The reluctant “volunteer”: The origins of senator Albert A. Gore’s opposition to the Vietnam War

Rodney Longley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In our differences over Vietnam, we have let ourselves become hypnotized into self delusion,” Senator Albert A. Gore of Tennessee wrote in 1970, “We have gradually accepted the unholy, autistic reality that war creates. We have let Vietnam become a matter of partisan politics; and frequently we have devalued our moral currency to compound political nostrums and cater to prejudices, resorting to crude face-saving devices which counterfeit our highest traditional values and violate our pride in being the world's greatest democracy.” “We must de-mesmerize ourselves,” he concluded, “break through the shell of public relation formulae and jingoist slogans, and dispassionately analyze the kernel of our national interest. What we must be really concerned about is saving the soul of our country and our individual honor and conscience.” The issue of Vietnam had become important almost immediately on Gore's arrival in the Senate in 1953, and he had observed the situation throughout the decade. Immediately after earning a spot on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1959, he visited South Vietnam and reported that President Ngo Dinh Diem lacked popular support. From his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), he began urging the Kennedy administration to exercise restraint. With the inauguration of Lyndon Johnson, he changed his tactics. He voted for the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964, but by 1965, he had become an outspoken critic of Johnson's policy of escalation and firmly entrenched in the camp of the Senate “doves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVietnam and the American Political Tradition
Subtitle of host publicationThe Politics of Dissent
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9780511615375
ISBN (Print)0521811481, 9780521811484
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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