Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

Public opinion and foreign policy: the Nixon administration and the pursuit of peace with honor in Vietnam.

Long after the Communist takeover, American academics still battle over how and why the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  lost the Vietnam War Vietnam War, conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. .(1) Adherents of the conventional" school maintain that U.S. policy makers mistakenly imposed a global conception of communism upon a localized, post-colonial civil war.(2) "Revisionists" argue that intervention was sound, moral, and necessary to the interests of both South Vietnam South Vietnam: see Vietnam.  and the United States.(3) Both sides place great importance on the role of public opinion when essaying the justification and execution of that war. For conventional critics, the problem is one of false consciousness, created not only out of general anti-communism, but also out of deception and manipulation of the public by presidents Johnson and Nixon.(4) Revisionists contend that a more consistent and effective public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most  effort on Nixon's part, and avoidance of the Watergate scandal Watergate scandal

(1972–74) Political scandal involving illegal activities by Pres. Richard Nixon's administration. In June 1972 five burglars were arrested after breaking into the Democratic Party's national headquarters at the Watergate Hotel complex in Washington,
, probably would have preserved South Vietnam's independence.(5)

This debate continues in no small part because of its relevance to an even more fundamental disagreement over interventionism in·ter·ven·tion·ism  
The policy or practice of intervening, especially:
a. The policy of intervening in the affairs of another sovereign state.

 and the public's role in American foreign policy. Analyses of survey data have linked opinions about the war to attitudes toward the commitment of U.S. troops abroad.(6) Those subscribing to the conventional school presumably pre·sum·a·ble  
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster.
 would oppose most if not all hypothetical interventions as variations upon the unhappy Vietnam experience, while those taking the revisionist re·vi·sion·ism  
1. Advocacy of the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view, theory, or doctrine, especially a revision of historical events and movements.

 view would favor future interventions if government could effectively employ the military and better cope with dissent.

If Nixon meant to shape public opinion on his Vietnam policy, public opinion in turn placed real constraints on what forms that policy could take. War weariness had already set in by the time Nixon took the oath of office An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations.  in 1969. The president wanted to keep U.S. forces in South Vietnam until an honorable withdrawal could be achieved, regardless of domestic dissent. He had to cope with dwindling dwin·dle  
v. dwin·dled, dwin·dling, dwin·dles

To become gradually less until little remains.
To cause to dwindle. See Synonyms at decrease.
 support for an intensified effort, and incessant demands for a negotiated settlement. Somehow Nixon had to bring public opinion, the news media, Congress, and the bureaucracy along as he walked a tightrope between a negotiated settlement and unilateral withdrawal.(7) Nixon's task was made all the more difficult by his employment of the seemingly contradictory methods of troop reduction and applications of intense firepower to coerce the North Vietnamese North Vietnam

A former country of southeast Asia. It existed from 1954, after the fall of the French at Dien Bien Phu, to 1975, when the South Vietnamese government collapsed at the end of the Vietnam War. It is now part of the country of Vietnam.
 to accept what he considered honorable peace terms. This article analyzes at least some of the ways he sought to shape that support while pursuing complex and somewhat contradictory objectives.

President Nixon, of course, was hardly unaware of the need to build public opinion in favor of his policy. At times, Nixon proclaimed a willingness to act contrary to the polls, and acted accordingly. The question remains of how much he led or followed public opinion. The dominant wisdom on the role of public opinion in foreign policy formulation through the Vietnam period, the so-called Almond-Lippmann thesis,(8) was that the public could be dismissed or led by elites. However, recent research has confirmed that popular opinion has coherence, structure, and impacts on foreign policy decision makers in a reciprocal relationship.(9) Using archival evidence, this inquiry contributes to our new understanding of the role played by public opinion in foreign policy formulation along the lines of other recent case studies.(10)

Seeking to legitimate a rather complex policy,(11) the administration took to polling as an instrumental and symbolic means of achieVing its objectives.(12) Polls serve at least two important purposes, one by disclosing the distribution of opinion in response to possible policy options, and another by supplying ammunition for the public relations task of building and maintaining support for actual policies. I begin my analysis of Nixon's legitimation efforts with an examination of how the administration used polls both to measure and to build public support for its Vietnam policy. I then consider briefly how the White House used polls to minimize congressional "Interference" with its Vietnam policy, and how the administration relied on polls to undermine the opposition.

Using Polling to Shape Policy and Public Opinion

From the outset, Nixon was concerned that he not appear to be "pandering" to popular sentiment. He made that position clear when Roscoe Drummond of the Philadelphia Inquirer Philadelphia Inquirer

Morning newspaper, long one of the most influential dailies in the eastern U.S. Founded in 1847 as the Pennsylvania Inquirer, it took its present name c. 1860. It was a strong supporter of the Union in the American Civil War.
 wrote that if Nixon didn't get out of Vietnam he would be a victim of popular outrage just as Johnson had. Nixon instructed John Ehrlichman John Daniel Ehrlichman (March 20, 1925 – February 14, 1999) was counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon and a key figure in events leading to the Watergate first break-in and in the ensuing Watergate scandal for which he was  to tell Drummond that regardless of the polls "`RN will do what his long experience and conviction tells him is right.'"(13) Nonetheless, Nixon hired polling experts and commissioned private polls to give the White House a sophisticated capacity for public opinion analysis that Jacobs and Shapiro conclude was of unprecedented scope.(14) Public or private, favorable information the White House gleaned from polls was promoted to convey to unsuspecting elites and the public the extent of support for Nixon's policies. After all, Nixon understood the "complete revolution in the means of affecting the public" and the consequent importance of television.(15) On February 3, 1971, Nixon assigned Chief of Staff and former advertising executive H. R. Haldeman to sit in on all critical foreign policy meetings to bring consideration of congressional and public relations factors in the decision-making process.(16) Polling was used to gauge the receptivity of the public to Nixon's Vietnam initiatives, to legitimate policies, and to verify when its military and diplomatic strategy required adjustment.(17)

Figure One shows the results of some of Nixon's public opinion intelligence gathering operation. Using poll reports assembled by the White House, we chart the public's approval of Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War as measured by Gallup and the White House's private public opinion firm the Opinion Research Corporation (ORC).(18) Four points of convergence of the disapprove/approve trend lines mark crisis periods for Nixon's Vietnam policy: prior to the unveiling of the Vietnamization program; before the military incursion in·cur·sion  
1. An aggressive entrance into foreign territory; a raid or invasion.

2. The act of entering another's territory or domain.

 into Cambodia; during the South Vietnamese invasion of Laos; and at the time of the North Vietnamese 1972 Spring Offensive. In each case Nixon responded by escalating the military pressure spasmodically spas·mod·ic  
1. Relating to, affected by, or having the character of a spasm; convulsive.

2. Happening intermittently; fitful: spasmodic rifle fire.

, all the while offering concessions to the position of his adversaries at home and in Vietnam. We examine in depth below how Nixon addressed public opinion at each of these points.

Needing to build public support behind his gradual withdrawal plan, Nixon delivered a major televised address to outline Vietnamization on November 3, 1969.(19) Scheduled between two anti-war moratoriums, Nixon pleaded for the support and patience of "the great silent majority of my fellow Americans."(20) He drew a sharp distinction between the decent and proud majority and the "vocal minority" of elitists and isolationists that would bring global triumph to the "forces of totalitarianism." The power of these rhetorical distinctions was bolstered by efforts of White House officials to probe Nixon's Vietnam support in ways that would emphasize favorable sentiment among the "silent majority."(21) Top aides tried to turn some polls,to the president's advantage by proposing loaded questions to pollsters.(22) Several speeches by Vice President Spiro Agnew Spiro Theodore Agnew (November 9, 1918 – September 17, 1996) was the thirty-ninth Vice President of the United States, serving under President Richard M. Nixon, and the fifty-fifth Governor of Maryland.  critical of the national news media provided staffers with an additional avenue to explore through polling.(23) Thus, Dwight Chapin Dwight L. Chapin (born December 2, 1940) was Deputy Assistant to the President Richard M. Nixon.

