Quotations: Opposition to the Vietnam War

This selection of Vietnam War quotations pertains to anti-war movements and opposition to the Vietnam War. It contains statements and remarks about the Vietnam conflict by notable figures who were opposed to it. These quotations have been researched, selected and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest a quotation for this collection, please contact us.

“Public opinion at home [in the United States] turned when the average citizen perceived that we didn’t know what the hell we were doing; that we had no plan to end the war. And we didn’t know what constituted victory. By 1968 the public had given us four years, their money and their sons. So I don’t blame the American people. I do blame the national leadership, including the military leadership, for not setting clear and definable goals and objectives.”
Harry Summers, US colonel, later a historian of the Vietnam War

“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
Anti-war slogan shouted at Lyndon Johnson’s public appearances

“We cannot remain silent on Vietnam. We should remember that whatever victory there may be possible, it will have a racial stigma… It will always be the case of a predominantly white power killing an Asian nation.”
Eugene Carson Blake, US church leader, February 1966

“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home… I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
Martin Luther King, US civil rights leader, April 1967

“I am hopeful that this challenge… may alleviate [the] sense of political helplessness and restore to many people a belief in the processes of American government.”
Anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy, nominating for the presidency, November 1967

“Are we like the God of the Old Testament that we can decide, in Washington, what cities, what towns, what hamlets in Vietnam are going to be destroyed?… Do we have to accept that?… I do not think we have to. I think we can do something about it.”
Robert F. Kennedy, January 1968

“I’m not a pacifist. I was very much for the war against Hitler and I also supported the intervention in Korea. But in this war we went in there to steal Vietnam.”
Benjamin Spock, American psychiatrist and paediatrician, January 1968

“I never feel any guilt about servicemen, although I know about half of the people in the country are on the other side, supporting the war. But soldiers don’t have the best opportunity to judge the war. After all they only hear one side of it.”
Benjamin Spock, January 1968

“You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed… They rebel in the street… They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.”
Eartha Kitt, American singer, addressing a White House gathering in January 1968

“It is unconscionable that 10,000 boys have died in Vietnam. If 10,000 American women had mind enough they could end the war, if they were committed to the task – even if it meant going to jail.”
Jeannette Rankin, former US Congresswoman and anti-war campaigner, 1968

“Our present course [in Vietnam] will not bring victory; will not bring peace; will not stop the bloodshed; and will not advance the interests of the United States or the cause of peace in the world.”
Robert F. Kennedy, March 1968

“The war against Vietnam is only the ghastliest
manifestation of what I’d call imperial provincialism,
which afflicts America’s whole culture… aware only of its
own history, insensible to everything which isn’t part of
the local atmosphere.”
Stephen Vizinczey, Hungarian-British writer, 1968

“We confront the Roman Catholic Church, other Christian bodies and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country’s crimes. We are convinced that the religious bureaucracy in this country is racist, is an accomplice in this war, and is hostile to the poor.”
The Catonsville Nine, Catholic anti-war protestors, 1968

“The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction… all of us who would have remained silent had stability and order been secured.”
Noam Chomsky, US intellectual, 1969

“One! Two! Three! Four! We don’t want your fucking war!”
Anti-war chant, first reported in 1969

“I understand that there has been, and continues to be, opposition to the war in Vietnam on the campuses and also in the nation. As far as this kind of activity is concerned, we expect it – however under no circumstances will I be affected whatever by it.”
Richard Nixon, US president, November 1969

“This war has already stretched the generation gap so wide that it threatens to pull the country apart.”
Frank Church, US senator, 1970

“They weren’t… my enemy. I never considered the people of Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos to be my enemy. I believed in peace…and so they treated me like a friend… We really got to be brothers.”
Robert Sam Anson, US journalist captured by the North Vietnamese, 1970

“We went to preserve the peace and our testimony will show that we have set all of Indochina aflame. We went to defend the Vietnamese people and our testimony will show that we are committing genocide against them. We went to fight for freedom and our testimony will show that we have turned Vietnam into a series of concentration camps.”
William Crandell, US lieutenant and Vietnam veteran, January 1971

“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
John Kerry, US soldier and anti-war campaigner, April 1971

“I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant [William] Calley, are war criminals.”
John Kerry, US soldier and anti-war campaigner, April 1971

“I believe there is something in all of us that would wave a flag for the dream of an America that brings medicine and candy – but we are gathered here today, waving no flags, in the ruins of that dream. Some of you saw right away the evil of what was going on [in Vietnam]; others of us one by one, adding and re-adding the balance sheet of what was happening and what could possibly be accomplished finally saw that no goal could be so laudable, or defence so necessary, as to justify what we have visited upon the people of Indochina.”
Reverend Jackson H. Day, addressing an anti-war rally, April 1971

“We are no longer interested in merely protesting the war; we are out to stop it.”
Gary Rader, US Army reservist and draft resister, 1971

“We weren’t on the wrong side. We are the wrong side.”
Daniel Ellsberg, 1974

“The US government was defeated in Indochina but only bruised at home. No outside power will compel us to face the record honestly… On the contrary, efforts will be devoted to obscuring the history of the war and the domestic resistance to it.”
Noam Chomsky, American intellectual, 1975

“Vietnam was what we had instead of happy childhoods.”
Michael Herr, US war correspondent, writing in 1977