The 1967 presidential elections in South Vietnam presented U.S. policymakers with their last opportunity to establish a potentially popular and legitimate non-communist government there. This article examines how and why the Johnson administration squandered this opportunity over the course of 1967. U.S. policymakers faced the choice of intervening actively to promote a more civilian popular government or adopting a stance of non-intervention that would effectively keep the government in the hands of South Vietnam's military rulers. Although many of Johnson's closest advisers and the State Department preferred the former policy, the administration largely pursued the policy of non-intervention advocated by Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge and the Saigon Embassy. By choosing stability over reform, Johnson's policy toward the South Vietnamese election of 1967 helped ensure that U.S. efforts to wage war would continue to be compromised by its support of a corrupt, unpopular regime in Saigon.
- 2004 by The Pacific Coast Branch, American Historical Association