USA and Vietnam


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Kennedy's early ideas about Vietnam

  • opposed french colonialism
  • domino theory
  • third world was new cold war battleground
  • truman 'lost' china
  • vietnam was important
  • containment of communism
  • mccarthyism - he was a family friend
  • cathlicism - hated communism because it was atheistic
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Kennedy and his advisers

  • campaign rhetoric
  • third world
  • youth and inexperience
  • dominace of defence department and mcnamara
  • dean rusk's hesitancy

these all added up to usa ready for action in the third world.

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Kennedy's actions in the third world

  • cuba (total failure) usa sponsored an unsuccessful anti-communist invasion at the bay of pigs in cuba, 1961. kennedy felt bound to support an enterprise to which his predecessor had committed America and which took the form of military opposition to a popular nationalist leader who was also communist.
  • laos (partial failure) Kennedy feared a soviet-backed cmmunist triumph there. kennedy sent advisors. he managed to 'neutralise' laos - the superpowers agreed that it would be governed by a coalition. loation communists - uncooperative, ho's vietcong continued to use loation trails to get to sv.
  • this lead to vietnam as it meant victories had to be won elsewhere. vietnam was suitbale for US intervention - long coastline where US naval supremacy could be brought to bear, democracy seemed to have a good chance of working, US departure - loss of face, embaressing - previous president committed to vietnam. advisors - rusk and mccnamara - bitter divisions amongst US public if kennedy got out of vietnam - did not want to be accused of losing vietnam as truman lost china.
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