Wednesday, November 29, 2006
5 presidents timeline project to be followed by Veteran Interview
Truman: inherited the presidency and the decision of whether to drop the A bomb. Reasoned that it would ultimately save lives by bringing a quicker end to the war.
Eisenhower: 5-star general whose strategy helped defeat Hitler. As president, defined the Cold War as a mostly covert struggle against communism and communism's Domino Effect.
JFK: was able to out-poll the experienced leader Richard Nixon by virtue of his youthful good looks in the first televised presidential debate, 1960. Very slim margin of victory, reminding us of the Bush Vs. Gore election. JFK assassinated in 1963.
Lyndon Johnson: became president upon JFK's death. Used Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to make war against the North Viet communists.
Continually raised troop strength over several year period but could not produce a victory. His team thoroughly underestimated the enemy (sound familiar, as in Iraq?).
Using the draft to fill the ranks of the Army, incurred the wrath of the student protest movement. Demonstrations against the war - doves vs. hawks - grew from campus activity to large-scale marching in cities. Culminated with March on Washington (250,000 participants) in 1968.
Troop deployment in Vietnam peaks in '68 at some 500,000. The NVA & VC make a dramatic victory in '68 by a large-scale, surprise attack against our strongholds. Called the Tet Offensive, it marks a turning point in the war.
Richard Nixon: determined to best the communists Nixon used heavy bombing of North Vietnam to gain an advantage. Somehow, Ho Chi Minh's forces held out. Overall, Nixon managed the US exit from 'Nam. he also won praise by opening trade with communist China, at the time a backwards nation and "sleeping giant."
Nixon resigned in '74 due to the Watergate Scandal.
He and his aides had denied involvement in various "dirty tricks" against the Democrats in the election of '68. Journalists kept the inquiry alive and after several years of determined reporting, found the evidence that Nixon had known about the chicanery of his re-election team. When the US public learned that the president had lied about his involvement, Nixon lost the nation's support. he resigned rather than face impeachment.