chapter  1
The Long 1964
WithSeth Offenbach
Pages 28

Prior to the Vietnam War, the conservative movement was one of the leading anti-communist groups in the United States. Thus, the right had long supported the Ngo Dinh Diem regime in South Vietnam. However, as this chapter demonstrates, in 1964, most leading conservatives did not think that it was wise for the United States to fight a land war in Asia. During the 1964 presidential election, Barry Goldwater frequently warned Lyndon Johnson against sending in troops; instead Goldwater proposed ending the military draft and increasing bombing campaigns against communist forces. This chapter explores the strategy suggestions of conservative intellectual leaders such as William Buckley and the National Review regarding the Vietnam War in the year prior to Americanization of the war. As this chapter demonstrates, the right was ideologically stuck because it opposed sending in troops but also opposed withdrawal from Vietnam. This contradiction meant that the right was ill prepared for what became America’s longest war in Vietnam.