Chapin was born in Wichita, Kansas. He got his first experience in California politics in 1958 at the American Legion's Boys State summer program, where he was elected the head
 wrote H. R. Haldeman later in November, seeking his input on the wording of six questions for possible submission to Gallup, all pertaining per·tain  
intr.v. per·tained, per·tain·ing, per·tains
1. To have reference; relate: evidence that pertains to the accident.

 to media bias against the president's Vietnam policy. Haldeman excised one question and changed others to sharpen points the administration wanted made. Thus transformed, one question asked whether Agnew's recent "criticism of bias" in network reporting and pundit An expert or knowledgeable person. From "pandit" in Hindi. See guru.  commentary was "justified."(24) Chapin also sent Haldeman a statement by Gallup to the press insisting that the polling firm wrote its own questions, not the White House.(25)

Similarly, on November 18, 1969 a memorandum was sent through White House channels to instruct David Derge, the administration's private pollster poll·ster  
One that takes public-opinion surveys. Also called polltaker.

Word History: The suffix -ster is nowadays most familiar in words like pollster, jokester, huckster,
, to include in his next poll the following text: "There has been considerable discussion surrounding President Nixon's speech on Vietnam Monday night. Criticisms have been made by some commentators who disagree with Verb 1. disagree with - not be very easily digestible; "Spicy food disagrees with some people"
hurt - give trouble or pain to; "This exercise will hurt your back"
 the President in his views."(26) Derge found that 63 percent of respondents agreed with the president's views on Vietnam, while only 15 percent concurred with the commentators. These poll results provided the administration with ammunition to use against its critics. Along with the twelve-percent increase in polls of Nixon's handling of Vietnam since the Vietnamization (or Silent Majority) speech, the administration was able to convey to audiences at home and abroad the public's view that the problem with the war was not in Vietnam, but with powerful institutions representing minority preferences in the United States.(27) The White House established a plan to distribute this information to the media and Congress, all tied in to the "Silent Majority."(28)

Polling confirmed the wisdom of the Silent Majority appeal when the White House announcement of the withdrawal program and the Vietnamization speech brought Nixon's approval rating for handling Vietnam to its highest point of his first term.(29) He and his advisers, however, harbored no illusions that this support would remain fixed in face of developments on the battlefield. As an example of administration sensitivity to public opinion, Kissinger wrote an extensive summary of a public television special news program "Report from Saigon" aired on January 12, 1970. Nixon scribbled on Kissinger's memo that it was important the United States build up ARVN ARVN Army of the Republic of Vietnam  (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) strength and morale, and that the administration be prepared "to handle" any North Vietnamese offensive that Inlight be in the cards during the coming months.(30) He also instructed Kissinger to inform Secretary of State William Rogers There are several men named William Rogers (and similar spellings), among them:
  • William P. Rogers, U.S. Attorney General under Dwight Eisenhower and Secretary of State under Richard Nixon.
  • Will Rogers, the "Cherokee Kid" cowboy, and humorist.
  • Will Rogers, Jr.
 to "prepare public opinion for the possibility of an enemy offensive in Vietnam and of some attendant reverses."(31)

Understandably, both the troop withdrawals and the idea of An honorable peace were popular. Nixon's predicament stemmed from the impossibility of manipulating the pace of withdrawals as a diplomatic instrument. After all, as Kissinger warned in a September 10, 1969 memorandum to the president, troop withdrawals "will become like salted peanuts to the American public: the more troops come home, the more will be demanded."(32) Moreover, the boost that Nixon earned on his handling of Vietnam rating began to deteriorate after January 1970 as worsening conditions in Cambodia and Laos seemed to place the president's plan in jeopardy.(33) After all, Nixon had made it clear that future troop withdrawals would be based on the following criteria: progress in the negotiations, success in training the South Vietnamese armed forces, and reductions in the level of enemy activity.(34) On April 20, 1970, Nixon noted that enemy activity had "substantially increased," and that the negotiations were going poorly. Nevertheless, he announced that an additional 150,000 military personnel would be withdrawn over the next twelve months.(35)

Bold military action was the president's only means of giving the North Vietnamese an incentive to negotiate. The administration had some basis to support the idea of an aggressive move, a November/December 1969 internal poll found that 58 percent of the sample thought Nixon's stand with the North Vietnamese was not tough enough, while 28 percent thought it about right, and only 3 percent concluded it was too tough (the remaining 11 percent had no opinion).(36) Contradictory opinion soundings doubtless also entered into the deliberations, however, as a July 1969 poll had found 46 percent against bombing North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia and Laos if Hanoi refused reasonable peace proposals with only 35 percent in favor.(37) Respondents, of course, were not aware of the secret bombing of Cambodia begun in March 1969 (which continued for fourteen months). Needing a decisive military measure to improve the prospects for Vietnamization and to coerce the North Vietnamese to negotiate, Nixon announced that U.S. and South Vietnamese troops had crossed into Cambodia on April 30, 1970, just ten days after his declaration regarding troop withdrawals.

White House polling revealed considerable support for the Cambodian incursion, though Congress and college campuses were inflamed. A June 1970 Derge/ORC poll found 58 percent of respondents believing sending U.S. troops into Cambodia was the right move, with 27 percent saying it was wrong.(38) The poll also uncovered a good deal of skepticism among the public regarding South Vietnam's capabilities and contributions to its own defense, with 68 percent doubting if the South Vietnamese were carrying their fair share. A policy recommendation to counter this sentiment followed the presentation of these results, suggesting that "(f)ull publicity . . . be given to any successes achieved by the South Vietnamese in the field."(39) Further, owing to owing to
Because of; on account of: I couldn't attend, owing to illness.

owing to prepdebido a, por causa de 
 concerns about the credibility of the administration's Vietnamization program, Gordon Strachan
This page is about the footballer and manager. Gordon C. Strachan was indicted in the Watergate scandal

Gordon David Strachan /strɔ:n/ OBE (born 9 February 1957, in Edinburgh) is a retired Scottish football player, and is now a football
 advocated contrasting the president's performance in keeping to a timetable of troop withdrawals for Vietnam and Cambodia with his critics' doubts of his sincerity.(40)

In the wake of the Cambodian invasion, the White House disclosed internal poll results to convey the perception that there was "`heavy'" (65 percent) public support for Nixon's action. It also mobilized an "Independent" lobbying group called "Tell It to Hanoi" to place pro-Nixon ads in newspapers and on radio, while Haldeman spread the poll results around by calling "`opinion maker types.'"(41) Results from the established opinion survey companies were not as encouraging however, with Gallup reporting 50 percent approval. Moreover, Wells relates that some administration officials were disturbed by evidence from the Harris poll of widespread public questioning of the operation.(42)

We do not know whether White House operatives divulged the poll questions when they passed word that two-thirds of the public supported the president's Cambodia policy, but an examination of question wording is in order. David Derge asked interviewees in Philadelphia: "Do you support the president's action to end the war in Vietnam, to avoid getting into a war in Cambodia, to protect US troops?"(43) By framing the poll question with the very language used by the administration to "spin" the operation, the White House received the support desired, though the high level of approval was the product of a biased survey instrument. Manufacturing of support in this fashion thus became an essential component of the White House public relations battle with critics in Congress and elsewhere who argued that the people wanted a more rapid end to the war than the president considered prudent.

Other, more conventional methods of public lobbying were used by the Nixon White House, including publicizing those activities of opponents that would benefit the administration. For instance, when Nixon was faced by hecklers or violent protest, so much the better to "crank it up," and make it a major story.(44) Appeals to the silent majority's dislike of war protesters--and trying to define the anti-war movement by its most radical elements--was but a small payoff from the insights provided by the White House polling operation.(45)

Any good news provided by the polls on Cambodia was encumbered Encumbered

A property owned by one party on which a second party reserves the right to make a valid claim, e.g., a bank's holding of a home mortgage encumbers property.
 by Nixon's strategically counterproductive decision to limit the incursion to twenty-one miles and a duration of sixty days. A broad range of former administration personnel and observers contend that domestic political pressure forced the president to curtail the extent of the invasion and thus cripple its intended effect.(46) In the summary of his "Report on Cambodia," Kissinger admitted that a maximum effort "was unacceptable to the American people An American people may be:
  • any nation or ethnic group of the Americas
  • see Demographics of North America
  • see Demographics of South America
."(47) The White House devoted much public relations energy persuading Congress and the public that Cambodia was limited in scope, an aid not a hindrance to the withdrawal program, and popular with the "silent majority." Despite administration reiteration of the favorable statistics regarding casualties and troop withdrawals attributed to the incursion, the White House remained concerned that polls continued to show the public dubious about the Cambodian operation.(48) Moreover, adverse domestic reaction to the administration's strategy in Cambodia limited U.S. flexibility in subsequent efforts at coercive diplomacy Coercive Diplomacy is a diplomatic method used by a country in which the use of force or military action is threatened or hinted at, to force another country to give in to a certain demand(s). .

