Cold War - Confrontation and Cooperation Revision Notes - 4/6

Confrontation and Co-operation 1963-72


  • Kennedy 1963 / Johnson 1963-69 / Nixon
  • Khrushchev 1964 / Brezhnev 1964 -
  • Mao

1963 - July: Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ratified / November: Kennedy assassinated

1964 - August: Gulf of Tonkin Incident / October: China develops A-Bomb

1965 - April: US marines sent to Dominican Repub. to fight Com / July: Announcement, 200,000 troops to Vietnam

1966 - B-52s Bomb North Vietnam

1968 - President Johnson doesn’t run in election, Nixon elected / August: Soviet Red Army crush Czech revolt.

1969 - July: Apollo 11 lands on moon

1970 - April: President Nixon extends Vietnam War to Cambodia

1971 - Publication of Pentagon Papers

1972 - Feb: Nixon visits China / July: SALT I signed.

  1. Confrontation in the Vietnam War: Johnson’s War

Why did Johnson continue US involvement in Vietnam?

Johnson’s Beliefs:

  • Extremely patriotic and had firm belief in superiority of US military.
  • Believed US should fight communist aggressors, and opposed appeasement in any form.
  • Believed in Domino Theory.
  • Believed Ho Chi Minh was another Hitler. Didn’t understand foreigners.
  • Believed his country had fought to defend freedom in Korea and World Wars.
  • Continuation of US involvement in Vietnam was a ‘question of national honour’.

Assassination of Kennedy

  • Vice President Johnson opposed greater US Involvement in Vietnam; Against the assassination of Diem as he knew it would pull the US further into the war.
  • However, Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson assumed office. Its said Johnson was motivated through guilt of his loss, therefore continued Kennedy’s policies.

Johnson’s advisors

  • Continued with most of Kennedy’s advisors, McNamara and Rusk.
  • McNamara was outspoken in support of US involvement in Vietnam, his solutions to problems were military.
  • Rusk believed it was the fault of appeasement that had led to the outbreak of the war in the Pacific in 1941, He was a very influential advisor and took a hard line approach against communist aggression.
  • Keeping same advisors meant lack of fresh thinking.
  • Members of the military pressured Johnson into continuation of war, one of which was Curtis LeMay, Chief of Airforce, he frequently advocated bombing of Vietnam.
  • Its also said that Johnson surrounded him with advisors that simply agreed with him.

2. Confrontation in the Vietnam War: Johnson’s Escalation

Response to communist aggression: Gulf of Tonkin

  • August 1964: North Vietnamese attacked two American ships, Maddox and Turner Joy, off of the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • Sabotage and spying on the North, the CIA had been secretly sending South Vietnamese teams on sabotage missions to the North for a decade. 
  • Johnson had claimed that the North Vietnamese made two unprovoked attacks on the ‘Maddox’ and the ‘Turner Joy’ in the Gulf of Tonkin.
  • 4th of August 1964, he asked for the congressional support for avenging the attacks.

Why did Congress pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and what powers did it give to the President?

  • Congress willingly passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, this resolution gave the president the power to wage a war in Vietnam. 
  • They did this as they


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