Nixon 's Exit Strategy in Vietnam Essay

  • Length: 1 pages
  • Sources: 1
  • Subject: War
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #71773128
  • Related Topics: War, Operations, 1950s

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Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird told Nixon that the problems involved in executing the exit strategy in Vietnam were because the U.S. and its generals wanted to oversee too much and maintain control of operations as opposed to simply handing over the reins to the South Vietnamese (Willbanks, 2004). The American people wanted the war to go away and U.S. soldiers to come home. Nixon had to placate them while also not losing the strategic area of South Vietnam in Asia by leaving the South Vietnamese to face the formidable Northern foe alone. To remain, however, and continue to oversee operations would go against what the Americans at home wanted. Vietnaminization was a flawed exit strategy from beginning because it was trying to maintain two opposite aims at the same time—withdrawal while maintaining a presence.

As Kissinger pointed out, Vietnaminization was really just a political maneuver so that Nixon could buy time to “develop our strategy” (Willbanks, 2004, p. 5). The truth was that the Vietnamese had been fighting the war since the 1950s, before the American presence there had become formidable. The idea that the South Vietnamese had to be better trained and readied to take over the war was insulting to the South Vietnamese. It was no exit strategy in reality, either. It was a political gambit so that Nixon could find some better way to achieve the aim of containment while continuing to operate combat operations throughout the so-called exit strategy. In reality, a better strategy would have simply been to leave. In declaring Vietnaminization an exit strategy, Nixon had simply found a politically acceptable way to prolong the U.S.’s role in the Vietnam War, which the American people did not want. The challenge of the strategy was that it was duplicitous at heart.


Willbanks, James H. “Vietnamization: An Incomplete Exit Strategy.” In Turning Victory Into Success: Military Operations After the Campaign, as presented at the Second Annual TRADOC/CSI Historical Symposium conducted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 13–14 September 2004, edited by Dr. Lieutenant Colonel Brian M. De Toy, 135–67. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2004.


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