On February 1, 1971, Haldeman noted projections that the president's approval would drop over the coming months and suggested that Nixon not respond to minor criticism "but engage in large scale symbolic events such as the operations in Cambodia, the Paris negotiations, and troop withdrawals."(49) Haldeman knew at the time of the planning for an ARVN invasion of Laos which began on February 7. Unlike Cambodia, the South Vietnamese would have to prove themselves with minimal American support. In part, if successful, Laos would demonstrate the effectiveness of Vietnamization. Crucial, however, is the fact that owing to congressional and public pressure against escalation, Nixon could not insure the success of the operation by committing U.S. ground and close air support. The results of the operations were especially discouraging.(50)

Another instance of public opinion constraining the vigor of Nixon's efforts to compel North Vietnam North Vietnam: see Vietnam.  occurred six months after Laos. Nixon told Kissinger to implement an attack north of the Demilitarized Zone See DMZ.  as a "protective reaction," instilling in·still also in·stil  
tr.v. in·stilled, in·still·ing, in·stills also in·stils
1. To introduce by gradual, persistent efforts; implant: "Morality . . .
 in the North Vietnamese the fear that Nixon might do more if he did not get what he wanted. Revisionist critics always chide Lyndon Johnson for tying the hands of the military in cowering cow·er  
intr.v. cow·ered, cow·er·ing, cow·ers
To cringe in fear.

[Middle English couren, of Scandinavian origin.]
 fear of anti-war opinion. While his uniformed advisers advocated five to ten days of bombing Nixon backed down owing to public sentiment.(51) Haldeman's diary entry offers refutation ref·u·ta·tion   also re·fut·al
1. The act of refuting.

2. Something, such as an argument, that refutes someone or something.

Noun 1.
 of the claim that a paroxysm paroxysm /par·ox·ysm/ (par´ok-sizm)
1. a sudden recurrence or intensification of symptoms.

2. a spasm or seizure.paroxys´mal

 of violence could have ended the war more favorably, recording Nixon's regret that "he was sorry that we hadn't been able to actually end the war directly, but ... there really was no way to end it--it was doomed always just to trickle out the way it is, and that's now become clear."(52)

In the aftermath of the ill-fated ARVN invasion of Laos, the administration received some of its lowest poll ratings ever. This was an especially busy time of internal polling. ORC took a total of ten polls on Nixon's handling of Vietnam from March 3 to June 21, 1971. On March 30, 1971, Haldeman predicted that "the basic turning point" in presidential support would be achieved the next week with the announcement that no more draftees would serve in Vietnam coupled with another increment of troop withdrawals.(53) Even as his poll numbers began to improve by late spring of 1971, Nixon confided to Haldeman and Kissinger that "our thin thread with the American people" had been broken by Laos, and concluded "it's going to be very hard to put that together again."(54) Nonetheless, the administration made efforts to assure the public that the war was winding down. For example, the White House made a great deal about the absence of U.S. casualties in Vietnam during the week of September 13-19, 1972.(55) Meanwhile, Nixon's domestic latitude to coerce concessions from the North Vietnamese remained limited.

The revisionist model of how to end the war was provided by Nixon in his response to the North Vietnamese 1972 Spring Offensive. Sandwiched between Nixon's historic trips to Beijing and Moscow, the Spring Offensive of March 30, 1972, came perilously close to ending the war on Hanoi's terms and raising White House concerns about Nixon's re-election. Given intelligence warnings of this impending im·pend  
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.

 offensive, it would have been prudent to slow the pace of troop withdrawals until the North Vietnamese Army (NVA NVA Northern Virginia
NVA Nueva (Spanish: new)
NVA North Vietnamese Army
NVA Nationale Volksarmee (East German Military) 
) threat could be met. But despite clear indications a major NVA strike was coming, the administration concluded that public opinion needed to be placated with continued withdrawals. Moreover, the administration began 1972 by offering new peace terms and exposing the fact that Henry Kissinger had been conducting secret negotiations with North Vietnamese representatives in Paris.(56) By taking these actions Nixon increased his domestic maneuvering room somewhat, but courted disaster by leaving South Vietnam and the remaining U.S. forces vulnerable to attack. The Spring Offensive placed the president between the proverbial rock and hard place. If the United States stood by, South Vietnam was likely to crumble; if Nixon authorized the necessary massive counterattack Attacking an attacker. Even though a criminal hacker or other agent is attempting to penetrate a security perimeter or damage systems, the counterattack must not violate applicable laws. , the Moscow summit and his domestic support could evaporate e·vap·o·rate
1. To convert or change into a vapor; volatilize.

2. To produce vapor.

3. To draw or pass off in the form of vapor.

. In addition to these considerations, Nixon did not believe it diplomatically acceptable to go to Moscow if Hanoi, with the help of Soviet arms, stood ready to triumph against America's ally in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, region of Asia (1990 est. pop. 442,500,000), c.1,740,000 sq mi (4,506,600 sq km), bounded roughly by the Indian subcontinent on the west, China on the north, and the Pacific Ocean on the east. .

Nixon responded to the threat to South Vietnam's survival with a massive military response. In Haldeman's words: "We're doing virtually everything we can do, short of putting American troops in, which we won't do."(57) Initially, the White House was optimistic op·ti·mist  
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.

2. A believer in philosophical optimism.

 that close air support and heavy bombing would be sufficient to reverse Hanoi's gains. With the Soviets still enthusiastic about the upcoming summit and the domestic scene relatively quiet, Haldeman wrote in his diary (April 12, 1972) that Nixon saw an opportunity to "go all out to win" the war while public opinion was "somewhat toned down."(58) The same could not be applied to the North Vietnamese offensive, as on May 1, the NVA captured the northern provincial capital Noun 1. provincial capital - the capital city of a province
capital - a seat of government

city, metropolis, urban center - a large and densely populated urban area; may include several independent administrative districts; "Ancient Troy was a great city"
 of Quang Tri. The White House contemplated a truly monumental response: unprecedented bombing of Hanoi and the mining of the North's principal port, Haiphong. These provocative acts posed the risk that the Kremlin would cancel the upcoming summit. Internal polling informed the White House that such a prospect could be politically disastrous with 60 percent of respondents believing the president should go ahead with the summit despite the North Vietnamese assault.(59) Nixon decided to proceed with the bombing and mining anyway and to wait to see Moscow's reaction. Meanwhile, he also authorized an opinion poll to be taken fight after his televised speech announcing these steps as part of the public relations campaign to generate broad-based support for his aggressive tactics.(60)

The Nixon administration moved quickly to deflect congressional and public opposition to the Haiphong mining by releasing its own very favorable polls first to shape opinion formation. After all, Nixon claimed that the public, "`hear[s] the poll results and that makes an impact on them.'"(61) As long as his actions halted the North Vietnamese advance and didn't threaten relations with the Soviets and Chinese, Nixon could be confident that the public would support his policy of escalation.(62) As Figure One shows, Nixon's response to the Spring Offensive began the climb in approval for his handling of Vietnam that peaked with the signing of the Pan's Accords. Revisionists would be wise to remember that before he could deliver on such bellicose bel·li·cose  
Warlike in manner or temperament; pugnacious. See Synonyms at belligerent.

[Middle English, from Latin bellic
 threats (which Nixon had delivered numerous times before(63)) the president had to assuage as·suage  
tr.v. as·suaged, as·suag·ing, as·suag·es
1. To make (something burdensome or painful) less intense or severe: assuage her grief. See Synonyms at relieve.

 public opinion by reducing the American ground presence in South Vietnam to a negligible number, and pull off the diplomatic feat of separating the Vietnam conflict from Cold War competition.

