“How far was the growing conflict in Vietnam in the 1960s due to the policies of President Kennedy?”
President Kennedy's policies did play a role in the growing conflict within Vietnam during the 1960s; however this was only only to certain extent and other factors such as fear of communism expansion, the threat of Laos, American prestige and the unpredictable, brutal nature of Diem 'western democracy' in South Vietnam all played a role in escalating the Vietnam conflict.
President Kennedy's policies undoubtedly played a role in the growing Vietnam conflict. His speeches both in public and at the NSAM 52 set out the basis for America's increasing involvement, as well as the idea that Vietnam was to become a “process of escalation” as the war continued past the expected time line, with promises to stop communism while “bearing any burden …” This was a promise Kennedy followed through with in various ways: he sent out more helicopters and planes (despite it breaking the Geneva Accords in 1952) after Vice President Johnson's report on South Vietnam. The amount of advisers (MAAG) under Kennedy increased from his predecessor's mere 1,000 to a staggering amount of 16,000 in 1961. Furthermore, the defence budget – which was cut under Eisenhower – was increased from $40 billion to $50 billion.
These moves by Kennedy were positive, America had made itself into a 'defender' and subsequently felt the need to fulfil its 'duties' such as training the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and providing air support all without sending in ground troops until crucial, saving lives while still maintaining their prestige. However, the increase came at a huge financial cost – which the press and the public began to question – all in the need to 'look strong' against communism, which they used against the Democrats who had note. As a result, Kennedy needed to stand up to Vietnam, thus leading to his increased involvement.
Secondly, fear of communist expansion was a...
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