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Perception and reality: Revisiting Richard M. Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War
Moreland, Christopher Marc
Putman, JohnAtterton, Peter
Richard Nixon began his presidency confident that he could bring about a favorable outcome in the Vietnam War. Toward this end, the White House employed a combination of strategies, such as: Vietnamization, military pressure, and diplomacy. As the war continued, it became increasingly clear that several factors limited the efficacy of these strategies. The irreconcilable interests of North and South Vietnam, coupled with Nixon’s ideological commitments, ensured that diplomacy would be nearly impossible. Domestic pressures constrained the White House’s ability to apply military pressure against North Vietnam and its allies. Moreover, South Vietnam lacked the ability to rapidly make Vietnamization a success. The Nixon administration attempted to place a positive spin on these issues, allowing officials to delay ending to the war even as the President’s ability to influence events in Vietnam waned. This loss of agency became increasingly difficult to ignore over time. As a result, the Nixon administration grew desperate to end the war, and engaged in serious peace negotiations with North Vietnam in 1972. By this time, Congress threatened to cut funding for the war. In order to curtail American involvement in the war, the White House signed a peace agreement despite knowing it would not hold. Nixon had boxed himself into a position wherein he could not act according to his principles (saving South Vietnam), and he could not appease his domestic opposition.
Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2019
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