Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Vietnam, War, America, United States, Cold War, Bachelor's Degree, President, People

Pages: 1

Words: 275

Published: 2021/01/04

Some historians believe President Lyndon Johnson inherited the Vietnam War from the Kennedy Administration and was only continuing JFK’s foreign policy. However, it was clear President Kennedy was not excited about the prospect of sending additional troops to Vietnam, and was even planning to withdraw military “advisors” before his assassination. Furthermore, his previous diplomatic and military actions, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, showed he was a pragmatist. Kennedy was not looking for war, he was only enforcing the Monroe Doctrine. Many of his advisors believed he was lukewarm about Vietnam, even when some of them assured him it was a winnable positive military action that required U.S intervention. His assassination and the policies of his successor, President Johnson stopped his proposed plan, escalated the war, and got the U.S. involved in a hopeless quagmire.
Kennedy made it clear that he wanted Vietnam to be a Vietnamese war, meaning fought between the Vietnamese, with American advisors. He was unwilling to commit large numbers of American troops to fight a war the French had already quit. He believed the American people, particularly the Democratic party who voted him into office, did not want a war. Kennedy was surrounded by a number of militaristic hawks who wanted to go to war. However, he showed during the Cuban missile crisis that he was resolute and serious about pushing back against Soviet involvement in the western hemisphere. He was not, however, looking to start World War III. His blockade worked and this sort of diplomacy would probably have been used regarding Vietnam as well. Some of his more militaristic advisors were urging deeper involvement in Vietnam, but Kennedy seemed to want out, and saw further entanglement as a negative situation, the kind of quagmire that Vietnam is now an example of. Kennedy wanted to withdraw advisors and may have ended the war before it really started. “Advisors” were his idea, while LBJ seemed to continuously escalate the war to save face or show his determination in the face of Cold War aggression. As documents are declassified, and memoirs from participants have been published, there seems to be a growing body of information supporting the idea that Kennedy had specific plans for withdrawal. A tape has been released with Secretary of Defense McNamara telling Kennedy that taking out advisors would allow them to tell the American people that “he people that we do have a plan for reducing the exposure of US combat personnel to the guerilla actions in South Vietnam” (Galbraith). Kennedy was more practical and less ideologically dogmatic the Johnson, who seemed to be more easily manipulated by hawkish war-mongering advisors. For this, Johnson is largely to blame for the mess that Vietnam became.
The Vietnamese escalation during the LBJ administration was similar to gambling. Kennedy seemed to be hedging his bets, trying to do the bare minimum required. Johnson went “all-in” and took a large risk by committing U.S. troops, and as the death toll rose, he wanted more desperately to “win”, to justify the war. He also was more influenced by misguided advisors like McNamara, who later admitted it was all a huge mistake, and LBJ was getting bad information. It is hard to imagine today, but Cold War ideology and the Domino Effect theory also seemed to play a large role in Johnson’s decision making process. The zeitgeist was such that many believed supporting out allies and stopping the spread of communism was necessary at any cost. Johnson did not recognize the nature of the war, of the Vietnamese cultural values and the political landscape, which was complicated. Kennedy seems to have been wary because of what happened with the French. Finally, Johnson was a Texan and hawkish, priding himself on being masculine and standing up for American values no matter what. He had a more militaristic identity than Kennedy, who was more liberal and dovish, willing to find diplomatic solutions rather than turning to war. Johnson was no Kennedy. Surrounded by advisors who were looking for war, Johnson needed to be a stronger leader and institute his own policies, instead of following advice of cabinet member hawks. For these reasons, he played a large pivotal role in the Vietnam War.

Work Cited

Galbraith, James K. "JFK's Plans to Withdraw by James K. Galbraith." New York Review of Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2021, January, 04) JFK And Vietnam Essays Example. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/
"JFK And Vietnam Essays Example." WePapers, 04 Jan. 2021, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/. Accessed 20 April 2024.
WePapers. 2021. JFK And Vietnam Essays Example., viewed April 20 2024, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/>
WePapers. JFK And Vietnam Essays Example. [Internet]. January 2021. [Accessed April 20, 2024]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/
"JFK And Vietnam Essays Example." WePapers, Jan 04, 2021. Accessed April 20, 2024. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/
WePapers. 2021. "JFK And Vietnam Essays Example." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved April 20, 2024. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/).
"JFK And Vietnam Essays Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 04-Jan-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/. [Accessed: 20-Apr-2024].
JFK And Vietnam Essays Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/jfk-and-vietnam-essays-example/. Published Jan 04, 2021. Accessed April 20, 2024.

Share with friends using:

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now