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The End of the War and Its Legacy
Transcript of The End of the War and Its Legacy
In the midst of the stalled negotiations between South & North Vietnam, Nixon conferred with National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger on a plan to en America's involvement in Vietnam.
They established Vietnamization. Nixon & Kissinger Vietnamization Part of Nixon and Kissinger's Vietnamization policy was aimed at establishing what they called "peace with honor." Nixon wanted to maintain U.S. dignity.
The plan was to encourage South Vietnam to take more responsibility for fighting the war by withdrawing American soldiers.
Nixon demanded that the South Vietnamese government remained intact. Therefore, he secretly ordered a massive bombing campaign against supply routes and bases in North Vietnam. He also bombed neighbors of North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia Trouble Continues on the Home Front New York Times reported that on March 16, 1968, more than 200 innocent Vietnamese –mostly women, children and elderly men- were massacred in the small village of My Lai in northern South Vietnam.
The troops insisted that they were not responsible for the massacre because they were only following orders of Lieutenant William Calley Jr., who ordered that they’d “kill anything that breathed.
Calley stated he was searching for Vietcong rebels but he was eventually sentenced and imprisoned. Seeking to win support for his war policies, Nixon appealed to what he called the silent majority- moderate, mainstream Americans who quietly supported the U.S. efforts in Vietnam. The My Lai Massacre On April 30,1970, President Nixon announced that U.S. troops invaded Cambodia to clear out North Vietnamese and Vietcong supplu centers.
Upon hearing of the invasion, college students across the country burst out in protests with more than 1.5 million students and 1,200 campuses closed down The Invasion of Cambodia At Kent State University in Ohio, a massive student protest led to the burning of the ROTC builing. The Pentagon Papers The 7,000 page document revealed that the government had drawn up plans of entering the war even as President Lyndon Johnson promised not to send troops to Vietnam. The papers also showed that there was never really any plan to end the was as long as North Vietnam persisted. On May 4, 1970, the National Guard fired live ammunition into a crowd of campus protesters who were hurling rocks at them. The gunfire wounded nine people and killed 4, including 2 who had not participated in the rally Daniel Ellsberg Nixon's Cambodia policy cost him significant political support which eroded even further when former Defense Department worker Daniel Ellsberg leaked what became known as the Pentagon Papers in June, 1971. America's Longest War Ends In 1971, more than 60 percent of Americans were Doves, believing that American troops should leave Vietnam. Kissinger, the president’s adviser for national security affairs, dropped his insistence that North Vietnam withdraw all its troops from the South before the complete withdrawal of American troops. Shortly after the Thieu regime rejected Kissinger’s plan, the president unleashed a ferocious bombing campaign against Hanoi and Haiphong, the two largest cities in North Vietnam, which became known as the “Christmas bombings.” President Nixon was reelected in 1972, but the promised peace proved to be elusive. U.S. plans dropped 100,000 bombs in just 11 days straight, pausing only for Christmas Day. Calls to end the war resounded from the halls of Congress to Beijing and Moscow.
On January 27, 1973, the United States signed an “Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam."
Although North Vietnamese troops remained in South Vietnam, Nixon promised to respond “with full force” to any violation of the peace agreement.
On March 29, 1973, the last U.S. combat troops left for home. Although the war was over for America, North Vietnam continued invading the South. Thieu appealed to the United States for help. America provided economic aid but refused to send troops.
In 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam. The War Leaves a Painful Legacy The Vietnam War had a heavy toll on America and Vietnam. In all, 58,000 Americans were killed and some 303,000 were wounded. North and South Vietnamese deaths topped 2 million.
The Vietnam veterans who returned home received a cold hand and dirty looks from many. Many Vietnam veterans readjusted successfully to civilian life. However, about 15 percent of the 3.3 million soldiers developed post-traumatic stress disorder.
In effort to honor the men and woman who served in Vietnam, the U.S. government unveiled the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1982. The end of the Vietnam War ushered in a new period of violence and chaos in Southeast Asia.
The victorious Communist soon imprisoned more than 400,000 South Vietnamese in hard “reeducation,” or labor, camps.
About 1.5 million people fled Vietnam in efforts to reach safety but most of them ended in tragedy. The people of Cambodia also suffered greatly after the war. The U.S. invasion of Cambodia had unleashed a brutal civil war in which a communist group known as the Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975. During its reign of terror, the Khmer Rouge is believed to have killed at least 1 million Cambodians. j The Legacy of Vietnam Even after the war ended, the Vietnam War remained a subject of great controversy for Americans.
Many argued that the war could have been won if the United States had employed more military power while others countered that the North Vietnamese had displayed incredible resiliency and that an increase in U.S. military force would have resulted only in a continuing stalemate. In November 1973, Congress oassed the War Power Act, which stipulated that a president must inform Congress within 48 hours of sending forces into a hostile area without a declaration of war. The troops are not allowed to remain more than 90 days unless Congress approves the president’s actions or declares war. The Vietnam War significantly altered America’s views on foreign policy; Americans now pause and consider possible risks to their own interest before deciding whether to intervene in the affairs of other nations. Overall, the war weakened the optimism and faith Americans felt towards their government during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. The war resulted in several major U.S. policy changes.