- On the 7th February, 1965 President Johnson ordered the escalation of armed forces in Vietnam, thereby plunging America into a full-scale military conflict. Historical judgements have coined a catalogue of suggestions for U.S. engrossment.
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However, owing to a dogmatic commitment to conventional thinking about the Cold War and Containment, and because opponents of escalation did not speak up till too late, Johnson proceeded with the “Americanization” of the conflict after recognising that the South Vietnamese could never win the war on their own.
Jul 05, 2020 · On the 7th February, 1965 President Johnson ordered the escalation of armed forces in Vietnam, thereby plunging America into a full-scale military conflict. Historical judgements have coined a catalogue of suggestions for U.S. engrossment.
- A War Inherited
- A Congressional Mandate
- “Johnson’s War”
- The Dominican Crisis
- Growing Dissent
At the center of these events stands President Lyndon B. Johnson, who inherited the White House following the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The circumstances of Johnson’s ascendance to the Oval Office left him little choice but to implement several unrealized Kennedy initiatives, particularly in the fields of economic policy and civil rights. But LBJ was equally committed to winning the fight against the Communist insurgency in Vietnam—a fight that Kennedy had join...
Having already decided to shift prosecution of the war into higher gear, the Johnson administration recognized that direct military action would require congressional approval, especially in an election year. Of all the episodes of the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam, the episodes of 2 and 4 August 1964 have proved among the most controversial and contentious. Claiming unprovoked attacks by the North Vietnamese on American ships in international waters, the Johnson administratio...
Johnson’s election as president in his own right allowed the administration to move forward in crafting a more vigorous policy toward the Communist challenge in South Vietnam. Just days before the vote, the U.S. air base at Bien Hoa was attacked by Communist guerrillas, killing four Americans, wounding scores of others, and destroying more than twenty-five aircraft. Johnson opted not to respond militarily just hours before Americans would go to the polls. But on 3 November—Election Day—he cre...
In the late spring, developments closer to home offered striking parallels to the situation in Vietnam. From late April through June 1965, President Johnson spent more time dealing with the Dominican Crisis than any other issue.17 On the afternoon of 28 April 1965, while meeting with his senior national security advisers on the problem of Vietnam, Johnson was handed an urgent cable from the U.S. ambassador in Santo Domingo, W. Tapley Bennett Jr., warning that the conflict between rebels and t...
The cost requirements of concurrent military campaigns in both the Dominican Republic and Vietnam were now such that the administration approached Congress for a supplemental appropriation. Securing these funds—roughly $700 million—raised the question of whether to seek a congressional authorization merely for additional monies or risk a broader debate about the policy course the administration had now set for Vietnam. Johnson rejected a legislative strategy that would have entailed open-ende...
- Jesse Greenspan
- Harry Truman. State Department officials in Asia warned Harry Truman, who became president in 1945 upon Roosevelt’s death, that French rule of Vietnam would lead to “bloodshed and unrest.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1954, the French suffered a catastrophic defeat at Dien Bien Phu, bringing their colonial reign to an end. Some U.S. officials had pushed for air strikes, including the possible use of nuclear weapons, to save the French position.
- John F. Kennedy. After visiting Vietnam as a congressman in 1951, John F. Kennedy publicly lambasted U.S. efforts to assist the French, saying that to act “in defiance of innately nationalistic aims spells foredoomed failure.”
- Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time of Kennedy’s assassination, U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War remained fairly limited. But that changed in August 1964, when the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident prompted Congress to grant expansive war-making powers to newly installed President Lyndon B. Johnson.
United States reaches 75, 000 troops in Vietnam. July 1965. Johnson authorizes an additional 100, 000 troops, allocates 100, 000 more for 1966. November 1965. Battle of Ia Drang. Key People; Lyndon B. Johnson. 36 th U.S. president; escalated U.S. troop levels in Vietnam drastically after Gulf of Tonkin incident. Barry M. Goldwater
- Before Johnson
- Johnson’s Tragic Ascension
- Early Years
- The ‘Great Society’ Reforms
- Reliance on ‘Hawks’
- Johnson’s Own Views
Under Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, the United States had gradually increased its involvement in Vietnam, though not the point of direct military action. Like Truman and Eisenhower before him, Kennedy’s goal had been to halt the southward march of communism in Asia. At his inauguration speech in January 1961, Kennedy promised the world that America would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend… to assure the survival and success of liberty”. Yet Kennedy’s approach in Indochina was measured. During the thousand days of his presidency, Kennedy boosted funding to Saigon, wanting to grow and strengthen the South Vietnamese army. He also increased the number of American military advisors and trainers from a few hundred to around 12,000 in 1963, though Kennedy resisted calls for direct US military involvement in Indochina.
