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        #213: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War

        作者:Steve Ember 發布日期:9-12-2013

        Thousands of anti-war protesters gather at United Nations Plaza in New York City, April 15, 1967, for a peaceful demonstration against America's involvement in the Vietnam War
        Thousands of anti-war protesters gather at United Nations Plaza in New York City, April 15, 1967, for a peaceful demonstration against America's involvement in the Vietnam War

        STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

        Today, we continue the story of America's thirty-sixth president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

        (MUSIC)

        Johnson was vice president to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas in November of nineteen sixty-three. Johnson served the last fourteen months of the president's term. Then he won a full term of his own starting in January nineteen sixty-five.

        Much of Johnson's time and energy would be taken up by the war in Vietnam.

        (MUSIC)

        By early nineteen sixty-four, America had about seventeen thousand troops in Vietnam. The troops were there to advise and train the South Vietnamese military.

        Vietnam had gained its independence from France in nineteen fifty-four. The country was divided into North and South. The North had a communist government led by Ho Chi Minh. The South had an anti-communist government led by Ngo Dinh Diem.

        (VIETNAM BATTLE SOUNDS)

        In nineteen fifty-seven, communist rebels -- the Viet Cong -- launched a violent campaign in the South. They were supported by the government of North Vietnam and later by North Vietnamese troops. Their goal was to overthrow the government in the South.

        President Johnson believed that the United States had to support South Vietnam. Many Americans agreed. They believed that without American help, South Vietnam would become communist. There were concerns about the so-called Domino Theory, that if South Vietnam fell, other Southeast Asian countries would also fall to communists.

        (MUSIC)

        As Johnson began his full term, his military advisers told him the communists were losing the war. They told him that North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong forces would soon stop fighting.

        On February sixth, nineteen sixty-five, however, the Viet Cong attacked American camps at Pleiku and Qui Nhon. The Johnson administration immediately ordered air strikes against military targets in the North.

        Some observers in the United States questioned the administration's policy. James Reston of the New York Times, for example, said President Johnson was carrying out an undeclared war in Vietnam.

        In March nineteen sixty-five, the first American combat troops arrived in South Vietnam. Congress supported the president's actions at that time. However, the number of Americans who opposed the war began to grow. These people said it was a civil war. They said the United States had no right, or reason, to intervene.

        For six days in May, the United States halted bombing of North Vietnam. The administration hoped this would help get the North Vietnamese government to begin negotiations.

        The North refused. And the United States began to build up its forces in the South. By July, one hundred twenty-five thousand Americans were fighting in Vietnam.

        Some Americans became angry. Anti-war demonstrations took place in San Francisco and Chicago.

        (ANTI-WAR DEMONSTRATORS)

        More and more students began to protest. They wanted the war to end quickly.

        Some people thought the anti-war demonstrations were only delaying peace in Vietnam. James Reston believed the demonstrations would make Ho Chi Minh think America did not support its troops. And that, he said, would only make him continue the war.

        In December of nineteen sixty-five, the United States again halted its air campaign against North Vietnam. Again, it invited the North Vietnamese government to negotiate an end to the fighting. And, again, the North refused.

        Ho Chi Minh's conditions for peace were firm. He demanded an end to the bombing and a complete American withdrawal.

        Withdrawal would mean defeat for the South. It would mean that all of Vietnam would become communist. President Johnson would not accept these terms. So he offered his own proposals. The most important was an immediate ceasefire. Neither side would compromise, however. And the fighting went on.

        In nineteen sixty-six, President Johnson renewed the bombing in North Vietnam. He also increased the number of American troops in South Vietnam.

        (MUSIC)

        Nineteen sixty-six was also a year for congressional elections. The opposition Republican Party generally supported the war efforts of Lyndon Johnson, who was a Democrat. But it criticized him and other Democrats for economic problems connected to the war.

        The war cost two billion dollars every month. The price of many goods in the United States began to rise. The value of the dollar began to drop. Americans faced inflation and then a recession.

