Why The U.S Failed 2: U.S Politicians And People

  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 06-04-14 21:20

Problems with Johnson's aims and methods - Johnson

Problems with Johnson's aims and methods - Johnson's aims

  • aimed to defeat comm. aggression build nation in S.V and search for peace there
  • wanted save U.S face
  •  ensure his conduct didn't affect electoral prospects of any Democrat(including himself)
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Problems with Johnson's aims and methods - Johnson

Problems with Johnson's aims and methods - Johnson's methods

  • methods were to advise support and strengthen Saigon gov. politically + militarily
  • military methods didn't bring military victory
  •  political methods alienate S.V+some U.S
  •  1965-68 clear U.S military escalation wouldn't stop Hanoi
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Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - Proble

Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - Problems in S.V 1966-7

  • 1967 Johnson admin publicly optimistic
  •  Westmoreland said only 285k Comms. left in S.V
  •  pirvately admin pressimistic
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Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - Loss o

Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - Loss of Mcnamara

  • Mcnamara vital in formation of Kennedy+Johnson policies
  •  Mcnamara health+family suffered b/c war
  •  Jan 1968 Clark Clifford selected Mcnamara replacements as Sec Defence
  •  Clifford quickly began doubting domino theory+US involvement
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Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - Conser

Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - Conservative right-wing

  • criticised Johnson for too little escalation
  •  claimed US soldiers forced to fight with one hand behind back
  •  angry US never used more than 50% fight force
  •  not all Cons. approved war - many saw Europe/Japan more important
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Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - pacifi

Why and how Johnson was forced to retreat - pacifist feeling

  • Many U.S citizens hated thought of them/friends/family fighting in a war they didn't agree with
  •  College students forefront protest
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Collapse of The Home Front - 1964

  • 1000 students Yale Uni stage protest march in NY - 5000 professors wrote in support
  • Gulf of Tonkin resolution and presidential election suggest that at this stage Johnson had near unanimous support
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Collapse of The Home Front - 1965

  • universities began anti-war debates+lectures
  •  20k students participate in Berkeley protests
  • however,  thousands students signed pro-Johnson petitions almost 1/4 Yale students
  • April 1965 - 25,000 protesters marched on Washington
  • quaker father set himself on fire outside McNamara's pentagon window
  • war quickly became televised in 1965
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collapse of home front - 1966

  • Public+congress support for war dropped dramatically
  • Democrat party suffered defeat in the Congressional mid-term elections November 1966 - urged Johnson to end war before it damaged great society and the party
  • Johnson limited public appearances to avoid chants of "hey, hey, LBJ, how many boys have you killed today?"
  • government propaganda was ineffective due to media
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collapse of home front - 1967

  • criticism didn't cause Johnson to alter policies
  •  opposition to war grew
  •  tens of thousands people protested in great cities of US
  • congressmen put more pressure on Johnson
  • Martin Luther King led opposition - Black people resented the disproportionate number of black casualties in Vietnam and felt kinship with the poor, non-white Vietnamese.
  • MLK - "the cruel irony of watching ***** and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school" -"the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today - my own government"
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1967 - a turning point

  • influential newspapers and TV stations shifted from support to opposition of the war
  • Drafts calls, deaths in Vietnam and taxes all increased
  • October 1967 - 46% of Americans felt commitment was a mistake
  • however, 1968 poll showed considerable support for the war:
    • 29-49% favoured invading North Vietnam
    • 33-42% favouring mining Haiphong(main port in N.V) even if Soviet ships were sunk as result
    • 25% did not oppose bombing China or using atomic bombs
  • 500,000 troops in Vietnam and 17,000 had died
  • Westmoreland said "we are winning a war of attrition now" - clearly not.
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financial problems

  • war distorted economy
  •  Johnson didn't want to admit how much he spending so Conservatives cut off spending for his 'great society'
  •  1963 - gov. deficit $1.6 billion - 1968 deficit $25.3b
  •  caused inflation endangered US economic wellbeing
  • taxpayers grew resentful
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Johnson's loss of confidence

