Vietnam War During the Nixon Years: Learning Objectives & Activities

Instructor: Jessica Lyons
The lessons in this chapter will teach you about President Richard Nixon's plan for getting U.S. troops out of Vietnam. Once you've complete the lessons, use the key questions and activities to apply what you've learned.

What's This Chapter About?

This chapter will cover important information about President Richard Nixon's involvement in the Vietnam War, and important events that took place during his presidency. The lessons will explain Nixon's strategies for withdrawal from Vietnam, as well as American reactions to those actions, and the end result of the war.

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you'll be able to:

  • Analyze Richard Nixon's strategies for withdrawal from the Vietnam War
  • Explain Nixon's involvement in the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos
  • Analyze domestic disapproval and resistance Nixon met as a consequence of a prolonged engagement with North Vietnam
  • Identify how the Nixon administration was able to reach a peace accord with North Vietnam

People to Know

  • Richard Nixon - The 37th President of the United States, who served from 1969-1974. When Nixon entered office he set forth a plan to win the Vietnam War quickly and with honor. However, it was another four years before the U.S. fully withdrew from Vietnam.
  • Henry Kissinger - Richard Nixon's National Security advisor. He warned Vietnamese representatives that Nixon would use nuclear strikes to end the war, as part of Nixon's 'madman theory.'
  • Le Duc Tho - A representative of North Vietnam who met with Henry Kissinger and was told of the supposed plans for 'Operation Duck Hook.'
  • Prince Sihanouk - During the Vietnam War, he was the leader of Cambodia.
  • Mario Savo - A Berkeley student who founded the Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1964.

Vocabulary to Know

  • Vietnamization - Nixon's attempt to prepare South Vietnam to continue the fighting once U.S. troops had left the country.
  • Easter Offensive - An attempt by North Vietnam to invade South Vietnam in 1972, which was a massive failure for the North Vietnamese.
  • Operation Menu - A bombing campaign that the U.S. carried out against North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos without the knowledge of the American people.
  • Paris Peace Accords - The peace agreement between the U.S. and North Vietnam that allowed for the withdrawal of American troops from the Vietnam War.

Key Questions

Once you've completed the lessons in this chapter, you can answer the following questions to apply your new knowledge.

  • What were some obstacles Nixon faced when trying to quickly pull the U.S. out of Vietnam?
  • Why did Nixon target Cambodia and Laos in Operation Menu?
  • What were some factors that caused such widespread dissent among Americans of the Vietnam War?
  • What were the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords?

Build on Your Learning

After completing the lessons in the chapter Vietnam War During the Nixon Years, use the following activities to apply what you've learned.


Analyze Richard Nixon's attempts at the Vietnamization of the Vietnam War. Where do you think he succeeded? Where did Nixon's plans fail?


Richard Nixon set out to exit the Vietnam War, and by the end of his first term, this goal was accomplished. However, many things did not go as planned for Nixon. Was Nixon successful in his exit of the Vietnam War? Why or why not?


Imagine you are a college student during Nixon's presidency. What is your stance on the war, the draft, and on the protests of the war? Write a letter to Richard Nixon, explaining your point of view.

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