While defining “regionalism” and the “South,” the introduction makes the case for examining domestic regionalism as a key domestic influence on the formation and implementation of US foreign policy, especially during the Vietnam era. Even as southern public support for the war was critical, individual southerners took center stage and exercised decisive influence, including President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Commanding General William Westmoreland, prowar senators Richard B. Russell and John C. Stennis, and antiwar senators J. William Fulbright and John Sherman Cooper. Two other southerners, Lieutenant William Calley and Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, were central actors during the My Lai Massacre. The introduction explains how southern political and economic interests, racial attitudes, devotion to personal and national honor, and evangelical religious values shaped the region’s responses to the war. Finally, the introduction (along with the “Bibliographic Essay”) notes that this assessment of southern public opinion and personal experiences is based on extensive reading in constituent correspondence and letters to the editor, as well as public opinion polling.
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