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Lyndon Johnson spreek twyfel uit oor die oorlog in Viëtnam

Lyndon Johnson spreek twyfel uit oor die oorlog in Viëtnam

President Lyndon B. Johnson spreek in 'n telefoniese gesprek van 27 Mei 1964 met sy spesiale assistent vir nasionale veiligheid, McGeorge Bundy, sy kommer uit dat die oorlog in Viëtnam in 'n ander Korea verander.


LBJ and the Descent into War

TERWYL het Lyndon B. Johnson president geword na die sluipmoord op John F. Kennedy op 22 November 1963, het die Verenigde State reeds 'n beduidende verbintenis tot Suid -Viëtnam se stryd teen kommunistiese magte gemaak. Militêre adviseurs is vir die eerste keer in 1950 deur president Harry S. Truman na Vietnam gestuur, en hul getalle het toegeneem tydens die presidentstye van Dwight D. Eisenhower en Kennedy, maar geen gevegstroepe was daar toe Johnson in die amp kom nie. Op 2 Augustus 1964 val drie klein Noord -Viëtnamese torpedobote op 'n Amerikaanse vernietiger in die Golf van Tonkin aan ('n tweede aanval is na bewering op 4 Augustus aangeval, maar het nie plaasgevind nie). Johnson het beveel dat daar lugaanvalle op Noord -Viëtnam gedoen is, en die kongres op 7 Augustus het die resolusie van die Golf van Tonkin aangeneem, wat die president gemagtig het om 'alle nodige maatreëls' te gebruik om die bedreiging van Noord -Viëtnam te hanteer. In November verslaan Johnson die Republikein Barry Goldwater in die presidentsverkiesing. Gedurende die herfs het die president se span oor die korrekte optrede in Viëtnam gedebatteer, maar toe Johnson in Januarie 1965 met sy nuwe termyn begin, was daar steeds geen Amerikaanse gevegstroepe in Viëtnam nie. Dit sou binnekort verander, soos die historikus Michael Beschloss in sy boek in detail beskryf Oorlogspresidente.

In sy intreerede, op Woensdag, 20 Januarie 1965, het Johnson geen woord oor Viëtnam gesê nie. Die president het uitsluitlik oor binnelandse sake gepraat, want hy was van plan om fundamentele veranderings in die Amerikaanse lewe aan te bring - met sy oorlog teen armoede, stemwaarborge vir alle Amerikaners, Medicare, hulp aan onderwys en ander inisiatiewe - wat die argitek van die Great Society sou installeer in die rekordboeke.

Drie dae nadat hy ingesweer is, Saterdag om 02:26, ​​is Johnson per ambulans uit die Withuis na die Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland gehaas. Lady Bird was bang dat hy weer 'n hartaanval gehad het. Sy het in haar dagboek gesê dat sy 'net 'n klop op hom gesit en sy hand vasgehou het. Dit kon 'n skrikwekkende dag gewees het. Dit was 'n dag wat ek verwag en aan gedink het. ” Sonder om hom te vertel, het sy 'n swart rok gekoop, ingeval sy een nodig het vir die begrafnis van haar man.

Toe Johnson na drie dae in Bethesda na die Withuis terugkeer, het Lady Bird geskryf dat hy 'uitgewas' en 'depressief' voel. Agt dae na sy ineenstorting het sy opgeteken dat 'Lyndon die grootste deel van die dag in die bed deurgebring het', en 'vir 'n man met sy temperament beteken dit dat u tyd het om bekommerd te wees'. Sy het aan haar dagboek gesê: 'Dit is 'n bietjie moedeloos. . . . Die struikelblokke is inderdaad geen skaduwees nie. Hulle is 'n ware stof - Viëtnam, die grootste. ”

Op Saterdag 6 Februarie val die Viet Cong 'n kaserne van die Amerikaanse weermag in Pleiku aan en vermoor agt Amerikaners. Daardie aand het Johnson die speaker van die huis, John McCormack, die leier van die meerderheid in die senaat, Mike Mansfield, die minister van verdediging, Robert McNamara en ander adviseurs na die kabinet gebel en gesê dat hy weerwraak teen drie Noord -Viëtnamese teikens sal beveel. Johnson het verduidelik dat hy 'die haelgeweer al lankal oor die mantel en die koeëls in die kelder gehou het', maar nou moes hulle optree omdat 'lafhartigheid ons in meer oorloë laat beland het as wat reageer het.' Hy het beweer dat die Verenigde State beide wêreldoorloë kon vermy het “as ons in die vroeë stadium moedig was”.

Sen. Richard Russell, links, saam met die minister van verdediging, Robert McNamara, en stafhoof van die lugmag, Curtis LeMay, het Johnson vroeg in Maart 1965, net voordat die mariniers in Viëtnam geland het, gesê: "Ek weet nie hoe ek nou 'n back -up moet maak nie." (AP Foto/Charles Gorry)

Toe, Woensdagoggend, 10 Februarie, bel McGeorge "Mac" Bundy, die president se nasionale veiligheidsadviseur, Johnson om te berig dat die Viet Cong 'n Amerikaanse vliegtuigonderhoudsbarak in Qui Nhon aangeval het. Drie en twintig Amerikaners is dood, die meeste van 'n enkele voorval nog in Viëtnam. Bundy het opgemerk dat die noorde onlangs treinfasiliteite aangeval het, daarom kon die Verenigde State en Suid -Viëtnam saam vergeld teen 'n noordelike spoorweg, ''n uiters maklike teiken'. Johnson het gevra dat genl William Westmoreland, die Amerikaanse bevelvoerder in Viëtnam, aangesê moet word om die kapteins van die vliegdekskepe in kennis te stel om te begin "laai hul goed, en laat ons die teikens kies." Johnson was gretig om die kongres in te bring, en bel McCormack en sê: 'Ons moet vinnig teikens bereik.'

Die president weet hoe ernstig die stap is wat hy neem. Hy het die vise -president, Hubert Humphrey, besoek. 'Ek is nie temperamenteel toegerus om opperbevelhebber te wees nie,' het hy aan Humphrey gesê. 'Ek is te sentimenteel om die bevele te gee.' Vrydag is Johnson se opdrag uitgevoer.

Op soek na gerusstelling en in die hoop om Republikeinse opposisie te stuit, bel Johnson vir Eisenhower by sy winterhuis in Palm Desert, Kalifornië: 'Ek wil dit nie stel asof ons in die moeilikheid is nie, want ek dink nie dit het bereik nie, "Maar" jy kan my nou meer vertroos as iemand wat ek ken. " Hy het gevra: 'Waarom bly u nie die hele nag by my nie?' Tydens sy besoek aan die Withuis het Eisenhower Johnson meegedeel dat as dit agt Amerikaanse afdelings in 'n "veldtog van druk" verg om Suid -Viëtnam teen 'n kommunistiese oorname te beskerm, "so moet dit wees." As China of die Sowjets dreig om in te gryp, "moet ons die woord aan hulle teruggee om op te pas, sodat daar nie ernstige resultate opkom nie." Eisenhower het 'n herhaling van die wenke van 'n kernaanval voorgestel wat hy stilweg laat val het in sy poging om 'n Koreaanse wapenstilstand te bekom. Hy het aan Johnson gesê dat die 'grootste gevaar' nou sou wees as China tot die gevolgtrekking sou kom 'dat ons net so ver sal gaan en nie verder nie' in die voortsetting van die Viëtnam -oorlog. Die voormalige president het beskryf hoe hy sy kernbedreiging in 1953 deur "drie kanale" aan die Chinese oorgedra het. Johnson het gevra hoe hy 'n soortgelyke waarskuwing aan die Chinese kan oordra. Eisenhower het voorgestel om die Pakistaanse president, Mohammed Ayub Khan, '' 'n baie goeie man '' te gebruik, wat hy ken uit sy eie ampstyd.

