Vice President and Cold-Warrior
- Eisenhower's VP - exceptional apprenticeship in foreign affairs
- wanted to help French @ Dienbienphu with airstrikes - willing to use small nukes
Republican foreign policy expert
- defeated in 1960 presidential election - held no political office for 8 years afterward & stayed in news with foreign policy announcements
- said victory in Vietnam essential to survival of freedom - ironic
- leader of Republican opposition to foreign policy - Nixon spurred Democrat Johnson in to greater involvement - whatever Johnson did Nixon urged more
- approved the sending of American ground troops
- "The United States cannot afford another defeat in Asia"
- called for victory and nothing less - victory = two independent Vietnamese states, one not Communist
- 1964 onward Nixon aimed at being the 1968 Republican presidential candidate
- as a Republican he naturally accused the Democrat Johnson of getting everything wrong
- criticised Johnson for lacking new ideas, but had none himself.
Republican pres. candidate(67-8) - 1967
- Nixon seemed the last man likely to advocate withdrawal from Vietnam
- criticised the anti-war protestors as a traitorous minority
Republican pres. candidate(67-8) - Tet/Vietnamisat
- 1967 - Nixon seemed last man likely to advocate withdrawal
- criticized anti-war protesters as traitors
- early 1968 Tet shocked Nixon - large turning point
- started to call for increase use of S.V soldiers - became known as Vietnamisation
- US forces withdrawn while AVRN strenghtened - stopped talking about escalation
- no more talk of a 'victorious peace', only 'honourable peace'
- "I pledge to you, new leadership will end the war and win the peace in the Pacific"
Republican pres. candidate(67-8) - Thieu
Could Thieu survive without US forces?
- He probably genuinely believed that Thieu could survive with the help of a change of emphasis in American aid and radical change of diplomatic direction
- America needed to diversify its methods in Vietnam - i.e using diplomatic leverage with the S.U
- emphasised that world Communism had changed - no longer a monolithic Communist bloc, therefore next President should replace the era of confrontation with era of negotiation
Republican pres. candidate(67-8) - peace talks
Johnson and peace talks in 1968
- final months of Johnson presidency were dominated by Paris Peace Talks
- Doves suggested a bombing halt - would lead Hanoi to negotiate a coalition gov.
- Nixon couldn't allow this, as his 'peace with honour' necessitated the continuation of Thieu's Saigon regime
- October 1968 - possibility of a breakthrough in Paris Peace Talks - Hanoi offered Thieu an opportunity to remain in power with a coalition government
- Nixon disliked idea of a coalition and feared that successful talks would ruin his chance of beating Hubert Humphrey, the Democrat presidential candidate - if Democrats bought end to the war their approval would skyrocket, and Johnson already said not re-electing himself
- privately, Nixon encouraged Thieu not to attend
- Thieu totally rejected the idea of a coalition containing Communists and so did Nixon - sabotage of the PPT?
did Nixon change? Opportunist
- Nixon changed position on Cold War, but was still a political opportunist
- when he advised Thieu against compromised at PPT, he had tried to ensure that it was not Johnson who won 'peace with honour' in Vietnam
did Nixon change? Tet
- proved war was not going well
- America needed to withdraw as soon as possible, leaving SV to fight its own war
did Nixon change? - Sino-Soviet split
Sino Soviet Split*
- Cold War world changed
- Sino-Soviet split shattered threat of monolithic Comm. bloc
- Nixon decided US could play off the two rival Comm. giants by improving US relations with both sides and then press Hanoi to 'peace with honour' in Vietnam.
did Nixon change? - Peacemaker
- being a world peacemaker appealed to Nixon - foreign policy success could help his re-elction
- improving relations with S.U + China would reinvigorate America and ensure his place in the history books.
