Which President was most responsible for US escalating involvement in Vietnam?

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Truman 1945-53

Responsible

  • Funded 80% of French war effort
  • Set up ideological framwork (Truman doctrine/ Containment theory)
  • Politically backed Bao Dai through the French
  • Korean war increased US involvement in that region
  • 'Lost' China to communism in 1949
  • Sent the 7th Fleet to Taiwon

Not Responsible

  • No direct involvement
  • Under pressure from pre-existing beliefs about communism.
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Eisenhower 1953-61

Responsible

  • Refused to sign the Geneva deal in 1954 because it banned foreign troops
  • Sent 600 advisors to train the ARVN in 1956
  • Sent 200 mechanics to Dien Bien Phu to help the French
  • Publicly backed Diem by rigging the 1955 elections
  • Blocked the 1956 elections
  • Did not respond to the 1955 VC insurgency, allowing the unrest to grow
  • Started SEATO

Not Responsible

  • Did not become very involved in Dien Bien Phu- no troops or air attacks
  • No troops were sent to Vietnam during his presidency
  • Did not help Britich in Malaysia
  • Predicted that the US would lose if it came down to guerilla warfare
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Kennedy 1961-63

Responsible

  • Allowed the use of chemical weapons like Agent Orange
  • Used the green berets as secret counter-insurgency troops
  • Sent US helicopters
  • Became trapped by his campaign rhetoric and heavy critcism of Truman
  • Assassinated Diem in 1963

Not Responsible

  • No public troops
  • Victim of Quagmire Theory- no way to go but to continue down the route
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Johnson 1963-69

Responsible

  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution 1964- absolute power and unlimited finances to escalate the war
  • Operation Barrel Roll 1964- bombing of Laos (Ho Chi Minh Trail)
  • Operation Rolling Thunder 1965- bombing of North Vietnam
  • First public troops sent to protect US base Da Nang in 1965
  • Search and destroy began in 1966
  • Troops reached full escalation of 542,000 by 1968

Not Responsible

  • Quagmire theory- especially because trapped by Kennedy's policies from 1963-64
  • Surrounded be Kennedy's pro-war advisors like McNamara
  • Product of his time- believing in monolithic comunism and domino theory
  • Started peace talks in 1965 (but they were blocked by Nixon)
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