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The Politics of Escalation Under LBJ

The Politics of Escalation Under LBJ - By 1965 Saigon...

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By 1965, Saigon government on the verge of disintegration North Vietnamese entering SV through Ho Chi Minh trail Would US accept collapse of its client state or take charge of the war itself with its own ground forces 1964 – Kennedy assassinated LBJ takes over o American phase of the war begins o What were the steps by which he entered the war? o Why did Johnson follow a pattern of gradual escalation rather than immediate full-scale war? o Did Johnson really believe that American troops would be adequate to beat the enemy? Why was our intelligence so poor? Or did he believe we couldn’t win – so we did we stay involve? o Did his thinking change over the course of the war? o Did he and his associates misrepresent the war to the American public? LBJ and key advisors all believed sincerely in the domino theory Couldn’t afford to lose Vietnam LBJ: If I don’t go into Vietnam now, the republicans will give me shit forever If he wanted to be reelected, he could not be soft on communism o Had to escalate involvement o Also couldn’t overreact however, since many Americans were fearful of being involved in a much broader land
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