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  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 15-05-13 21:41


  • 'Vietnam is the place'
  • increase commitment SV
  • Catholic family, loathed communism
  • Joseph McCarthy= good friend
  • young democratic congressman- communism need contained by US
  • attacked Truman for losing China 1949
  • DOMINO THEORY- 3rd world
  • reject idea national elections- Ho win
  • 1956 speech reitorate Domino Theory- Vietnam= 'keystone'
  • 1960 election campaign- 'Got American's moving again'
  • campaign rhetoric- 'enemy is the communist itself' 'godless tyranny'
  • inaugaral address devoted to foreign policy 'bear any burden'
  • promise in campaign rhetoric- win votes
  • 'missile gap' 1960- increase defence £ and foreign policy
  • narrowly elected
  • 3rd world= future arena
  • 'Green berets'- fasinated with counter-insurgency
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  • 1961-1967
  • Berkely & Harvard
  • President Ford when Ken offer Def Dept
  • powerful personality
  • only member of cabinet close to K
  • enormous influence but judgemental lapses
  • believe US commitment
  • solutions= always military
  • encourage thousands US troops into Viet then declare US got it wrong
  • 'persuasive and articulate'- Bobby K
  • always right, lacked historical knowledge
  • STATISTICS- de-humanising
  • focus on numbers and weapons not actual people willing to fight for death
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  • middle class, fell into hard times- poverty striken
  • 3 years at Oxford
  • determine oppose communist aggression
  • hard-line cold war warrior
  • influence since late 1940s
  • K want to dominate foreign policy, Rusk= self-effacing
  • not best relationship with K- listened to Bobby rather than state dept
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  • notes major problem areas as Laos, Congo, Cuba & Vietnam
  • BAY OF PIGS, Cuba 1961- failure, impacted US policy towards other 3rd World countries
  • LAOS- K fear Soviet backed communist triumph, news conference 1961 imply US military intervention- after Bay of Pigs and lack of soldiers/ aircraft available held back, Congress fear a clash with China
  • 1961-62- neutralise Laos, governed by coalition gov, but Loatian communists= uncooperative, VC use Loatian trails to get to SV, K decide communist must be stopped in South-East Asia- increase commitment in Vietnam
  • K reject private negotiation to Cuban missile crisis- want a confrontational stance
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  • US need victories elsewhere
  • prove superpower
  • K 'can't have another defeat in Vietnam'
  • Hakws only accept neutrality in Laos if activist policy in Vietnam
  • Vietnam= good chance success, long coastline good for Navy entering
  • Diem appear have under control
  • K didn't want accusations losing China like Truman, China 1949
  • leaving Vietnam would undermine other US involvements
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  • summer 1963- Vietnam involvement began
  • State Dept= pre-occupied Soviet threat in Germany
  • Viet left to DEFENCE DEPT (McNamara= military solutions)
  • 1961- Military advisors SV= 800
  • K increase financial aid Diem increase army
  • 1/4 mill soldiers could not wipe out 12,000 VC alarm bells
  • NCS recommend ground troops, K prefer military advisors
  • K emphasise counter-insurgency green berets & ARVN
  • Diem- failing
  • 1961 K sent WWII hero Gen Maxwell Taylor evaluate situation by now 2,000 advisors
  • Max recommend send 8-10,000 US ground troops, McNamara= 40,000
  • 1961- 3,000 advisors. 1962- 12,000 advisors TRIPLED
  • increase in US weaponry, kept from public
  • K authorise use of defoliants spray create Millitary Assistance Command Vietnam MACV
  • helicopters sent increase Diem troops mobility
  • MACV general boast defoliant scared VC
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  • VC- Ap Bac near Saigon
  • 2,000 ARVN & 113 US armoured personnel carriers, helicopters & bombers
  • 350 gurrelias- want boost morale
  • ARVN refuse to attack
  • 5 US helis & 3 pilots lost


  • unexpected strength and preparedness of VC
  • Diem ignore US advise, used CIA trained soldiers, fear lose too many men & want stay in power
  • US delay 1 day- NYE hangovers
  • ARVN & General Cao unwilling to fight


