• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was President Lyndon B. Johnson responsible for the escalation of the war in Vietnam? (1963-1969)

Extracts from this document...


Historical Investigation To what extent was President Lyndon B. Johnson responsible for the escalation of the war in Vietnam? (1963-1969) A. Plan of investigation The particular question this investigation will be addressing is: "To what extent was Johnson solely responsible for escalating the was in Vietnam?" The focus of the sources used in answering this question looks at the policies and documents passed regarding American involvement in the war as well as evidence regarding military strategies and who was responsible for their creation and application. To analyze the true scale of the escalation of the war I will be looking at statistics and reports. Finally, I will address the assumption that the escalation of the war in Vietnam to the extent that it happened was intentional - therefore I will analyze at personal diary entries and memoirs of President Johnson, as well as letters and recorded conversations between him and his advisors, also taking into consideration social and political pressures that may have affected the situation. B. Summary of Evidence - Kennedy's decision to commit in Southeast Asia was rooted in the American pledge to battle and contain communism: and "Vietnam", Kennedy concluded, "is the place to make [America's] power credible"1. - "If freedom is to be saved, we need a whole new kind of strategy, a wholly different kind of force, and a wholly different kind of training and commitment"2. - Although Kennedy was willing to send U.S. military "advisers" into South Vietnam and mount covert operations in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, he drew the line on U.S. combat units which meant that the South Vietnamese would be responsible for fighting.3 - 22ndNovember 1963: Kennedy was assassinated. ...read more.


On the other hand, there is evidence to support the idea that, in reality, Johnson did not mind this war: The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution stands as a turning point in the Vietnam war, giving USA the legal means to start an 'unofficial war'. The resolution, passed by congress on August 10th 1964 gave the president the right to further escalate the war, which, as figures show, was exactly what he did. Historian Newman suggests that the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was evidence of a second master plan, of Johnson carefully clearing a path to escalation. 19 Characters such as General Taylor and William Westmoreland played a joint role in convincing Johnson that escalation was necessary by providing false statistics that 'proved' their hypothesis while omitting some of the more pessimistic findings.20 They exploited Johnson by giving illusions of imminent victory: during the aftermath of the Tet attacks he announced that the enemy had suffered a "colossal military defeat....the US had never been in a better position in South Vietnam"21, while in reality the PLAF (Peoples Liberation Armed Forces) suffered approximately 40,000 deaths, compared to the 1,100 Americans and 2,300 ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam).22 The two generals can be considered to have given consensus to Johnson for escalating the war by giving him false indication of the US position in Vietnam and taking the conflict in their own hands. A skeptic Johnson was now standing responsible to a country who started asking for an answer: In public he continued to express an optimism that he didn't feel. In his speech at John Hopkins University, April 7 1965, he attempts to justify American involvement in Vietnam despite the situation: "We are there to strengthen world order. ...read more.


265, quoted in McMaster, H.R., (1998), Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, New York: Harper Perennial, p. 23 16 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr offered exact figures in "Robert Kennedy and his Times", 1978: "When Kennedy became President, there were 685 American military advisers in Vietnam. In October 1963, there were 16,732". Others have been more tentative. The approximate figure of 700 is taken from Ronald H. Spector, "Advice and Support: The early years of the U.S. Army in Vietnam, 1941-1960), 1985; Reeves suggests in a figure of 17,000 for 1963 in "President Kennedy" p. 614. The imprecision of the figures springs from American unwillingness to admit the extent to which the Geneva Accords of 1954, which limited the size of military advisors efforts in North and South Vietnam, were being breached. Whether Schlesinger's figures are entirely accurate or not, the essential point is that under Kennedy there was, as Schlesinger noted, 'a formidable escalation'. 17 Robert A. Divine, "Eizenhower and the Cold War" (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 37 18 H. R. McMaster, "Dereliction of Duty", 1997 19 Mark Taylor, "The Vietnam War in history, literature and film", British Association for American Studies 20 McMaster, H.R., (1998), Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, New York: Harper Perennial, p.57. 21 DeGroot, Gerard J., (2000), A Noble Cause?: America and the Vietnam War, London: Longman, p168. 22 Ibid. 23 Copy of the original text of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution found in "The Cold War, A History Though Documents" by Edward Judge, John Langdon, 1998, p. 140 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Robert Divine, "Vietnam: An Episode in the Cold War", in Lloyd Garder, ed., "Vietnam: The Early Decisions", p.4 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. The cold war - the conferences and the start of the cCold War

    This was partly because Europe was in debt by over $ 11 billion to America - Problems of homelessness, refugees, destruction of the infrastructure and debt plagued the European economy - In France and Italy, the Communist party was especially important as they were getting lots of votes - Marshall

  2. How far do you agree the Tet Offensive was a turning point in the ...

    the Tet Offensive was a military victory for America. The Vietcong lost 60,000 men, which was about how many men the Americans, lost during the whole war. Sanders argues that the communist credibility took a great blow because they had no popular uprising in South Vietnam as the North Vietnamese expected.

  1. My research questions: did the United States of America really lose the Vietnam War ...

    It is self-evident that the vanquished is not the one who lost the least men but the one who failed to achieve its goals. The same situation occurred in the Second World War since the USSR was the one to lose the most men but Germany was the defeated one.

  2. To what extent was Tanzanian independence dependant on the personality of Julius Nyerere?

    The association wanted to achieve independence in a peaceful manner, promote equality and unity, and end tribalism. In 1956 he petitioned to the UN Trusteeship Council, asking for a definite date for independence, but the British declined. The British nominated him to the Tanganyikan Legislative Council.2 However due to the slow movement towards independence, he resigned in 1957, in protest.

  1. Cold War Study Guide - Compare/contrast the Vietnam War policies of Lyndon Johnson and ...

    - It was William Fulbright that argued that the second attack on the USS Maddox had occurred. - There was debate over how the Tonkin incident would be settled in congress. There were 2 days of debate over what the resolution would be in congress.

  2. Why was the USA unable to defeat communism in south East Asia in the ...

    The Vietcong unlike the US were fighting a guerrilla war with principles saying they were to retreat when enemy attacks, raid when the enemy camps, attack when the enemy tires and pursue when the enemy retreats. This as well as having the advantage of fighting in a place where they

  1. Extended Essay - The Role of a UN-Secretary General to Achieve World Peace: The ...

    First Phase: The Naval Quarantine Soon after the United States had called upon an emergency meeting of the Security Council, U Thant, the United Nations' Secretary-General, received further requests from the Soviet Union and Cuba to solve the predicament, stating that the action of the US was breaching the

  2. Explain the USAs policy of containment. How successful was this in Korea, Vietnam and ...

    The expansion of the war into Cambodia sparked a new wave of demonstrations and protests in the United States. This further shows how the policy of containment was failing, because as the war progressed the USA was lacking more and more support from its people at home.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work