Johnson het Eisenhower gevra wat hy moet doen as Chinese magte die grens na Vietnam oorsteek. Eisenhower het hom aangeraai om 'hulle onmiddellik met die lug te slaan' en 'alle wapens te gebruik', insluitend taktiese kernwapens. Hy het gekla dat die Chinese tydens die Koreaanse Oorlog van mening was dat Truman 'n gentleman's agreement gemaak het om nie die Yalu -rivier oor te steek of kernwapens te gebruik nie. In Viëtnam, "moet ons laat weet dat ons nie aan sulke beperkings gebonde is nie," het hy gesê.

Met Korea in gedagte, het Johnson ook Truman gebel in Independence, Missouri. "Ek kry die hel!" Paternally het die 80-jarige voormalige president hom gevra: 'Wat is die moeilikheid?' Johnson het geantwoord, ''n bietjie met Indochina. Ek doen die beste wat ek kan. My probleem is soortgelyk aan wat jy in Korea gehad het. ” Johnson het bygevoeg: 'Ek dink as hulle u seuns binnegaan en doodmaak, moet u terugslaan. En ek probeer nie die oorlog versprei nie, en ek probeer nie - ”Truman het ingebreek,“ jy wed dat jy dit het! Elke keer as u die kans kry, steek u hulle in die neus, en hulle verstaan ​​die taal beter as enige ander soort. ” Beswaar teen die lugaanvalle het twee Demokratiese senatore, George McGovern van South Dakota en Frank Church of Idaho, in die openbaar vir Johnson gevra om te onderhandel. Woedend het die president aan Bundy gesê dat die twee senatore "moet vertel word" wat "ons die seerste maak, nie die tref van ons kompleks is nie", maar "hierdie verdomde toesprake wat die kommuniste opblaas, wat wys dat ons op die punt staan ​​om uit te trek." McGovern het Johnson gaan sien, wat hom gewaarsku het dat Noord -Viëtnamese leier Ho Chi Minh 'n hulpmiddel van die Chinese is. Die senator, wat geskiedenis aan die Dakota Wesleyan Universiteit geleer het, het weer saamgevoeg dat die Chinese al duisend jaar lank teen die Viëtnamese worstel. Volgens die latere verslag van McGovern het die president vir hom gesê: 'Verdomme, George, jy en [Arkansas Demokratiese Sen. J. William] Fulbright en al jou geskiedenisonderwysers daaronder - ek het nie tyd om met die geskiedenis rond te kom nie. Ek het seuns op die spel. ”

Johnson het aan sy ou vriend Everett Dirksen, die Republikeinse leier van die Senaat van Illinois, gesê dat die Noord -Viëtnamese 'ons nie kan bombardeer nie, ons mense kan doodmaak en verwag dat ons in 'n grot moet gaan'. Tot die president se vreugde antwoord Dirksen dat sy enigste fout was dat hy nie die Noorde hard genoeg aangeval het nie. Op 'n beroep op Nazi -Duitsland se vooroorlog tydens 'n konferensie in München, sowel as die domino -teorie, het Johnson geantwoord: 'Ons weet, vanaf München, dat wanneer u gee, die diktators voed op rou vleis. As hulle Suid -Viëtnam inneem, neem hulle Indonesië, neem hulle Birma, kom hulle reguit terug na die Filippyne. ”

Johnson was woedend toe hy ontdek dat sy vise -president uit Viëtnam wou wegkom. Humphrey het aan hom geskryf dat 'betrokkenheid by 'n volskaalse oorlog' vir die meerderheid van die Amerikaanse mense nie 'sinvol' sou wees nie. Hy het toegegee dat dit 'altyd moeilik was om verliese te besnoei', maar vir die nuutverkose president is '1965 die jaar van minimum politieke risiko'. Soos Humphrey later onthou, het sy brief Johnson so kwaad gemaak dat die president hom in 'n politieke "limbo" gegooi het.

Johnson het probeer om sy stryd teen die Noorde uit te brei deur stealth. Toe die Amerikaanse ambassade in Saigon aan die einde van Februarie bevestig dat die Verenigde State B-57 en F-100 straalbommenwerpers vir die eerste keer teen die Viet Cong gebruik het, het Johnson by die minister van buitelandse sake, Dean Rusk, gekla dat hierdie nuus "desperaat lyk" en dramaties ”en dat“ die hele TV ”''n heeltemal nuwe beleid' lui.

Daardie maand het die president stilweg McNamara se voorgestelde Operation Rolling Thunder goedgekeur, 'n geleidelike, volgehoue ​​bomaanval wat bedoel is om die druk op die Noorde te verhoog. Maar in 'n telefoonoproep na McNamara op Vrydagoggend, 26 Februarie, spreek hy hierdie verkwikkende woorde: 'Nou gaan ons hierdie mense bombardeer. Ons is oor die struikelblok. Ek dink nie iets gaan so erg wees as om te verloor nie, en ek sien geen manier om te wen nie. ” Geen vorige uitvoerende hoof het Amerikaners met so 'n aanvanklike pessimisme in 'n groot oorlog gedryf nie.

Op Maandag, 1 Maart, het Johnson aan McNamara gesê om Rolling Thunder sonder openbare aankondiging los te laat. Maar daardie selfde dag het die New York Times het berig dat die 'hoogste' Amerikaanse amptenare in Saigon vertrou dat Johnson 'besluit het om 'n voortgesette, beperkte lugoorlog te begin'. Johnson was woedend oor die lekkasie en het gesê: 'Is ek verkeerd as ek sê dat dit byna verraaierig blyk te wees?' Hy het bygevoeg dat dit 'nie goed is om te sê dat ons 'n plan het om hierdie spesifieke gebied te bombardeer voordat ons dit bombardeer nie. Want, Christus, ek dink elke lugafweer en alles wat hulle kan kry, word gewaarsku. ”

Die volgende dag het Rolling Thunder begin, met meer as honderd Amerikaanse vliegtuie wat op 'n ammunisie -depot en vlootbasis geslaan het. Gedurende die daaropvolgende drie jaar sou Rolling Thunder meer bomme in die noorde aflaai as wat heel Europa tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog getref het. Asof hy die privaat hulpeloosheid wat hy oor die oorlog voel, vergoed, het Johnson seker gemaak dat hy die uitstappies van die lug ondersoek en spog: "Hulle kan nie 'n buitekamer tref sonder my toestemming nie!"

Die president het tot in die nag wakker gebly in die hoop op die sekerheid dat sy 'seuns' veilig teruggekeer het, en later gesê: 'Ek wil gebel word elke keer as iemand sterf.' Na die eerste sending het 'n diensbeampte van die Situation Room hom op Dinsdag 2 Maart baie vroeg gebel om te meld dat twee vliegtuie vermis is. Johnson het gevra: "Hoe lyk dit - ons twee vlieëniers het verlore geraak?" Hy is meegedeel dat reddingspogings 'aan die gang' is, en later dat ses Amerikaanse vliegtuie neergeskiet is, maar vyf van die vlieëniers het oorleef.

