Vietnam War Hawks and Doves

The Vietnam War was a deeply divisive conflict that sparked passionate debates within American society. On one side were the hawks, who advocated a robust military response and continued U.S. involvement. On the other side were the doves, who opposed the war and called for its end. In this article, we will examine some of the famous Vietnam War hawks and doves, shedding light on their influential roles and differing perspectives during this tumultuous period in history.

Famous Vietnam War Hawks

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States (1963-1969), played a major role in escalating American involvement in Vietnam. He initially took a hawkish approach, believing that a strong military response was necessary to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Under his leadership, U.S. troop levels in Vietnam skyrocketed.

  • As president, Lyndon B. Johnson’s hawkish stance on Vietnam was influenced by his fear of the “domino theory”. He believed that if South Vietnam fell to communism, it would have a cascading effect on other countries in the region.
  • Johnson escalated American involvement in Vietnam, most notably through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964. This resolution gave him broad authority to use military force in Southeast Asia.
  • The escalating cost of the war, mounting casualties, and growing anti-war sentiment among the American public eventually led Johnson to decide not to seek re-election in 1968.

General William Westmoreland

General William Westmoreland was the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. He advocated a robust military strategy, including increased troop levels, to achieve victory in Vietnam. Westmoreland’s unwavering support for the war made him one of the most prominent hawks of the era.

  • General Westmoreland was a highly influential military leader during the Vietnam War. He advocated a strategy of attrition, designed to wear down the enemy through sustained military pressure and heavy use of firepower.
  • Westmoreland believed that a decisive military victory was achievable and continually requested additional troops to support his approach. However, the inability to defeat the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces eroded public support for the war effort.

Henry Kissinger

A renowned diplomat and national security advisor to President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War. Although not a traditional hawk, Kissinger pursued a strategy that combined negotiations with military pressure. His approach was considered more hawkish than dovish, emphasizing a realpolitik perspective.

  • As President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor and later Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger played a key role in shaping U.S. policy during the latter stages of the Vietnam War.
  • Kissinger pursued a policy of “peace with honor” and sought a negotiated settlement to end the war. He engaged in secret negotiations with North Vietnamese officials that led to the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.
  • While Kissinger’s approach may not have fit neatly into conventional hawkish or dovish labels, his pursuit of a negotiated settlement combined with military pressure positioned him as a pragmatic figure in the resolution of the war.

Famous Vietnam War Doves

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr., the iconic civil rights leader, expanded his advocacy to include opposition to the Vietnam War. King believed that the war was diverting resources and attention from pressing domestic social issues. He called for funds to be redirected toward poverty alleviation and social justice, making him a prominent figure among the doves.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. initially avoided taking a public stance on the Vietnam War, focusing primarily on civil rights issues. In 1967, however, he delivered a powerful speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” in which he condemned the war.
  • King criticized the war’s impact on domestic issues, particularly the diversion of resources from social welfare programs. He argued that the war disproportionately affected African Americans and impoverished communities.
  • King’s opposition to the war drew criticism from some quarters, including within the civil rights movement, but it also broadened his activism by linking issues of racial justice with opposition to militarism.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda, an actress and political activist, became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. She participated in anti-war demonstrations and famously visited North Vietnam in 1972. Fonda’s controversial actions, which included posing on an anti-aircraft gun, drew intense criticism from war supporters and made her a major dovish figure.


Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst, leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. These classified documents revealed a pattern of government deception and policy failure related to the Vietnam War. Ellsberg’s courageous act contributed to public disillusionment with and opposition to the war. His actions solidified his position as a prominent dove and whistleblower.

  • Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst and defense consultant, leaked the Pentagon Papers to the media in 1971. The Pentagon Papers were a classified study that revealed government deception and the true nature of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
  • Ellsberg’s leak exposed a pattern of government lies and policy failures and contributed to growing public disillusionment with the war. The release of the Pentagon Papers had a significant impact on shaping public opinion and further eroding support for the war effort.

These figures, among others, were instrumental in shaping public discourse and influencing the course of the Vietnam War. Their positions as hawks or doves, as well as their actions and statements, helped shape public opinion and ultimately contributed to changing the course of U.S. involvement in the conflict.


The Vietnam War witnessed the emergence of famous hawks and doves, each leaving an indelible mark on the historical narrative. Figures such as Lyndon B. Johnson and General William Westmoreland embodied the hawkish perspective, advocating military escalation and a strong response. On the other side, Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Fonda, and Daniel Ellsberg became notable doves, speaking out against the war and calling for its end. The clash between these opposing viewpoints reflected the deep divisions within American society during this tumultuous period. The legacies of these influential figures continue to shape our understanding of the Vietnam War and its lasting effects.


Who were some famous Vietnam War Hawks and Doves?

Famous Vietnam War Hawks:

  • Lyndon B. Johnson: As President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War and advocated a strong military response to the conflict.
  • General William Westmoreland: Westmoreland served as commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. He supported the war effort and advocated for increased troop levels to achieve victory.
  • Henry Kissinger: A prominent political figure and national security advisor to President Richard Nixon, Kissinger played a major role in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the Vietnam War. He advocated a hawkish stance and pursued a strategy of negotiation combined with military pressure.

