May 2012: Model Answer
06 “In the years 1969-1973 President Nixon’s policies showed that he was committed to protecting South Vietnam.” Explain why you agree or disagree with this view.
Arguably, President Nixon’s policies did not show that he was entirely committed to protecting South Vietnam in the years 1969-1973.
1. In June 1969, President Nixon announced the Nixon doctrine at Guam. 2. In this, he declared that the US remained committed to opposing communism. 3. Between November 1968 and January 1973, Nixon withdrew American troops from Vietnam. In June 1969, 25,000 troops were withdrawn, and later in December 1969, 60,000 troops were withdrawn. However, Nixon built up the ARVN, ensuring it was better equipped than ever. This appears to show that Nixon was committed to defending South Vietnam. 4. In addition, Nixon escalated the bombing of North Vietnam, the main threat to the independence of South Vietnam. For example, Operations Linebacker I and Linebacker II of 1972. Also, the mining of Haiphong harbour. This would appear to suggest that Nixon was determined to defend South Vietnam. He also widened the war, by bombing Vietcong positions in Laos, and remaining US troops invaded the fishhook region of Cambodia in the pursuit of Vietcong. 5. Nixon was apparently determined to protect South Vietnam. However, South Vietnam was not important to Nixon in itself. It was part of the wider struggle against communism. Nixon was more concerned with America’s credibility as an opponent to communism than wish the defence of South Vietnam. 6. It should be noted that Nixon was effectively intervening with a civil war in North Vietnam and supporting one of the sides and the other side perceived the US as imperialists, who were threatening the independence of North and South Vietnam. 7. Arguably, Nixon’s primary concern was with his presidency, he knew after the Tet Offensive that no American president would be elected for a second term if he didn’t withdraw...
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