His masterful handling of U.S. relations with China and the Soviet Union, coupled with his successful response to the Spring Offensive doubtless contributed to Nixon's impressive re-election victory. Yet, Just one month after his electoral triumph Nixon learned from White House commissioned polls that public patience on Vietnam was running out. A December 5, 1972 ORC poll revealed that only 30 percent approved (55 percent disapproved and 15 percent had no opinion) of a "proposal ... that the U.S. should continue military operations This is a list of missions, operations, and projects. Missions in support of other missions are not listed independently. World War I
''See also List of military engagements of World War I
  • Albion (1917)
 until North Vietnam agrees to a settlement that gives the U.S. and South Vietnam everything they want." Further, 44 percent approved while 39 percent disapproved (17 percent no opinion) of settlement terms that included an end to U.S. ground and aerial involvement, a cease-fire, supervised elections, "but North Vietnamese troops will continue to occupy those areas of South Vietnam they now control."(64) The proposal outlined in the poll query mirrored closely the terms of the Pans Accords signed eight weeks later, but by permitting NVA troops to remain in the South it did not bear much resemblance to conditions once considered necessary for South Vietnam's survival.(65)

Irrespective of irrespective of
Without consideration of; regardless of.

irrespective of
preposition despite 
 Nixon's re-election, the lack of public support for continued military involvement in Vietnam would be given voice by the newly elected 93rd Congress. Time to secure a settlement was running out, if as anticipated, Congress(66) came to Washington and cut off funding for the war. Thus, the administration began to contemplate a resumption of heavy bombing to compel Hanoi off its post-election path of intransigence in·tran·si·gent also in·tran·si·geant  
Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising.

[French intransigeant, from Spanish intransigente :
 and to persuade Saigon to accept Nixon's definition of honorable peace terms.(67) Disagreeing with Henry Kissinger's proposal that the president go on TV to announce his decision to begin bombing, Nixon, Haldeman, and Special Counsel to the President Charles Colson Charles (Chuck) Wendell Colson (born October 16, 1931, in Boston, Massachusetts) was the chief counsel for President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973 and was one of the Watergate Seven, jailed for Watergate-related charges.  argued there were limits to going to the well of public opinion and that "[y]ou can't rally the people again."(68) Instead, the Christmas bombing was begun with minimal publicity, nevertheless accompanied by the attendant congressional and editorial outrage and public skepticism.

Whether Nixon achieved "peace with honor "Peace With Honor" was a phrase Richard M. Nixon used in a speech on January 23, 1973 to describe his plan to pull out of the Vietnam War. The plan specified that a cease-fire would take place four days later, on January 27, 1973. " through the Pan's Accords ins a contentious question.(69) It remain that cannot be answered here is clear, how ever, that the Nixon administration gradually abandoned all negotiating planks save retaining the RVN RVN Republic of Vietnam
RvN Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Dutch soccer player)
RVN Registered Veterinary Nurse
RVN Rovaniemi Airport, Finland
RVN Rybo-Viroxic Nucleic Structure
 government of Nguyen Van Thieu Nguyen Van Thieu: see Thieu, Nguyen Van. , an achievement of dubious merit given the North Vietnamese army's success against the ARVN when it had the support of a half million U.S. troops.(70) The continued presence of North Vietnamese troops in the South, coupled with the Saigon government's weakness, lends support to the thesis that the Pans Accords provided solely the fig leaf cover for a "decent interval."(71) Nixon and Kissinger maintain that all other concessions were made as early as October 1970, accordingly only North Vietnamese intransigence delayed an honorable peace.(72) Yet, the White House solicited opinion soundings on what a prospective settlement should look like. For example, on October 23, 1972, ORC produced results showing 41 percent approving a peace agreement leaving North Vietnam in control of areas held since the 1972 invasion (34 percent disapproved, 25 percent no opinion). A similar poll six days later found 36 percent approval, 43 percent disapproval, and 21 percent with no opinion. Other questions in this series of surveys revealed a willingness to abandon Thieu (40 percent, with 28 percent disapproving, 32 percent no opinion), wide approval for a settlement that included some of the terms actually contained in the Paris Accords (including the tripartite TRIPARTITE. Consisting of three parts, as a deed tripartite, between A of the first part, B of the second part, and C of the third part.  election commission, the National Council on Reconciliation and Concord), and 49 percent disapproval of an agreement that led to a Communist takeover.(73) Therefore, despite protestations to the contrary, the pervasive attention to public opinion measurement confirms that Vietnam policy was not made in the White House in response to international conditions, but instead the policy to salvage honor required persistent efforts to legitimate policy and manufacture an image of public support.

Polling and Congress.

From the start, Congress was an integral component of the Nixon administration's public opinion strategy. Not only did the White House try to prevent anti-war legislation from emerging in either chamber, it tried to use evidence of public support to persuade members to stay with the Vietnamization plan and not accept what the administration considered congressionally inspired surrender. Nixon's lieutenants used public opinion polling information for three broad purposes when dealing with Congress. First, they believed Congress both reflected and influenced public opinion. Second, they used polls to persuade members to support the president's Vietnam policy. Third, Nixon himself threatened anti-war members that he would "go to the people" if their legislative efforts threatened his peace with honor plan.

Following Nixon's move into Cambodia, White House assistant Charles Colson gained the impression that the president's standing in Congress had improved. In a September 9, 1970, memorandum to Haldeman, Colson observed that senators now had a real respect for Nixon's leadership that was absent before Cambodia. Colson attributed the newly sympathetic attitudes of several senators, including George McGovern George Stanley McGovern, (born July 19, 1922) is a former United States Representative, Senator, and Democratic presidential nominee. McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon.  (D-SD) and Mark Hatfield Mark Odom Hatfield (born July 12, 1922) is a former United States Senator and Governor of Oregon. He is a member of the Republican Party. Biography
Hatfield was born in Dallas, Oregon,[1]
 (R-OR), on the end-the-war amendment to "the fact that notwithstanding several months of enormous abuse in the press, the President's standing in the public opinion polls remains very high."(74)

As congressional committees debated legislation sponsored by John Sherman Cooper John Sherman Cooper (August 23, 1901 – February 21, 1991) was a liberal Republican United States Senator from Kentucky who served a total of twenty years (1946-1949, 1952-1955, 1956-1973).  (R-KY) and Frank Church (D-ID) to compel the United States out of Cambodia, Nixon ordered a White House poll showing support for his actions brought to bear in the debate.(75) A similar, carefully coordinated lobbying plan was implemented following Nixon's announcement of the mining of Haiphong harbor. The White House public relations machine hand-delivered copies of ORC's poll on the mining to the wire services, networks, and major newspapers. In his memorandum providing the details of the poll's distribution to Haldeman, Gordon Strachan noted that Colson believed mass distribution Of the release should be delayed until the results surfaced in media reports in order "to protect ORC's credibility." Preferring to have this poll information disseminated as quickly as possible on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, Haldeman scribbled on the margin of Strachan's Monday memo: "do it Tues--whether it plays or not." He also jotted down additional distribution instructions to various assistants, including that Ken Clawsen have a senator "accuse press of deliberately overlooking it."(76)

Finally, as evidence of his willingness to invoke the prospect of a "who lost Vietnam" debate, Nixon warned prominent Democrats that if anti-war legislation "tied his hands" and let South Vietnam fall, "he would have no choice but to go directly to the people ... taking on Congress and blaming them for this situation."(77)

Undermining Opponents

Because the administration considered the media a potent force in the formation of public opinion, it actively attacked media bias, and cited opinion polls to identify the Fourth Estate as a radical minority. On occasion, even before poll or media reaction was at hand, the White House planned a number of pre-emptive strikes designed to intimidate the press from negatively influencing the public's reaction to scheduled events. For example, concurrent with the November 1969 Silent Majority speech, the administration orchestrated or·ches·trate  
tr.v. or·ches·trat·ed, or·ches·trat·ing, or·ches·trates
1. To compose or arrange (music) for performance by an orchestra.

 a public relations campaign replete with letters, an advertisement, and "100 vicious dirty calls to The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 Times and The Washington Post about their editorials."(78) Later, in December 1970, when Haldeman learned that certain correspondents had conspired to make the president's press conference "tougher," he and other aids mobilized the White House's "independent" attack group.(79)

Perceptions that the media were unalterably biased against the Nixon administration pervaded the White House. There was concern that Nixon was not given credit for keeping his promises on Vietnam, and that the media produced negative coverage about Cambodia and Laos. In a conversation with then-Democrat Treasury Secretary John Connally, Haldeman admitted the depths of White House preoccupation with polling. He recorded in his diary the White House feeling "that we should meet each problem as it's shown in the polls, and worry about how the statistics play and so forth." Connally, on the other hand, "thinks it's a mistake to worry about the bits and pieces, that we overreact o·ver·re·act
To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.
 and worry too much." Haldeman dismissed the thrust of Connally's critique, attributing the Treasury Secretary's complacence com·pla·cence  
1. Contented self-satisfaction.

