The liberal wing of the antiwar movement, represented by groups such as SANE, WSP, Student Peace Union, and Americans for Democratic Action, supported détente, diplomacy, and demilitarization of the Cold War, paying particular attention to the nuclear arms race. Liberal peace groups worked to build a broad-based movement, gain positive media attention, and influence members of Congress – all essential elements of movement-building. At the same time, they tended to narrow their vision and political goals to what was feasible within the American context, which fell short of what was needed to achieve peace in the international context. The unwillingness of liberal peace groups to support U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam not only divided the antiwar movement but also constituted a missed opportunity to combine domestic peace efforts with international diplomatic efforts led by UN Secretary-General U Thant, which were based on the Geneva formula. According to the historian Milton Katz:
Having spoken from his conscience, King was labeled an enemy of the state by his government, and derided as a dupe of the communists by the press. He was not alone in this. Both the Johnson and Nixon administrations besmirched antiwar activism as support for the communist cause, if not actually being controlled by communists. Using an expansive definition of “subversion,” they employed the FBI and CIA to conduct surveillance and sabotage of antiwar groups, including King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As for the mainstream media, its denunciations of antiwar activism decreased over time as more Americans joined the antiwar movement and the costs of the war increased.
As in Laos, the U.S. began to secretly bomb Cambodia in 1965 to order to impede the flow of arms to the NLF-NVA in South Vietnam. In March 1969, President Nixon significantly increased the aerial assaults under the codename MENU, while still keeping the raids secret from the American people, an amazing feat considering that 110,000 tons of bombs were dropped over a fourteen-month period. A Pentagon report, released in 1973, stated that Nixon’s national security adviser, “Henry A. Kissinger approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids in 1969 and 1970 as well as the methods for keeping them out of the newspapers.” In March 1970, Cambodia fell into civil war after Defense Minister Lon Nol engineered a coup d’état. The U.S. backed the anticommunist Nol, sending U.S. forces into Cambodia in May and June. U.S. bombing continued until Congress passed legislation forcing the administration to end it in August 1973. All told, the U.S. dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Cambodia, an amount that exceeded the tonnage dropped on Laos. According to the diplomatic historian Greg Grandin:
The hardest hit area was the province of Quang Tri, just south of the Demilitarized Zone, where an estimated 3,489 villages were repeatedly bombed. In April 1972, the province was hit with the heaviest B-52 bombing of the entire war. Forty B-52s flattened a “box” two miles long and one-half mile wide. The capital city and the southeastern quadrant of Quang Tri were obliterated. Arthur Westing, an ecologist who had worked for the U.S. Forest Service, experienced combat in Korea, and made three previous trips to Indochina to study the war zones in Cambodia, reported after a 1973 visit to the Quang Tri province that he was “unprepared for the utter devastation that confronted us wherever we turned.… Never were we out of sight of an endless panorama of crater fields. As far as we could determine not a single permanent building, urban or rural, remained intact; no private dwellings, no schools, no libraries, no churches or pagodas and no hospitals. Moreover, every last bridge and even culvert had been bombed to bits. The one rail line through the province was also obliterated.”
According to a 2003 health study, an estimated 3,181 villages in South Vietnam were directly sprayed with toxic chemicals, and another 1,430 were indirectly sprayed, exposing “at least 2.1 million but perhaps as many as 4.8 million people” to the herbicides. The defoliation of South Vietnam’s jungles and forestland resulted in rampant soil erosion, wildfires, floods, malaria and disease epidemics caused by rat infestations, among other serious ecological consequences, some of which still linger a half century later. The heavily defoliated A Luoi Valley once possessed a tropical forest rich in hardwoods and rare species of trees, full of elephants, tigers and monkeys, its rivers teeming with fish. In July 2009, American professor Fred Wilcox found it covered by wild weeds with poor fauna, having only 24 bird species and five mammal species, a fraction of what existed before the war.
After two and a half months of intensive bargaining, a set of agreements was finalized on July 21. The agreements called for a temporary division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel in order to allow Viet Minh forces to withdraw to the north, and French forces to withdraw to the south. National elections, north and south, were scheduled for July 1956, after which Vietnam would have one government ruling the whole country. During the two-year interim, the Geneva Agreements expressly prohibited the introduction of additional military personnel, foreign arms, and foreign military bases throughout Vietnam. The final declaration emphasized that the “military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary.” The Viet Minh, having won the war, made a significant compromise in delaying its assumption of power. It did so at the behest of the Chinese and Soviet delegations, both of which were interested in reducing Cold War tensions with the United States.
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WHY DID THE US & UN GET INVOLVED?
DEAN ACHESON'S PERIMETER SPEECH
Acheson was Secretary of State between 1948-53.
He was very important to forming the Marshall Plan and Cold War Policy under Truman.
Read the excerpt of the speech he gave to the National Press Club in January of 1949.
What is the main point of the speech?
Draw the perimeter that he speaks about on the map on the back.
"In a very real sense,the first real victory of the West in the Cold War was won in the bloody hills of central Korea."
"The only decisive outcome of the war was the precedent it set: that there could be a bloody and protracted conflict involving the nations armed with nuclear weapons and they could chose not to use them.
Lack of loyalty to the Diem government was more subtly apparent in the unwillingness of ARVN soldiers to fight. They were supposed to fight to the death for the government of South Vietnam (GVN), in a Washington-scripted play that divided the Vietnamese people into “good” non-communists and “evil” communists. Yet most had no cause for animosity toward the communist-led NLF and only wanted to survive and be paid. Hence when called to action, the results were often disappointing to U.S. military advisers. A case in point was the battle of Ap Bac on January 2, 1963, in which 350 lightly armed guerrillas routed a larger force of 2,000 ARVN soldiers equipped with Colt AR-15 rifles and light-weight jungle radios, and backed by aircraft and armored vehicles. The ARVN had one of the highest desertion rates in the history of modern warfare. Sixty-five percent of ARVN soldiers were forcibly conscripted, and many ARVN officers were patronage appointees who served the French and used their positions for personal gain.
The coup against Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963 happened in part because Kennedy administration officials feared that Diem might opt for an end to the war through an agreement with the enemy. Reports that the successor government led by Duong Van Minh might have similar intentions caused Washington to become disenchanted with it as well.
Steven Rabe, THE KILLING ZONE
Though still considered less important than Asia and Europe, Latin America was now on the map as far as the Cold War was concerned.