- man of his time
- intensely partriotic, proud of US prowess
- defeat= unconceivable 'damn little pissant country'
- abhorred idea of appeasing enemy
- US should fight 'aggressors' in SE- Asia whatever cost
- Domino Theory
- national honour Us continue committment
- no great understanding of foreigners- Thailand hand shake incident
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- 1961- said Diem fight & reform own war
- China & USSR benefit US 'bogged down chasing guerrillas'
- KENNEDY'S LEGACY
- J= guilt feelings stand by K & those who helped him 'I swore to myself that I would carry on' 'I often felt as if president Kennedy were sitting there... looking at me'
- tragic circumstances= little debate/ questioning
- emotionally & constitutionally had to carry on policies
- K's war, increase US involvement
- J= 'no real popular mandate' forced carry on K's work
- couldn't abandon K's officials
- retention K's advisers ensure continued involvement
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- J thought he the boss
- 'tell me it smells like roses' loyalty
- wanted all assistances' '****** in my pocket'
- Judge Abe Fortas= friend, official tell Karnow most influential adviser: he knows nothing about Vietnam, but knows Lyndon
- J= POORLY ADVISED
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- Rusk & McNamara= no fresh ideas on Viet
- Rusk= obsessive continue struggle in SE- Asia, withdrawal= loss of faith in US committment to oppose communist aggression lead to a 3WW
- McNamara= influential, some say 'McNamara's War' memoirs 1995, lamenated the administrations lack of historical knowledge & understanding
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- 1963- Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield= United & neturalised Vietnam. J reject this idea, lead to communisation of Viet
- J, Rusk & Mc- assure South Viet gov= political, social & economic reform policies win over people, NO major US involvement
- no K men admit past errors, no one want a real debate
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- Chief of Air Force- Curtis LeMay- 'bomb Vietnam back into the stone age'
- J= scared
- 'duty-bound' listen
- only war Generals had- want intensify it & win
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- did not want to be 1st US president lose war especially to communists
- REPEATED THIS
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EARLY DEBATES 1963-64
- Dec 1963 Hanoi sent increase numbers of People's Army of North Vietnam (PAVN) into SV strenghethening VC
- Diem successor Minh retreat home & deposed of
- strategic hamlets= failure
- VC= strong- USSR & China send more weaponry
- estimated half south controlled by VC
- Maxwell and Mc visit= 'very disturbing'
- Prime Min Kahn beg for aid
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DEBATES- WHAT NEXT?
- Taylor & Mc= direct action
- LeMay= bomb Viet
- J= war won quick before Congress demand withdrawal
- April 20th J publically declae as long as SV want support US would remain involved
- doubts- May 1964 convos 'I don't think we can get out', 'biggest damned mess'
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HOW WAS JOHNSON ABLE TO ESCALATE?
- July 1964= 200 men died Viet, J add 2500 men to US forces
- war going poorly
- debate in Washington on how to help Saigon win, NOT how to get out
- Rusk & Mc= urge escalation even to strike in NV
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AUGUST 1964- GULF OF TONKIN
- for past decade CIA send south vietnam teams on sabotage missions NV
- J approve covert operations
- Maddox= espionage missions
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AUGUST 1964- GULF OF TONKIN INCIDENT
- J claim NV attack unprovoked, 2 navy ships
- Maddox & Turner Joy in Gulf of tonkin 4th August 1964
- ask for Congressional support
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GULF OF TONKIN RESOLUTION
- June 1964 administration create resolution aim= rise Saigon's morale
- Hesitant to show Congress
- G.O.T incident= perfect opportunity get it passed
- Congress believe innocent US navy lives were jepordised, willingly pass
- gave J power to wage war
- 'like Grandma's night shirt... It covered everything'
- 'all necessary steps... including use of armed forceto assist'
- expire when president decide safe in SE- Asia, or when congress terminate
- Senate- 2/3 empty won 88 to 2
- some senators= unconvinved: 'all vietnam is not worth the life of a single American boy'
- No one listenened
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WHO WAS TO BLAME FOR ESCALATION?
- Rusk & Mc not open about covert raids, implementations etc
- did administration create incident to get resolution passed?- many doubts surounding 'attacks'
- Summer 1964- Bobby Goldwater accuse J- 'soft on communism'
- did J exploit events to intensify Us involve to win election?
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RESULTS & SIGNIFICANCE
- vitally important
- have nation behind him
- war could be taken North, bombed NV for 1st time
- J looked tough
- public approval ratin increase 42% to 72% win election
- sugest nation united behind president in Vietnam policy
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1964 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
- voters ask about viet
- Repbublican cand Bobby Goldwater= use all US strength, trigger-happy hawk
- reccomend use of atomic weapons in Hanoi
- J= peace candidate
- left-wingers= J too war-monger
- right-wingers= J too soft on communism
- told left no rash, no majoy war intentions 'we are going to send American boys to do what Asian boy's ought to be doing themselves'
- RIGHT= 'America keeps her word'
- xmas 1963 to JCS: just let me get elected and you can have your war
- gained votes due to G.O.T
- J hope Saigon win own war
- during campaign J & advisers didn't know what to do in Viet
- most reluctantly agree escalation only answer
- won elections, J won popular mandate to do as he saw fit
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WHY DID JOHNSON ESCALATE THE WAR?
