How useful are sources A to C to explain why the United States became involved in the war in Vietnam?

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How useful are sources A to C to explain why the United States became involved in the war in Vietnam?    

The United States initially had no plans whatsoever to send troops to fight North Vietnam. They hoped to overthrow the Communist Government there by paying to fund and train a strong South Vietnamese army. However, by early March 1965, 3500 US marines and combat troops had landed in Da Nang. So how did America become so heavily involved in Vietnam? This is a question which has provoked debate amongst many historians studying this period in history. I will be studying three sources and analysing how useful they are to explain America’s real reasons for going to war with North Vietnam.

Source A is a speech made by President Johnson in April 1965. The date is significant, as this was just a month after the start of `Operation Rolling Thunder`. Operation Rolling Thunder involved extensive, systematic bombing on military and industrial targets in North Vietnam. President Johnson is speaking publically, either to Congress or to the American people. As the president, it could be argued that Johnson would have access to all relevant information and would therefore be an excellent source. However I think it is more likely that this was a propaganda speech made to persuade America that a war with North Vietnam was justified. This is apparent when Johnson begins to talk about `the freedom of the people of South Vietnam`. However, there is evidence to suggest that this was not the real reason for going to war. In 1954 the USA prevented free elections from taking place in Vietnam because it feared that the Communists would win. If the freedom of the Vietnamese was a priority for America, they would have allowed those elections to take place and the elected government, be it communist or democratic, would have come to power. The President goes on to say that if America did not go to war, the result would be `instability and unrest, and even wider war`. This is a vague reference to the Domino Effect, which was a theory strongly believed by Johnson. It was feared that if Vietnam fell to communism then Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and India might also come under Communist rule.  Source A is a source which, at best, highlights the positive reasons for going to Vietnam. The fact that there are no negatives at all lead me to believe that this is a biased source made to persuade America that a war in Vietnam was justified.

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Source B is again from President Johnson, but presents a very different perspective to Source A. He is speaking privately in May 1964 just less than a year before his speech in Source A. Whilst in Source A he describes a war in Vietnam as preventing “instability and unrest” in Source B he describes it as “the biggest damn mess”.  Source A appears to show a President confident in the reasons why America sent troops into Vietnam, whereas Source B shows a president full of doubts and worries about being drawn into a war that is thousands of miles away. ...

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