President Nixon inherited an unpopular war and increasing troubles on the home front.
Peace Talks Stall Formal peace talks began in May, 1968 in Paris US wanted all VC out of South Vietnam and release of POW’s North Vietnam wanted halt to bombings, withdrawal of US troops, and recognition of NLF (Vietcong) as a political party Neither side would budge on negotiations Both sides argued over shape of the negotiating table.
Vietnamization Nixon expressed his faith in the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN) to assume the burden of the war This was called Vietnamization The idea was to transfer front-line fighting to the South Vietnamese
Bombing of Cambodia The North Vietnamese were continuing to supply the Vietcong by way of the Ho Chi Minh Trail The trail ran through neutral Laos and Cambodia Nixon secretly ordered the bombing of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia to reduce the flow of supplies to the Vietcong
American Troops Attack Cambodia Nixon was growing impatient at the pace of peace negotiations In order to break the negotiations stalemate, Nixon ordered a ground attack by U.S. soldiers on North Vietnamese bases in Cambodia He also hoped to aid the pro-American Cambodian government in its fight against the communist Khmer Rouge Nixon addressed the nation on TV and informed them of the invasion Although large quantities of supplies were seized, the North Vietnamese continued their struggle Anti-war activists immediately criticized Nixon for expanding the scope of the war
Students Protest At Kent State University in Ohio, four students were shot by National Guardsmen. A similar confrontation at Jackson State University in Mississippi left two students dead. Counterprotests were held by those supporting Nixon and the war efforts.
My Lai In 1971, Americans were stunned to learn about the My Lai massacre. Four years earlier, U.S. soldiers searching for Vietcong in the village of My Lai had killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. The unit commander, Lt. William Calley, claimed he had been following orders. The military was criticized for covering up the incident and not performing an adequate investigation. Lt. Calley was convicted by a military court and sentenced to life imprisonment, President Nixon commuted sentence to house arrest and later granted him a pardon.
The Pentagon Papers The publication of the Pentagon Papers further shocked the nation. The report revealed that American leaders had lied to Congress and failed to inform the public fully about the American involvement in Vietnam. Nixon tried to stop publication of the Pentagon Papers, but The New York Times published the report in 1971.
Nixon Wins in 1972 In October 1972, the US and North Vietnam came to terms on a peace settlement Nixon won reelection one month later North Vietnam refused to sign the agreement Nixon ordered the bombing of North Vietnam to force the Vietnamese to resume negotiations
Paris Peace Accords In January 1973, the war finally ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. The United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the Vietcong would stop fighting. U.S. troops would withdraw from South Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops would remain in South Vietnam. South Vietnam’s noncommunist government would remain in power. US POW’s would be returned
More Problems in Southeast Asia In Cambodia, the communist Khmer Rouge unleashed a genocide, killing more than 2 million people A communist government took control in Laos Vietnam, now unified and communist, attacked Cambodia who were supplied by the Chinese and supported by the US
The Cost of War More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam. It would be years before Vietnam veterans were acknowledged for their sacrifices. The war undermined Americans’ trust in their leaders. Americans became reluctant to intervene in other nations’ affairs.
Vietnam Changes American Policies The cost of fighting a war effectively killed Johnson’s Great Society programs Congress passed the War Powers Act in 1973. The act restricted the President’s ability to send the nation to war.