Vietnam War expansion: the direct cause of the incident

in the spring of 1965, American universities debated the government’s foreign policy. Taking this as a starting point, the anti Vietnam war movement in American society has been developing and growing. Anti war demonstrations broke out in major cities. The war of aggression against Vietnam has become the most unpopular war in American history. The government has also split into hawks and doves. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a sharp and increasingly influential war critic. When Nixon, the Republican, ran for president in 1968, he vowed to assure the American people that after he took office, he would shrink the military strength of the United States in Vietnam and finally end the unpopular war. His pledge catered to the extremely strong anti war voice at that time, and was able to win the election by defeating the incumbent vice president and Democratic candidate Humphrey.

Nixon did hope to change the reality of the “Americanization” of the war after taking office, but he tried to make the Vietnam War “Vietnam”, that is, replace the US military with the South Vietnamese army. However, the problem is that the South Vietnamese regime has always relied on the support of the United States. If the United States withdraws completely, the South Vietnamese government will collapse. Therefore, although the United States reduced the number of troops in Vietnam, it had to strengthen the air force and navy to support the South Vietnamese government and maintain the continuity of US foreign policy. The United States dropped a large number of heavy bombs on the Vietnam battlefield, which exceeded the total number of Allied bombs on the axis countries during World War II. It not only seriously damaged the lives and property of the people of Indochina, but also greatly increased the US military expenditure. Vietnam War is a high-cost war in the United States second only to World War II. Moreover, the war caused heavy casualties to the US military. Between 1969 and 1972 alone, more than 15000 American soldiers were killed, disturbing ordinary Americans. This fruitless war has also dragged the face saving US government into a bottomless pit, exhausted and difficult to extricate itself.

however, Nixon insisted and continued to place high hopes on his “Vietnamese” policy. He praised Ruan Wenshao as one of the greatest political leaders in the world and believed that as long as the anti communist regime in Saigon could survive, it would be a victory. He concluded that in order to consolidate Nguyen Van Sau’s position, it was necessary to quickly destroy the military assembly sites of North Vietnam in the so-called neutral countries Cambodia and Laos. Therefore, he ordered a secret bombing of Cambodia and used the means of falsifying the bombing report to make the Congress know nothing about the matter. In March 1970, the pro western general lonno led a coup to overthrow Sihanouk’s regime. On April 30, Nixon announced that the US military had entered Cambodia after watching the morale boosting film “general” twice. The invasion of Cambodia by




has caused greater fluctuations in American campuses, which have long been in panic. The anti war faction believed that Nixon had broken his promise to gradually downgrade the Vietnam War. Not only that, he also expanded his military operations to another country. There are also great differences within the US government on the direction of the war. There were protests in the United States. Congress strongly opposes the president’s practice of expanding the war without authorization, because according to the constitution, only Congress has the right to declare war. Congress can no longer tolerate the unlimited expansion of the president’s power and is determined to limit the president’s war power. The Pentagon document incident at this time strengthened the determination of Congress.

Elsberg revealed the truth

in June 1971, the New York Times and other newspapers disclosed a number of top secret documents of the Department of defense describing the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War. The documents were revealed to the outside world by Daniel Ellsberg, a justice minded defense official. Before the publication of the document, the US government tried to prevent the publication of the document on the grounds of “national security”, but failed. This is the famous “Pentagon document incident” in the history of American politics and journalism. This batch of top secret files of the Department of defense shows that the US government took the act of hoodwinking and deceiving the public in the early stage of the Vietnam War in order to obtain people’s support for the Vietnam War, and these means have become a common practice of the government in the future. This deceptive act has aroused even higher anti war sentiment among the American people who have long been strongly dissatisfied.

Dr. Elsberg was selected as his special assistant by Assistant Secretary of defense John McNaughton as a Harvard alumni in 1964. After entering The Pentagon, he worked on the issue of war in Indochina, and wrote speeches for defense minister Mcnamara and McNaughton. In 1965, Elsberg went to Vietnam for a field trip. The visit changed Elsberg’s consistent view of the war. When he returned to the United States in 1967, he had become a moderate. At the same time, he was ordered to participate in the preparation of a multi volume The Pentagon secret history about the invasion of Indochina, which gave him access to many top secret files and had time to think about the lessons of the United States in Vietnam. In 1968, Elsberg began to make public anti war remarks. For this reason, he had to quit his job.

since 1970, Elsberg tried to persuade anti war members of Congress to challenge the Nixon administration to end the Vietnam War as soon as possible, but his efforts ran into obstacles everywhere. Just like Senator George McGovern, one of the leading figures of the moderates at that time, although these congressmen opposed the war, no one was prepared to gamble on their political future and fight the moderates led by the president. Instead, they just made some gestures to deal with the voters and conform to the public opinion. As one of them said, they want to go to “the White House, not prison”. It is in this case that Elsberg, who has a sense of justice, had to take risks and expose the truth to the news media.

the Nixon government was discredited. The confidential documents of the Ministry of defense were exposed by the media and the reputation of the federal government was discredited. To this end, the Nixon Administration tried to sue Ellsberg on charges of “divulging state secrets” in order to save some face, but Ellsberg, who complied with the public opinion, was finally acquitted by the court under the protection of the constitution. This shows that the power mechanism of the separation of powers has played an important role at an important juncture. It’s just that ordinary AmericansThe people still paid a heavy price for this.

Nixon himself never expected that as a high-ranking president of the United States of America, he could not even deal with an ordinary Defense Department official. In front of the Supreme Court, the patron saint of the constitution, the Nixon Administration lost the lawsuit. This is a heavy blow to the imperial presidential power. The uproar over the Pentagon documents caused serious damage to the credibility of President Nixon and his government. However, for Nixon, this was only the beginning, not the end. The subsequent Watergate incident almost made him the first impeached president in American history.

Nixon was forced to resign on August 9, 1974. Ford became president of the United States. On September 8, while the investigation into the Watergate incident was not over, Ford announced that he would grant Nixon a full pardon as president for any crimes he might have committed.

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