Nixon and the Vietnam War

Nixons part in the Vietnam war, the end of the war

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  • Created by: mariamme
  • Created on: 19-05-12 17:41

President Nixon

  • 'Peace with honour'
  • campaigned on promise to end draft, undermine anti-war movement
  • Thought well of young men stop campaigning once possibility of conscription removed
  • Congress and Defence department oppose volunteer army, process withdrawal of draft only to happen after another 4 years war
  • Anti war movement more outspoken after exemption college students lifted in 1968. Resulted Kent State University protest 4 May 1970, against invasion of Cambodia. 4 students killed by Ohio National Guard fired into crowd student protestors
  • Polls suggested many US public agreed with invasion Cambodia, general unwillingness see expansion war that was being scaled down
  • news of atrocities like My Lai Massacre (16th March 1968) encouraged Anti-War movement to escalate activities during Nixon's presidency
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  • Vice President Spiro Agnew's efforts brought more negative media coverage mass rallies , such as 36 hour March Against death by half a million people Nov 1969
  • VVAW mount series demonstrations spring 1972, giving anti-war movements momentum
  • June pentagon papers published, despite Nixon trying to get them suppresed in Supreme court
  • revealed how American administrations had lied to public, ignored international agreements, manipulated Saigon regimes and misled Congress
  • Nixon lost public mandate to continue Vietnam war, only option gain negotiated settlement
  • could not win honourable military victory, not invade North (USSR and China), not withdraw
  • Only option create two independant states
  • Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger decided to use similar strategy Eisenhower convincing China and USSR to sign Korean Armistice 1953
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Military pressure 1969-71

  • Feb 1969- NV launch spring offensive 
  • Nixon begins strategy bombing communist camps across Cambodia, attempt wipe out Ho Chi Minh trail
  • hoped halt insurgency allow for VIETNAMISATION
  • main target central office for South Vietnam, communist HQ thought to exist in in Cambodia
  • Not much progress achieved by April 1970, Nixon escalated bombing, kept secret from US public (more than 31,000 Americans died in Vietnam)
  • Kissinger wanted to blockade Haiphong and invade NV
  • USSR wanted peace with the west, hoped to coax Moscow into pressurising Hanoi to scale down military strategy
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  •   8th June 194 met with Thieu inform Vietnamisation policy. Thieu thought evacuating, request time build up military strength
  • Nixon agreed US remain until agreement, same month 25,000 troops home
  • applied ‘madman’ theory
  •  By autumn 1970 troops reduced to 475,000 by Autumn , 335,000 Summer 1971
  •  Casualty figures droped, deafening public to anti-war protest
  •  SV troops increase 1 million by 1970, leadership and efficiency not improve
  •   Accelerated Pacification campaign- launched 1st November 1968. Gov control over villages controlled by VC. 90 days, regional and popular forces operate near/ in home villages
  • Destroy VC infrastructure and encourage economic development- clearing roads , building schools. Train villagers free elections, elected officials in village admin
  •  Tried to redistribute land to peasant farmers. By March 1970 more than 1 million hectares land redistributed. Destruction VC infrastructure not achieved, not change way most people saw government Thieu
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Invasion Cambodia 1970

  •  Bombing Ho Chi Minh trail Jan 1970, 30,000 troops S.W Cambodia seize  war equipment
  •  Pro American faction seized power under Lol Nol, demanded withdrawal all NV troops from country. Nixon secretly channelled aid to faction
  •  Put pressure on North to negotiate, and congress to fund war
  •  PAVN supplies temporarily cut off and weapons and supplies seized
  •  Expected COSVN scattering of  empty huts 
  •   No concessions made at peace talks as result
  •   Late June troops out of Cambodia and NV returned to bases
  •  Enemy insurgency increased by end 1970, only 175,000 US troops Vietnam end 1971

Invasion Laos 1971

  •   30 Jan US forces support ARVN invasion Laos disrupt NV supply lines and forestall communist offensive expected 1972
  • ARVN forces withdraw a six weeks later, half killed or wounded, fled and left equipment
  •  Vietnamisation having little success
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Strategy 2: Paris Peace talks 1968-73

  •  Talks begin Paris May 1968
  •   America demand: NV withdraw SV, Saigon free Communists
  •  Hanoi demanded: USA withdraw, communists participate in Saigon government
  •  April 1969 suggest secret negotiations between Washington and Hanoi
  •  May 1971 Kissinger offer American withdrawal within 7 months if: accept Thieu regime, return American POWs, end infiltration from North
  •  Deadlock, offered release POWs if USA dropped demand recognise Thieu regime. Kissinger refused. Hanoi not stop fighting as main bargaining ploy, still thought chance military victory. Nixon not want to make terms until meetings USSR and China failed
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US agreement with China

