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  What if LBJ quietly de-escalated and withdrew from Vietnam after being sworn in?
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Author Topic: What if LBJ quietly de-escalated and withdrew from Vietnam after being sworn in?  (Read 2894 times)
Blue3
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« on: August 21, 2014, 10:27:27 pm »

What if LBJ quietly de-escalated and withdrew from Vietnam after being sworn in? How different would his presidency, the 1968 election, his legacy, and society/politics today be?
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Lincoln Republican
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 10:15:03 pm »
« Edited: August 29, 2014, 10:17:57 pm by Lincoln Republican »

LBJ

-He would not have been hounded from office
-He would have been virtually uncontested for the Democratic nomination in '68
-He would have swept the primaries
-He would have retained Humphrey as Vice President
-The anti Vietnam war riots and domestic violence of that era would not have occurred  
-Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy would not have contested LBJ for the nomination in '68
-Robert Kennedy would not have been assassinated, and may have contested the nomination in '72
-LBJ would have defeated Nixon in the '68 election to win another full term as President, becoming the longest serving President in history with the exception of FDR
-The national tragedy of Watergate would never have occurred
-He would have concentrated more heavily on domestic affairs, in particular social issues and expanding the great society, that is, after all, where his interests and expertise lie  
-He would have gone down in history as one of the greatest reformers and innovators of American domestic and social policy, and as one of the great Presidents, extricating the U.S. from a foreign war as well as reforming the social structure of the nation
-Given his record, he may have made it possible for the Democrats to win the Presidency again in '72, extremely rare for the same party to win four Presidential elections in a row

In other words, LBJ should have done exactly as you have said, de-escalate and withdraw from Vietnam.  
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Blue3
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2019, 10:16:10 pm »

Any new thoughts?
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darklordoftech
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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2019, 10:30:19 pm »

It seems like Vietnam was Lyndon's fatal flaw.
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NewYorkExpress
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2019, 10:47:42 pm »

Even if LBJ won reelection in 1968, the backlash from the Civil Rights movement/The Great Society would have locked in a Republican (or George Wallace) victory in 1972.

That said, Nixon would not be the winning Republican, unless he doesn't run against LBJ in 1968.
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President Johnson
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2019, 12:42:56 pm »

Very difficult to answer. Vietnam would have been under Hanoi's control by 1966 or 1967. LBJ could have accomplished even more domestically, but he may be blamed for being weak in communism. Like Truman was blamed for the loss of China. I'm not sure though whether he would have run again 1968 since Lady Bird was pressing him to retire for health reasons.

However, the Domino Theory was fully nonsense. Communism would have not spread further in Asia because of Vietnam.

But obviously he should have done so. Vietnam was his biggest mistake. If we could just cancel it out, he'd rank just below FDR and Lincoln among scholars.
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Tegridy Farms
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2019, 01:49:38 pm »

Very difficult to answer. Vietnam would have been under Hanoi's control by 1966 or 1967. LBJ could have accomplished even more domestically, but he may be blamed for being weak in communism. Like Truman was blamed for the loss of China. I'm not sure though whether he would have run again 1968 since Lady Bird was pressing him to retire for health reasons.

However, the Domino Theory was fully nonsense. Communism would have not spread further in Asia because of Vietnam.

But obviously he should have done so. Vietnam was his biggest mistake. If we could just cancel it out, he'd rank just below FDR and Lincoln among scholars.

The most ironic thing about the "Domino Theory" is that communism did spread into Laos and Cambodia because of the U.S. intervention, not a lack of thereof. But without the hindsight LBJ might've received a lot of heat for being "weak on communism" indeed. Kind of Catch-22 situation.

As of 1968 it would take either total political collapse, like it happened in Rl due to Vietnam, or another heart attack while in office to prevent LBJ from seeking second full term. There's no way he would've passed on this otherwise.

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brucejoel99
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 09:48:16 am »

He had 3 choices.

1. Status quo & hope for the best.
2. Ramp it up to 500,000 men & drop more bombs on the jungle than all of WW2.
3. Get out! Just get the hell out!

Johnson had bad advice all around. Truman lost China & needed Ike to keep Korea. People kept talking about the collapse of all of Asia. He was damned if he did & damned if he didn't.
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TrumanJohnson
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 04:00:05 pm »

I think the problem with LBJ and Vietnam was the thought of being the President who lost Vietnam to communism. Maybe if the status quo had been maintained it would have decreased the blame, but nevertheless he still would have gotten blame. LBJ didn't have the foreign policy skills of JFK, so it really all depends on his advisors. LBJ getting out of Vietnam is just illogical to the post WWII consensus.
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Jolly Slugg
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2019, 06:51:21 pm »

In order to prevent Pol Pot, you have to stop the communists in Vietnam.
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Blue3
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2019, 10:28:21 pm »

We didn't "have" China or "have" Vietnam to begin with. They were not our possessions to "lose."

A corrupt Chinese government met its doom in Mao.

The communist Vietnamese were actually orgiinally INSPIRED by Americans before we got involved.