        To answer the criticism, administration officials said progress was being made in Vietnam. But some Americans began to suspect that the government was not telling the truth about the war.

        Opposition to the war led to bigger and bigger demonstrations.

        In July nineteen sixty-seven, just over half the people questioned for opinion surveys said they did not approve of the president's policies. But most Americans believed that Johnson would run again for president the next year.

        Johnson strongly defended the use of American troops in Vietnam. In a speech to a group of lawmakers he said:

        "Since World War II, this nation has met and has mastered many challenges-challenges in Greece and Turkey, in Berlin, in Korea, in Cuba. We met them because brave men were willing to risk their lives for their nation's security. And braver men have never lived than those who carry our colors in Vietnam at this very hour. The price of these efforts, of course, has been heavy. But the price of not having made them at all, not having seen them through, in my judgment would have been vastly greater."

        (MUSIC)

        Then came Tet -- the Vietnamese lunar new year -- in January nineteen sixty-eight.

        (VIETNAM BATTLE SOUNDS)

        The communists launched a major military campaign. They attacked thirty-one of the forty-four provinces of South Vietnam. They also struck at the American embassy in the capital, Saigon.

        CBS REPORTER GEORGE SYVERTSEN: "Military Police got back into the compound of the two-and-a-half million dollar embassy complex at dawn. Before that, a platoon of Viet Cong were in control. The communist raiders never got inside the main chancery building. A handful of Marines had it locked and kept them out. But the raiders were everywhere else."

        CBS News reporter George Syvertsen described more of the fighting in Saigon and how it affected civilians in a poor part of the city.

        SYVERTSEN: [Gunfire] "This neighborhood is called 'the chessboard' because of the maze of alleys and passageways. Its residents are mostly poor working people, and its slums are a refuge for Saigon's hoodlum and criminal elements.? Vietnamese Rangers and Marines move carefully, blasting buildings and possible Viet Cong hiding places before moving ahead. This was the first time heavy fighting has taken place in Saigon proper. Until now, most of it has been in the Chinese section of Cho Lon and in the suburbs. [Gunfire]

        "The V-C [Viet Cong] were difficult to dislodge. They obviously knew the section well and had built barricades in key spots. The Rangers and Marines took casualties, [Gunfire] mostly from hidden snipers. As soon as a section had been cleared, more terror-stricken civilians scurried out of their homes, thousands of them fleeing from the bullets and explosives, and, even more dangerous, a fire that began to rage out of control.

        "Residents in nearby buildings began dragging their most precious possessions out of their shops and homes. Saigon's water supply system is operating only at seventy percent of normal, so fires are a serious menace.

        "For these people, many of whom had fled the war from outlying villages, this is the cruelest blow. The curfew has kept them from making a living. Food prices have tripled since the fighting began a week ago. And now, their homes are being destroyed."

        (MUSIC)

        Thousands of people were killed in the Tet Offensive. The communists suffered heavier losses than the South Vietnamese or the Americans. But many Americans were surprised that the communists could launch such a major attack against South Vietnam. For several years, they had been told that communist forces were small and losing badly. General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. military operations in Viet Nam, spoke with reporter George Syvertsen:

        GEORGE SYVERTSEN: "General, how would you assess yesterday's activities and today's? What is the enemy doing? Are these major attacks or..." [explosion]

        GENERAL WESTMORELAND: "The enemy, very deceitfully, has taken advantage of the Tet truce, in order to create maximum consternation within South Viet Nam, particularly in the populated areas. Now, yesterday, the enemy exposed himself by virtue of this strategy, and he suffered great casualties."

        As a result of the offensive, popular support for the administration fell even more.

        Democrats who opposed President Johnson seized this chance. Several ran against him for the party's nomination in nineteen sixty-eight. These included Senator Robert Kennedy of New York and Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota. Kennedy and McCarthy did well in the early primary elections. Johnson did poorly.

        At the end of March nineteen sixty-eight, the president spoke to the American people. He discussed his proposal to end American bombing of North Vietnam. He talked about his appointment of a special ambassador to start peace negotiations. And he announced his decision about his own future:

        LYNDON JOHNSON: "I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office -- the presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

        Another major issue facing America in the nineteen-sixties was the civil rights movement, which sought to ensure equal rights for black Americans.? That will be our story next week.

