March 14, 1967 – A Debate Over Vietnam – Past Daily Reference Room
Three months into 1967 and the voices calling for a withdrawal from Vietnam were getting louder. When things started spiraling out of hand in 1964, the majority of American people were solidly behind our involvement in Southeast Asia. The Reason? In March of 1967 as in August of 1964 the mantra was Communist Domination Of Asia. The Domino Theory was in full bloom. The prevailing fear at the time was; if Vietnam fell, the Chinese would immediately walk in and take over, with Indonesia following closely after, along with just about everything including The Philippines – eventually, the Communist influence wave would be lapping on the shores of Australia and, for all intents and purposes according to the pundits, we were doomed. This was the prevailing fear and school of thought in Cold War America in the 1960s – it had been that way since the 1940s when The Red Scare turned a normally well-adjusted nation into a cabal of hysterics; searching out Communists and conspiracies at every possibility.
This episode of the CBS Radio series Capitol Cloakroom stages something of a debate between two Senators; one a “Hawk” and one a “Dove” as they were characterized. Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-Washington) and Senator Joseph Clark (D-Penn.). Jackson represented President Johnson’s views on the War while Senator Clark sought to question those views. Both were in agreement that something needed to be done, but the very real possibility that this would wind up being a protracted war with no real solution was there, but was not brought up. The idea of being in Vietnam for an unknown period of time, with no concrete solution was something everyone could agree on – it was just how that solution was going to arrived at created the debate. In 1967 public opinion was starting to turn; the protests would increase as would the number of those taking part in those protests. By 1968 the tide had turned – but it wasn’t enough to call a halt too much before 1973; some five years later.
To get a better idea of what the issues and problems were, here is that debate from Capitol Cloakroom for March 14, 1967.