Lodge comes back unimpressed and the American government begins to realize that they may have to cut their losses.“If, in spite of all your efforts, Diem refuses, then we may face the possibility that Diem cannot be preserved.”Government speak which says that the American government allows the South Vietnamese military to assassinate Diem and put in place a military dictatorship (not worried it would be someone from Minh’s insurrection?) This is exactly what happens in 1963. A series of military dictatorships begin in South Vietnam, each one more corrupt and ineffective than the next.Kennedy approves Diem’s assassination and then is later assassinated himself. Lyndon Johnson becomes President.Johnson inherits a mess. The insurrection in South Vietnam is still ongoing. Contrary to what the United States had hoped, Diem’s assassination does not stop the insurgency. The Vietminh have taken over much of the countryside. Johnson faces doubts: “We’re not going to send our troops in there, are we?” Johnson does not want to have to go to war in Vietnam. He feels like he has to.Johnson:-grew up poor, true believer in the power of government to help the American people, he believed that government has the duty of helping the American people. If it wasn’t for that “bitch of a war,” he might be remembered today as one of the United States’ best presidents.He pushes through Congress the civil rights act, the voting rights act (major pieces of civil rights legislation that end legal segregation in the United States). He is the creator of both Medicare and Medicaid (major government healthcare programs that care to the old and poor in the United States). As far as domestic legislation is concerned, he is amongst the best American Presidents.He is more ambitious than that, however. He wants to remake American society, to turn it into a GREAT society by declaring a war on poverty. All of that will be undone by the war in Vietnam.Johnson feels he has to get involved in Vietnam because of the very ambitious domestic goals that he has. If he wants to build his great society, he cannot afford to come under political attack for having lost Vietnam. Johnson thinks, “If I lose South Vietnam to communism, my whole domestic agenda is down the drain.”Johnson starts looking for an excuse to ramp up American military involvement in Vietnam. He will wait for an opportunity to put in more troops, to launch bombing campaigns, to ramp up the American war effort in Vietnam. Congress is in charge of authorizing military action. Johnson can’t do it alone. He needs to persuade Congress to give him permission. The reason will be provided to him in August of 1964.August of 1964: One night, a US Navy destroyer runs into a North Vietnamese patrol boat and there is an exchange of fire. What probably did not happen is a second attack the next day.
Reality doesn’t matter here because Johnson has managed to convince Congress and the American people that it did. As a result, Congress will push trough the Gulf of Tonkin