Nixon, Ford and the Abandonment of South Vietnam


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About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

J. Edward Lee teaches history at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He lives in York, South Carolina.
H.C. “Toby” Haynsworth is a retired professor of business administration at Winthrop. He lives in Rock Hill.

Bibliographic Details

J. Edward Lee and H.C. “Toby” Haynsworth
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 223
Bibliographic Info: photos, maps, notes, chronology, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1302-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8384-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vi

Introduction     1

1 The Worst Day     5

2 Turning Point     9

3 Nixon’s Doctrine     13

4 The Widening Morass     17

5 Incursion     31

6 Irritants     42

7 Madman     47

8 Last Chance     52

9 Gravest Consequences     57

10 Under Siege     61

11 Crises     65

12 Expletive Deleted     69

13 Caretaker     74

14 The Razor’s Edge     79

15 Nothing Happened     107

16 Will ARVN Fight?     121

17 Final Betrayal     127

18 Exit     131

19 Who Lost South Vietnam?     152

Chronology     159

Glossary     175

Notes     183

Bibliography     199

Index     213

Book Reviews & Awards

“an excellent account of events in-country from 1973 until the final evacuation…. Recommended. All levels/collections”—Choice; “evenhanded”—Library Journal; “well-written…. Lee and Haynsworth make it abundantly obvious to the reader that President Nixon’s main goal in dealing with the conflict in South Vietnam was to protect himself politically. The authors sum up what happened in Vietnam by giving a clear warning to future Presidents and members of Congress: “The first casualty of war may, indeed, be truth. When politicians fail to lead and act with integrity, serious damage is done to our system”—Parameters.