US and South Vietnamese Commandos captured, tortured and assassinated suspected Viet Cong leaders and organisers
        • 1968 - 1972, 20,000 were killed and 18,000 were converted
      • US Press found out in 1972 and the programme was stopped
    • Military strategy: Vietnamisation
      • Withdraw US forces and strengthen South Vietnam forces
        • Desertion rates still remained high
    • Attempts to block the flow of supplies to the NVA by blocking the Ho Chi Minh trail
      • Involved increased bombing of Laos and Cambodia and resulted in Nixon deciding to cross into Cambodia in April 1970
        • Stirred up a storm with the public and Congress who attempted to stop any similar actions
    • Peaceful protests continued opposing the war
      • However it was the opposition in congress that caused major problems as the number of senators and congressmen opposing the war grew considerably
    • Nixon managed to be re-elected in 1972 despite the current situation
    • From August 1969 Kissenger was involved in secret talks with North Vietnam
      • Breakthrough in 1972 when the North Vietnam offensive failed and it was clear that Nixon would be continuing as president
        • North Vietnamese decided they could accept Thieu in power at a ceasefire
          • Thieu felt too many concessions had been made
      • North Vietnamese walked out of talks on the 12th December 1972
        • Nixon launched massive bombing attacks on the North to get them back
          • Operation Linebacker II (Bombing Campaign)
            • 15 US planes shot down but the North Vietnamese returned to the talks
        • Nixon improved relations with China to prevent intervention
      • Agreement reached on the 13th January
        • Resulted in a ceasefire on the 27th January 1973


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