The American South and the Vietnam WarBelligerence, Protest, and Agony in Dixie

The American South and the Vietnam WarBelligerence, Protest, and Agony in Dixie

Joseph A. Fry

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780813161044

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Abstract

Place matters in how Americans have responded to and sought to influence US foreign policy. The dynamic of domestic regional influence on US foreign relations was especially apparent in the American South’s role in the Vietnam War. From the general public to soldiers, college students, and crucially placed political leaders, Dixie supported the war more strongly and longer than any other section of the country. As had been the southern practice since the 1780s, the South’s bellicose foreign policy stance was grounded in distinctly regional political and economic interests, racial views, ideological and historical assumptions, and religious values. Although Dixie’s support helped to sustain an increasingly unpopular war under both Presidents Johnson and Nixon, many of these same regional interests and values spawned an articulate minority opposition to the war. These antiwar protests, together with the war’s mounting agony, led even the South and its prowar leaders to tire of the conflict by the early 1970s.