Teen Vrydag het Johnson besin oor Westmoreland se versoek om 3 500 mariniers om Amerikaanse vlieëniers en lugbase in Suid -Viëtnam te beskerm, wat Rusk, McNamara en die Joint Chiefs goedgekeur het. Die president het aan Bundy gesê: 'Nou, die mariniers! Ek het nie daardie besluit geneem nie. Ek is nog steeds bekommerd daaroor. ”

Die volgende dag het Johnson aan die Demokratiese senator Richard R verkoop van Georgië gesê: 'Ek dink ons ​​het geen keuse nie, maar dit maak my dood. Ek dink almal gaan dink: 'Ons land die mariniers - ons gaan aan die geveg.' Hulle gaan nie hardloop nie. Dan word jy vasgemaak. ” Russell het geantwoord: 'Ons het so ver gegaan, meneer die president, dit maak die lewe van my bang, maar ek weet nie hoe ek nou 'n back -up moet maak nie.' Johnson het gesê: 'Dit is presies reg. Ons raak erger. ” Die president het versigtig gesê: ''n Man kan baklei as hy êrens in die straat af daglig kan sien. Maar daar is geen daglig in Viëtnam nie. ” Hy het bygevoeg: 'Hoe meer bomme jy laat val, hoe meer nasies jy bang maak, hoe meer mense kwaad word, hoe meer ambassades kry jy -' het Russell gesê: 'Dit is die ergste gemors wat ek ooit in my lewe gesien het.' Johnson het uitgeroep: 'As hulle sou sê dat ek' geërf 'het, sal ek gelukkig wees. Maar hulle sal almal sê ek het dit geskep! ”

Twee uur later het die president aan McNamara gesê dat 'as daar geen alternatief is nie' die mariniers kan stuur om die Amerikaanse vlieëniers te beskerm: 'My antwoord is ja, maar my oordeel is nee.' McNamara het belowe om 'die aankondiging tot 'n minimum te beperk', maar het gewaarsku dat dit 'baie nuus' sou veroorsaak. Johnson het geantwoord: 'U vertel my!'

In April 1965Johnson, in die hoop om verdere dramatiese eskalasie te voorkom, het Ho Chi Minh in die openbaar 'n miljard dollar aangebied om die Mekongrivier -delta te ontwikkel, solank die Noord -Viëtnamese leier die vryheid van die Suide sou waarborg. Maar die geld is geweier. McNamara en Westmoreland het Johnson daardie maand oorreed om nege nuwe bataljons vir Viëtnam goed te keur, wat die Amerikaanse troepe daar tot 82,000 sou verhoog.

Johnson het die Kongres $ 700 miljoen gevra "om aan die toenemende militêre vereistes in Viëtnam te voldoen." Die Huis en Senaat het die president byna eenparig gesteun, maar nuutverkose senator Robert Kennedy van New York het aan kollegas op die vloer van die senaat gesê dat sy ja -stem nie as 'n "blanko tjek" vir 'n 'groter oorlog' beskou moet word nie. Hy het gewaarsku dat eskalasie 'honderde duisende Amerikaanse troepe' na Viëtnam kan bring en 'maklik tot kernoorlogvoering kan lei'. Johnson het by McNamara, 'n vriend van die senator, gekla dat Kennedy in die kleedkamer van die senaat 'klein opmerkings' maak dat die president die kongres oor Viëtnam 'gemanipuleer' het. 'U moet net gaan sit en met Bobby praat,' het hy gesê.

Sommige van die Joint Chiefs het Johnson aangeraai om Hanoi te bombardeer. Die president het aan die kongresvriende gesê dat hy 'hulle afgeskakel' het deur te waarsku dat dit China kan dwing om die oorlog te betree. Johnson het later aan Russell gesê dat sommige van die militêre leiers “vreeslik onverantwoordelik was. Hulle sal jou net bang maak. Hulle is gereed om vinnig 'n miljoen mans in te sit. ”

Op Maandag, 7 Junie, het Westmoreland McNamara van Saigon af bedrieg dat hy dringend 41 000 gevegsmagte nodig het en 52 000 later, wat 175 000 troepe in Viëtnam sou beteken. Hy het aangevoer dat die Verenigde State sy 'verdedigende houding' moet laat vaar en 'die oorlog na die vyand moet neem', in welke geval 'nog groter magte' nodig mag wees. Die sekretaris van die verdediging het aan kollegas gesê: 'Ons is in 'n warboel.'

McNamara het die president gebel en gesê: 'Tensy ons regtig bereid is om 'n volle potensiële landoorlog te onderneem, moet ons hier vertraag en op 'n stadium probeer om die toewyding van die grondtroepe te stop.' Johnson het geweier en opgemerk dat die Noorde 'hul stapel ingooi en nuwe skyfies in die pot gooi'. Hy het gesê dat die keuse óf 'stert styf was', óf reageer op diegene wat aan die Verenigde State gesê het: 'Die Indiërs kom!'

Om die houding van die duiwe te bepaal, het Johnson Mansfield gebel en vertrou dat sy 'militêre mense' waarsku dat 'ons 75,000 mans in groot gevaar gaan wees, tensy hulle 75,000 meer het'. Maar dan “sal hulle nog honderd -en -vyftig moet hê. En dan sal hulle nog honderd -en -vyftig moet hê. ” Die meerderheidsleier het gesê: 'Ons het nou te veel. . . . Waar stop jy? ” Johnson het geantwoord: 'Jy doen dit nie. . . . Vir my vorm dit so, Mike - jy klim of jy klim in. "

Westmoreland het gesê dat "ek nie 'n kans sien om 'n vinnige, gunstige einde aan die oorlog te bereik nie," sonder besluit om kernwapens teen bronne en kanale van vyandelike mag in te stel.


Die eerste Amerikaanse gevegstroepe wat in Viëtnam aangekom het, 'n bataljon van die 3de Mariene Afdeling, kom op 8 Maart 1965 aan wal by 'n strand noord van Da Nang. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

Johnson het aan senator Birch Bayh, 'n demokraat uit Indiana, voorspel dat die Viet Cong uiteindelik 'langer sou hou as ons' omdat hul soldaat bereid was om vir twee dae in 'n 'groef' weg te kruip "sonder water, kos of iets, en beweeg nooit en wag om iemand in 'n hinderlaag te lok nie. Nou, 'n Amerikaner - hy bly daar ongeveer 20 minute en verdomp, hy moet vir hom 'n sigaret kry! "

In Junie het die president aan McNamara gesê: 'Ek is baie depressief daaroor.' Hy het nie geglo dat die kommunistiese magte 'ooit gaan ophou' en 'ek sien nie. . . dat ons enige het. . . beplan vir 'n oorwinning - militêr of diplomaties. "

Met koue openhartigheid het Johnson aan die begin van Julie aan McNamara gesê: 'Ons weet in ons eie gewete dat ons nie van plan was om soveel grondtroepe te pleeg toe ons hierdie resolusie [Golf van Tonkin] gevra het nie. Ons doen dit nou, en ons weet dit gaan sleg wees. ” Dieselfde week vertrou hy aan Lady Bird: 'Viëtnam word elke dag erger. Ek het die keuse om met groot ongevalle -lyste in te gaan of met skande uit te kom. Dit is soos om in 'n vliegtuig te wees en ek moet kies tussen die vliegtuig neerstort of spring. Ek het nie 'n valskerm nie. " Sy het aan haar dagboek gesê: 'As hy deurboor word, bloei ek. Dit is oral 'n slegte tyd. ”

Op Donderdag, 22 Julie 1965, het Johnson sy besluit geneem. Om 05:30, opgewonde in sy bed, het hy omgedraai, Lady Bird wakker gemaak en met pyniging vir haar gesê: 'Ek wil nie in 'n oorlog betrokke raak nie, en ek sien geen uitweg daaruit nie. Ek moet 600 000 seuns bel, hulle huise en hul gesinne laat verlaat. ”

Johnson het aan die kongresleiers gesê: "Ons weet almal dat dit 'n slegte situasie is, en ons wens ons was tien jaar terug - of selfs tien maande terug."

McCormack het die president verseker dat hulle agter hom 'verenig' was, saam met 'alle ware Amerikaners'.

