Getting Out: Historical Perspectives on Leaving Iraq

By Michael Walzer and; Nicolaus Mills | Go to book overview

6
Vietnam and the United States:
The Price of Intransigence

FRANCES FITZGERALD

IN the wake of the Tet offensive, on March 31, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced a partial halt to the bombing of North Vietnam, initiated peace talks with Hanoi, and declared he would not run for a second term. In that election year, Richard Nixon called for “peace with honor” and defeated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who could not attack Johnson for waging what had become a hugely unpopular war. Many Americans assumed that peace would come in short order. But, though the peace talks had begun, fighting in Vietnam continued for another seven years. In those years, Nixon gradually withdrew American troops from Vietnam but expanded the war to Cambodia and Laos, and with extensive bombing campaigns wreaked more destruction on the Indochinese than had been visited on them in all the preceding years of war. More than 20,000 American troops died, and upheavals in the United States tore the country apart, creating divisions that remain with us today.

The reason for this was simple: Nixon, as he said, had no inten-

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