LBJ, Vietnam and the Political Costs of Fighting a Hopeless War

Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara at a meeting in the White House, Feb. 9, 1968 (photo by Yoichi Okamoto from LBJ Library archive).
Secretary of State Dean Rusk, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara at a meeting in the White House, Feb. 9, 1968 (photo by Yoichi Okamoto from LBJ Library archive).
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In the fall of 1967, when then-President Lyndon Johnson looked out from his increasingly isolated perch at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the signs of discontent and anger about the war in Vietnam were increasingly evident. A majority of the country negatively viewed his handling of the war, and for the first time since the U.S. intervention in Vietnam had begun, Gallup found that a majority of Americans believed the war was a mistake. On Johnson’s political left, anger over the war had reached a boiling point. In October, 100,000 anti-war demonstrators marched on the Pentagon in the largest anti-war protest in […]

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