Johnson het voorstelle verwerp om sy groot besluit voor 'n gesamentlike kongresvergadering of in 'n TV -adres van die Oval Office bekend te maak. In plaas daarvan, om 12:30. op Woensdag, 28 Julie, lees hy 'n kort verklaring oor Viëtnam tydens 'n gewone perskamerkonferensie in East Room. Met verwysing na Westmoreland se versoek, het Johnson aangekondig dat hy 'ons vegkrag' byna onmiddellik van 75,000 tot 125,000 man sou verhoog. Verdere magte sal later nodig wees, en hulle sal gestuur word soos versoek. ”

Johnson het sy ambivalensie onthul en erken: "Dit is die mees pynlike en pynlikste plig van u president." Maar tensy die nasie opstaan ​​teen 'mense wat haat en vernietig', dan 'al ons drome om vryheid - almal, almal sal meegesleur word by die vloed van verowering. So ook sal dit nie gebeur nie. Ons sal in Vietnam bly staan. ” Tydens 'n toespraak die daaropvolgende week het hy geen sweempie van sy private twyfel oor die oorlog gegee nie en aan die skare gesê: 'Amerika wen die oorloë wat sy voer. Maak geen fout daarmee nie! ”

Michael Beschloss het nege boeke oor die presidensiële geskiedenis geskryf. Hy is die presidensiële historikus van NBC News en 'n bydraer tot die PBS NewsHour.


Die eerlike entjie van Lady Bird Johnson

Die versteurde gees van Lady Bird Johnson sal rus totdat iemand 'n meer volledige artikel skryf oor hoe sy en haar man miljoenêrs geword het. Van die voorste dagblaaie is slegs die New York Times en die Washington Post doodsberigte geniet die politieke skuldigheid waarop sy en haar man, rep. Lyndon Baines Johnson, vertrou het om die grondslag van haar besigheidsryk te gooi. Sommige van die snitte vind haar plan om Amerika te "verfraai" interessanter as haar blatante oefening op politieke gebied. (Sien die gebrekkige sterfkennisse in die Los Angeles Times, die Boston Globe, en USA Today. Sien die relevante gedeeltes hier.)

Robert A. Caro ondersoek die wortels van die fortuin van Johnson in die tweede deel van sy biografie oor LBJ, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Middele van styging. Alhoewel Lyndon Johnson altyd protesteer dat Lady Bird die stasie alleen gekoop het en dat hy geen politieke druk uitgeoefen het om haar te help nie, bewys Caro hom maklik as 'n leuenaar.

In 1943, die jaar toe Lady Bird Johnson KTBC gekoop het, was die Federal Communications Commission, wat alle oordraglisensie-oordragte nagegaan het, amper afgeskaf, skryf Caro. Lyndon Johnson gebruik sy politieke invloed in beide die kongres en die Withuis om te verhoed dat dit gebeur. Die FCC was een van die mees verpolitiseerde agentskappe in die regering, beweer Caro, en hy weet wie sy vriende is.

Johnson het destyds met die FCC -kommissaris Clifford Durr gesels, "soms by Durr se huis, soms in sy eie," hoewel Durr sê Johnson het nooit melding gemaak van Lady Bird se aansoek om KTBC -lisensie nie. Lady Bird het Durr egter direk genader oor die stasie, en Lyndon het James Barr van die FCC se Standard Broadcast Division gebel. 'Hy wou 'n radiostasie kry, en wat ek onthou, hy sou nie 'n antwoord antwoord nie,' haal Caro aan.

Die legendariese Demokratiese regmaker Tommy "The Cork" Corcoran het ook gehelp met die KTBC -aansoek - "alles op en af," is hoe Corcoran dit gestel het. In 'n onderhoud gevra of Johnson se status as lid van die kongres die aansoek van sy vrou gehelp het, het Corcoran gesê: 'Hoe dink u werk hierdie dinge? Hierdie ouens [FCC -personeel] was al daar. U hoef nie dinge vir hulle uit te spel nie. ”

Die Los Angeles Times en USA Today doodsberigte laat dit klink asof KTBC 'n aangebore nie -winsgewende stasie was tydens die bod van Lady Bird en wek die indruk dat sy die enigste vryer van die eiendom was. Dit was nie die geval nie, aangesien Caro die identiteit van die ander bieërs dokumenteer.

Nadat Lady Bird haar aankoop van KTBC voltooi het, het die "vyf jaar vertragings en rompslomp, of vertragings en ongunstige reëls" van die FCC wat die vorige eienaars gestuit het, "verdwyn ... en traagheid is vervang deur spoed," volgens Caro. Sy het kortliks toestemming gekry om 24 uur per dag uit te saai (KTBC was 'n sonsopkoms-tot-sonsondergang-stasie) en dit na 590 op die draaiknop te skuif-''n rustige einde van die draaiknop' ', waar dit in 38 Texas provinsies. Dit was nie toevallig nie. Lyndon en Lady Bird het 'n nuwe stasiebestuurder gewerf, wat 10 persent van die wins belowe het, en Lyndon het vir hom gesê dat die veranderinge in die lisensiebeperkings wat van KTBC 'n geldmaker sou maak, 'klaar was'. In 1945 het die FCC die versoek van KTBC goedgekeur om sy krag te verdubbel, wat sy sein oor 63 provinsies gelewer het.

Toe Lyndon William S. Paley, president van CBS -radio, besoek en vra of KTBC 'n aangeslote CBS kan word en die winsgewende programme daarvan kan dra, hoef hy nie te verduidelik waarom die versoek toegestaan ​​moet word nie. Die radionetwerke was bang vir die reguleerders in Washington sowel as die kongreslede wat die reguleerders gereguleer het. KWOW in Austin is herhaaldelik die verbintenis ontken omdat 'n 'aangeslote in San Antonio' ​​in Austin gehoor kon word. Frank Stanton, direkteur van navorsing van CBS, het Johnson se versoek goedgekeur.

Johnson het kragtige maatskappye afgeskud om op die stasie te adverteer. Plaaslike ondernemings wat wou hê dat weermagkampe in Austin moet bly, het geweet dat een manier om Lyndon se hulp te bekom, op adverteer op KTBC. Caro skryf:

Ingevolge Texas -wetgewing behoort die stasie slegs aan Lady Bird omdat sy dit met haar erfenis gekoop het. Maar as haar eggenoot het Lyndon die helfte van al die winste besit. Hy was baie aktief in die werwing van personeel en die bestuur van die operasie, en in 1948, skryf Caro, vertel hy sy vriende dat hy 'n miljoenêr is.

Die Johnsons verdien duisende uit hul radiostasie, maar miljoene uit hul TV -stasies, skryf die voormalige FCC -amptenaar William B. Ray in sy boek, FCC: Die ups en downs van radioregulering. Die kommissie het in die vroeë vyftigerjare een kommersiële stasie aan Austin toegeken, en die Johnsons was die enigste aansoeker. 'Om 'n mededingende aansoek in te dien, sou 'n vermorsing van geld gewees het,' skryf Ray weens die politieke invloed van Johnsons. 'Elke keer as daar 'n sake -aangeleentheid tussen CBS en die LBJ -stasies was, sou Johnson die toepaslike CBS -personeel na die Withuis ontbied om dit te bespreek,' gaan hy voort.

Was dit ent? Die skelms van Tammany Hall onderskei tussen eerlike graft - wat hulle as respekvol beskou het - en oneerlike ent. Eerlike gravers het politieke verbindings, soos wenke oor waar 'n nuwe brug gebou gaan word, gebruik om veilige beleggings te maak. Oneerlike versamelaars het direk uit die tesourie gesteel.

U kan nou in vrede rus, Lady Bird. U eerlike ent-dae is verby.


Afdeling Opsomming

Lyndon Johnson het sy administrasie begin met drome om die burgerregte -inisiatief van sy voorganger te vervul en sy eie planne te bereik om lewens te verbeter deur armoede in die Verenigde State uit te wis. Sy sosiale programme, beleggings in onderwys, ondersteuning vir die kunste en toewyding aan burgerregte het die lewens van talle mense verander en die samelewing op baie maniere verander. Johnson se aandrang om Amerikaanse verbintenisse in Viëtnam na te kom, 'n beleid wat deur sy voorgangers begin is, het egter sy vermoë om sy visie op die Great Society te verwesenlik sowel as sy steun onder die Amerikaanse bevolking benadeel.

