Thursday, September 29, 2005

Marching does matter 

After last weekend's anti-war marches, I have been reading blogs here and elsewhere asking whether such marches make any difference.
They do.
I have been saying for years that I thought the only thing which stopped the US from using nuclear weapons to try to win the war in Vietnam was the anti-war movement. Now, the PBS documentary The Sixties: The Years that Shaped a Generation agrees with me.
My assertion was based on the premise that there was no number of American troops, no strategy, no alliance or configuration, could ever have "won" the Vietnam war for the US. So the idea of trying to force the enemy to sue for peace by using a nuclear weapon would have been increasingly tempting as the war dragged on and on. Sure enough, Henry Kissinger describes a period in 1969 when Nixon was considering nuking North Vietnam and Cambodia and was threatening North Vietnam with this tactic.
What changed Nixon's mind was the October 15, 1969 National Moratorium nation-wide antiwar marches, when two million Americans marched in every city for peace. This convinced Nixon that the people would never tolerate the use of nuclear weapons to try to win the war.
So marching makes a difference -- maybe more of a difference than anyone at the time ever knows.

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