Nixon, Ford and the Abandonment of South Vietnam


Nixon, Ford and the Abandonment of South Vietnam



South Vietnam fell because of events occurring thousands of miles away from the battlefields—in China, the Soviet Union, Latin America, the Middle East, and Washington’s corridors of power, along protest lines, and around America’s dinner tables. These other wars being fought by American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford profoundly impacted what happened in Vietnam.

This work examines those other conflicts and the political, social, and economic factors involved with them that distracted and crippled the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and led to the eventual abandonment of the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese regime. Nixon entered office with the goal of bringing the world together, but saw that goal ruined by the 1973 war in the Middle East, preoccupations with China and the Soviet Union, a weak economy, Watergate, and his disgraceful exit from the White House. Ford’s presidency was tainted almost from the beginning because of the pardon he granted to Nixon, but the American public, tired of war and concerned about the economy, was ready to hear that the war had come to an end. An argument is presented that the war could have been won if the “other wars” had been fought by presidents willing to honor the American commitment to its allies in South Vietnam.


College of Arts and Sciences





Publication Date







history, military, Vietnam war, east asia


United States History


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction 1

1 The Worst Day 5
2 Turning Point 9
3 Nixon’s Doctrine 13
4 The Widening Morass 17
5 Incursion 31
6 Irritants 42
7 Madman 47
8 Last Chance 52
9 Gravest Consequences 57
10 Under Siege 61
11 Crises 65
12 Expletive Deleted 69
13 Caretaker 74
14 The Razor’s Edge 79
15 Nothing Happened 107
16 Will ARVN Fight? 121
17 Final Betrayal 127
18 Exit 131
19 Who Lost South Vietnam? 152

Chronology 159
Glossary 175
Notes 183
Bibliography 199
Index 213

Nixon, Ford and the Abandonment of South Vietnam