When Nixon first settled into the White House in 1969, negotiations to end the war in Vietnam was going nowhere.
The United States demanded that the North Vietnamese troops withdraw from
South Vietnam and leave the Nguyen Van Thien government in power.
The North demanded, however, that the US withdraws their troops from South Vietnam and have Thien's goverment step aside for a communist regime that would include the Vietcong.
"Not everyone who lost his life there, died there.
Not everyone who came home from Vietnam left there."
The Struggle of Life
Henry Kissinger and Vietnamization
Kissinger was an immigrant who was an expert on international relations.
Therefore, Nixon put him in charge of settling the Vietnam War.
He then proposed the process of Vietnamization.
Vietnamization is the process in which the United States gradually withdraws their
troops from Vietnam. This would leave the south Vietnamese to take on more active
roles in the war.
In addition to the policy, president Nixon also wanted to establish a "Peace with Honor"
because he felt that the United States should have some dignity and wanted to preserve
U.S. influence and power in international negotiations.
Even during the withdrawal of troops, Nixon secretly ordered bombs to be dropped in North
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia to destroy Viet Cong sanctuaries.
Withdrawal of U.S. Troops
After 2 years, 500,000 U.S. troops were withdrawn
Only 25,000 U.S. troops were left
to help fight the Vietnam War.
After 3 years into Vietnamization,
the number of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam went from 500,000 to 25,000 troops
Left for Dead
A soldier carries a dead body of a North Vietnamese Soldier out from a ditch.
In 1969, Americans were shocked to find out that an American lieutenant, William Calley Jr. led a
massacre of innocent civilians in My Lai. The event took place in a small village in northern South
Vietnam where the soldiers believed the Viet Cong were hiding.
Because they were not able to find any rebels, the American soldiers huddled them up and shot "anything
that breathed." The citizens consisted of old men, women, and children and totaled to about 500 people.
The massacre ranged from different types of torture and deaths. Women and girls were raped, mothers
would hold dying children in their arms, and alot of them were put into ditches and were shot by machine
The High Commander of the division stopped the massacre and tried to cover the incident, however it was
uncovered and published in the "New York Times" by Shermesch Hersh.
Only some soldiers were held responsible for the incident but only Lt. Calley was convicted and imprisoned.
My Lai Massacre
Invasion of Cambodia
President Nixon called for an invasion into Cambodia to
clear out the area of Northern Vietnamese soldiers and to get
rid of their sancuaties.
This action outraged university students and a mass protest
was once again demonstrated but this became the biggest one
in United States history.
One of the most famous demonstrations was held at Kent University
in Ohio. The protest turned ravashly violent when the students burned
down the ROTC building.
As a response, the mayor called in the National Guard and more violence
occured with the shooting of multiple students and rock throwing.
Tension between the President and Congress thickened
when Nixon's Cambodia policy was never passed by Congress.
As a result, Congress repealed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution
which gave the president near independence to handle policy
Soon after, in 1972, a 7,000 page document was leaked, this
became known as the Pentagon Papers which revealed the
United State's involvement in the Vietnam War prior to
Lyndon B Johnson stating that the U.S. would not be sending any
It also stated that the United States had no intentions in ending
the war if North Vietnam still persisted.
In 1972, Nixon ordered mass bombings on 2 major cities of North Vietnam; Hanoi and Haiphong. However, to stop the bombings, North Vietnam must attend the Paris Peace Talks and so they did.
South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the Viet Cong, and the United States were able to successfully negotiate peace and the United States gained victory which became known as VV Day, Victory in Vietnam Day.
The United States also pledged to supply military equipment by a piece by piece replacement to South Vietnam if they needed to defend themselves from North Vietnamese aggression.
Communism was also halted in Laos and Cambodia.
Paris Peace Accords
When reelection came, Nixon was accused of breaking into
the Democratic Headquarters and stealing secret documents.
This forced Nixon to resign and leave Gerald Ford as the 38th President
of the United States.
Ford's presidency changed the course of Vietnam drastically. When North Vietnam invaded Saigon, South Vietnam asked for help from America. However President Ford and Congress refused even after promising to provide military
aid to Vietnam, the new presidency and Congress abandoned the pledge.