By 1972 the American people were long over the Vietnam War – even those who supported it in the beginning were turning against it now. Two years earlier, there were incidents at Kent and Jackson State Universities and the violent reaction to peaceful protest turned even more otherwise laid-back people, against the War and our further involvement in it.
There was a concerted effort to reduce our involvement though – in January of 1972, our troop strength in Vietnam was reduced to 133,200 – down from the 500,000 only a few months earlier. Also in January, President Nixon revealed that Henry Kissinger had been in secret talks with the North Vietnamese and that peace plan had been unveiled – whereby complete American withdrawal would take place 6 months after a peace treaty was signed. For their part, the North Vietnamese criticized Nixon for making details of the peace plan public and offered their own peace plan; which consisted of a demand for complete and total withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam and the immediate resignation of the Thieu government.
But the war was still going on – the Easter Offensive by North Vietnamese troops was beaten back, but not without losing the city of Quang Tri, which fell to the North Vietnamese and the only town to do so during that offensive.
In the meantime, talks had stalled, with neither side willing to back down from demands. All of this managed to infuriate the American people back home, who continued and escalated the protests, and which became increasingly more violent.
This documentary, produced by NBC Radio News and aired on May 11, 1972 – gives some background in the then-current situation in Vietnam and covers a good deal of official ground. Telling by the tone of the reports, it’s clear that even the media were getting tired of the war and wanted it over sooner, rather than later.
If only . . .
Here is that documentary – Vietnam: The War That Will Not End – from May 11, 1972.