Proponent of the Vietnam
"If when the chips are down, the world's most powerful nation . . .
acts like a pitiful helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will
threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world."- Richard Nixon
Nixon served as a senator from California, then as Dwight D. Eisenhower's vice president.
Defeated by John F. Kennedy in the presidential race of 1960, he came back to win two
terms as president in 1968 and 1972. In his first term, Nixon carried out a
"Vietnamization" policy, whereby many US troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and
replaced by members of the South Vietnamese army. Nonetheless, US troops remained on the
ground, and the Nixon administration continued to provide supplies and air support for the
Vietnamese, and expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia. The last US troops left Vietnam
during Nixon's second term. Nixon resigned in 1974 after being implicated in the Watergate
scandal. (taken from The American Experience Website)
Why did Nixon support the war? Nixon states that
"...in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and
economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall
serve the cause of peace- not just Vietnam but in the Pacific and in the world."
(Taken from Gardner)
Nixon's administration campaign platform: "Prior to
taking office, Nixon and Kissinger had firmly defended the American commitment in Vietnam.
At the height of the domestic debate in 1967, Nixon had insisted that the presence of U.S.
troops in Southeast Asia had helped contain an expansionist China and given the
"free" Asian nations time to develop stable institutions." (taken from
Although President Nixon wanted to remove the United
States from the war, he was unable to do so. He thought he could end it in one year.
Instead Nixon ordered exstenisve bombing and that important Vietnam matters be kept a
secret from the public.(Herring) Nixon firmly believe that if the US pulled out of the war
it would lead to a "...bloodbath in South Vietnam and a crisis of confidence in
AMerican leadership at home and abroad."(Herring)