  • Joint points
  • neither country seek dominance Asia-pacific region, each country opposed any other country or group to seek such dominance i.e USSR
  •  PRC back demand NK for Korean unification, US support SK and wants peace Vietnam
  •  US forces withdraw Taiwan, PRC only legitimate government China, Taiwan part of China
  •  USA recognise only on China and Taiwan part, will leave Taiwan-China settlement to themselves, objective US withdraw troops from Tawian, and will reduce number troops in area (Vietnam)
  •  1972-1974 Nixon invited talks with Moscow
  • bargaining position weakened crisis morale amongst forces. 1970 60% US soldiers used drugs, racial tension and ‘fragging’ reached dangerous level, 1970 350 court marshals murder/ attempted murder officers by their men
  •  1963-1973 half a million soldiers deserted
  •  early 1972 Hanoi began spring offensive, take advantage depleted forces
  •  moderate aim inflict blow on ARVN to undermine Vietnamisation
  •  end war, aimed seize Hue, Kontom and Saigon
  •  ARVN supported by American air power- operation linebacker, v.heavy bombing, more than operation rolling thunder, targeted Hanoi and Haiphong
  •   NVA lost 100,000 men
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  •   American troops unprepared three pronged attack 120,000 PAVN troops March 1972
  •  China and USSR pushed Hanoi to make peace terms
  •   Ngo and Thieu anxious US withdrawalas and détente would leave in vulnerable position, tried to hold up progress of negotiated settlement
  •  Hanoi due to large losses in offensive and lack support USSR and China willing to negotiate
  •  Nixon needed peace with honour to get better relations China and USSR. Talks between Kissinger and Tho resumed in private, Kissinger already dropped demands northern troops withdrawal, more flexible about US support Thieu
  •  Hanoi suggest coalition government with NLF presence People’s revolutionary government
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  • October 1972-preliminary agreement reached:
  •  Cease-fire armies retaining their areas of control
  •  US troops withdraw within 60 days
  •  Exchange POWs
  •  Shared control by Saigon government, PRG and neutral faction reaching negotiated political settlement implement: democratic election in South, peaceful unification Vietnam, reconstruction inc American funding
  •  Thieu refused to sign, Nov 1972 election looming Kissinger let slip ‘peace at hand’. Hanoi refused 69 changes to terms Thieu put forward talks broke down
  • Nixon re-elected with 60.7% popular vote against democrat candidates 37.5%
  • Felt now had mandate put pressure NV. Operation Enhance Plus strengthen Thieu’s regime with military equipment, aircraft and armoured vehicles
  • Secretly reassured Thieu US would give regime military support if North broke treaty and invaded South, hoped thieu would sign agreement
  • 24th January 1973, Nixon announced agreement ceasefire Vietnam, All US POWs released within 60 days , US withdrawal within same period time
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Strategy 3: ‘Madman strategy’

  •  ‘Christmas bombing’, push Hanoi into final conscessions
  •  international outrage as bombing so heavy
  •  Nixon’s popularity rating fell sharply
  • Hanoi re-opened talks 12 days later , 27th January 1973, Paris agreement finally signed  between USA, NV, SV, and PRG
  •  Not secured ‘peace with honour’
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Northern Victory and fall of Saigon 1975

  • Last troops left 29th March 1973, South not free all NV POWs
  • Thieu’s policy no negotiations with communists, coalitions, loss of land, communism in SV
  • Neither USSR/China would help NV
  •  21 April 1975 Saigon fell to communism
  •  North Vietnamese achieved total victory
  • Cambodia and Laos became communist states, Pathet Lao seized control by December 1975, congress had prevented further funding air attacks
  • 17th April 1975 Cambodia fell to communism (Khmer Rouge) with help USSR AND China
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Impact war

  •  USA- 57, 685 killed
  •  SV armed forces-183,528
  •  NV forces and VC-950,000+1,100,000,
  • NV civilians 2,000,000
  •  Nearly 12% Vietnamese population
  • Soliders traumatised, more than 700,000 suffered PTSD
  • Cost US $167 billion
  • Domino theory proved to be flawed, Malaya, Singapore and Thailand not fall
  • Vietnam deformed victims napalm and agent orange
  •  More than 1 million boat people out of Vietnam, many to US
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Very useful resource with an excellent level of detail on 1969-73. There is information on key chronological developments as well as Nixon's three strategies and the peace settlement. Great for Edexcel Unit 1 Option D6 and A2 American options.

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