Kennedy as a cause of the Vietnam War

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 20-06-17 21:27
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  • Kennedy as a cause of the Vietnam War
    • Kennedy supported Containment, attacked Truman for losing China, believed in Domino theory, critical of Eisenhower for allowing rise of Communism in Asian countries
    • 1960, campaigned to get US moving again, especially against Communism
    • President and his advisors
      • Sensitivity about age (only 43) led Kennedy to be assertive in foreign affairs
      • Prisoner of his own CW rhetoric campaign meaning he was bound to increase defence expenditure and foreign involvement
      • Khrushchev made speech before Kennedy's inauguration about triumph of Communism in third world
      • Eisenhower had warned Kennedy any retreat in Vietnam would meet with Republican criticism
    • McNamara and Rusk
      • Robert McNamara
        • Was Secretary of Defence (Kennedy frequently looked to him for advice because he was impatient with State Department and eager to get America moving again)
        • Close friendship with Kennedy, powerful personality coupled with quieter Rusk made him formidable figure in cabinet
        • Defense policy
          • Encouraged US ground troops to be sent to VT
          • Advocated large scale bombing
          • Solutions always military
          • Statistics mean everything to him, more men, more powerful weapons
        • Described by NY Times as eliminating human factor and always believing he was right, even though he lacked historical knowledge
        • Forgot poorly armed men would still fight to death for independence
        • By 1967, realised USA was wrong
        • Both Johnson and Kennedy took his advice
      • Dean Rusk
        • Secretary of State
        • More modes, less formidable, opinions overlooked
        • Deliberately colourless public persona
      • Crusading president out to make a name and McNamara who's never wrong always going to be a bad combination
    • Cuba, Laos and Vietnam
      • Impacted on policy and Vietnam (events in Laos)
      • Both Ciba and Laos slowly show Kennedy needs an outright victory in Vietnam (e.g. Bay of Pigs Disaster in Cuba and supposed neutrality of Laos
      • Suggested Hawks would only agree to neutrality in Laos in return for activist policy
        • More suitable for US intervention than Laos in that it had long coastline where US naval supremacy could be brought to  bear
        • Many Americans thought Diem had SV under control and democracy seemed to have good chance of working there


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