Hersien vraag

Antwoord op hersieningsvraag

  1. Die sosiale programme van die Great Society, soos Medicaid, werksopleidingsprogramme en huursubsidies, het baie arm Afro -Amerikaners gehelp. Alle Afro -Amerikaanse burgers is bygestaan ​​deur die aanvaarding van die Civil Rights Act van 1964, wat diskriminasie in diens beëindig en segregasie in openbare verblyf die Wet op stemreg van 1965 verbied, wat geletterdheidstoetse en ander rassediskriminerende beperkings op stemreg en die burgerregte verbied. Wet van 1968, wat diskriminasie in behuising verbied.

Woordelys

Groot Genootskap Lyndon Johnson se plan om armoede en rasse -onreg in die Verenigde State uit te skakel en die lewens van alle Amerikaners te verbeter

oorlog teen armoede Lyndon Johnson se plan om armoede in die Verenigde State te beëindig deur die uitbreiding van federale voordele, werksopleidingsprogramme en befondsing vir gemeenskapsontwikkeling


Nou stroom

Meneer Tornado

Meneer Tornado is die merkwaardige verhaal van die man wie se baanbrekerswerk in navorsing en toegepaste wetenskap duisende lewens gered het en Amerikaners gehelp het om voor te berei op en te reageer op gevaarlike weerverskynsels.

Die Polio Kruistog

Die verhaal van die polio -kruistog bring hulde aan 'n tyd toe Amerikaners saamgespan het om 'n vreeslike siekte te oorwin. Die mediese deurbraak het talle lewens gered en het 'n deurdringende impak op die Amerikaanse filantropie gehad, wat vandag nog steeds gevoel word.

Amerikaanse Oz

Verken die lewe en tye van L. Frank Baum, die skepper van die geliefde Die wonderlike towenaar van Oz.


Lyndon Johnson weier nominasie vir herverkiesing (1968)

Op 31 Maart 1968 verskyn Lyndon Johnson op televisie en kondig aan dat hy nie van plan is om herverkiesing as president te doen nie:

“Goeie aand, my mede -Amerikaners. Vanaand wil ek met u praat oor vrede in Viëtnam en Suidoos -Asië. Geen ander vraag is so besig met ons mense nie. Geen ander droom absorbeer die 250 miljoen mense wat in daardie deel van die wêreld woon nie. Geen ander doelwit motiveer die Amerikaanse beleid in Suidoos -Asië nie.

Vir jare het verteenwoordigers van ons regering en ander die wêreld vol gereis om 'n basis vir vredesgesprekke te vind. Sedert September verlede jaar het hulle die aanbod wat ek in San Antonio bekend gemaak het, gedra. En die aanbod was die volgende: dat die Verenigde State sy bombardement van Noord -Viëtnam sou stop as dit onmiddellik tot produktiewe besprekings sou lei. En dat ons sou aanvaar dat Noord -Viëtnam nie militêr voordeel sou trek uit ons terughoudendheid nie.

Hanoi het hierdie aanbod, privaat en in die openbaar, aan die kaak gestel. Selfs terwyl die soeke na vrede aan die gang was, het Noord -Viëtnam hulle voorberei op 'n woeste aanval op die mense, die regering en die bondgenote van Suid -Viëtnam.

Hul aanval tydens die Tet -vakansie het nie die hoofdoelwitte bereik nie. Dit het die verkose regering van Suid -Viëtnam nie in duie gestort of sy leër verpletter nie, soos die Kommuniste gehoop het. Dit het nie 'n algemene opstand onder die mense van die stede veroorsaak nie, soos hulle voorspel het. Die kommuniste kon nie beheer oor enige van die meer as 30 stede wat hulle aangeval het, behou nie, en hulle het baie swaar ongevalle opgedoen.

Dit is baie duidelik: as [die kommuniste] nog 'n ronde swaar aanvalle onderneem, sal hulle nie daarin slaag om die vegkrag van Suid -Viëtnam en sy bondgenote te vernietig nie. Maar tragies is dit ook duidelik: baie mans, aan weerskante van die stryd, gaan verlore. 'N Nasie wat reeds twintig jaar oorlog gevoer het, sal weer swaarkry. Weermagte aan albei kante sal nuwe slagoffers neem. En die oorlog sal voortgaan …

Daardie klein, beleërde nasie het al langer as 20 jaar vreeslike straf opgelê. Ek bring vanaand weer hulde aan die groot moed en die volharding van sy mense. Suid -Viëtnam ondersteun gewapende magte vanaand van byna 700 000 man, en ek vestig u aandag daarop dat dit gelykstaande is aan meer as 10 miljoen in ons eie bevolking. Sy mense handhaaf hul vaste vasberadenheid om vry van oorheersing deur die Noorde te wees.

Ek dink daar is aansienlike vordering gemaak met die bou van 'n duursame regering gedurende die afgelope drie jaar. Die Suid -Viëtnam van 1965 kon die vyand se offensief van 1968 nie oorleef het nie. Die verkose regering van Suid -Viëtnam het die aanval oorleef en herstel vinnig die verwoesting wat dit veroorsaak het.

Die aksies wat ons sedert die begin van die jaar onderneem het om die Suid-Viëtnamese magte weer toe te rus om ons verantwoordelikhede in Korea na te kom, sowel as ons verantwoordelikhede in Viëtnam om prysstygings en die koste van die aktivering en ontplooiing van hierdie reserwemagte te vervang helikopters en voorsien die ander militêre voorrade wat ons nodig het, sal al hierdie aksies ekstra uitgawes verg. Die voorlopige raming van die bykomende uitgawes is $ 2,5 miljard in hierdie boekjaar en $ 2,6 miljard in die volgende boekjaar. Hierdie geprojekteerde styging in uitgawes vir ons nasionale veiligheid sal die land se behoefte aan onmiddellike optrede skerper fokus, optrede om die welvaart van die Amerikaanse volk te beskerm en die sterkte en stabiliteit van ons Amerikaanse dollar te beskerm.

By baie geleenthede het ek daarop gewys dat sonder 'n belastingrekening of verminderde uitgawes die tekort volgende jaar weer ongeveer $ 20 miljard sou wees. Ek het beklemtoon die noodsaaklikheid om streng prioriteite in ons uitgawes te stel. Ek het beklemtoon dat die versuim om op te tree en om vinnig en beslis op te tree baie sterk twyfel oor die hele wêreld sou oplewer oor die bereidwilligheid van Amerika om sy finansiële huis in orde te hou. Tog het die kongres nie opgetree nie. En vanaand staan ​​ons voor die skerpste finansiële bedreiging in die naoorlogse era en 'n bedreiging vir die rol van die dollar as die hoeksteen van internasionale handel en finansies ter wêreld

Laastens, my mede -Amerikaners, laat ek dit sê. Van diegene aan wie baie gegee word, word baie gevra. Ek kan nie sê nie, en niemand kan sê dat daar nie meer van ons gevra sal word nie. Yet I believe that now, no less than when the decade began, this generation of Americans is willing to pay the price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival, and the success, of liberty. Since those words were spoken by John F. Kennedy, the people of America have kept that compact with mankind’s noblest cause. En ons sal aanhou om dit te behou.

Dit glo ek baie diep. Throughout my entire public career I have followed the personal philosophy that I am a free man, an American, a public servant and a member of my party, in that order, always and only. For 37 years in the service of our nation, first as a congressman, as a senator and as vice president, and now as your president, I have put the unity of the people first, I have put it ahead of any divisive partisanship. And in these times, as in times before, it is true that a house divided against itself by the spirit of faction, of party, of region, of religion, of race, is a house that cannot stand.

Daar is nou verdeeldheid in die Amerikaanse huis. Daar is vanaand verdeeldheid onder ons almal. And holding the trust that is mine, as President of all the people, I cannot disregard the peril of the progress of the American people and the hope and the prospect of peace for all peoples, so I would ask all Americans whatever their personal interest or concern to guard against divisiveness and all of its ugly consequences.