  • Johnson was losing confidence by the spring of 1968
  • Nov 1967 'wise men' declared continued support for Vietnam - 25th March 1968 majority were changing minds - 78% felt US not making progress - 74% felt Johnson not handling war well
  • "suppose one of my boys misses his mark...[and] one of his bombs falls on one of those Russian ships in the harbour?"
  • Congress was pressing hard for retreat
  • war induced balance of payments deficit dramatically weakened the dollar, causing a gold crisis which was the final straw for many Americans
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1968 - Tet turning point

  • media coverage of the Tet Offensive was the crucial turning point
  • Walter Cronkite strongly supportive of war until Feb 1968 when he visited Vietnam - concluded the war could not be won
  • in next few weeks Johnson's approval rating fell from 48 to 36% - "If I've lost Cronkite I've lost the country"(supposedly said)
  • Tet suggested Johnson was losing the battle for the hearts and minds of an important percentage of his people
  • no doubt that politicians were sensitive to the wishes of the voters
  • spring 1968 Johnson had lost confidence in the rectitude of his policies and his capacity to maintain continued support for them
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Johnson's last months - Peace Talks

  • loss of confidence by spring 1968 - improved propsects for peace talks
  •  Hanoi ruined after Tet - keen to negotiate
  •  Talks began Paris May 1968
  •  Johnson demanded N.V withdraw from S.V and rejected Comm participation in Saigon gov.
  •  N.V demand US withdrawal from S.V and insisted Comm. participation in Saigon gov. - conflicting demands is why talks continued for 5 years
  • Johnson recognised need for retreat but was not the man to do it: he couldn't bring himself to accept Hanoi's terms
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Johnson's last months - disintegration of Johnson'

Johnson's last months - disintegration of Johnson's presidency

  • events in final months confirmed need for change - early 1968 fighting reached max intensity
  • fighting reached max intensity first hlaf 1968 - two weeks in May alone, 1800 US killed 18,000 seriously wounded
  • US forces begun to suffer severe morale problems that left forces near to collapse
  • Chicago 1968 Democratic party convention - thousands protestors, Yippies nominated Piggus for president
  • 31st October 1968 - halting of bombing North Vietnam - to help vice president Hubert Humphrey win 1968 presidential election - negotiations with Hanoi stopped, negotiators couldn't even agree where to sit - battle of the tables was the last battle of Johnson's presidency
  •  polls+elections don't always tell whole story
  •  presidency+war effort dissolved because of US divisions
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The 1968 presidential election

  • Johnson's vice pres, Humphrey, lost election - inability to dissociate himself sufficiently from Johnson's Vietnam policy
  • Nixon pledged to bring an honourable end to the war
  • voters remained divided over Vietnam. Johnson's presidency and the war effort had disintegrated primarily because of American divisions
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why had Johnson failed to win the war?

  • main reason = the establishment of a viable south Vietnamese state was beyond the powers of Johnson's America
  • real escalation an impossibility - may bring S.U + Chinese in
  • attacking 'little' Vietnam may damage US international image
  • US just continued to fight a limited and ineffective war to support a series of unpopular Saigon regimes.
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had Johnson's policy been a complete failure?

  • Not a complete failure - he managed to restrain the hawks, whose policies might have led to a full-scale war with China/S.U
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Why didn't Johnson get out?

  • Didn't get out because Hanoi was not willing to give up - neutralisation or peace would mean a coalition gov. containing Communists - not acceptable.
  • getting out would damage Johnson's credibility, his party's and his country's
  • would also be a betrayal of the Americans who had died there
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effects of the war on America

  • Damaged US army, image, morale, national unity and economy.
  • Damaged the presidency and American society
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how the war damaged US society

  • 1965-1973 $15.5 billion spent on great society, comapred to $120 billion on war in Vietnam
  • during Johnson presidency 222,351 US military were killed or wounded in Vietnam
  • middle-class white males were under-represented in Vietnam
  • middle class had frequently used their money and intelligience to avoid combat
  • war divided friends and families
  • the war was like a fungus or a contagion: it infected everything it touched and seemed to touch everything.
  • As Johnson left the presidency he admitted he had made mistakes.
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