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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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.
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
effects of the war on America
- Damaged US army, image, morale, national unity and economy.
- Damaged the presidency and American society
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.