Lecture 43 – JFK, LBJ and the 1960s

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Lecture JFK, LBJ, & Vietnam: Turbulent Times for the USA
Containment, domino theory, more important than ever that democracy
triumph over communism
1954: American Involvement begins in Southeast Asia
o Viet Minh: communist party of Vietnam, led by Ho Chi Minh
o French requested assistance from USA, sent money and goods
o Dien Bien Phu: French defeated
o Geneva Accords
John F. Kennedy
o Captured American attention early on
o “Myth of Camelot”
o Only president to have won the Pulitzer Prize
o Youngest president ever elected, first Catholic
The Great Debate
o Defeated Richard Nixon by thin margin
o At the height of the Cold War
o First ever televised debates
o First debate at 77 million Americans watched
o Made JFK look like a winner, looked like he was talking to the people
at home
o JFK just looked better; Nixon looked nervous and uncomfortable
JFK entered office when Americans felt they had lost their way
o Breath of fresh air, pushed Americans to take action
o “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for
your country”
o New Frontier
Targeted poverty, education, tax reforms and health care
Organized the Peace Corps
Promised to have man on the moon by 1970
Cuban Missile Crisis
o October 1962
o Foreign policy based
o Cuban democracy overthrown by Fidel Castro 1959
o Operation Anadyr: secret program to plant missiles in Soviet bases in
o JFK orders naval blockade, Khrushchev sent submarines
o Secret negotiations
JFK believed intervention in southeast Asia would stop the spread of
o US military supporting revolution, not for imperial gain
o Ordered increase in military personnel in Vietnam
o Emergence of the National Liberation Front (NLF)
o JFK poured money into south Vietnam’s government for support
o US organized a coup, Ngo Dinh Diem assassinated
JFK and Civil Rights
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