Kennedy’s presidency is perhaps best remembered for its tragic end. In November 1963, the president paid an official visit to Texas. Accompanying him were Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline and vice president Lyndon Johnson. The visit was a political sweetener, intended to boost Kennedy’s popularity in Texas. On November 22nd, Kennedy landed in Dallas and addressed a civic reception, before boarding a motorcade. As Kennedy’s open-topped limousine passed through the streets of Dallas, shots were fired in his direction. Kennedy was struck in the upper back, then in the head. The second wound shattered his skull and killed him almost immediately. Texas governor John Connally, riding in the front of Kennedy’s car, was also wounded in the chest, wrist and leg. Lyndon Johnson, then Kennedy’s vice-president, was riding in another car and was not fired upon or injured. On Kennedy’s death, Johnson became the 36th president of the United States. He was sworn into office two hours after Kennedy’s murde...
Lyndon Johnson – or LBJ, as he was widely known – was born on a small farm in Texas in 1908. He graduated from high school and went on to teachers’ college, where he was active in debating, public speaking and student politics. In 1927, the 19-year-old Johnson took a job in a one-room school in southern Texas, teaching mostly Spanish-speaking students from poor backgrounds. It was in this setting that Johnson developed a keen social conscience and a desire to improve opportunities for minorities and the underprivileged. Like his father before him, Johnson soon became involved in politics. In 1937 he was elected to the US House of Representatives. He served there until 1949 when he transferred to the Senate.
Johnson had a reputation as an honest, no-nonsense politician who spoke his mind and was eager to get things done. Despite hailing from a conservative southern state, his real passion was domestic reform. Johnson dreamed of creating what he called the “Great Society”, by using American affluence to combat poverty, public housing shortfalls, gaps in public education and job shortages. Johnson was passionate about ending racial discrimination, particularly in his native south. Like Kennedy before him, Johnson was also an anti-communist and an advocate of the ‘domino theory’. Days after taking office, Johnson reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the government and people of South Vietnam. By his own admission, the new president was less informed and probably less interested in foreign policy than domestic issues. But he was well travelled, keenly aware of history and astute enough to understand the situation in Vietnam was critical. He explained this in his memoir, written in 1971:
Johnson’s decision making with regard to Vietnam was heavily shaped by advice from foreign policy experts and military chiefs. By early 1964, these advisors had reached a consensus: the communists in Indochina could be defeated in the short to medium term if the United States became more directly involved. According to these military ‘hawks’, a combination of American military intervention, sustained aerial bombing and repeated offers of peace would force the Viet Cong to surrender and withdraw to North Vietnam. With the communists contained, Johnson was told, Vietnam would evolve as two politically distinct states, much as Korea had done after the armistice of 1953. This strategy was articulated by defence secretary Robert McNamaraand endorsed by the military general staff, others in Johnson’s inner circle and many in Congress. There were also voices of dissent and disagreement. One of the loudest was undersecretary of state George Ball, a long-standing critic of military action in...
The president’s own views on Vietnam were conflicted. Johnson accepted the Domino Theoryand, like others who had lived through the 1930s, he was wary of the dangers of appeasement. For the most part, he accepted the advice of his generals. In early 1964, the president told an audience that “if we quit Vietnam tomorrow we’ll be fighting in Hawaii and next week we’ll have to be fighting in San Francisco”. Johnson was also concerned about the presidential election due in November 1964. He knew very well that committing American troops to another foreign war in an election year would be political suicide – and that losing the election would spell the end of his Great Society reforms. Over Christmas 1963, Johnson reportedly told military commanders and hawks in his administration “just get me elected and then you can have your war”. Though he backed his advisors, Johnson admitted to nagging doubts about America’s military prospects in Vietnam. He repeatedly sought advice and reassurance...
Dec 07, 2020 · In early August 1964, two U.S. destroyers stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam radioed that they had been fired upon by North Vietnamese forces. In response to these reported incidents, President Lyndon B. Johnson requested permission from the U.S. Congress to increase the U.S. military presence in Indochina.
In August 1964, in response to an alleged attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, the U.S. Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to take any action necessary to deal with threats against U.S. forces and allies in Southeast Asia.
- related to: Lyndon B. Johnson Escalated involvement in the Vietnam War
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