The Vietnam WarLBJs WAR Essay

This essay has a total of 936 words and 5 pages.

The Vietnam WarLBJs WAR


On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Lyndon B.
Johnson is sworn in as the 36th U.S. President. He is the fourth President coping with the
Vietnam War. President Johnson declares he will not "lose Vietnam" during a meeting in

Johnson came to office convinced that the United States had to honor its commitments to
South Vietnam and resist the revolution, but originally he was certain that success
depended chiefly on the South Vietnamese. In his view, their government had to carry out
the program of social and economic reform and development needed to gain the support of
the people, and their army had to do the fighting. He felt that the United States could
only encourage and assist the development of the political and military programs. In a
Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1964 Johnson said:

“ I summarized it on June 2 in four simple propositions:
America keeps her word. Here as elsewhere, we must and shall honor our commitments.
The issue is the future of Southeast Asia as a whole. A threat to any nation in that
region is a threat to all, and a threat to us. Our purpose is peace. We have no military,
political, or territorial ambitions in the area. This is not just a jungle war, but also a
struggle for freedom on every front of human activity. Our military and economic
assistance to South Vietnam and Laos in particular has the purpose of helping these
countries to repel aggression and strengthen their independence.” (Internet Source)

But as time went on, these initial views changed because the political and military
situation in South Vietnam had deteriorated and a Vietcong victory seemed likely. As the
government viewed it, such a victory not only would give the Communists control of a
significant area but also would suggest that the United States could not protect other
countries against enemies employing guerrilla tactics and receiving assistance from the
outside. The war in Vietnam thus became a test of U.S. resolve in fighting Communism and
President Johnson's reputation was on the line.

Lyndon Johnson did not make the decisions to escalate the war alone. “Many of Johnson’s
advisor’s urged military escalation, recommending bombing reprisals against the North and
the dispatch of U.S. combat forces to the South” (McMahon 207). He had initial public
support, most Americans believed in the Cold War consensus that said the West had to stop
the spread of Communism abroad. LBJ also had support from the media and Congress.
Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution on August 7, 1964. This resolution stated:

” the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in
Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the
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