- combative personality, macho Texas background, aggressive man sseek military solutions
- over-confident and arrogant 'you tell those press bastards that I'll see them when I want to and not before'
- private doubts, frequently admit didn't know what to do
- more often than not responded due to pressure of events
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INCOMPETENCE OF SAIGON GOV
- Saigon regime= failing
- gens squabbling annoy US Ambassador General Maxwell Taylor
- (Lodge had enough lte 1964- only suggest US to run Viet)
- Mexwell Taylor= impecible military presitge & formidable intellect but poor choice
- J picked him to please JCS, but situation needed a real diplomat, not impatient soldier
- Taylor treat Saigon Gens like cadets, 1964 summon them to US embassy 'do you all undersand English? 'tired of coups' 'wasted words'
- Rusk tired SV 'we must change the pace at which these people move' 'can only be done with a persuasuasive intrusion of Americans'
- Nov 1964: 100 VC dressed as peasants attack US airbase near Saigon
- JCS demand retaliance
- VC attacks encourage J administration escalate- safety of US in Viet
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WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS:
- J order WG, Def Dept, State Dept, CIA & JCS study Viet policy, develop suggestions
- independent, anti-communist Vietnam vital for US
- 'national prestige, credibility and honour' at stake
- emphasise escalation necessary, Saigon gov= weak 'close to a standstill' 'plagued by confusion... and poor morale'
- suggest heavier bombing to be halted when Hanoi would negotiate
- J= commander in chief and his mil & civillian experts urge escalation
Halberstam notes 'the best and the brightest' were behind J's escalation
Congress & public= supportive
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- regret insignificant little Vietnam become so significant
- Geroge Ball- concentrate on containing in Europe, more involved US become harder to get out, US public not support war for long
- no need to bomb jungle for VC 'needles in a haystack'
- US soldiers= ineffective, US presence not good substitute for poor Saigon gov
- he and Mansfieldfear Chinese involvement
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OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER
- early 1965
- concern security US bomber bases
- VC move freely in SV
- xmas eve 1964- VC plant bomb in bar where US chill
- feb 1965- VC attack huge US camp Pleiku 8= US dead, 100=wounded
- J 'I've had enough of this'
- J order air attacks NV
- limited air war
- intensify march 'Rolling Thunder' 67% americans approved
- bomb routes 'Ho Chi Minh trail' secure position US in SV
- decrease infiltration from North
- demoralise Hanoi
- neutralise Saigon
- feb 1965 J not delcare war, fear China intervene
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DEFENDING US BOMBER BASES WITH US TROOPS
- Spring 1965- 2nd escalation step
- large numbers US ground troops
- request from Gen Westmoreland
- commanded 16,000 MAs since 1964
- Spring request US marined protect US bomber base Danang
- TRIGGER EVENT
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- Maxwell Taylor- once committed need more sent in to protect
- White Us fight no better than French, US unable distinguish VC and friendly vietnamese
- US look like colonists & conquerors
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GROUND TROOPS ARRIVE
- J ignore Taylor
- 3500 marines land Danang 28th March 1965
- April 6th 1965- J approve 18,000 & support forces sent in more marines
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- was it J's undeclared war?
- Congress grant $700 million for mil operations in Viet
- May 1965 House of Representatives vote 408-7, Senate 88-3
- US journalists= hawks, pro-war
- J had support from Congress & journalists
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- speech April 1965
- Us need fight to live securely and freely
- NV= aggressive, attack SV need opposing
- NV= puppet expansionist for expansionist comm powers USSR & China conquer all Asia
- E & K built & defend Viet, dishonourable abandon COMMITMENT TRAP
- abadon allies= question US credibility
- appeasement= WW3
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DETERIORATION IN SAIGON
- June 1965 civillian gov of Phan Huy Quant overthrown by military
- Thieu became head of state= small landowner, ambitious, prominent Viet catholic fam, convert given training USA, decisive, cunning, stubborn & corrupt
- Ky became prime minister- gambled & womaniser, said Viet need men like hitler, flamboyant
- 'bottom of barrel individuals'
- Siagon gov control less of SV and less effectively
- Ky & Thieu= corrupt, incompetent, unpopular
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MORE US TROOPS
- 1965 Ky's gov losing control & territory to VC
- Thieu 75% countryside= VC
- more US troops poured in less ARVN want fight
- Westmoreland demand more troops- prevent SV collapse & protect US troops already in
- Cabinet meetings July show how J doubt usefullness increase troops
- 28th July 1965: TV J (noon less people) increase more troops request Westmoreland
- 75,000 already there, increased to 125,000
- congressional leaders gave assent day before
1965 Polls & White House mail:
- 70% nation behind J
- 80% believe Dom theory
- 80% increase troops would stop US failing
- 47% more troops sent
- majority US support J
- end 1965 200,000 US troops
- Oct 1965 beat comm soldiers battle Ia Drang
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- protests @ unis March 1965
- Vice P Hubert Humphrey- why risk Chinese intervention why support unstable country
- US plane shot down, J cried 'Where are we going?'
- Dec 1965 bombing halt fail persuade Hanoi negotiate
- cabinet meeting show consensus in J admin
- Cia& Maxwell Taylor= oppose send more troops
- Mc= mil victory unlikely
- JCS divided over tactics
- J uncertain US win
- NO ONE COULD AGREE
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- WestM, Mc & JCS agree increase troops 2nd half 1965
- Mc= 'stave off short term defeat'
end 1966- 385,000
early 1968- 535,000
war of attrition= FAIL
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