News

    Past US Presidents Tried to Rally Public During Wartime

    U.S. President George Bush faces a difficult challenge, as he tries to win support for a new strategy in Iraq, even as opinion polls indicate much of the public no longer believes the war is winnable.  But as VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports, U.S. presidents have often faced unique challenges during wartime.

    During the American Civil War in the 1860s, President Abraham Lincoln came under intense criticism for the high number of casualties suffered by northern troops trying to turn back the southern rebellion. President Lincoln won re-election in 1864, defeating one of his former generals, George McClellan.

    During the early days of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt used his popular fireside radio chats to rally public support, even when there was discouraging news from the battlefield. 

    "Soon we, and not our enemies, will have the offensive," he said.  "We, not they, will win the final battles and we, not they, will make the final peace."

    President Harry Truman faced a similar challenge during the Korean War in the early 1950s, after early success on the battlefield ground to a stalemate.

    "Now, many persons, even some who applauded our decision to defend Korea, have forgotten the basic reason for our action," he said. "It is right for us to be in Korea now.  It was right last June [1950].  It is right today."

    In the 1960s and 1970s, four U.S. presidents had to deal with the war in Vietnam.

    Shortly before his death in 1963, President John Kennedy discussed the prospects for withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam within a year or two with his national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy.

    No president had more at stake in Vietnam than Lyndon Johnson.  Under his leadership, the war quickly expanded in the mid-1960s.  But as more troops were sent in with mixed results on the battlefield, discontent over the war began to grow at home and took a toll on President Johnson's political support.

    In March of 1968, Mr. Johnson shocked the country when he announced he would not seek re-election.

    With our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes, or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office, the presidency of your country," he said.

    President Bush faces a similar challenge in trying to rebuild support for the war in Iraq.

    "Now, America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century," said Mr. Bush.  "We can and we will prevail."

    While public support for the war in Vietnam eroded over a period of years, the decline in support for the effort in Iraq has developed more quickly.

    Professor John Mueller of Ohio State University has studied the impact of war on public opinion.

    "When [public] support in Iraq had gotten down to 50 percent or so, about 2,000 Americans had died," he noted.  "When support of the Vietnam War had gotten down to about 50 percent, about 20,000 Americans had died.  So, that suggests that people are much less willing to expend lives on this venture in Iraq than they were in the one in Vietnam."

    In his recent address to the nation on Iraq, President Bush said the U.S. commitment there is not open-ended, but he urged Americans to give his new strategy a chance.

    Public opinion experts question how long the public is willing to wait to see progress in Iraq.

    "If it takes a year or more for this increase in troops to start to have an effect, that is a real problem for the president," explained Christopher Gelphi, a political science professor at Duke University in North Carolina.  "If, on the other hand, we can see a real effect within the next couple of months, he might be able to turn things around."

    The polls suggest President Bush has a lot of convincing to do.  Recent surveys indicate about two-thirds of the public opposes the troops increase for Iraq, and about 70 percent disapprove of the president's handling of the war.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora