How did the Anti-War movements against Vietnam affect the government's decision to stop the war?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The antiwar movement was a big issue during the Vietnam War.  First, Americans did not have a clear objective for being over there.  This was not a fight against the Axis powers, and many Americans did not feel as though their lives were threatened.  Most Americans could not even find Vietnam on a map.  Secondly, the American people felt as though they were being misled about the progress of the war.  Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson, gave out numbers of enemy dead and tons of bombs dropped on North Vietnam, but it seemed as though there were always members of the North Vietnamese army ready to fight.  This was apparent during the Tet Offensive, as the North Vietnamese launched a massive attack on American military bases in South Vietnam and even threatened the American embassy in Saigon.  Walter Cronkite, who at that time was considered the most important face in broadcast journalism, reported from the area and stated that the war was not going as expected.  Even though the North Vietnamese were repelled with heavy losses, Americans still had doubts about the war.  This was also the first war fought in front of television cameras, and Americans were uncomfortable with seeing Vietnamese women and children attacked and their own soldiers coming home in body bags.  Another thing that fueled the antiwar effort was the draft--at that time, young men who were eighteen years old could not vote but they could fight in the Vietnam War, and many of these young men joined the antiwar movement.  

All of these things fueled the antiwar effort.  Since America is a republic and voters elect our leaders, those leaders felt pressure from the taxpaying voters to end the war as soon as possible and with as much honor as possible.