In the tumultuous 1968 election, President Richard Nixon promised an honorable end to the Vietnam War. In this module, students will examine Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, which promoted the reduction of U.S. forces in Vietnam by transferring military responsibility to the South Vietnamese forces. They will also examine reactions to the American invasion of Laos and Cambodia during this period of troop drawdown.


Nixon and Vietnamization

Essential Question

What was President Nixon’s plan to “win peace” and end the Vietnam conflict?


  • 5.D.1.d. Objective: Describe the actions the United States took to withdraw from the Vietnam War, including the policy known as “Vietnamization.” How did these actions affect on the Vietnamese people?
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1 : Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information. (Grades 9/10)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 : Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas. (Grades 11/12)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7 : Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. (Grades 11/12)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8 : Evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information. (Grades 11/12)
  • D2.His.1.9-12: Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by the unique circumstances of the time and place, as well as by broader historical contexts.
  • D2.His.4.9-12: Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspective of people during different historical eras.
  • 8.1 The United States responded to an uncertain and unstable postwar world by asserting and working to maintain a position of global leadership, with far-reaching domestic and international consequences.
    1. United States policymakers engaged in the Cold War with the authoritarian Soviet Union, seeking to limit the growth of communist military power and ideological influence, create a free-market global economy, and build an international security system.
      1. Post-war decolonization and the emergence of a powerful nationalist movement in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East led both sides in the cold war to seek allies among new nations, many of which remained nonaligned.
    2. Cold War policies led to public debates over the power of the federal government and acceptable means of pursuing international and domestic goals while protecting civil liberties.
      1. Americans debated policies and methods designed to expose suspected communist within the United States even as both parties supported the broader strategy of containing communism.

Tips for using this module in your classroom


Documentary Clip

As students watch the film clip, have them collect evidence to answer the following question:

  • How did the policy of Vietnamization impact American soldiers in Vietnam?

Interview transcripts: Nick Prevas, Bob Krebs, George Whitehouse

Close Reading Primary Source Analysis

Conduct a close read of President Nixon’s news conference from November 3, 1969 , and ask students the following text-dependent questions:
  • Why does Nixon advocate America’s changing its course in Vietnam? Cite at least three pieces of textual evidence.
  • How does Nixon plan to “win peace” in Vietnam? Cite specific plans.
  • Why is Nixon’s point of view important to consider in this source?
  • What may be Nixon’s purpose in having this news conference?
Examine the Nixon news conference from April 30, 1970 , and compare it to his November 3, 1969, statement. Ask students:
  • How does the conference from 1970 demonstrate Nixon was trying to “win peace” in Vietnam? Cite at least three pieces of textual evidence.
  • How is this speech different than the November 3 speech?
  • What may have been Nixon’s purpose in having this news conference?
  • Why might this speech have triggered a wave of anti-war demonstrations across the U.S.?
Examine a chart of American troop levels in Vietnam .
  • What does the data support about U.S. troop levels in Vietnam during the Nixon years (1968-1974)?
  • Was President Nixon honoring his pledges made in 1969 and 1970?
Examine Herblock’s “Now, as I was saying four years ago” cartoon .
  • Does the author view Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy as a success or failure? Cite textual evidence within the cartoon.
  • What may be the author's’ motive for creating this cartoon in 1972?