Fifty-two months and ten days ago, in a moment of tragedy and trauma, the duties of this office fell upon me. I asked then for your help, and God’s that we might continue America on its course binding up our wounds, healing our history, moving forward in new unity to clear the American agenda and to keep the American commitment for all of our people. United het ons hierdie verbintenis nagekom. And united we have enlarged that commitment. And through all time to come, I think America will be a stronger nation, a more just society, a land of greater opportunity and fulfilment because of what we have all done together in these years of unparalleled achievement.

Our reward will come in the life of freedom and peace and hope that our children will enjoy through ages ahead. What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion and distrust and selfishness and politics among any of our people. And believing this as I do I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.

With American sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office: the presidency of your country.

Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.

But let men everywhere know, however, that a strong and a confident and a vigilant America stands ready tonight to seek an honourable peace and stands ready tonight to defend an honoured cause, whatever the price, whatever the burden, whatever the sacrifice that duty may require.

Thank you for listening. Good night and God bless all of you.


The Presidency in Crisis

Even before the Watergate scandal came to light, scholars and journalists started to debate what had gone wrong with the American presidency. George Reedy, former aide to Lyndon Johnson, critiqued the unchecked power the chief executive wielded in his 1970 book, The Twilight of the Presidency. 1 Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a prominent historian and former advisor to John F. Kennedy, classified this state in which the institutional authority of the office had exceeded its constitutional authority as the “imperial presidency” in his famous 1973 book by the same name. 1 That same year, journalist David Wise lamented the web of lies presidents had constructed to mislead and deceive the American people in his The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and Power. 3 Even before the details of the Watergate break-in and the litany of presidential abuses in the Nixon administration came to the surface, it was clear to many that the shift of concentrated power in the chief executive threatened democracy. These works were “forerunners to the theory that the cause of Watergate was the accretion of power to the presidency,” contends political scientist Ruth Morgan. 4

Scholars agree that the Watergate scandal marked a transformative moment in American politics and culture. As the historian Keith W. Olson contends, “Watergate and Vietnam…contributed significantly to a fundamental distrust of government that has continued into the second decade of the twenty-first century.” 5 President Lyndon Johnson’s controversial and problematic engagement in the Vietnam War both expanded the institutional power of the office and distanced the president from the people.

Position of Moral Leadership, 1974. Graphite, ink, and opaque white over blue pencil and graphite underdrawing. Gepubliseer in die Washington Post, April 13, 1974. Prints and Photographs, Library of Congress.

These cracks in public trust of the presidency were widened during the Nixon administration. Wanneer Die Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein drew attention to a June break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972, they began an investigation into illegal activities waged by members of Nixon’s reelection committee. The following February, the Senate launched a congressional investigation into the alleged misconduct of the burglars, and as the narrative unfolded over the next year, it became clear that the fears of criminal activities, wire-tapping, and abuses of power were validated—and even worse than many suspected.

The televised Senate hearings in the summer of 1973 brought the crimes of the Nixon White House—a break-in at the Watergate hotel, subsequent cover-up attempts and bribery, and a range of dirty tricks the president used to target his opponents and punish his enemies to gain personal power—directly to the American people. The Watergate investigation, which played out in Congress, the courts, and the press over the next year, confirmed public suspicions of presidential abuses of power, and as a result, fundamentally altered the relationship of the presidency to the people, the press, and Congress.

Historians have paid significant attention to the crisis of the American presidency that unfolded during the 1960s and 1970s. While some have focused on the power-hungry and paranoid personality of Richard Nixon, others have seen Nixon not simply as an aberration but also a product of shifting political and cultural values in the post-WWII period and the expansion of the presidency as an institution begun over the course of the twentieth century (a historical development this website examines). 6 This section examines these historical arguments, situating the Watergate scandal as a culmination of the personal, political, and institutional changes of the executive branch over the previous decade. This module offers students an opportunity to think about historiography along with understanding the multifaceted roots of the crisis of the American presidency during the 1960s and 1970s.

The Credibility Gap: Watergate as the “Last Chapter of the Vietnam War”

President John F. Kennedy at Press Conference, March 23 1961, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. President Lyndon B. Johnson listens to tape sent by Captain Charles Robb from Vietnam. Source: NARA. [view larger] October 21, 1967, “Vietnam War protesters at the March on the Pentagon, White House Photo Office, Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library.

Since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration, presidents have increasingly intervened in southeastern Asia. Following WWII, Harry Truman supported colonial France against Vietnamese nationalists mobilized under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh, whom Truman and Eisenhower both viewed as ‘Moscow-directed.” 7 When France was defeated in 1954, Minh accepted a temporary agreement to divide the country into a North and South Vietnam, believing that national elections would soon eliminate this partition. Viewed as part of the Cold War, in which the United States used military and economic resources to contain the spread of communist influence from the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, Eisenhower and Kennedy saw reunification under Minh as a Cold War defeat. Before his assassination, Kennedy publicly called South Vietnam the “cornerstone of the Free World.”

While Johnson used Kennedy’s death to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he also found himself bound by Kennedy’s promise to maintain support for South Vietnam. And, by all accounts, the new president was “out of his element in foreign relations,” and as such, relied on insights from advisors, with historian Bruce Schulman noting that Johnson began to “navigate by abstract principles rather than the sure instincts about what really worked that guided him so well in the Congress.” 8

Blinded by the ideological lens of the Cold War, Lyndon Johnson slowly, reluctantly, and controversially expanded American involvement in South Vietnam. The international conflict turned LBJ into a villain in the White House, and created a “credibility gap” between the American people and their president.

When Richard Nixon assumed the presidency, he too faced the dilemma of how to withdraw troops from a controversial war while still maintaining the victory that was deemed essential to his reelection in 1972. 9 Richard Nixon called himself the “last casualty in Vietnam”—the final chapter of the growing distrust of the president and the increasingly hostile relationship between the White House and the press. This section allows students to examine the institutional growth of the national security state and the implications that Johnson’s escalation in Vietnam had for his successor.

SECONDARY SOURCE

  • Bruce Schulman, “’That Bitch of a War’: LBJ and Vietnam,” in Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism, 2de uitg. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 2006), 133-178.

PRIMARY SOURCES

The Kennedy and Eisenhower Legacy:

Public Promises, Private Doubts:

    https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/educational-resources/lbj-and-richard-russell-on-vietnam
  • Lyndon Johnson, “Speech to the American Bar Association,” concerning the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 1964. http://presidentialcollections.org/catalog/nara:2803385
  • Lyndon Johnson, “Pattern for Peace in Southeast Asia,” address delivered on April 7, 1965 at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

“Hey, Hey LBJ, how many boys did you kill today?”: Criticism of Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam:

How did the Cold War commitment of Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy influence Lyndon Johnson’s decisions about Vietnam? How does Vietnam fit into the Cold War consensus and view of foreign policy that came out of WWII?

What concerns does Lyndon Johnson express about Vietnam behind closed doors?

How does Johnson sell the war to the American people? What is the difference between his private views of the war and his public statements?

Why does Vietnam become known as “Johnson’s War”? Why do protesters focus their criticism on Johnson as an individual?

What does the term “credibility gap” mean? What pressures does it place upon Johnson’s successor, Richard Nixon?

GROUP ACTIVITY: WATERGATE AND THE BATTLE OF GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS

Critics of the Vietnam War argued that the unfettered use of executive authority to wage war and deceive the American people on the progress of that war exposed pressing problems in expanding the institutional authority of the Executive Branch. And yet, the Watergate scandal, though perhaps a culmination of what historian Joan Hoff terms the “decline in political ethics and practices during the Cold War,” did test the system of checks and balances designed by the Constitution to prevent abuses of power. 10 In fact, the investigation began and continued because of actions taken by the press, Congress, the courts, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation—all government institutions which pushed back against the growing power of the presidency. As such, Watergate involved a battle between the president and each of these government institutions, leaving each of them fundamentally transformed in the wake of Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Break students into five groups and assign each group the task of analyzing the battle waged between President Nixon and that particular institution. Each group has a particular secondary source they should first consult to help direct their research agenda. After considering the following questions, have each group make an argument about the impact of their government institution in exposing the Watergate scandal and reforming the presidency.