2. Total lack of concern.

Noun 1. complacence
 about polls to his party affiliation. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Haldeman, as a Democrat Connally was accustomed to having the press with him, while the White House lacked that luxury.(80) Indeed, White House officials so distrusted the motives of the media that speech writer Bill Safire predicted Nixon would get minimal attention and credit as the peacemaker when a settlement was reached.(81)

To the administration, declines in polling trends could just as easily be blamed on media coverage as public exhaustion. For example, as Nixon's numbers declined in April 1971, Haldeman reminisced about all events since the last poll that could be responsible. Because it had been a good period for the president, with the exception of heavy news coverage of a Vietnam Veterans' anti-war demonstration, Haldeman concluded that the media's treatment "is the cause, so we've got to see if somehow we can't make the media the issue."(82)

Nixon believed that by hitting hard at domestic critics, as when Haldeman accused anti-war members of Congress of aiding and abetting a·bet  
tr.v. a·bet·ted, a·bet·ting, a·bets
1. To approve, encourage, and support (an action or a plan of action); urge and help on.

 the enemy, his bargaining position bargaining position n to be in a strong/weak bargaining position → estar/no estar en una posición de fuerza para negociar

bargaining position n
 with the North Vietnamese improved.(83) Similarly, Agnew's fusillades against the media and anti-war movement were part of the administration's effort to create the image of broad-based popular support for its Vietnam policy. To threaten recalcitrant recalcitrant adjective Poorly responsive to therapy  members of Congress with popular retribution, the administration generated radio spots, recall petitions, and wrote speeches for delivery on the floor criticizing the media.(84) Dovish senators up for re-election in 1970 were to be "hit hard." The "aiding and abetting" line was to be used against Democrats who exercised the temerity te·mer·i·ty  
Foolhardy disregard of danger; recklessness.

[Middle English temerite, from Old French, from Latin temerit
 of undercutting the president during the 1972 Spring Offensive.(85) In all, symbolic polling was applied in a negative sense to cajole (language) CAJOLE - (Chris And John's Own LanguagE) A dataflow language developed by Chris Hankin <> and John Sharp at Westfield College.

["The Data Flow Programming Language CAJOLE: An Informal Introduction", C.L.
 the media into offering more sympathetic coverage, to scare members of Congress that there were political risks to challenging Nixon on Vietnam, and to reinforce the perception that opponents of the president's Vietnam program were part of a vocal minority hostile to the values of the silent majority.


Unlike his predecessors of the post-World War II era, Nixon could not rely on what John Mueller John E. Mueller (born 1937, Saint Paul, Minnesota) is a political scientist in the field of international relations as well as a scholar of the history of dance. He is recognized for his ideas concerning "the banality of ethnic war" [1]  termed followership fol·low·er·ship  
1. The act or condition of following a leader; adherence: "It was not a crisis of leadership. It was a crisis of followership" Christian Science Monitor.
 to build public support sufficient to secure his goals.(86) Rather, public opinion and policy-makers interacted in a complex, two-way fashion. Yes, the White House used symbolic polling to maximize its freedom of maneuver in trying to achieve peace with honor. At the same time, however, its public opinion intelligence capacity kept the administration fully aware of the limits imposed by the public's war weariness. While Nixon was certainly not a slavish slav·ish  
1. Of or characteristic of a slave or slavery; servile: Her slavish devotion to her job ruled her life.

 adherent adherent /ad·her·ent/ (-ent) sticking or holding fast, or having such qualities.  to what the polls indicated, whenever he took aggressive actions public opinion constrained his ambition. In several respects then, the Vietnam War became principally a public relations problem for the Nixon administration; Nixon succeeded in the battle to buy time, but failed to build sufficient political support at home so he could fulfill his initial requirements for peace with honor in Vietnam.

In August 1971 Kissinger and Haldeman were discussing the upcoming presidential election in South Vietnam and the grave U.S. domestic political problems Thieu's unopposed candidacy presented. Kissinger began to reflect on how discouraging the whole war had been, and wishing that if there were only one more dry season for effective military campaigning the opponents would finally come to realize that the U.S. was winning. Haldeman wrote in his diary of Kissinger's musings:

This, of course, is the same line he's used for the last two years, over

and over, and I guess what all of Johnson's advisors used with him, to keep

the thing escalating. I'm sure they really believe it at the time, but it's

amazing a·maze  
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.

2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.

 how it sounds like a broken record.(87)

In the end, Nixon's requirements for an honorable peace had to succumb to the public's reluctance to sink more resources into a losing investment. The evidence presented here demonstrates that no amount of public opinion polling or manipulation would give the president the political support to alter this equation.


(1.) For reviews of Vietnam historiography historiography

Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods.
, see Gary R. Hess, "The Unending Debate: Historians and the Vietnam War," Diplomatic History 18 (Spring 1994): 239-64; Thomas G. Paterson, "Historical Memory and Illusive il·lu·sive  

il·lusive·ly adv.

 Victories," Diplomatic History 12 (Winter 1988): 1-18; Robert A. Divine, "Vietnam Reconsidered," Diplomatic History 12 (Winter 1988): 79-93. Nixon foreign policy revisionists, who differ with the prevailing wisdom that Nixon deserves high marks for his international achievements as they criticize his domestic leadership, must be distinguished from Vietnam War revisionists who praise Nixon's approach to ending the war. See Joan Hoff, "A Revisionist View of Nixon's Foreign Policy," Presidential Studies Quarterly 26, no. 1 (Winter 1996): 107-29.

(2.) David Halberstam This article is about the author and journalist. For the radio sports announcer and executive, see David J. Halberstam.

David Halberstam (April 10 1934 – April 23 2007) was an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author known for his early work on the
, The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era (New York: Knopf, 1964); Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Bitter Heritage: Vietnam and American Democracy, rev. ed. (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1968); Frances Fitzgerald See also Frances Fitzgerald (Irish politician)

Frances FitzGerald (born October 21,1940) is an American journalist and author. She is primarily known for her acclaimed journalistic account of the Vietnam War.
, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1972); David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (New York: Fawcett Publishing, 1972). For our purposes, we consider all works conventional that, as historian Robert Divine has observed, "shared a strong distaste for American intervention and a fervent belief that U.S. policy was seriously mistaken." Divine, "Vietnam Reconsidered," p. 81.

(3.) For example, see "America Now America Now is a former politics and business TV program on CNBC with Lawrence Kudlow and Jim Cramer.

The program's name was later changed to Kudlow & Cramer.
America Now: the Anthropology of a Changing Culture was the original title of
: A Failure of Nerve?--A Symposium," Commentary 60, 1 (July 1975): 16-87; Charles Horner, "America Five Years After Defeat," Commentary 69, 4 (April 1980): 50-8; Norman Podhoretz Norman Podhoretz (b. January 16, 1930) is an American conservative columnist and political scientist, a leftist commentator during the 1960's and associated with Neoconservative philosophy since the early 1970's. , "Making the World Safe for Communism," Commentary 61, 4 (April 1976): 33-41. For reviews of this literature, see Walter LaFeber Walter LaFeber (born 1933 in Walkerton, Indiana) was a Marie Underhill Noll Professor and a Steven Weisse Presidential Teaching Fellow of History in the Department of History at Cornell University. , "This War, The Next War, and the New Revisionists," Democracy 1 (January 1981): 272-82; and Marilyn Young, "Revisionist Revised: The Case of Vietnam," Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) is the leading learned society for the academic study of US foreign policy history. Founded in 1967, SHAFR is best known for two activities.  Newsletter 10, no. 2 (1979): 1-10.

