Escalation of American involvement in Vietnam

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Discuss the escalation of American involvement in Vietnam from 1960 to 1968. Why did the USA ultimately fail to defeat the North Vietnamese and Vietcong.

In 1960, Kennedy was elected as the new president of the United States. As the Cold War raged, Kennedy had ascended to power with the attitude that Americans would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,  support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty." Kennedy was not one to back down from a fight or to allow the name of his country to be soiled. After a failed attempt at invasion in the Bay of Pigs, the movement of Laos from capitalism to communism, and the creation of the Berlin wall, Kennedy decided to use Vietnam to prove the strength of the United States.

Kennedy and his young advisers believed that not to resist communism in Vietnam would be another example of weakness. The American involvement had 4 main stages: Indirect involvement, financial support, political involvement and military involvement. In 1961 military advisers were sent to South Vietnam to train the South Vietnamese army. American involvement developed through a series of escalations, as the South Vietnamese regime proved increasingly unable to defeat the Viet Cong by themselves. At first (1956) there were 700 American advisers. In 1959 President John F. Kennedy increased the number to 16,000. In 1964 Lyndon Johnson replaced Kennedy. However, the North Vietnamese increased the strength of their forces to 35-40 battalions, 35,000 guerrillas and 80,000 irregulars. In Aug 1964 an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin was attacked. Although not harmed, the US. Congress passed virtually unanimously the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, allowing Johnson any military intervention. The US thought they could win the war at any time, but Johnson did not want to provoke Soviet entry into it. He adopted a policy of aerial bombardment of the North, hoping to destroy their war effort, but it had little effect. Forces increased to 67,000 in late 1967. The North-Vietnamese sustained losses at 10 for every 1 American.

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In 1962, USA started moving peasants from villages into areas under the control of South Vietnamese army. This was known as a programme of Strategic Hamlet. This policy ultimately failed, since a lot of peasants were not willing to move, so South Vietnamese army had to use force. This increased the hostility of the peasants towards the Ngo Dinh Diem government. The peasants were also angry at the fact that they had to travel long distances to reach their rice fields, others were concerned that this is going against their religion as they believed that they have to live where ...

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