GROUP ASSIGNMENTS

Group 1: Congress
Reading Assignment: Bruce J. Schulman, “Restraining the Imperial Presidency: Congress and Watergate,” in The American Congress: The Building of Democracy, red. Julian Zelizer. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004), 638–649.

Group 3: The Press
Reading Assignment: Michael Schudson, “Watergate and the Press,” in The Power of News. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1995), 142–165.

  • How did the presidency, as an institution, become so powerful? How did other government institutions respond to the growth of the presidency?
  • Did these changing attitudes in the media, parties, Congress, and courts combat the institutional power of the executive, or did it just amass evidence to show Nixon’s misconduct?
  • While many argued that Watergate exposed the corruption of the political system, others pointed out that it demonstrated how the system of checks and balances worked. What is the legacy of Watergate for your particular institution?

RESEARCH ACTIVITY: NIXON AND THE TAPES

Presidents Kennedy and Johnson expanded the White House recording system, and, as the civil rights module illuminates, these recordings provide valuable insights into their styles of governance. But, the Watergate investigation sparked a legal debate between the president and the courts about the content of the tapes: were they Nixon’s personal property, or were they public records that would be preserved by professional archivists at the National Archive and Records Administration, as established by Congress in 1934? 11 In Richard Nixon v. United States of America, the Supreme Court mandated the release of the tapes. Knowing the tapes had proof of his involvement, Nixon resigned from office soon after the decision. After nearly four decades of litigious debates about the processing and preserving of the tapes, the tapes have finally been released to the public, providing insight into Nixon’s personality, style of governance, paranoias, hopes, and fears.

Have students listen to a recording in the “Watergate Collection,” and offer an analysis of how each discussion adds to our understanding of Watergate in its entirety. As students listen to their assigned tape, have them consider the following questions and prepare a presentation to the class on their selected recording.


From our October 2017 issue

Check out the full table of contents and find your next story to read.

As American casualties mounted and news filtered back home that the war was not going nearly as well as the White House had been claiming, the public’s faith in Johnson began to wane. Politicians and journalists described a “credibility gap”—the space between the president’s assertions and the facts on the ground. Skepticism eventually gave way to disillusionment with the presidency itself.

Richard Nixon’s presidency carried that process of disillusionment much further. Nixon’s fondness for audio recordings is notorious. We rightly remember that it was transcripts revealing the president’s crude, cutthroat willingness to conceal his crimes that shocked the nation and forced him from office. But we often forget that the war and the Watergate scandal were inextricably intertwined. Before the White House Plumbers botched the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, they attempted to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, who had leaked the Pentagon Papers, by stealing files from his psychiatrist’s office.

When audio of the Nixon tapes eventually became public in 1980—2,658 of the 3,400 hours are now accessible—Americans could hear for themselves just how cynically the president had approached the war. On tape, he is frequently ruthless, amoral, and self-interested. Nixon had promised peace with honor, but as he weighed the consequences of American withdrawal, chief among his concerns was the potential effect on his reelection in 1972 if Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. Nixon and his national-security adviser, Henry Kissinger, returned to this worry again and again, including on May 29, 1971, in a conversation not released to the public until 1999:

kissinger : The only problem is to prevent the collapse in ’72 … If it’s got to go to the Communists, it’d be better to have it happen in the first six months of the new term than have it go on and on and on.

nixon : Sure.

kissinger : I’m being very cold-blooded about it.

nixon : I know exactly what we’re up to …

kissinger : But on the other hand, if Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam go down the drain in September ’72, then they’ll say you went into these … You spoiled so many lives, just to wind up where you could’ve been in the first year.

nixon : Yeah.

The revelations of the Nixon tapes destroyed his presidency and further eroded American faith in the office itself. The presidents of the post-Vietnam era have never managed to fully restore that faith, and lately, it seems, confidence in the chief executive is at a new low, even if tape recorders are no longer running in the Oval Office.

But we needn’t succumb to the cynicism often on display in the Vietnam recordings. The war may have robbed America of its innocence, but it also reminded us that the duty of citizens in a democracy is to be skeptical—not to worship our leaders, who have always been fallible, but to question their decisions, challenge their policies, and hold them accountable for their failures.


At the National Archives, a new perspective on the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War isn’t ancient history. In many Americans’ minds, it’s not history at all — just a part of their lives. “When you live through something, you see it through one perspective,” says Alice Kamps, the curator behind “Remembering Vietnam,” the newest long-running exhibition at the National Archives. “Even the people who lived through [the time] have really basic questions about why the U.S. was there, why it was there so long and why it was so controversial. We’re hoping to show a number of different perspectives, to give people some insight as to what happened and why.” The exhibition traces the United States’ involvement in Southeast Asia from 1946 to 1975, through more than 80 original documents and artifacts (many of which are newly declassified), historical recordings and films, and video interviews with people whose lives were touched or transformed by the war. All of these pieces combine to create a whole picture of a turbulent time in American history
National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW through Jan. 6, 2019, free.

Model of “the Hanoi Hilton”
This undated model of the Hoa Lo prison camp — better known as “the Hanoi Hilton” — looks like a school diorama, but it had a much more important purpose. “I was so stunned when one of our archivists showed it to me because it’s so unlike typical Archives records,” Kamps says. “It was built by the CIA when they were planning an escape effort to try to free some of the prisoners.” To best plan its mission, the CIA tried to get as close as possible to the layout of the real camp, down to the electrical outlets on the walls. Still, no American POW was ever rescued from any North Vietnamese prison, including Hoa Lo.

Hard hat for Nixon
President Richard Nixon received a number of hard hats during his tenure, but not because he was visiting construction sites. In the Hard Hat Riot of 1970, “some construction workers attacked some peace protesters in New York City, and it was pretty violent,” Kamps says. “Afterwards, Nixon praised the construction workers for their support, and they sent hard hats as tribute,” including this one he received in 1970. Still, Kamps says it’s important to remember that attitudes about the war weren’t black and white. “Even at the time there was this notion that the protesters were all hippies and the working class was all for the war, which wasn’t the case,” she says. “Many, many people in the working class hated [the protesters’] behavior, but were against the war. In fact, after the Hard Hat Riot, the first labor protests against the war were staged.”

Shoes of evacuated child
When people think of the fall of Saigon in 1975, they usually think of the famous image captured by photographer Hugh Van Es of the final helicopter about to take off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy while people desperately clamber to get aboard. These shoes show a different angle of the South Vietnamese capital’s capture. They came from one of the children evacuated in 1975 as part of “Operation Babylift,” an effort that transported Vietnamese orphans to the U.S. The first flight crashed, killing 78 children and 50 adults, but the program evacuated more than 3,000 children overall.

Telegram from Ho Chi Minh
Early on, the United States’ involvement in Vietnam was no involvement at all. Vietnam had long been a French colony, but fell to the Japanese during WWII after the war, the French wanted to recolonize the country. This telegram, sent from North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh to President Harry Truman in 1946, partially says, “I … most earnestly appeal to you personally and to the American people to interfere urgently in support of our independence.” “For many years Ho Chi Minh believed the U.S. could be an ally, given our own war of independence,” Kamps says. However, “rather than oppose France, [Truman] made the decision that we needed to support France because we needed France as a bulwark against communism.” Ho Chi Minh’s request for assistance amounted to nothing.

President Johnson audio recording
Among the exhibit’s audio recordings is a 1964 tape of President Lyndon Johnson and his advisers discussing whether to put American soldiers on the ground in Vietnam. “What’s surprising is the degree to which he and other members of the administration had such grave doubts about our chances of success, yet still committed our troops to the conflict,” Kamps says. “It’s not like they went into this thing really confident that this was going to be an easy thing to win. They were well aware, and even questioned the importance of the outcome.”


American History: Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War

STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. Ek is Steve Ember.

