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Conventional wisdom: demonstrations ended the war in Vietnam, also the draft. [View All]

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-07-13 08:29 AM
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Conventional wisdom: demonstrations ended the war in Vietnam, also the draft.
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The French got involved in Indochina in the 1850s, some say the 1840s. It took the French until 1893 to achieve "pacification." (Lovely word for full subjugation of a colonized peoples until they mostly stop fighting back, no?)

The Japanese invaded Indochina. The Vichy French government began collaborating with the Nazis and the Japanese during WWII.

The Allies supposedly decided the fate of Indochina during the Potsdam Conference of July and early August 1945. (No one had enough other things on their minds during the summer of 1945, I suppose).

Allied Chiefs of Staff at the Potsdam Conference decided to temporarily partition Vietnam at the 17th parallel (Da Nang) for the purposes of operational convenience.

It was agreed that British forces would take the surrender of Japanese forces in Saigon for the southern half of Indochina, whilst Japanese troops in the northern half would surrender to the Chinese.

Nuclear bombing of Japan began a few days after the end of the Potsdam Conference, whereupon Japan withdrew.

The British moved in to work with the French to keep the Vietnamese under French control.

After the Potsdam Conference

My guess is that the US probably started spending on Vietnam sometime during 1945 or 1946, if not sooner, although I think the official version might put is somewhat later. In any event, under Truman, the US funded hundreds of millions of dollars for the French to try to hang on to Vietnam.

British forces departed on 26 March 1946, leaving Vietnam in the hands of the French.<77> Soon thereafter, the Viet Minh began a guerrilla war against the French Union forces, beginning the First Indochina War.

The war spread to Laos and Cambodia, where Communists organized the Pathet Lao and the Khmer Serei, both of which were modeled on the Viet Minh.<78> Globally, the Cold War began in earnest, which meant that the rapprochement that existed between the Western powers and the Soviet Union during World War II disintegrated. The Viet Minh fight was hampered by a lack of weapons; this situation changed by 1949 when the Chinese Communists had largely won the Chinese Civil War and were free to provide arms to their Vietnamese allies.<78>

In 1950 (if not sooner), the US started sending "military advisors" to Vietnam (and also began the Korean "Police Action" in June of 1950, ending that in 1953, without war ever having been declared).

Escalation continued through the Kennedy Administration, albeit nowhere near the extent the Vietnam "Era" would see under Johnson and Nixon. According to an interview of his brother and closest advisor, Bobby Kennedy, JFK had no intention to disengage from Vietnam.

The Johnson and Nixon Years

Johnson became President, of course, following assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963.

Anti-war demonstration began to make the mass media in the Spring of 1964, so my guess is that the very first ones began before that. However, Spring of 1964 would probably have coincided with the end of the Presidential primaries.

Johnson soundly defeated Barry Goldwater in November of that year. Ironically, the insinuation that Goldwater would put the US into nuclear war. The Vietnam " Era" continued to escalate.

In February, 1968, with the Presidential primaries either underway or just concluded, Walter Cronkite gave his report on Vietnam, after having traveled there. Supposedly, Lyndon Johnson then said, "If I have lost Cronkite, I've lost the nation. However, that particular quote may be apochryphal.

In March 1968 after having won the Democratic primary, Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not run for President.

Richard M. Nixon ran for President, claiming to have a plan to end the Vietnam Era honorably, and defeated Hubert H. Humphrey, Johnson's Vice President.

The war continued.

The Kent State shootings occurred May 4, 1970.

In 1972, Richard M. Nixon defeated the peace candidate, George McGovern. The only state McGovern carried was Massachusetts, giving that state, now my home, the reputation of being the bluest state in the nation. McGovern did not even carry his home state. (As an aside, at this time, conservative Democrats made a bid to take over the Party, but did not manage to do so until after Mondale lost to Reagan.) In fairness, I do not believe that the war was the reason for Nixon's victory.

Nixon's secret war activities in the area once known as French Indochina, specifically, his secret bombings of Cambodia, led to passage of the first war powers resolution in US history, intended to curb Presidents (stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid).

The Case Church amendment ended funding for the Vietnam War.

The Amendment was defeated 48-42 in the U.S. Senate in August 1972, but revived after the 1972 election. <snip>

When it became apparent that the Amendment would pass, President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, <2> lobbied frantically to have the deadline extended.<3> It passed the United States Congress in June by a margin of 278-124 in the House, and 64-26 in the Senate.<4> Both of these margins were greater than the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.<4> Although U.S. ground forces had been withdrawn earlier under a policy called Vietnamization, bombing continued until August 15, 1973, the deadline set by the Amendment.
The Vietnam Era (a war never having been declared, as with Korea) officially ended with capture of Saigon in 1975.

The war ended five years after Kent State, over 25 years after US involvement in "French Indochina" began and about a century and a quarter after French involvement in Indochina began.

Other sources consulted, but not posted above

So, what do we think?

Did demonstrations that began around 1964 end US involvement in Vietnam in 1973 to 1975, or did it only seem that way to the people who were demonstrating, those who wanted the war to end and those desperately wishing to believe that Washington, D.C. gives a crap what the general populace thinks when it comes to big money and power things like war? (Bear in mind, the pols are always polling, so they always know what the pollsters think we think.)

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