Explain President Nixon’s Strategies for Ending the War in Vietnam

4073 Words17 Pages
Richard Nixon’s election to Presidency of the United States in 1968, marked a turning point in American foreign policy and a new strategic approach to the war in Vietnam. It was a war he had inherited from his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. Domestic support for the war had diminished significantly, with national outpourings of opposition. This prompted Nixon to make his famous ‘silent majority’ speech, where he outlined his position on Vietnam, “After all, we became involved in the war while my predecessor was in office. I could blame the defeat which would have been the result of my action on him and come out as Peacemaker…But I had a greater obligation than to think only of the years of my administration and of the next election. I had to think of the effect of my decision on the next generation and on the future of peace and freedom in America and in the world.” However, this idealistic standpoint was mere propaganda. In private, President Nixon would favour a more militant and aggressive approach. This contradictory position not only exposed Nixon’s vulnerability to public opinion, but also his disillusion and misunderstanding of the complexities of such a war. It is imperative to understand the factors which influenced President Nixon’s strategies and decision making during the Vietnam War. Nixon operated in a political context in which the policy-making establishment and the public were pessimistic towards a favourable outcome in Vietnam. Kimball (1998), argues that Nixon’s strategies were born out of restraint, rather than authoritative freedom. Nixon was walking a political tightrope to maintain the status quo between the ‘hawk’ advocates and the ‘dove’ pacifists. “Nixon realised there was both an influential right-wing alliance in favour of the war and a heterogeneous liberal, pacifist, and leftist coalition in opposition…He looked at American national
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