Antiwar Movement In US

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Antiwar Movement In US

The antiwar movement against Vietnam in the US from 1965-1971 was the most
significant movement of its kind in the nation's history. The United States
first became directly involved in Vietnam in 1950 when President Harry Truman
started to underwrite the costs of France's war against the Viet Minh. Later,
the presidencies of Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy increased the US's
political, economic, and military commitments steadily throughout the fifties
and early sixties in the Indochina region. Prominent senators had already begun
criticizing American involvement in Vietnam during the summer of1964, which led
to the mass antiwar movement that was to appear in the summer of 1965. This
antiwar movement had a great impact on policy and practically forced the US out
of Vietnam. Starting with teach-ins during the spring of 1965, the massive
antiwar efforts centered on the colleges, with the students playingleading
roles. These teach-ins were mass public demonstrations, usually held in the
spring and fall seasons. By 1968, protestersnumbered almost seven million with
more than half being white youths in the college. The teach-in movement was at
first, a gentle approach to the antiwar activity. Although, it faded when the
college students went home during the summer of 1965, other types of protest
that grew through 1971 soon replaced it. All of these movements captured the
attention of the White House, especially when 25,000 people marched on
Washington Avenue. And at times these movements attracted the interestof all the
big decision-makers and their advisors. The teach-ins began at the University of
Michigan on March 24, 1965, and spread to other campuses, including Wisconsin on
April 1. These protests at some of America's finest universities captured public
attention. The Demonstrations were one form of attempting to go beyond mere
words and research and reason, and to put direct pressure on those who were
conducting policy in apparent disdain for the will expressed by the voters.
Within the US government, some saw these teach-ins as an important development
that might slow down on further escalation in Vietnam. Although several hundred
colleges experienced teach-ins, most campuses were untouched by this
circumstance. Nevertheless, the teach-ins did concern the administration and
contributed to President Johnson's decision to present a major Vietnam address
at Johns Hopkins University on April 7, 1965. The address tried to respond to
the teach-ins campus protest activity. The Johns Hopkins speech was the first
major example of the impact of antiwar. Johnson was trying to stabilize public
opinion while the campuses were bothering the government. In 1965, the US
started strategically bombing parts of Northern Vietnam, catalyzing the antiwar
movement public opinion ofwhat was going on in Indochina. These bombings spawned
the antiwar movement and sustained it, especially as the North Vietnamese leader
Ho Chi Minh refused to listen to American demands. The antiwar movement would
have emerged alone by the bombings, and the growing cost of American lives
coming home in body bags only intensified public opposition to the war. This
movement against the Northern bombings, and domestic critics in general, played
a role in the decision to announce a bombing pause from May 12 to the 17, of
1965. Antiwar activists carried on through the pause with their own programs,
and the scattered teach-ins had become more of a problem for President Johnson
when their organizers joined in an unofficial group, the Inter-University
Committee for a Public Hearing on Vietnam. This new committee began planning a
nationwide teach-in to be conducted on television and radio, of which would be a
debate between protesters and administrators of the government. The antiwar
movement, through the national teach-in, contributed to the resignations of many
government officials, including the resignation of McGeorge Bundy inearly 1966.
This well-publicized debate made the antiwar effort more respectable. As
supporters of the war found themselves more popular, they were driven
increasingly to rely on equating their position with"support for our boys
in Vietnam.". The antiwar movement spread directly among the combat troops
in Vietnam, who began to wear peace symbols and flash peace signs and movement
salutes. Some units even organized their own demonstrations to link up with the
movement at home. For example, to join the November 1969 antiwarMobilization, a
unit boycotted its Thanksgiving Day dinner. One problem of the antiwar movement
was the difficulty of finding ways to move beyond protest and symbolic acts to
deeds that would actually impede the war. Unlike college students and other
civilians, the troops in Vietnam had no such problem. Individual acts of
rebellion, raging from desertion to killing officers who ordered
search-and-destroy missions, merged into