The press will whine no matter what. And Vietnam isn't as significant as China, anyway.
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Jolly Slugg
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 10:37:29 pm »

Maoism inherently means support of Mao's mass murders. Ho Chi Minh wasn't inspired by the Americans - he used text from 1776 purely for show before setting up a brutal dictatorship.
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Blue3
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2019, 12:30:33 am »

Maoism inherently means support of Mao's mass murders. Ho Chi Minh wasn't inspired by the Americans - he used text from 1776 purely for show before setting up a brutal dictatorship.
Doesn't mean we "lost" China or "lost" Vietnam.

They had a corrupt government and a colonial government.
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Jolly Slugg
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2019, 03:59:58 pm »

They were lost to the Free World.
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Cory
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« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2019, 05:22:25 am »

Maoism inherently means support of Mao's mass murders. Ho Chi Minh wasn't inspired by the Americans - he used text from 1776 purely for show before setting up a brutal dictatorship.

Wasn't a Maoist. He sided with the USSR in the Sino-Soviet Split, and was even invaded by China in 1979. Not to mention invaded Cambodia to depose Pol Pot before then.

Just a Point of Order.
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Fuzzy Bear
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« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2019, 06:41:41 pm »

If this scenario had happened, LBJ would be the Great Liberal, and JFK would be remembered on the order of McKinley.

If this had happened, the Democratic Party might not have lost its hegemony to this day.
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Speaker YE
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« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2019, 09:37:15 pm »

He had 3 choices.

1. Status quo & hope for the best.
2. Ramp it up to 500,000 men & drop more bombs on the jungle than all of WW2.
3. Get out! Just get the hell out!

Johnson had bad advice all around. Truman lost China & needed Ike to keep Korea. People kept talking about the collapse of all of Asia. He was damned if he did & damned if he didn't.

This (which is why I dont really fault LBJ that much for the War) but in hindsight, GTFO was the all-around best option and his legacy would not be tarnished by Vietnam like it is. Hed be up there with FDR and Lincoln as others have noted.
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Jolly Slugg
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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2019, 09:52:01 pm »

I assume that most of the people in this thread would like to have prevented Pol Pot. How exactly do you do that without stopping the communists in Vietnam?
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Fuzzy Bear
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« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2019, 10:03:39 pm »

I assume that most of the people in this thread would like to have prevented Pol Pot. How exactly do you do that without stopping the communists in Vietnam?

Pol Pot was the result of President Nixon souring on the Cambodian government of Prince Sihanouk.  Nixon covertly worked to depose Sihanouk and supported a government headed by Premier Lon Nol, who had cancer and lacked popular support.  Lon Nol was outwardly more loyal to America, but less stable.  Had Sihanouk not been deposed, Pol Pot probably would not have happened.

Sihanouk, IIRC, was not willing to allow American troops to use Cambodia for maneuvers against the Viet Cong, and he was somewhat friendly toward allowing VC and NVA troops seek sanctuary in Cambodia, not wanting Americans to participate.  Putting up with that nuisance, in hindsight, would have been worth it to prevent Pol Pot.

The 93rd Congress voted, time and again in 1973, to cut off funding for the bombing of Cambodia to forstall the fall of the Lon Nol government.  No one thought that Pol Pot would be a genocidal lunatic back then.  In retrospect, the funds for bombing Cambodia should have been approved, but Americans were as war-weary as it got back then, and Nixon was in the midst of losing all of his credibility, on the way to his 1974 resignation.
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Jolly Slugg
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« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2019, 05:22:38 am »

The Vietnamese communists in the early seventies will want a protective girdle of satellite states around them so i can't see them tolerating an unreliable non-communist monarch like Sihanouk for long.
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Cory Booker
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« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2019, 03:01:33 pm »

Then, the Civil Rights movement would have been in full force and the senseless deaths of Dr. King and Robert Kennedy would have been averted.

Robert Kennedy, the most dovish president, would have still championed Civil Rights causes and could of been a third term Johnson.
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GoTfan
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« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2019, 05:18:50 pm »

The Vietnamese communists in the early seventies will want a protective girdle of satellite states around them so i can't see them tolerating an unreliable non-communist monarch like Sihanouk for long.

Didn't Vietnam invade Cambodia to depose Pol Pot?
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Ishan
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« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2019, 06:37:01 pm »

The Vietnamese communists in the early seventies will want a protective girdle of satellite states around them so i can't see them tolerating an unreliable non-communist monarch like Sihanouk for long.

Didn't Vietnam invade Cambodia to depose Pol Pot?
True
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penttilinkolafan
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« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2019, 06:28:20 pm »

LBJ would be a two-termer, defeat Reagan in '68 and we see either HHH or Nixon elected in '72.

You see medicare/medicaid expanded compared to OTL in the late 60s/early 70s with possible naitonal healthcare under LBJ, more likely under his successor.

4-6 more SC spots filled by LBJ, though so the supreme court tilts left of OTL. You likely see pornography legal outside of california(instead of OTL's situation where it's only legal there), a firmer and more consistent Rooe v. wade that's more legally sound(read: making it a matte of it being the women's choice) and sodomy laws ended by the SC by the mid 70s.
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The Mikado
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« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2019, 10:31:11 pm »


However, the Domino Theory was fully nonsense. Communism would have not spread further in Asia because of Vietnam.

You don't think Cambodia or Laos would've fallen to Communist rebels there if they had a unified Communist Vietnam to provide them weapons, logistics, training, supplies, etc?
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