(4.) Accounts that provide indications of this sentiment include: David W. Levy, The Debate Over Vietnam (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University, mainly at Baltimore, Md. Johns Hopkins in 1867 had a group of his associates incorporated as the trustees of a university and a hospital, endowing each with $3.5 million. Daniel C.  Press, 1991); Larry Berman, Lyndon Johnson's War: The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam (New York: Norton, 1989); George C. Herring, America's Longest War (New York: John Wiley John Wiley may refer to:
  • John Wiley & Sons, publishing company
  • John C. Wiley, American ambassador
  • John D. Wiley, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John M. Wiley (1846–1912), U.S.
, 1979); George McT. Kahin, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (New York: Knopf, 1986); Kathleen J. Turner, Lyndon Johnson's Dual War: Vietnam and the Press (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago and publishes a wide variety of academic titles, including The Chicago Manual of Style, dozens of academic journals, including , 1985). An early work of synthesis that has enduring relevance is: Leslie Gelb Leslie (Les) Howard Gelb (born March 4, 1937) is a former correspondent for The New York Times and is currently President Emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.  with Richard K. Betts Richard K. Betts is the Arnold Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies in the Department of Political Science, the director of the Institute of War and Peace Studies, and the director of the International Security Policy Program in the School of International and Public Affairs at , The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1975).

(5.) Along with others, this is the position of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. See Richard Nixon, No More Vietnams (New York: Avon Books, 1985), pp. 174, 181-2, and Henry Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1982), pp. 326-7. An early proponent of this view is Sir Robert Thompson Robert Thompson may refer to:
  • Robert Thompson (professor), Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture
  • Robert Thompson (poker director), the Tournament Director on Celebrity Poker Showdown.
  • Robert Thompson (Soviet spy)
  • Robert B.
, who argues that after the 1972 Christmas bombing the United States had won the war. See W. Scott Thompson

For other people named Scott Thompson, see Scott Thompson (disambiguation).

Scott Thompson (born June 12, 1959) is a Canadian television comedian, best known for his time as a member of the comedy troupe Kids in the Hall.
 and Donaldson D. Frizzell, The Lessons of Vietnam (New York: Crane, Russak, 1977), p. 105.

(6.) Eugene Wittkopf, Faces of Internationalism in·ter·na·tion·al·ism  
1. The condition or quality of being international in character, principles, concern, or attitude.

2. A policy or practice of cooperation among nations, especially in politics and economic matters.
: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990); Ole R. Holsti and James N. Rosenau James N. Rosenau is a former President of the International Studies Association. His scholarship and teaching focus on the dynamics of world politics and the overlap between domestic and foreign affairs. , American Leadership in World Affairs Noun 1. world affairs - affairs between nations; "you can't really keep up with world affairs by watching television"
international affairs

affairs - transactions of professional or public interest; "news of current affairs"; "great affairs of state"
 (Boston, MA: Allen & Unwin, 1984); Ole R. Holsti and James N. Rosenau, "Consensus Lost. Consensus Regained?: Foreign Policy Beliefs of American Leaders, 1976-1980," International Studies Quarterly 30, no. 4 (1986): 375-409; Also see Ole R. Holsti, "Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: Challenges to the Almond-Lippmann Consensus," International Studies Quarterly, 36, no. 4 (1992): 439-66, esp. p. 449. William LeoGrande, "Did the Public Matter? The Impact of Opinion on Congressional Support for Ronald Reagan's Nicaragua Policy," in Public Opinion in U.S. Foreign Policy: The Controversy Over Contra Aid, ed. Richard Sobel (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993), pp. 167-89, esp. p. 173 and 178.

(7.) This relates to the literature on international bargaining that views negotiations as encompassing the Chief of Government (COG), the international interlocutor in·ter·loc·u·tor  
1. Someone who takes part in a conversation, often formally or officially.

2. The performer in a minstrel show who is placed midway between the end men and engages in banter with them.
, and the domestic groups that must ratify any international agreement. See Robert D. Putnam, "Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games," International Organization 42, no. 3 (1988): 427-60; and Peter B. Evans, Harold K. Jacobson, and Robert D. Putnam, eds., Double-Edged Diplomacy (Berkeley, CA: University of California The University of California has a combined student body of more than 191,000 students, over 1,340,000 living alumni, and a combined systemwide and campus endowment of just over $7.3 billion (8th largest in the United States). , 1993).

(8.) A designation first applied by Ole It. Holsti, "Public Opinion and Foreign Policy," pp. 439-66.

(9.) Benjamin Page and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Rational Public (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992); John Aldrich John Aldrich (born 1947) is an American political scientist and author, known for his research and writings on American politics, elections, and political parties, and on formal theory and methodology in political science.

Aldrich graduated with a B.A.
, John L. Sullivan For the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, see John L. Sullivan (U.S. Navy). For others, see John Sullivan (disambiguation).

John Lawrence Sullivan (October 15 1858 – February 2 1918) was recognized as a Heavyweight Champion of Boxing from February 7 1882 to 1892.
, and Eugene Borgida, "Foreign Affairs foreign affairs
Affairs concerning international relations and national interests in foreign countries.
 and Issue Voting: Do Presidential Candidates `Waltz Before a Blind Audience?'" American Political Science Review The American Political Science Review (APSR) is the flagship publication of the American Political Science Association and the most prestigious journal in political science. , 83, no. 1 (1989): 123-42; Bruce Russett Bruce Martin Russett (b. 1935) is Dean Acheson Professor of Political Science and Professor in International and Area Studies, Macmillan Center, Yale University, and has edited the Journal of Conflict Resolution since 1972. Academic career
Russett received his B.A.
, Controlling the Sword (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press The Harvard University Press is a publishing house, a division of Harvard University, that is highly respected in academic publishing. It was established on January 13, 1913. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. , 1990), and Grasping the Democratic Peace (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Princeton University, at Princeton, N.J.; coeducational; chartered 1746, opened 1747, rechartered 1748, called the College of New Jersey until 1896. Schools and Research Facilities
 Press, 1993); Larry M. Bartels, "Constituency Opinion and Congressional Policy Making: The Reagan Defense Buildup," American Political Science Review 85, no. 2 (1991): 457-74. For a comprehensive review of this literature, see Holsti, "Public Opinion and Foreign Policy," 439-66. Philip J. Powlick, "The Sources of Public Opinion for American Foreign Policy Officials," International Studies Quarterly 39, no. 4 (1995): 427-51.

(10.) Ronald H. Hinckley, People, Polls, and Policymakers: American Public Opinion and National Security (New York: Lexington Books, 1992); Richard Sobel, ed., Public Opinion ill (I. S. Foreign Policy; John Mueller, Policy and Opinion in the Gulf War (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

(11.) Alexander George Alexander George may refer to:
  • Alex George, Australian botanist
  • Alexander L. George (b. 1920), American political scientist
  • Alexander George, American philosopher
, "Domestic Constraints on Regime Change in U.S. Foreign Policy: The Need for Policy Legitimacy," in American Foreign Policy: Theoretical Essays, ed. G. John Ikenberry John Ikenberry is a prominent theorist of international relations and United States foreign policy, and a professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.  (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1989), pp. 583-608; Richard A. Melanson, American Foreign Policy Since the Vietnam War: The Search for Consesnus From Nixon to Clinton (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996).

(12.) Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling The Nixon White House in Historical Perspective," Public Opinion Quarterly 59, no. 2 (1995): 187; Susan Herbst, Numbered Voices: How Opinion Polling has Shaped American Politics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

(13.) Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2: The Triumph of a Politician (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), p. 280. Also see H. R. Haldeman, The Haldeman Diaries (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1994), diary entry February 3, 1969, p. 26; Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling," p. 183.

(14.) Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling," p. 165; Haldeman, Diaries, April 4, 1969, p. 49; Bruce Oudes, ed., From the President: Richard Nixon's Secret Files (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 3; Melvin Small Melvin Small (1939)is a distinguished professor of history at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan after receiving his BA from Dartmouth College.  Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves (New Brunswick New Brunswick, province, Canada
New Brunswick, province (2001 pop. 729,498), 28,345 sq mi (73,433 sq km), including 519 sq mi (1,345 sq km) of water surface, E Canada.
, NJ: Rutgers, 1988), p. 168.

(15.) Haldeman, Diaries, June 30, 1970, p. 178.

(16.) Ibid., February 3, 1971, p. 243.

(17.) Joan Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered (New York: Basic Books, 1994), pp. 220, 230-1.

