United States Enters the Vietnam War:
Johnson’s Decision to Intervene
United States History
April 2, 2012
The battle for world power grasped the attention of many countries during the 1960’s. Throughout the decade, the United States and the United Soviet Socialist Republic were aggressively challenging each other to gain worldwide superiority. With the growing tensions between North and South Vietnam, an amalgamation of problems with the battle was created. With momentum swaying towards the communists after North Vietnam’s conversion as well as the likely of South Vietnam, the Cold War appeared to favor communism. In 1963, after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn into office. With American advisors already in Vietnam, America had a responsibility to defend South Vietnam. Johnson was immediately forced to decide if the United States should send more troops to Vietnam. The situation in South Vietnam became progressively worse as North Vietnam was adapting and becoming more dominant. Following the Truman doctrine, the fear of communistic influence in Asia and the American concern for South Vietnam's sovereignty led to Lyndon Johnson's decision to defend South Vietnam in 1965 against increasing challenges from North Vietnam. The decision to defend South Vietnam caused controversy and social uproar on the home from. Today, the main question one could ask regarding this decision is, “Was it worth it?”
The United States, at the time of the Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency, found itself fighting two wars: A war on Poverty in the United States and the War in Vietnam (Berkowitz). Johnson had started many programs for example the Great Society, which he viewed as a very important aspect of being a world super power. He even declared that the country was in a war on poverty. In his state of the Union address, President Lyndon Johnson unconditionally declared poverty as a very significant problem of American Society at the time surrounding the Vietnam War. The main problems contributing to the poverty in America were lack of funding for education and medical care for elderly people (Berkowitz). The view of communism in the United States had the majority of the population disagreeing with this rather new form of government, and although the Truman Doctrine had been created over fifteen years prior to this time, the United States still had a responsibility to contain the spread (“Truman Doctrine”). North Vietnam had just recently been taken over by communist leaders and was working to gain control after South Vietnam. This situation shares similarities with the United State’s past experiences with the spread of communism, except for the fact that the United States was now reluctant to act deliberately on the matter (Whittemore 59). The United States saw the growing tensions in Vietnam as a threat to their success in the Cold War, but regarded it as another country’s problem that can wait. Kennedy and Johnson (at first) both had internal affairs they had to deal with before focusing on the Vietnam War.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was the Republican Vice President under the Democrat President John F. Kennedy. President Johnson had a very minor role in the government as Vice President, and from the start neither he nor Kennedy trusted each other. He lacked expertise in subjects regarding foreign affairs and had little support from many southern states because he supported civil rights (Kaiser). Johnson felt humiliated as some points in his vice presidency because he didn’t have the power that he wanted. Previously, he was president Eisenhower’s right hand man and almost had equal power. Now he had to sit back and watch, as all of his ideas were overruled as if they were insignificant (Gardner). The different opinions between Johnson and Kennedy could have been a foreshadowing of Johnsons desire to intervene in Vietnam. Johnson felt restrained and unable...
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