Argued that Vietnam was not crucial to American national security (Ex. George Kennan)
Argued that the United States was fighting against the wishes of a majority of Vietnamese (Ex. Dr. Benjamin Spock)
Argued that the war was draining needed resources from Great Society programs (Ex. Martin Luther King Jr.)
Argued that it was unfair for African Americans to fight for democracy in a foreign land when discrimination continued at home (Ex. Civil rights activists)
Argued that Johnson’s policies were too extreme (Ex. J. William Fulbright)
1968: A Turning Point
The Main Idea
As the Vietnam War dragged on and increasingly appeared to be unwinnable, deep divisions developed in American society.
What was the Tet Offensive?
What were the effects of the Tet Offensive?
How did President Johnson try to find a solution to the war?
How did the election of 1968 illustrate divisions in American society
The Tet Offensive
A series of massive coordinated attacks throughout South Vietnam in urban areas
In January 1968 thousands of NVA and Vietcong troops attacked a U.S. military base in Khe Sanh.
U.S. And South Vietnamese troops were unprepared for the Tet Offensive because they believed the attack on Khe Sanh explained the heightened military preparedness of the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong troops
The Main Attacks
Some 84,000 Communist soldiers attacked 12 U.S. military bases and more than 100 cities across South Vietnam.
Effects of the Tet Offensive
General Westmoreland called the Tet Offensive a decisive defeat for the Communists.
About 45,000 enemy soldiers were killed. About 1,100 Americans and 2,300 ARVN troops also died.
The Communists showed that they were determined to keep on fighting.
The Tet Offensive caused many Americans to question whether or not the war in Vietnam could be won
Effects of the Tet Offensive
Major national magazines such as Time and Newsweek also expressed doubts about the war and began to call for its end.
Public criticism of the government’s policies grew louder and more intense.
Robert S. McNamara began to seek ways to end the war
Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy challenged Johnson for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
New York senator Robert Kennedy entered the race.
Shaken by the divisions within his party, Johnson announced that he would not seek nor accept the office of the presidency.
Searching for Solutions
President Johnson denied General Westmoreland’s request for 206,000 more ground soldiers.
Johnson’s advisors could not come up with the best course for the war strategy.
Johnson decided to negotiate with the North Vietnamese.
The Paris peace talks stalled over two issues: the United States wanted all NVA troops out of South Vietnam, and North Vietnam would not accept a temporary South Vietnam government that included a U.S.-backed president
The Election of 1968
The Democratic Primary Fight
Vice President Hubert Humphrey entered the race and defended the administration’s policies in Vietnam.
Senator Eugene McCarthy called for a rapid end to the war.
Senator Robert Kennedy also called for an end to the war and won primaries in Indiana, Nebraska, and California.