Famous Vietnam War Doves:

  • Martin Luther King Jr: A prominent civil rights leader and advocate of nonviolent resistance, King opposed the Vietnam War. He criticized the war’s impact on domestic social issues and called for a redirection of resources to address poverty and inequality.
  • Jane Fonda: Fonda, an actress and political activist, was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War. She participated in anti-war demonstrations and made a controversial visit to North Vietnam, earning her the nickname “Hanoi Jane” among war supporters.
  • Daniel Ellsberg: Ellsberg, a former military analyst, leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The classified documents revealed government deception and policy failures related to the Vietnam War. His actions contributed to public disillusionment with and opposition to the war.

Who were the doves in the Vietnam War?

Definition. 1. A person who opposed the vietnam war and believed that the United States should withdraw from it. 2.

Who were the war hawks and doves?

War hawks are the opposite of doves. The terms are derived by analogy with the birds of the same name: hawks are predators that attack and eat other animals, whereas doves mostly eat seeds and fruit and are historically a symbol of peace.

Who was famous in the Vietnam War?

Key People

  • Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh (May 19, 1890 – September 2, 1969) was born Nguyễn Sinh Cung but was known in his youth as Nguyễn Tất Thành.
  • Võ Nguyên Giáp.
  • Ngô Đình Diệm.
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
  • Robert McNamara.
  • Dean Rusk.
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson.
  • General William Westmoreland.

Who was the most important person in the Vietnam War?

Le Duan

1. Le Duan. Arguably the most important figure of the Vietnam War, Le Duan was tasked with organising an underground Communist party organisation following Vietnam’s division in 1954.

What is a freedom bird in Vietnam?

SAN FRANCISCO – September 24, 2019 – Freedom Bird. For the Vietnam generation of U.S. military veterans, this phrase meant only one thing; the aircraft that brought them home at the end of their tours.

What was the most feared army in the Vietnam War?

Tiger Force (Recon) 1-327th was a highly decorated small unit in Vietnam, and paid for its reputation with heavy casualties. In October 1968, Tiger Force’s parent battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by President Lyndon B.

Who was the most famous war hawk?

Engraving of John C.

Young, energetic politicians, mostly from the South and the West and known as War Hawks, initiated legislation designed to steer the United States towards war. Leaders of this group included Henry Clay of Kentucky, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, and Felix Grundy of Tennessee.

Who were the 2 leading War Hawks?

The War Hawks, who included such future political leaders as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, fiercely and aggressively resented American economic injuries and national humiliation during the Napoleonic Wars.

Was Robert Kennedy a hawk or dove?

Yet in a recorded phone conversation, Kennedy told LBJ that he supported the resolution.) In 1966, he wrote his first critical statement on Vietnam, marking the beginning of his transition from hawk to dove.

Who was the best soldier in Vietnam?

His name is Staff Sergeant Joe Ronnie Hooper, and not only was he a hero in the Vietnam War; he is also the most decorated soldier in American international combat, even eclipsing both York and Murphy. Joe Ronnie Hooper was born on August 8th, 1938 in Piedmont, South Carolina.

Who were the heroes of Vietnam?

Vietnam War Heroes

  • John Leon Abrams. John Leon Abrams. Lieutenant John Leon Abrams was born March 16, 1940.
  • Walter L. Cropp. Walter L.
  • Paul David Derby. Paul David Derby.
  • Byrl Gaertner. Byrl Gaertner.
  • Thomas Arthur Gerg. Thomas Arthur Gerg.
  • Jerry Irwin. Jerry Irwin.
  • Oliver Bruce Walley. Oliver Bruce Walley.


What stars served in Vietnam?

Actors who served in Vietnam

  • Not Found.
  • Sadjak, Patrick Leonard, SP 5.
  • Paul Le Mat – IMDb.
  • Dennis Franz-Army-served 11 months with 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam (Actor)
  • R. Lee Ermey spent 11 years in the Marines-Vietnam in 1968 for 14 months-staff Sergeant and medically retired for injuries received.

What was the argument of doves against the Vietnam War?

The doves were largely younger people, especially college students. The doves preached messages of peace and love. In their eyes, the war was unjust and was killing thousands of young American men only to help the profits of US companies.

What does a dove symbolize military?

DOVES AND HAWKS are terms applied to people based upon their views about a military conflict. A dove is someone who opposes the use of military pressure to resolve a dispute; a hawk favors entry into war. The terms came into widespread use during the Vietnam War, but their roots are much older than that conflict.

Who were the hawks and doves in the Cuban missile crisis?

It was made up of ‘hawks’ who favoured the immediate use of force and ‘doves’ who preferred to avoid a conflict. After talks with ExComm, Kennedy was faced with a range of options to deal with the Soviet threat in Cuba.

Why did farmers keep doves?

Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in the Middle East and Europe and were kept for their eggs and dung.

Why did God send a dove?

and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground.

How old is the oldest Mourning Dove?

30 years, 4 months old

The oldest known Mourning Dove was a male, and at least 30 years, 4 months old when he was shot in Florida in 1998. He had been banded in Georgia in 1968.

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