LBJ and Vietnam

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Transcript LBJ and Vietnam

LBJ and The Vietnam War
JFK accepted Eisenhower’s
“Domino Theory:” if South
Vietnam fell, the rest of
Southeast Asia would become
JFK dramatically increased
military aid to South Vietnam
and increased the number of
military advisors to 16,000
(training and support)
“Strategic hamlet” program:
forced relocation of South
Vietnamese to protect them
from Communist influence
Prologue, cont.
The government of South
Vietnam under Ngo Dinh
Diem was increasingly
unpopular; Buddhist monks
set themselves on fire in
 JFK began to issue orders
to pull out military advisors
 November 2, 1963: Diem
was overthrown and
assassinated by South
Vietnamese generals
LBJ’s dilemma: intervene decisively or
LBJ became President right when South Vietnam fell into
chaos: 7 different governments in 1964
An all-out American military effort could provoke China and
the Soviet Union and lead to WWIII.
However, LBJ did not want to appear weak on Communism; a
pull-out would leave him vulnerable to attacks from
conservatives in the 1964 election.
“I’m not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the
President who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went.”
LBJ chooses to widen our limited war, hoping to force Ho Chi
Minh to the bargaining table; the North Vietnamese and NLF
believed that they would gain more by outlasting the U.S.
LBJ’s dilemma, cont.
LBJ sought to demonstrate
American strength and to block
his opponent, Barry Goldwater,
from capitalizing on the
Vietnam situation
In February, he ordered the
Pentagon to begin preparing
for air strikes, in May, he
drafted a congressional
resolution authorizing an
escalation of military action,
and in June appointed Maxwell
Taylor, a hawk, as
ambassador to South Vietnam.
Gulf of Tonkin
Early 1965
February 1965:
Troops arrive in ‘65
9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, arrive in
Vietnam to defend the U.S. airfield at Danang.
 LBJ’s deception begins:
American Soldiers
Average Age: 19
The impact on South Vietnam
U.S. “search and destroy”
missions, attacking
villages in search of
Vietcong: 4 million
refugees created!
Operation Ranch Hand:
The war on TV
The Tet Offensive
January 30, 1968:
Images of Tet
The end of LBJ
LBJ’s popularity plummets after Tet; barely wins
the first Democratic primary in New Hampshire;
anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy finishes a
close second
LBJ Speech, Mar. 31, 1968