        (MUSIC)

        You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.squishedblueberries.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

        ___

        Contributing: Jerilyn Watson

        This was program #213. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

        林登.約翰遜是美國前總統約翰.肯尼迪的副總統??夏岬?963年11月在達拉斯遇刺身亡,約翰遜繼任總統,做完了肯尼迪剩下的14個月任期后,又當選連任,從1965年1月開始第二個任期。約翰遜的很多時間和精力花在了越南戰爭上。

        1964年初,美國有大約一萬七千人駐扎在越南,負責為南越武裝出謀劃策,提供軍事培訓。越南1954年脫離法國獨立后,分為南北兩部分,北越是胡志明領導的共產政權,南越是吳庭艷領導的反共政權。

        1957年,南越反政府的共產武裝--越共發動暴力運動,他們得到了北越政府和北越部隊的支持,目的是推翻南越政府。約翰遜總統認為,美國必須支持南越,很多美國人也認同這種看法。他們認為,沒有美國的支持,南越就會被共產主義吞噬。多米諾骨牌效應讓大家憂心忡忡,他們擔心,如果南越變天,那其它東南亞國家也會陸續成為共產主義陣營的一部分。

        約翰遜當選連任時,軍事專家告訴他說,北越共產主義武裝節節退敗,北越部隊和南方的越共不久就會停止戰斗。然而,1965年2月6號,越共對美國在波來古和昆蒿兩處營地發動攻擊。約翰遜政府立即下令,對北方的軍事目標發動空襲。

        美國一些分析人士對約翰遜的政策提出質疑,當時紐約時報的詹姆斯.賴斯頓就曾表示,約翰遜總統是對越南展開了一場沒有宣布的戰爭。

        1965年3月,第一批美軍戰斗部隊抵達南越。約翰遜的行動得到了國會的支持,但是反戰的美國民眾卻越來越多。他們指出,越南打的是內戰,美國無權,也沒有理由出兵干預。

        1965年5月,美國連續六天停止對北越的轟炸,希望這樣做能讓北越政府同意談判,但是遭到了北越的拒絕。于是,美國開始向南越增兵,到7月份的時候,在越南的美軍已經增加到了12萬5千人。一些美國人感到憤慨,舊金山和芝加哥都爆發了反戰抗議示威游行。參加抗議的學生不斷增加,他們希望戰爭立刻結束。

        與此同時,另外一些人則認為反戰抗議只會延緩越南的和平。紐約時報的詹姆斯.賴斯頓指出,反戰抗議會讓胡志明覺得美國人不支持自己的部隊,從而增加他把戰爭打下去的決心。

        1965年12月,美國再次暫停對北越的空襲,邀請北越政府展開停戰談判,結果再次遭到北越的拒絕。胡志明的停戰條件很明確,停止轟炸,美國全面撤軍。

        美國全面撤軍就意味著南越戰敗,意味著整個越南被共產力量所吞噬,這是約翰遜總統無法接受的。為此,他拿出了自己的提議,其中最重要的一條是立即?;?。結果,雙方誰都不肯讓步,戰火繼續燃燒。1966年,約翰遜總統下令恢復對北越的空襲,同時增加了派駐南越的美軍兵力。

        與此同時,1966年也是國會選舉年。共和黨總體上支持民主黨總統約翰遜在越戰問題上的政策,但就越戰帶來的經濟問題,對約翰遜和其他民主黨人提出批評。

        當時,越戰每個月要耗費20億美元,美國國內物價上漲,美元比值下跌,美國面臨通貨膨脹和經濟衰退的危險。約翰遜政府官員反駁說,越戰正在取得進展。但是一些美國人開始懷疑,政府并沒有講實話。反戰浪潮高漲,抗議示威游行的規模越來越大。