- being seen as a world peacemaker would improve his chances of being re-elected in 1972 - purely self gain
Nixon + Kissinger and the Vietnam problem - The Ni
Nixon + Kissinger and the Vietnam problem - The Nixon-Kissinger relationship*
- Kissinger became very influential over time
- Kissinger always respected by media - Nixon wasn't
- American foreign policy became moral-less in its emphasis on the survival and strength of US power
Nixon + Kissinger and the Vietnam problem - Vietna
Nixon + Kissinger and the Vietnam problem - Vietnam: the problems and solutions*
- Vietnam = Nixon's greatest issue
- sought peace settlement that would allow Thieu to remain in power in independent S.V - hoped to achieve through Vietnamisation and through pressure on S.U/China - Nixon tempt S.U with promises of arms agreements and trade, China with normalisation of diplomatic relations
Kissinger and Diplomacy
- Kissinger believer in personal and secret diplomacy
- distrusted bureaucrats
- treated his staff as mushrooms: kept in the dark, stepped on, and frequently covered in manure
- felt foreign policy too complex 'for the ordinary guy' - Nixon felt the same
- Nixon/Kissinger didn't always explain their policy - lost public support for policy - both thought in terms of American national interest little regard for moral considerations - Realpolitik
Kissinger's desire for power
- tried, but failed, to attach himself to the Kennedy family
- until late 1968 Kissinger hated Nixon - considered him an anti-communist fanatic
- Kissinger's desire for power caused him to compromise
- "the secret of my success" "is to forget my old friends"
- "what interests me is what you can do with power"
- "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac"
Kissinger & Sec. State, Rogers
- Kissinger + Nixon had exceptional knowledge of foreign affairs
- Rogers knew little about foreign policy/affairs but Nixon told Kissinger that this was an advantage as it would ensure White House control
- Nixon later wrote - "Rogers felt that Kissinger was Machiavellian, deceitful, egotistical, arrogant, and insulting. Kissinger felt that Rogers was vain, uninformed, unable to keep a secret, and hopelessly dominated by the State Department bureaucracy"
Vietnam: the problems and solutions
- "I'm not going to end up like LBJ...I'm going to stop that war. Fast!" - Nixon
- His aim was clear: peace.
- could not invade North Vietnam or destroy the PAVN
- straightforward American withdrawal? no.
- Honour required that Thieu remained in power
- hoped for a Korean-style settlement
- 1953 Eisenhower had obtained the Korean armistice through pressure on the USSR and China. Tempt the Soviets with promises of arms agreements and trade and the Chinese with a normalisation of diplomatic relations.
- another ploy = the Madman Theory - convince N.V he was insane and may use nukes at any time
- "the greatest honour history can bestow is the title of peacemaker" - he had to bring peace to America and to Vietnam
Military pressure 69-71 - Military situation 1969
- Nixon attempted 3 solutions to 1969 military problem - bombing HCm trail in Cambodia 'madman' ploy and Vietnamisation
- Feb 1969 - Comms. launched another attack on S.V
- Rolling Thunder + 66-68 ground offensives clearly hadn't worked
- March '69 tried secret aggressive bombing vs HCM trail in Cambodia - hoped to sever supply route to encourage Hanoi to accept peace agreement
- also hoped to destroy Vietnamese Communist Headquarters in Cambodia(COSVN)
- March - Nixon secretly ordered bombing of Cambodia sanctuaries - failed to destroy COSVN or slow trail, so April escalated bombing
- advocated blocking Haiphong and invading N.V - deliberately leaked to press to emphasises his Madman ploy
Military pressure 69-71 - Military situation 1970
- Spring 1970 - Nixon announced withdrawal of 150,000 US troops from S.E Asia
- nevertheless Nixon appeared to be extending the war to Laos and Cambodia - escalating again?
- believed demonstrations of US power would counter Saigon's pessimism about US troops withdrawals, protect remaining Americans in Vietnam, intimidate Hanoi and gain better peace terms
- January 1970 - air offensive escalated to HCM trail in Laos and Cambodia, and N.V AA bases
- 12th february N.V launched huge offensive in Laos
- congress was considering cutting off Nixon's money - Nixon needed to get acceptable peace, quickly.
