The U.S. Public Opinion as a Major Factor in the Withdrawal of American Troops from Vietnam

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Vietnam Essay - To what extent was lack of Public Support the main reason for the eventual US withdrawal from the Vietnam War?

America's involvement in Vietnam gradually escalated from 1945 to 1975. Historians debate over why America even got involved in Vietnam, however it is often explained by America believing it should fight against Vietnam because of what the Southeast Asian country stood for - Communism. Many believe if Vietnam fell to communism it would only be enforcing Eisenhower's domino theory. Kennedy's presidency saw an increased commitment to Vietnam with 12,000 advisors by 1962 and increased equipment. Under LBJ, Vietnam had around 200,000 US troops by 1965 . However, 1966 had increased domestic opposition to American
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Whilst in 1965 the opposition was a minority, it was a growing minority. Yet Johnson also suffered pressure from `hawks' that criticised him for not escalating enough, stating America never used more than ½ its tactical air power in Vietnam. Karnow also notes that hard liners such as Senator John Stennis who believed America should mobilise its full military, reflected a significant element of public opinion . Nixon recognised the home front problem and used tactics to keep the opposition quiet. This included a withdrawal of 60,000 troops in 1969, Nixon believing he had little other choice. This demonstrates how public opposition to the war led foreign policy for the US and how public opinion was a strong influential factor for the eventual withdrawal. Examples of protest include Oct 1969, in which the largest anti war protest in American History took place. Protestors took to the streets in every major city. Radicals even waved VC flags. Nixon rightly claimed their `numbers were a minority, but their numbers were growing' . Another example of protests was on the 5th May 1970 in which 4 students at Kent State University, Ohio were shot dead by National Guard . As a result, Nixon backed down and declared he would get American troops out of Cambodia by June. This demonstrates again how govt. policy was made in the streets. Although Sanders points out the pro-Nixon public, which in response to Nixon's

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