        1967年7月時,百分之50多一點的人在接受民意調查時表示,自己不認同約翰遜總統的政策,但是大多數美國人都認為,約翰遜次年會爭取參選連任。

        約翰遜堅決捍衛出兵越南的決定。他在一次對國會議員的講話中說:"二戰以來,這個國家接受并征服了很多挑戰,包括在希臘,在土耳其,在柏林,在韓國,在古巴。我們接受挑戰是因為勇敢者為國家安全不惜冒生命危險,現在在越南的美軍將士是最勇敢的人。戰爭的代價是沉重的,但是如果不付出努力,不堅持戰斗,在我看來,代價要大得多。"

        1968年1月,越南農歷新年到了。北越發起一場重大軍事行動,對南越44個省中的31個省發起攻擊,美國在西貢的使館也遭到襲擊。當時哥倫比亞廣播公司的記者喬治.賽弗森說:"凌晨時分,憲兵重新進入了這座價值250萬美元的使館大院。在這之前,大院一直被一個排的越共所控制,一些美國海軍陸戰隊員死死守著使館辦公處,越共才始終沒能沖進去。"

        賽弗森還詳細描述了西貢的沖突以及沖突給西貢貧民區居民帶來的影響。他說:"這個居民區因為巷子縱橫交錯,被稱為棋盤。這里的居民大多是窮苦勞工,這里也是西貢犯罪分子的藏身之處。越南突擊隊員和海軍陸戰隊員小心翼翼地向前推進,搗毀越共可能藏身的任何地方。這是西貢第一次發生激烈沖突,此前大部分沖突都發生在中國人聚集的堤岸區和郊區。"

        賽弗森還說,"越共很難找,他們顯然對這片地區很了解,在重要關口設置了路障。突擊隊員和海軍陸戰隊員有一些人員身亡,主要是被冷槍擊中。一片地區被證明安全后,馬上就會有很多驚慌失措的貧民百姓從家里跑出來,成千人逃命,更危險的是,一場大火的火勢開始失控。"

        他繼續說:"附近的居民也紛紛帶著自己最值錢的家當從店鋪和家里跑出來。西貢的水力供應能力只有正常水平的百分之七十,所以火災的風險不容忽視。很多人都是從附近的村莊逃難到西貢來的,這次襲擊對他們是一次沉重打擊。戒嚴讓他們沒法出去賺錢養家,沖突開始一周來,食物價格上漲了三倍,如今,他們連家都沒了。"

        越南農歷新年發生的這場沖突造成數千人死亡。北越共產黨人比南越和美國人的損失更為慘重。不過,很多美國人對北越能向南越發動如此大規模的攻擊感到驚訝。很多年來,他們聽到的一直都是,共產武裝力量勢單力薄,正在節節潰敗。美國駐越南的軍事行動總指揮威廉.威斯特摩蘭接受紐約時報記者賽弗森采訪時有如下對話。

        賽弗森問:"威斯特摩蘭將軍,你對昨天和今天的行動有何評估?敵人在干什么,這算是重大襲擊嗎......"?威斯特摩蘭回答說,"敵人很狡猾,他們利用了農歷新年的?;鹌?,想要在南越造成最大程度的恐慌,特別是在人口密集的地區。昨天,敵人采取這種戰略,結果暴露了自己,損失慘重。"

        這次進攻行動的發生,讓約翰遜政府的民眾支持度進一步下跌。反對約翰遜總統的民主黨人抓住這個機會,在1968年的總統候選人提名大會上出來挑戰約翰遜,其中包括紐約參議員羅伯特.肯尼迪和明尼蘇達州的參議員尤金.麥卡錫??夏岬虾望溈ㄥa在初選中表現非凡,超過了約翰遜。

        1968年3月底,約翰遜總統對全國人民發表講話。他談到了建議停止轟炸北越的提案,談到了任命特使,啟動和平談判,并同時宣布了自己未來的計劃。他說:"我認為,我不應該把一天,或是一個小時的時間拿出來,用于個人的黨派事務或其它任何事情,而是應該集中精力做好我的總統。因此,我不會尋求,也不會再次接受下屆總統的提名。"

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