- 30,000 US and ARVN forces moved in to S.W Cambodia - encountered no resistance and didn't find COSVN
- pressure from US anti-war protesters now forces Nixon to make a speedy withdrawal from Cambodia
- offensive captured vast quantities of Comm. war material and made it nearly 2 years before Hanoi could launch another offensive - gave ARVN time to grow stronger
- unexpected result of Cambodian invasion was it forced Comms. further inland, where they destabilised Cambodian gov. and US bombing increased popularity of Cambodian Communists.
diplomatic pressure 1969-71 - Diplomacy, 1969
- April 1969 Nixon suggest Washington+Hanoi should have secret negotiations - Hanoi always favored as excluded Saigon
- secret talks in May - Nixon offered new peace terms - instistent Thieu remain in power but dropped Johnson demand US troops would only withdraw 6 months after ARVN handover - offered simultaneous handover - N.V delegation unimpressed
- Nixon told Kissinger to tell N.V delegation that they must withdraw troops and accept result of S.V elections, else Nixon would do something dramatic - gave 1st November deadline - N.V said they had no troops in South, and that Thieu must be replaced with coalition gov.
- making slow progress with Hanoi Nixon turned to Moscow - put pressure on SU Oct 1969 promised detente for help in ending war - linkage(concessions to S.U and China for their assistance in ending Vietnam war)
diplomatic pressure 1969-71 - Diplomacy, 1970
- Nixon made no real progress
- He wanted to be out of Vietnam before the presidential election November 1972, leaving pro-Moscow governments in South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
- also wanted Hanoi to release US POW's
- his only means of persuasion were 'Mad Bomber' performances and linkage
home front problem - keeping home front quiet
- Nixon used several tactics to keep homefront quiet - series of troop withdrawals from Vietnam(announcements timed to diffuse public opposition)
- september 1969 - anti-war activists + congressmen planning large protest - Nixon announced withdrawal 60,000 men
- heart of opposition = male college students threatened with draft - adjusted draft so older students less likely to be picked - approval rating rose to 71%
- Nixon very secretive with actions(i.e 1969 Cambodia bombing)
- regularly used speeches to keep home front quiet - 3rd November 1969 delivered speech asking for time to end war - huge success approval shot up to 68% - "North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that."
- America's first defeat in its 190 year existence would be a national disgrace
home front problem - Protests in 1969
- speeches, troop withdrawals, adjustements to the draft and secrecy were insufficient to halt the protests
- October 1969 - largest anti-war protest in US history. Millions protestors took to streets in every major city. Made Nixon drop the 1st November ultimatum to Hanoi
- 14-16th November, 250,000 peaceful protestors took over Washington
- news of The My Lai Massacre surfaced - many thought that if the price of war was making murderers out of American youths, then it was too high.
home front problem - Protests in 1970
- when Sec State Bill Rogers heard about planned Cambodia invasion he said "this will make the students puke"
- April 1970 - Nixon told he dare not attend his daughter Julie's graduation, as students chanted "**** Julie!".
- 5 May 1970 - 4 students shot dead by National Guard at Kent State university
- student protests escalated
- Californian colleges shut down by state governor
- Nixon backed down and declared he would get US troops out of Cambodia by June 1970
- government policy was once again dictated in the streets.
- Cambodian intervention divided US: 50% approved Cambodian offensive, 39% dissaproved.
- escalation of the war solely by the president - aggravated relations between Nixon and Congress
- 1970-72 Senate supported bills to stop Nixon waging war in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
- Nixon could not get re-elected unless he removed US from Vietnam - he would not be able to save Thieu, honour, or peace if he just withdrew
- wanted a face saving formula that would enable US withdrawal and leave Thieu in power
- "I will not be the first President of the United States to lose a war"
- Vietnamisation and linkage with Russia and China took time, and that was exactly what Nixon lacked.
home front problem - congressional doubt 1971
- 1971 Nixon's approval rating dropped to 31%
- Congress questioned Nixon about his undemocratic ally, Thieu
- a constitution for Saigon that had decreed a presidential election for October 1971. Thieu held it, but the only candidate was himself.
