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

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).

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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