2. Why Johnson continued US involvement in the war

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 20-06-17 09:16
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  • Why Johnson continued US involvement in the war
    • Patriot
      • LBJ intensely patriotic
        • Believed USA was always victorious (even in Korea)
      • Referred to Vietnam as:
        • 'that raggedy-*** little fourth rate country'
        • 'that damn pissant country'
    • No appeasement
      • LBJ abhorred the idea of appeasement
      • 'If you let a bully into your yard one day, next day he'll get on your porch, next he'll **** your wife'
    • US always fought for freedom
      • Gave examples of WW1 + WW2
      • Felt US was always a democracy
    • Containment
      • LBJ continued policy laid down by Truman
        • Long Telegram
          • Communists aggressive and ideologically driven
        • NCS-68
    • Domino theory
      • LBJ believed Vietnam was another domino and more countries in Asia would fall
      • Theory prescribed by Eisenhower and carried on by Kennedy
    • Saigon regime still not winning
      • South Vietnam was not popular
      • Diem particularly unpopular
        • Largely because of anti-Buddhist policies
          • Wouldn't let them celebrate Buddhist birthday
            • Thich Quang Duc
              • Set himself on fire to demonstrate
          • Nov 1963 Diem murdered in coup authorised by Kennedy
      • Ap Bach showed failure of SV army
    • Misunderstood Vietnamese
      • LBJ was not foreign policy genius
        • Couldn't cope with Vietnam differences
      • Thought Ho was new Hitler
        • Completely misinterpreted intentions
        • Failed to see Ho was more interested in independence than social reforms
    • Military advisers
      • By 1963: 16000 in Vietnam
    • Kennedy's advisers
      • LBJ retained Kennedy's main advisers
      • Dean Rusk
        • Secretary of State
      • Robert McNamara
        • Secretary of Defence
        • Incredibly arrogant, always considered himself to be right
        • Later admired he lacked historical knowledge of Vietnam
        • Looked at Vietnam through Cold War prism
    • Kennedy's policies
      • LBJ was Kennedy's Vice President
      • LBJ felt responsibility to carry on JFK's policies
      • Continued with policy of containment and to defend South Vietnam
      • Continued with Diem's policy of strategic hamlets
    • SEATO
      • Kennedy inherited it from Eisenhower
      • Didn't like it but thought it would look bad to abandon it
      • Asian equivalent of NATO
    • Commitment trap
      • Once US was engaged in Vietnam, politically is was very difficult to withdraw
      • Barry Goldwater accused Johnson of being soft on Communism so Johnson wanted to appear firm


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