January 1961- Kennedy became president April 1961- Kennedy humiliated by failure to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba (bay of pigs) May 1961- Vice-President Johnson visited Diem, urging reform; de Gaulle warned Kennedy of Vietnamese quagmire
1962- 12,000 American advisers in Vietnam, Strategic hamelts programme February 1962- Kennedy created MACV May 1962- After visiting South Vietnam, Mcnamara said United States were winning the war Summer 1962- Unsuccessful unofficial peace talks with Hanoi October 1962- Cuban Missiles Crisis
January 1963- Vietcong defeated ARVN and Amerians at Battle of Ap Bac Spring 1963- Anti-Diem protests by Buddhists September 1963- Kennedy said the South Vietnamese had to win the war themselves, but that it would be a mistake for the Unites States to get out -November 1963- Diem Assassinated, Kennedy Assassinated
Secretary of Defence- Robert Mcnamara
- personality = dynamic, tough-talking, fluent, competent and down-to-earth
- had huge influence on the situation in Vietname, which proved unfortunate
- greate believer in US commitment to Vietnam but his solutions to the situation in Vietnam were always military
- had a lack of historical knowledge and trained in statistics he tended to look at numbers of men and weapons whilst forgetting that poorly armed people will sometimes fight to the death for their independence- which proved a huge issue in Vietnam.
- though he didn't help the situation, mostly worsened it in Vietnam, Johnson unfortunately kept Mcnamara secretary of defence until 1967.
Secretary of State- Dean Rusk
- Kennedy wanted to dominate forgeign policy therefore Rusk seemed a good choice
- Rusk and Kennedy found it impossible to communicate they didn't understand each other
- was angry that Kennedy seemed to listen to brother Bobby rather than the actual secretary of state
- Kennedy though of him as frustrating, slow and indicisive
- Rusk put his options to kennedy so that he could make an informed judgement but Kennedy preferred more decisive recommendations
- Rusk believed in American involvement in Vietnam but as the fighting continued there he felt it was the job of Mcnamara rather than himself. Unlike Mcnamara, Rusk never visited Vietnam, confirming the view that he saw it as a Defence department operation
Kennedy therefore thought- he should make a name fro himself and be assertive, felt that the third world and probably Southeast Asia was the next great cold war; a president who listened to those more likely to put emphasis upon the military battles than the battles for the hearts and minds of the people. It is easy to see how all this would lead to increasing US military involvement in Vietnam.