President Lyndon Johnson - A Tough Meeting

President Lyndon Johnson - A Tough Meeting Government American Presidents American History Famous People

Life was not easy for President Johnson and Robert McNamara (Johnson's Secretary of Defense) as the Vietnam War dragged on. 

While America's young men were dying in a foreign country, and people at home could not understand why the war was being fought at all, LBJ and his cabinet ministers (especially McNamara) were under pressure.

This image, from the LBJ Presidential Library, is online via the U.S. National Archives. Curators at NARA have described this picture;

President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara attend a Cabinet meeting on February 7, 1968, the beginning of Johnson's turbulent last year.

At the time of this photo, North Vietnam's Tet Offensive was underway. It was a massive effort, by North Vietnam, to turn the tide of war in the North's favor.

Tet succeeded, for North Vietnam, in one major way. It brought the war into American homes, via TV news, causing more and more Americans to protest against an escalating foreign conflict which many people did not support (or understand) in the first place. 

From the "Office of the Historian," at the U.S. State Department, we learn that the federal government knew about the impact of Tet on the American public:

At the end of the Tet Offensive, both sides had endured losses, and both sides claimed victory. The U.S. and South Vietnamese military response almost completely eliminated the NLF forces and regained all of the lost territory. At the same time, the Tet Offensive weakened domestic support for the Johnson Administration as the vivid reporting on the Tet Offensive by the U.S. media made clear to the American public that an overall victory in Vietnam was not imminent.

Despite the lack of public support, for ramping-up the war in Vietnam, the government provided more and more resources—including combat troops and other military aid—to fight against the North Vietnamese. The U.S. State Department's "Office of the Historian" tells us how that happened:

The aftermath of Tet brought public discussions about de-escalation, but not before U.S. generals asked for additional troops for a wide-scale “accelerated pacification program.” Believing that the U.S. was in a position to defeat the North, these military leaders sought to press for a U.S.-South Vietnam offensive.

Johnson and others, however, read the situation differently. Johnson announced that the bombing of North Vietnam would cease above the 20th parallel and placed a limit on U.S. troops in South Vietnam. Johnson also attempted to set parameters for peace talks, but it would be several more years before these came to fruition.

Within the United States, protests against continued involvement in Vietnam intensified. On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced that he would not seek a second term as president. The job of finding a way out of Vietnam was left to the next U.S. president, Richard Nixon.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 09, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 09, 2016

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy LBJ Library and the U.S. National Archives.



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"President Lyndon Johnson - A Tough Meeting" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 09, 2016. May 26, 2020.
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