Assess the view that Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) had no choice but to send US troops to Vietnam in 1965. Word Count: 304
Word Count: 304
Hess argues that the threat of the USSR and Communism “left the US no choice but to stand up to the challenge posed by Vietnam”. Direct confrontation was impossible as the USSR was a nuclear power, therefore the only choice available was “a policy of containment”; previous success in Korea gives validity to this view. Hess states Vietnam was the centre of the “Domino Theory”, that a communist Vietnam “would inexorably lead to the collapse of other non-communist states”. All communist states were believed to be puppets of the USSR so an increase in Soviet allies would tip the global power balance against the US. Morris supports Hess, saying Johnson believed “the USA faced a communist conspiracy to extend communism across the globe”. Previous Soviet annexation of Eastern Europe gave evidence that a similar expansion would be repeated in South East Asia. The Red Scares of the 1950s showed how the US population considered the USSR an aggressive threat as policy matches public opinion containment was essential. Supporting this view, LBJ stated the US was to “assist the people and government of that country [South Vietnam] to win their contest against the externally directed and supported communist conspiracy.” Ostensibly this argument is valid as Marxism is an expansionist ideology. However the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) was predominantly nationalist, acting independently from the Kremlin, with Ho Chi Mihn believing that “nothing is more important than Independence and Liberty”. Evidently this language is far closer to that of American Enlightenment than Leninist Bolshevism, thus suggesting LBJ did have a choice as Vietnam posed little threat. However this cannot invalidate the Domino Theory which has overwhelming sources in support: as Robert McNamara stated, “The Domino Theory… was the primary factor motivating the actions of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations”. This implies it was another factor, not the ideological threat that gave LBJ no choice. Chomsky challenges Hess and Morris arguing that “the US had economic interest… that must be secured”. Of upmost importance was “to prevent Japan from constructing a closed prosperity sphere in Asia from which the US would be excluded”, as Japan was a key US market. The real threat communism posed was in creating a “peasant-based revolution” that would spread through Asia and develop along a “Chinese model… instead of relying on the industrial powers and adapting their pattern of development to the needs and interests of these powers”. Communism would omit US businesses expropriating local resources and benefiting from the lower labour wages of the less developed East-Asia countries. Evidence supporting Chomsky is Nixon opening relations with Communist China in 1972; showing ideology is irrelevant as long as the US can exploit markets. Hess supports Chomsky, showing the damage a closed Asian market would do by reinforcing the economic importance of this “resource rich” and “populous” region.” Finally, NSC staff supports Chomsky, warning that a communist Vietnam would “make it extremely difficult to prevent Japan’s eventual accommodation to the Soviet Bloc”. Overall the Domino Theory was a major factor forcing LBJ to send troops. However, the NVA’s ideology disproves Hess and Murphy’s ideological threat so Chomsky’s explanation of the economic threat that gave LBJ no choice is the most valid. Word Count: 590
Word Count: 590
Hall argues that “Kennedy left Lyndon Johnson a US military force in Vietnam of 16,000 and a commitment to the growing Vietnamese war” implying LBJ could only work with what he was given and that the decision to send troops to Vietnam had been made previously. The original commitment of men ensured further support would be needed so LBJ “remained committed to Kennedy’s policy”. Sanders supports Hall, saying...
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