  • SV performance unfavourably reviewed in US
  • Diem= military incapable winning war early 1963
  • US= weak
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  • Adviser Harriman- negotiate US out of Vietnam, but he not in inner circle
  • negotiations never seriously persued/considered
  • one liberal suggest negotiate- declared communist by Rusk
  • K peace talks 1962- Hanoi want US out before peace talks
  • one state dept suggest economic, social & political assistance
  • others (congress/ White House) want social, political and economic reform by Diem
  • hard persuade Diem to reform
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  • May 1961
  • Vice Pres Johnson sent persuade Diem only wany defeat communists was through political, social and economic reform
  • used flattery (diem= another churchill) & urge
  • Diem: 1. scared US desert him. BUT 2. scared Viet become US protectorate
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  • fortified villages, isolate Vietnamese from VC
  • run by Nhu (nepotism) ignored US advice when establishing them
  • thousands US weapons captured by VC
  • failure, hard to distinguish between Viet & VC
  • Viet forced leave farms and native land
  • Nhu ignored US reforms
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EARLY 1963

  • Diem & K= tense, Diem refuse work with France highlight incapability work with anyone. 
  • Resent US advice, settlement with Hanoi remove U


  • Diem & K= catholic
  • catholics= minority SV
  • Diem regime, cath flags, ban Buddhist flags
  • Buddah's bday 10,000 Buddhist protest
  • 7 killed
  • Diem's soldiers sent in
  • 73 y/o set self on fire - Made US headlines
  • Diem waging a religious war on Buddhist majority
  • Administration decide new ambassador- Henry Lodge II
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  • new ambassador needed
  • Lodge= patriot, WWII military hero, experienced & ambitious, Republican politician, interest in foreign affairs
  • main task= improve relations with US press (attacking US support for Diem)
  • Lodge= good at talking to press

Wrong man?

  • Nolting notes'keep heat off Kennedy'
  • K= low opinions of Lodge, wanted to deflate rival 'irresistable' sending him in
  • not ideal, lacked practical, administrative & team skills
  • use own source's rather than other's knowledge- not always right
  • tough, act as a catalyst
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  • Lodge notes= impossible in while Diem in power
  • 1963 heard plan against Nhu ARVN
  • anti- Diem group in K's administration, got pre-occupied K agree Diem should go
  • administration= divided by diem 'disunity' 'governments coming apart'
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  • Kattenburg 1963s, reviewed prospects working with Diem- everyone on K administration= USELESS and 'appalling', did not know Vietnam
  • Lodge avoid Diem- 1 encounter, diem monologue 2 hours straight, turn congress & US against Diem, press 'leaks' of their activities
  • K's administration= disunited, reject option of US combat troops and withdrawal
  • Diem need change policies and personnel
  • K mistake for US to get out of Viet- 'that only makes it easier for the communists'
  • interview three days later, reitorate domino theory- China
  • Gen Maxwell Taylor and McNamara sent report- WERE CRITICAL OF DIEM (encouraged by Max)
  • said all was going well (because unwilling admit earlier unjust optimism & itinerary dictated by military) and that 16,000 US forces could be withdrawn by 1965
  • K announce 1,000 leave in late 1963
  • by this time Nhu negotiating Hanoi, confirm he and Diem had to go
  • Bobby K 'floated' idea now time to leave Viet 'entirely' but ignored, no one take up challenge
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  • ARVN knew had US support for their coup
  • White house help any new regime
  • army general's Coup occured 2nd Nov 1963
  • Nhu & Diem fled gov buildings
  • found dead next day
  • Kennedy= 'shocked' and look of 'dismay'
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  • Nov 22nd 1963

Situation after:

  • K left 17,000 mil advisers
  • not got US out so far, would he have got them out?
  • Historians debate
  • Rusk/ Bobby= no
  • Giglio= describe K's policy as a shambles at the time of death
  • commitment trap
  • Rust & Newman, lived YES would remove US
  • Bassett & Pelz- NO
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