Getting Re-elected - problems in early 1972
- January 1972 - Nixon's military + diplomatic pressure still unsuccessful
- bombing offensive angered many Americans
- US pilots shot down during air attacks - increasing number of POWs
- congressmen willing to abandon S.V in exchange for POWs - but Nixon used them as a reason to continue war
Problems in early 1972 - Hanoi spring offensive
- S.U+China pressuring Hanoi to settle - Hanoi didn't want to face superbly equipped ARVN supplied by US
- March - PAVN began offensive against S.V
- ARVN crumbled - Nixon vietnamisation discredited in presidential election year
- Nixon was furious with N.V - believed they used negotiations as a smokescreen for the offensive
- also angry with USSR for providing the tanks and artillery
Problems in early 1972 - bombing the north
- B-52s used first time since 1968
- PAVN still advanced
- Laird feared Soviet AA bases, congressional reaction and the loss of a planned summit with Soviets - Nixon went ahead anyway
- bombed oil depots around Hanoi and Haiphong
- Nixon divided Hanoi and Moscow by threatening to cancel the summit
- April 16th - US bombers hit 4 USSR merchant ships in Haiphong, but Soviets didn't respond as were keen to have the summit. linkage clearly working.
- Kissinger began to prioritise detente, and hinters to S.U that US may consider a coalition gov without N.V withdrawal
Autumn 1972 - running out of time+money
- second half 1972 Nixon running out of time + money
- Troop[ withdrawals meant Congress could no longer be shamed into granting funds to 'help our boys in the field'
- Pools showed 55% support for continued heavy bombing of N.V, 64% for mining Haiphong, 74% felt important S.V shouldn't fall to Communism
- Kissinger - "tell those sons of ******* that the President is a madman and you don't know ho to deal with him. Once re-elected i'll be a mad bomber"
Autumn 1972 - both sides agree to compromise
- Seemed Hanoi would let Thieu stay in power while US would let PAVN stay in S.V and not insist upon a caesefire in Cambodia + Laos
- Hanoi insisted upon a voice in Saigon gov. - no chance of Thieu accepting that
- Kissinger rejected the idea of a coalition but offered Committee of National Reconciliation( one third S.V, one third Communist, one third neutral) to oversee the constitution and elections
- Kissinger thereby agreed Comms. were legitimate political force - thieu had always denied
Autumn 1972 - 'peace is at hand'
- October - Kissinger had an agreement:
- US would withdraw armed forces, continue to supply ARVN
- National Council of Reconciliation with Communist representation
- US POW's released
- Thieu remain in power
- PAVN remain in S.V
- US help economic reconstruction of N.V as humanitarian gesture
- Nixon got cold feet and reject the terms for following reasons:
- worried accusation that peace at this time was an electoral ploy
- appear he had given in to people like Jane Fonda who travelled to Hanoi to shame her country's deeds
- advisers feared if peace came before the election, people might vote Democrat as the Democrats were supposedly better at peace time governing
- US right wing opposed the National Council
- Thieu rejected the settlement and Nixon shared his doubts
- Nixon not sure this constituted peace with honour
- Thieu wanted PAVN out of S.V and loathed National Council
- Thie had to make some concessions, was threatened with Withdrawl of US sopport
Autumn 1972 - persuading Thieu
- November 1972 - Nixon re-elected, new Democrat COngress unwilling to carry on the war
- the only way forward was to force Thieu to accept the unacceptable
- Nixon gave Thieu his 'absolute assurance' that if Hanoi broke the peace, he would take 'swift and severe retaliatory action'
- Some of Kissinger's staff even suggests assassinating Thieu
Autumn 1972 - Christmas bombing
- 18th December Nixon bombed and mined Haiphong again
- no public explanation
- caused worldwide uproar - hadn't Kissinger promised peace before 1972 election?
- 1000 died in Hanoi - 15 B-2's shot down with 93 US airmen
- Kissinger was cracking - leaked to US press he opposed Christmas bombing - a lie.
- was Nixon trying to reassure Thieu of US strength and support? - weaken Hanoi so it couldn't rapidly take S.V after peace declared? - disguise US retreats and compromises? - had he lost control?
- several congressmen and influential newspapers questioned Nixon's sanity and accused him of waging 'war by tantrum'