Cover image for Nixon, Ford, and the abandonment of South Vietnam
Nixon, Ford, and the abandonment of South Vietnam
Lee, J. Edward, 1953-
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Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 215 pages : illustrations, 2 maps ; 22 cm
The worst day -- Turning point -- Nixon's doctrine -- The widening morass -- Incursion -- Irritants -- Madman -- Last chance -- Gravest consequences -- Under siege -- Crises -- Expletive deleted -- Caretaker -- The razor's edge -- Nothing happened -- Will ARVN fight? -- Final betrayal -- Exit -- Who lost South Vietnam? -- Chronology of major events.
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DS558 .L394 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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South Vietnam fell because of events occurring thousands of miles away from the battlefields--in China, the Soviet Union, Latin America, the Middle East, and Washington's corridors of power, along protest lines, and around America's dinner tables. These other wars being fought by American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford profoundly impacted what happened in Vietnam. This work examines those other conflicts and the political, social, and economic factors involved with them that distracted and crippled the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and led to the eventual abandonment of the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese regime. Nixon entered office with the goal of bringing the world together, but saw that goal ruined by the 1973 war in the Middle East, preoccupations with China and the Soviet Union, a weak economy, Watergate, and his disgraceful exit from the White House. Ford's presidency was tainted almost from the beginning because of the pardon he granted to Nixon, but the American public, tired of war and concerned about the economy, was ready to hear that the war had come to an end. An argument is presented that the war could have been won if the "other wars" had been fought by presidents willing to honor the American commitment to its allies in South Vietnam.

Author Notes

H. C. "Toby" Haynsworth is a retired professor of business administration at Winthrop University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In this overview of the final years of the Vietnam War, Lee (South Carolina in the Civil War) and Haynsworth (retired, business administration, Winthrop Univ.) focus on the political and foreign policy maneuverings of Presidents Nixon and Ford, arguing that they distracted from the war effort. The result is generally evenhanded, but both Presidents are nevertheless faulted for not defeating the enemy as did Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Civil War and World War II, respectively. However, South Vietnam, unlike the United States, was not a country with a longtime democratic tradition but rather a geographic entity established by the 1954 Geneva Treaty. Nixon lost the moral credibility to lead America in war because he betrayed the public and Congress. Ford, a more decent man, knew what Nixon knew: by 1975 the public and Congress would no longer support a military role in Southeast Asia. Neither president led a public motivated to defeat the enemy, as Lincoln and Roosevelt had. Though it concentrates on the political realm, this book contains some harrowing first-person accounts from those who stayed or were left behind in South Vietnam once the Americans departed in 1973. Larry Berman's No Peace, No Honor is a more thorough investigation of Nixon's diplomatic duplicity. This work may be considered for larger public libraries and academic collections. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Historian Lee and retired business professor Haynsworth (both Winthrop Univ.) strike the basic theme that as early as March 1969, when Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird visited General Creighton Abrams in Vietnam to explain Vietnamization, the abandonment of Vietnam had commenced. Nixon and Ford, as well as Henry Kissinger, are clearly the culprits in the abandonment that culminated in South Vietnam's fall in April 1975. The assessment proceeds on two levels. First, the two presidents faced other international priorities--China, the USSR, and crisis in the Middle East--as well as domestic pressures, protests, and political opposition. Second, and more uniquely, there is an excellent account of events in-country from 1973 until the final evacuation, which includes detailed recognition by name of the many Vietnamese and US military personnel and civilians who made exceptional contributions over the final years. Others appear in a less flattering light, including President Thieu, who during 1975 made what the authors euphemistically call "suboptimal decisions." Historians might take exception to the simple revisionist conclusion in the final chapter that Presidents Nixon and Ford "lost" Vietnam if only because Vietnam's indigenous revolution, like Russia's in 1917 and China's in 1949, appeared beyond the power of the US to control. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels/collections. C. W. Haury Piedmont Virginia Community College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vi
Introductionp. 1
1 The Worst Dayp. 5
2 Turning Pointp. 9
3 Nixon's Doctrinep. 13
4 The Widening Morassp. 17
5 Incursionp. 31
6 Irritantsp. 42
7 Madmanp. 47
8 Last Chancep. 52
9 Gravest Consequencesp. 57
10 Under Siegep. 61
11 Crisesp. 65
12 Expletive Deletedp. 69
13 Caretakerp. 74
14 The Razor's Edgep. 79
15 Nothing Happenedp. 107
16 Will ARVN Fight?p. 121
17 Final Betrayalp. 127
18 Exitp. 131
19 Who Lost South Vietnam?p. 152
Chronology of Major Eventsp. 159
Glossaryp. 175
Notesp. 183
Bibliographyp. 199
Indexp. 213