Impact of Public Opinion on the Vietnam War Essay

1396 Words May 28th, 2012 6 Pages
To what extent did US public opinion have an impact on the Vietnam War?
Public opinion did have an impact on the Vietnam War to an extent. The Vietnam War was fought between 1959 and 1975, between the communist government of North Vietnam and the democratic government of South Vietnam and its allies, the most actively involved of these being the USA. At the end of the conflict, neither side were defeated, however, it is considered a military failure and is seen as a very controversial conflict. There were a number of reasons for America’s involvement, and it was essentially a combination of North Vietnamese aggression and America’s desire to continue with their policy of containment. The war was particularly significant in the fact that
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Moreover, all of the main candidates in ’68- Nixon, Humphrey and Robert Kennedy- were all campaigning to bring the war to a close- a state of affairs unthinkable four years previously. An increasingly disillusioned American public had clearly had an impact. It is no coincidence that new tactics were sought and found following Nixon’s inauguration in 1969. The opening of diplomatic channels with China and the USSR, and the subsequent visits that followed in 1972, is understandable in a climate where the public would not tolerate an increase in ground troops. For sceptics, it is often easy to dismiss political protest. However, marches on the nation’s capital by in excess of 100,000 people, as was the case in 1967 and ’70 could not have failed to resonate with the American government and indeed Nixon would continue to withdraw US ground forces to appease that very public. Governments rarely act without the support of the majority of public opinion on their side, and in this respect the figures speak for themselves. It is hardly surprising that America would increase its commitment in Vietnam in 1965 when 75% of under 30s, 68% of 30-49s and 57% of over 49s supported the war effort. Nixon’s somewhat laboured end to the war is more understandable in light of some irrefutable figures. Even after his bombing of Cambodia, Nixon would win a landslide victory in 1972, carrying 49 out of 50

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