Today, we continue the story of America's thirty-sixth president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Johnson was vice president to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas in November of nineteen sixty-three. Johnson served the last fourteen months of the president's term. Then he won a full term of his own starting in January nineteen sixty-five.

Much of Johnson's time and energy would be taken up by the war in Vietnam.

By early nineteen sixty-four, America had about seventeen thousand troops in Vietnam. The troops were there to advise and train the South Vietnamese military.

Vietnam had gained its independence from France in nineteen fifty-four. The country was divided into North and South. The North had a communist government led by Ho Chi Minh. The South had an anti-communist government led by Ngo Dinh Diem.

In nineteen fifty-seven, communist rebels -- the Viet Cong -- launched a violent campaign in the South. They were supported by the government of North Vietnam and later by North Vietnamese troops. Their goal was to overthrow the government in the South.

President Johnson believed that the United States had to support South Vietnam. Many Americans agreed. They believed that without American help, South Vietnam would become communist. There were concerns about the so-called Domino Theory, that if South Vietnam fell, other Southeast Asian countries would also fall to communists.

As Johnson began his full term, his military advisers told him the communists were losing the war. They told him that North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong forces would soon stop fighting.

On February sixth, nineteen sixty-five, however, the Viet Cong attacked American camps at Pleiku and Qui Nhon. The Johnson administration immediately ordered air strikes against military targets in the North.

Some observers in the United States questioned the administration's policy. James Reston of the New York Times, for example, said President Johnson was carrying out an undeclared war in Vietnam.

In March nineteen sixty-five, the first American combat troops arrived in South Vietnam. Congress supported the president's actions at that time. However, the number of Americans who opposed the war began to grow. These people said it was a civil war. They said the United States had no right, or reason, to intervene.

For six days in May, the United States halted bombing of North Vietnam. The administration hoped this would help get the North Vietnamese government to begin negotiations.

The North refused. And the United States began to build up its forces in the South. By July, one hundred twenty-five thousand Americans were fighting in Vietnam.

Some Americans became angry. Anti-war demonstrations took place in San Francisco and Chicago.

More and more students began to protest. They wanted the war to end quickly.

Some people thought the anti-war demonstrations were only delaying peace in Vietnam. James Reston believed the demonstrations would make Ho Chi Minh think America did not support its troops. And that, he said, would only make him continue the war.

In December of nineteen sixty-five, the United States again halted its air campaign against North Vietnam. Again, it invited the North Vietnamese government to negotiate an end to the fighting. And, again, the North refused.

Ho Chi Minh's conditions for peace were firm. He demanded an end to the bombing and a complete American withdrawal.

Withdrawal would mean defeat for the South. It would mean that all of Vietnam would become communist. President Johnson would not accept these terms. So he offered his own proposals. The most important was an immediate ceasefire. Neither side would compromise, however. And the fighting went on.

In nineteen sixty-six, President Johnson renewed the bombing in North Vietnam. He also increased the number of American troops in South Vietnam.

Nineteen sixty-six was also a year for congressional elections. The opposition Republican Party generally supported the war efforts of Lyndon Johnson, who was a Democrat. But it criticized him and other Democrats for economic problems connected to the war.

The war cost two billion dollars every month. The price of many goods in the United States began to rise. The value of the dollar began to drop. Americans faced inflation and then a recession.

To answer the criticism, administration officials said progress was being made in Vietnam. But some Americans began to suspect that the government was not telling the truth about the war.

Opposition to the war led to bigger and bigger demonstrations.

In July nineteen sixty-seven, just over half the people questioned for opinion surveys said they did not approve of the president's policies. But most Americans believed that Johnson would run again for president the next year.

Johnson strongly defended the use of American troops in Vietnam. In a speech to a group of lawmakers he said:

"Since World War II, this nation has met and has mastered many challenges—challenges in Greece and Turkey, in Berlin, in Korea, in Cuba. We met them because brave men were willing to risk their lives for their nation's security. And braver men have never lived than those who carry our colors in Vietnam at this very hour. The price of these efforts, of course, has been heavy. But the price of not having made them at all, not having seen them through, in my judgment would have been vastly greater."

Then came Tet -- the Vietnamese lunar new year -- in January nineteen sixty-eight.

The communists launched a major military campaign. They attacked thirty-one of the forty-four provinces of South Vietnam. They also struck at the American embassy in the capital, Saigon.

GEORGE SYVERTSEN: “Military police got back into the compound of the two-and-a-half million dollar embassy complex at dawn. Before that, a platoon of Viet Cong were in control. The communist raiders never got inside the main chancery building. A handful of Marines had it locked and kept them out. But the raiders were everywhere else.”

CBS News reporter George Syvertsen described more of the fighting in Saigon and how it affected civilians in a poor part of the city.

SYVERTSEN: [Gunfire] “This neighborhood is called ‘the chessboard’ because of the maze of alleys and passageways. Its residents are mostly poor working people, and its slums are a refuge for Saigon’s hoodlum and criminal elements. Vietnamese Rangers and Marines move carefully, blasting buildings and possible Viet Cong hiding places before moving ahead. This was the first time heavy fighting has taken place in Saigon proper. Until now, most of it has been in the Chinese section of Cho Lon and in the suburbs. [Gunfire]

“The V-C [Viet Cong] were difficult to dislodge. They obviously knew the section well and had built barricades in key spots. The Rangers and Marines took casualties, [Gunfire] mostly from hidden snipers. As soon as a section had been cleared, more terror-stricken civilians scurried out of their homes, thousands of them fleeing from the bullets and explosives, and, even more dangerous, a fire that began to rage out of control.

“Residents in nearby buildings began dragging their most precious possessions out of their shops and homes. Saigon’s water supply system is operating only at seventy percent of normal, so fires are a serious menace.

“For these people, many of whom had fled the war from outlying villages, this is the cruelest blow. The curfew has kept them from making a living. Food prices have tripled since the fighting began a week ago. And now, their homes are being destroyed.”

Thousands of people were killed in the Tet Offensive. The communists suffered heavier losses than the South Vietnamese or the Americans. But many Americans were surprised that the communists could launch such a major attack against South Vietnam. For several years, they had been told that communist forces were small and losing badly. General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. military operations in Viet Nam, spoke with reporter George Syvertsen:

GEORGE SYVERTSEN: “General, how would you assess yesterday’s activities and today’s? What is the enemy doing? Are these major attacks or…” [explosion]

WILLIAM WESTMORELAND: “The enemy, very deceitfully, has taken advantage of the Tet truce, in order to create maximum consternation within South Viet Nam, particularly in the populated areas. Now, yesterday, the enemy exposed himself by virtue of this strategy, and he suffered great casualties.”

As a result of the offensive, popular support for the administration fell even more.

Democrats who opposed President Johnson seized this chance. Several ran against him for the party's nomination in nineteen sixty-eight. These included Senator Robert Kennedy of New York and Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota. Kennedy and McCarthy did well in the early primary elections. Johnson did poorly.

At the end of March nineteen sixty-eight, the president spoke to the American people. He discussed his proposal to end American bombing of North Vietnam. He talked about his appointment of a special ambassador to start peace negotiations. And he announced his decision about his own future:

LYNDON JOHNSON: "I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office -- the presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

Another major issue facing America in the nineteen-sixties was the civil rights movement, which sought to ensure equal rights for black Americans. Dit is ons storie volgende week.

U kan ons reeks aanlyn vind met transkripsies, MP3's, podcasts en foto's op voaspecialenglish.com. U kan ons ook op Facebook en Twitter volg by VOA Learning English. Ek is Steve Ember, en nooi jou uit om volgende week weer by ons aan te sluit vir THE MAKING OF A NATION - Amerikaanse geskiedenis in VOA Special English.

Dra by: Jerilyn Watson

This was program #213. Vir vorige programme, tik "quotMaking of a Nation" tussen aanhalingstekens in die soekkassie bo -aan die bladsy.