(18.) Vietnam Invasion Poll--April 27-29, 1972, Box 350, Staff Members' Office Files, hereafter SMOF SMOF Secret Masters Of Fandom
SMOF Single Mode Optical Fiber
. White House Special Files, hereafter WHSF. Nixon Presidential Materials, hereafter NPM NPM National Poetry Month
NPM National Postal Museum
NPM New Public Management
NPM National Association of Pastoral Musicians (Silver Spring, Maryland)
NPM Network Processor Module
NPM National Project Manager
. National Archives National Archives, official depository for records of the U.S. federal government, established in 1934 by an act of Congress. Although displeasure concerning the method of keeping national records was voiced in Congress as early as 1810, the United States continued  and Records Administration, hereafter NARA Nara (nä`rä), city (1990 pop. 349,349), capital of Nara prefecture, S Honshu, Japan. An ancient cultural and religious center, it was founded in 706 by imperial decree and was modeled after Chang'an (see Xi'an), the capital of T'ang China. , College Park, Maryland College Park is a city in Prince George's County, Maryland, USA. The population was 24,657 at the 2000 census. It is best known as the home of the University of Maryland, College Park, and since 1994 the city has also been home to the "Archives II" facility of the U.S. . American Institute of Public Opinion, Gallup Opinion Index (Princeton, NJ), 1969-1973. A complete set of this poll data is available from the author.

(19.) Nixon first announced troop withdrawals on June 8, 1969, during his meeting with South Vietnamese President Thieu on Midway Island.

(20.) Richard M. Nixon, "The Pursuit of Peace in Viet-Nam," Speech to the Nation, November 3, 1969, Department of State Bulletin (November 11, 1969): 437-43; quote, p. 442.

(21.) For a discussion of the "silent majority" concept and policy legitimation see Melanson, American Foreign Policy, p. 47-57.

(22.) Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Nixon Administration and the Pollsters," Political Science Quarterly 110, no. 4 (1995-96): 519-38; Nixon was not the first president to utilize pollsters in this manner, see Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling The Nixon White House in Historical Perspective," Public Opinion Quarterly 59, no. 2 (1995): 163-95; and Jacobs, "The Recoil recoil /re·coil/ (re´koil) a quick pulling back.

elastic recoil  the ability of a stretched object or organ, such as the bladder, to return to its resting position.
 Effect: Public Opinion and Policymaking pol·i·cy·mak·ing or pol·i·cy-mak·ing  
High-level development of policy, especially official government policy.

Of, relating to, or involving the making of high-level policy:
 in the U.S. and Britain," Comparative Politics 24, no. 2 (1992): 199-217.

(23.) For an overview of Agnew's efforts to intimidate the media and the anti-war movement see Small, Johnson, Nixon, pp. 189-92, and Tom Wells, The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam (Berkeley, CA: University of California, 1994), pp. 382-8.

(24.) Memorandum from Dwight L. Chapin to Haldeman, November 18, 1969, Gallup Poll Gallup Poll

a sampling of the views of a representative cross section of the population, usually used to forecast voting [after G H Gallup, statistician]

Gallup poll n
, Box 134, H. R. Haldeman, hereafter HRH HRH
Her (or His) Royal Highness

HRH Her (or His) Royal Highness

HRH abbr (= His (or Her) Royal Highness) → S.A.R.
. Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(25.) Memorandum from Dwight L. Chapin to Haldeman, November 10, 1969, Poll File, Box 134, HRH Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(26.) Memorandum from Larry Higby to Jeb Magruder, November 11, 1969, Gallup Poll, Box 134, HRH, Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(27.) In an interview, Dwight Chapin confirmed that by providing questions to Gallup, the administration could better demonstrate public support, and "`Isolate the Vietnam protesters from the silent majority.'" From Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Nixon Administration and the Pollsters," p. 527. Thus, the Nixon administration tried to put into effect what Elisabeth Noell-Neuman later coined the "spiral of silence The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. The theory asserts that a person is less likely to voice an opinion on a topic if one feels that one is in the minority for fear of ." As interpreted by Thomas Michael Norton-Smith, this theory proposes that "polls contribute to the creation and silencing of minority viewpoints." From Norton-Smith, "Can the Increasing Use of Public Opinion Polling Be justified?" The Midwest Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1994): 97-112; quote on p. 106.

(28.) Gallup Poll Game Plan, Gallup Poll, Box 134, FIR Haldeman, Alpha Subject Files, WHSF, SMOF, NPM, NARA. Also, memorandum from Harry Dent to the President, October 20, 1969, President's Handwriting October 16-31, 1969, Box 3, President's Office Files, hereafter POF POF Piano dell'Offerta Formativa (Italy)
POF Piano dell'Offerta Formativa (Italian school document)
POF Plastic Optical Fiber
POF Premature Ovarian Failure (early menopause) 

(29.) The White House celebrated the results of the Silent Majority speech, one memo noting in unidentified handwriting, "Never in history has a speech rather than an event changed opinion so greatly." Gallup Poll Game Plan, Box 134, HRH Alpha Subject Files, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA. Also see, Memo from Stephen Bull to Haldeman, March 27, 1970, "Relationship Between Presidential Activities and Public Approval," Box 388, HRH, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(30.) Memo from Kissinger to Nixon, "Report from Saigon," President's Handwriting, January 1-15, 1970, Box 4, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(31.) Memorandum for the Secretary of State from Henry A. Kissinger, President's Handwriting, January 16- 31, 1970, Box 5, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(32.) Henry A. Kissinger, White House Years (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1979), p. 1481. Kissinger also reports that the only time troop withdrawals were delayed owing to battlefield conditions occurred in August 1969, p. 283.

(33.) Between January and April 1970, the situation in these countries became tense- as North Vietnamese- inspired activity threatened whatever stability these nations had. For the concern these developments generated among Americans, one can examine the transcripts of presidential news conferences where Nixon was frequently asked about the dangers of heightened Communist aggression in Laos and Cambodia, For example, see "President Nixon's News Conference of March 21," Department of State Bulletin (April 6, 1970): 437-8.

(34.) Nixon, "Progress Report on Our Plan for Peace in Viet-Nam," delivered December 15, 1969, Department of State Bulletin (January 5, 1970): 1-3; p. 1.

(35.) Nixon, "A Report on Progress in Viet-Nam," delivered from San Clemente San Clemente (săn klĭmĕn`tē), city (1990 pop. 41,100), Orange co., S Calif., on the Pacific coast; inc. 1928. Camp Pendleton, a large U.S. marine base, adjoins the city, which is chiefly residential. , CA, April 20, 1969, Department of State Bulletin (May 11, 1970): pp. 601-4; p. 602.

(36.)"The Public Appraises the Nixon Administration and Key Issues November/December 1969," Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Materials, p. 81, Box 406, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA. Also, officials from Gallup advised Chapin "that the people will support a Hawkish approach if it is properly phased (sic)." Memorandum for Haldeman from Chapin, October 10, 1969, Meeting with Gallup Poll People, Poll File, Box 134, HRH Alpha Subject Files, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(37.) "The Public Appraises the Nixon Administration and Key Issues (with Particular Emphasis on Vietnam) August, 1969," Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Materials, p. 52, Box 406, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(38.) "The Public Appraises the Nixon Administration, (Revised) (June 1970)," p. x, Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Materials, Box 406, WHSF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(39.) Ibid., p. xi.

(40.) Ibid., p. x.

(41.) Memorandum from Alexander Butterfield Alexander Porter Butterfield (born April 6, 1926) was the deputy assistant to Richard Nixon from 1969 until 1973. He was a key figure in the Watergate scandal. Flying career
Butterfield was born in Pensacola, Florida where his father, Horace B.
 to the President, October 17, 1969, President's Handwriting October 16-31, 1969, Box 3, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(42.) Wells, The War Within, pp. 423-4, notes the Harris poll provided evidence of widespread public questioning of Cambodia. In White House Years, Kissinger reports the Gallup poll revealed 50 percent approving of Cambodia (35 percent disapproving, 15 percent no opinion), p. 512.

