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Vietnam [2] Lyndon Johnson (1963-68) That "Bitch of a War" Tonkin resolution, escalation, the quagmire The Anti-War movement gets going The Tet offensive (1968)

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Darren Mulloy

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November 16
Vietnam [2] Lyndon Johnson 1963-68
The “Great Society” at home v. The war Abroad
wanted to be a president to educate the young people, feed the hungry, develop
medical insurance, war on poverty.
expanding on what Roosevelt started
Vietnam isn’t top of his list but, didn’t want to use the war, didn’t want to see SE
Asia go the way of China
Shared the domino theory, thought it was America’s job to defend the world against
The JFK Connection:
“a cowboy radical who doesn’t even pretend he’s thinking”
Kept many of JFK’s advisors in place
Robert McNamara - sect of defense
Dean Rusk 0 sect of state
McGeorge Bundy - national security advisor
The Deteriorating Situation in South Vietnam
General Minh took over after Diem
The Generals Take Over
Minh to Khanh (Jan. 1964)
US wants a better leader, another coup is organized.
This cycle continues for years
Can South Vietnam survive?
March 1964 = VC control 40% of South Vietnamese county side
JCS - “Americanization” of the war?
using American troops directly to fight the Viet Cong
bombing North Vietnam directly
Johnson wasn’t inclined to go this far
thought that sudden presence of masses of American troops would
undermine the Saigon regime
undermine his attempts to build a great American society
1964 election?
does not believe he can win if he’s lost Vietnam to communism
the lost of China and Korea would be “chicken shit” compared to what would
happen if they lost Vietnam
LBJ’s Response:
increase “advisors (23,000 in 1964)
covert ops (eg. OPLAN 34-a)
sending commandos into N Vietnam to sabotage
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Guerrilla tactics
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution
the problem of S Vietnam was the inability of leaders to form a government that
would be respected and supported by the people. They just blamed N Vietnam
America wanted to show it’s support for S Vietnam so N Vietnam would stop
August 2-4 - “Attacks” on the Maddox and Turner Joy
N Vietnam torpedo ships fire on the maddox, they were spying on N Vietnam in
N Vietnam waters.
America decides to send a second boat, the Turner Joy
On the 4th, the Maddox and Turner Joy reported seeing blips on their radar
meaning they were being attacked, there is no evidence of this
in retaliation Johnson authorizes the first bombing of N Vietnam
August 5 - LBJ - “repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United
lies to the american people, fails to mention the commandos, the trespassing in
N Vietnamese waters, the doubts of the attack even happening, etc et,c
August 7 - Congress 416-0 in the House, 88-2 in the Senate
fully supported, given all the power
“take all necessary measure to repel armed attach against the forces of the
United States and to prevent further aggression”
Gradual Escalation
not read for the american boys to do the fighting for asian boys, but will not pull
out, wants to preserve s vietnams freedom and independence without to much
american involvement
Goldwater wants to bomb the FUCK out of N Vietnam, as much as they want
1964 election - Johnson defeats Barry Goldwater
63% people “little or no” attention to the war
25% “heard nothing”
election was less about the war and more about the legacy of JFK
Changing Tactics:
between 1964-64 the Viet Cong increases its attacks through out S Vietnam
US is getting defected, some are preparing to abandon northern villages
March 1965 - Operation Rolling Thunder + 2 battalions to Danang
excessive bombing, destroying the Ho Chi Minh trail
June 1965 - Westmoreland - 93,000 more troops? (175,000 total)
major decision, which way will the administration go?
The Hawks v. The Doves v. LBJ’s “middle ground”
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