(43.) File: A Study of Public Opinion Regarding President Nixon's 4-30-70 Announcement of his Decision on American Involvement in Cambodia #9448, Gordon Strachan: 1972 Campaign Material, Box 392, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(44.)Haldeman, Diaries, October 29, 1970, p. 205. Also, Hanoi's contact with demonstrators, and the involvement of Communist and left-wing groups in the October 15, 1969, moratorium was circulated to sympathetic ears in the media and on the Hill to discredit the anti-war movement and sympathetic members of Congress. Memorandum from Jack Caulfield to John D. Ehrlichman, October 10, 1969, President's Handwriting, October 1-15, 1969, Box 3, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(45.) Small, Johnson, Nixon, pp. 162-224 chronicles the administration's efforts to defuse the antiwar an·ti·war  
Opposed to war or to a particular war: antiwar protests; an antiwar candidate. 
 movement. At the same time, though, Nixon's policy to end the war deprived his supporters of a reason to rally behind the goal of victory, Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, p. 302.

(46.) A position shared by Kissinger, White House Yeats, p. 507; also see Walter Isaacson Walter Isaacson (born May 20 1952, in New Orleans, Louisiana) is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been the Chairman and CEO of CNN and the Managing Editor of TIME. , Kissinger: A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), p. 270; Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, p. 537; Wells, The War Within, pp. 435, 447.

(47.) Summary of Report on Cambodia 6/30/70, President's Handwriting, June 1970, Box 6, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(48.) This made Nixon all the more anxious to "make the public see" the achievements of the 1971 Laos invasion. Haldeman, Diaries, February 2, 1971, p. 245.

(49.) "Projected Gallup Approval Ratings February 1971-August 1972, February 1, 1971," Box 388, HRH, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(50.) Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, pp. 419-21; Haldeman Diaries, March 23, 1971, p. 259.

(51.) Haldeman, Diaries, September 17, 1971, p. 355.

(52.) Ibid., September 19, 1971, p. 356.

(53.) Ibid., March 30, 1971, p. 262.

(54.) Ibid., May 26, 1971, p. 292.

(55.) Ibid., September 20, 1972, p. 506.

(56.) Hoff reports that Kissinger opposed making the record of these talks public: Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered, p. 119.

(57.) Haldeman, Diaries, April 10, 1972, p. 438.

(58.) Ibid., April 12, 1972, p. 439.

(59.) Ibid., May 2 and May 3, 1972, pp. 451 and 453.

(60.) Ibid., May 7, 1972, p. 456.

(61.) Jacobs and Shapiro, "The Rise of Presidential Polling," p. 188.

(62.) Comments from Tom Benham on May 9-10, 1972 Telephone Survey, Vietnam Mine Poll May 9- 10,1972 [II], Box 357, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA, Tom Benham's analysis of the survey expressed concern that the threatening situation could undermine public confidence; also, from another unidentified analysis, if NV wins "(t)he consequences for President Nixon could be extremely grave ... (because) the public has been led to expect that the Communists will be held off and that Vietnamization is working." Vietnam Invasion Poll-April 27-29,1972, Box 350, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(63.) A plan of massive American action was proposed in 1969 under the code name Duck Hook Duck Hook (code-named "Pruning Knife" by the military) was the White House code-name of an operation President Richard Nixon had threatened to unleash against North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, if North Vietnam did not yield to Washington's terms at the Paris peace negotiations. . Nixon set November 1, 1969, as the "deadline" for North Vietnam to show some indication of willingness to compromise. The ultimatum ultimatum (ŭl'tĭmā`təm), in international law, final, definitive terms submitted by one disputant nation to the other for immediate acceptance or rejection.  was never delivered on. For discussion, see Small, Johnson, Nixon, pp. 180-7; Similarly, at the Camp David Camp David, U.S. presidential retreat, located in Catoctin Mountain Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table), in NW Md. The Camp David accords, the terms of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, were established (1978) at this site; other negotiations and  swimming pool during the Cambodia incursion, Nixon fantasized about striking a crippling blow. This threat too never came to fruition. See Ambrose, Nixon Vol. 2, pp. 342 and 407.

(64.) Poll data from the Roper Center.

(65.) See Nixon's May 14, 1969, speech, "Peace in Viet-Nam," Department of State Bulletin (6/2/69): 457-61, where he notes that "a settlement will require the withdrawal of all non-South Vietnamese forces from South Viet-Nam," p. 459.

(66.) On this see, Haldeman, Diaries, December 6, 1972, p. 550; Andrew Z. Katz, Congress, Public Opinion, President Nixon, and the Termination of the Vietnam War, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University, 1987.

(67.) Interestingly, an internal poll completed on October 29, 1972, found 53 percent preferring that the president order a bombing halt instead of continuing with the air assault during negotiations, ORC poll conducted for the Nixon Administration, Roper Center.

(68.) Haldeman, Diaries, December 5, 1972, p. 548.

(69.) Representative negative evaluations of Nixon's Vietnam record are offered by Isaacson, Kissinger, p. 480-90; Hoff, Nixon Reconsidered. An interesting positive assessment is provided by Timothy J. Lomparis, The War Everyone Lost--and Won: America's Intervention in Viet Nam's Twin Struggles (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 1984), pp. 90-104. Also see Guenter Lewy, America in Vietnam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 190-222.

(70.) See Kissinger's reference to this problem; Kissinger, White House Years, p. 444.

(71.) Frank Snepp Frank Warren Snepp (born 3 May 1943, Kinston, North Carolina) is a journalist and former chief analyst of North Vietnamese strategy for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Saigon during the Vietnam War. He is currently a producer for KNBC-TV. , A Decent Interval: An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End (New York: Random House, 1977).

(72.) Kissinger, White House Years, pp. 1347-8.

(73.) Roper Center.

(74.) Memorandum for H. R. Haldeman from Charles W. Colson, September 9, 1970, President's Handwriting, September 1970, Box 7, POF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(75.) Haldeman, Diaries, May 18, 1970, p. 167.

(76.) Memorandum from Strachan to Haldeman, May 1, 1972, Distribution of Vietnam Mine Poll May 9-10,1972, Box 357, HRH, SMOF, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(77.) Haldeman, Diaries, March 26, 1971, p. 260 and June 23, 1971, p. 305.

(78.) Haldeman, Diaries, November 3, 1969, p. 104; the ad idea resurfaced shortly thereafter, when The New York Times failed to cover the overwhelming approval of "Support the President" resolutions in the House and Senate, November 14, 1969, pp. 107-8.

(79.) Haldeman, Diaries, December 11, 1970, p. 219.

(80.) Haldeman, Diaries, March 9, 1972, p. 427.

(81.) William Safire William L. Safire (born December 17, 1929) is an American author, semi-retired columnist, and former journalist and presidential speechwriter.

He is perhaps best known as a long-time syndicated political columnist for The New York Times
, "Thoughts Regarding the Peace Announcement," undated un·dat·ed  
1. Not marked with or showing a date: an undated letter; an undated portrait.

, Vietnam, Box 178, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(82.) Haldeman, Diaries, April 23, 1971, p. 278.

(83.) Ibid., February 14, 1972, p. 410.

(84.) William Timmons memorandum to Harry Dent, Charles Colson, Jeb Magruder, and Robert Odle, May 20,1970, Cambodia, Alpha Subject Files, Box 116, SMOF, HRH, WHSF, NPM, NARA.

(85.) Haldeman, Diaries, July 14, 1970, p. 182 and April 26, 1972, p. 448.

(86.) John E. Mueller, War, Presidents and Public Opinion (New York: John Wiley, 1973).

(87.) Haldeman, Diaries, August 24, 1971, p. 349
COPYRIGHT 1997 Center for the Study of the Presidency
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Richard M. Nixon
Author:Katz, Andrew Z.
Publication:Presidential Studies Quarterly
Date:Jun 22, 1997
Previous Article:Containing the offensive: the "chief of the cold war" and the Eisenhower administration's German policy.
Next Article:After Tiananmen: the struggle over U.S. policy toward China in the Bush administration.

Related Articles
A Voice from the Wilderness: Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, 1964-1966.
Nixon's Vietnam War.
Out of Vietnam: thirty years ago this week, the U.S. ended its most unpopular war. But Vietnam has cast a long shadow. (times past).
From Watergate to downing street: lying for war.
The Nixon Doctrine: a saga of misunderstanding.
Keefer, Edward C., ed. Foreign Relations of the U.S.: Vietnam, January 1969-July 1970.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters