Foreign Policies of Kennedy and Johnson

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While comparing and contrast the foreign policies of Kennedy and Johnson.

Lyndon Johnson became the 36th president of the United States on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963. Kennedy and Johnson served in the White House through most of the 1960s; both men seemed for a time to be the embodiment of these liberal hopes. Johnson, who was a skilled promoter of liberal domestic legislation, was also a believer in the use of military force to help achieve the country foreign policy objectives. The foreign policies of Kennedy and Johnson were both largely based on the same two principles: containment of communism and the Domino Theory. The policy of containment, begun under Truman, shifted the focus from overt confrontation with the Soviet Union to a priority of combating the expansion of communism into new states or regions. This policy, continued under both Kennedy and Johnson to varying degrees, was based on two underlying assumptions: that the U.S.S.R. would try to expand its authority and influence, and that all new communist governments were part of the Soviet “empire” (O’Malley, 1999). By the start of the Johnson administration, the Domino Theory had also achieved great foreign policy significance. This theory was based on an, a belief that if one nation fell to communists those nations surrounding it would fall as well (DeConde et al., 2002). The Domino Theory was used not just under Johnson to justify the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, in which was once called the conflict “the most disastrous of all America’s undertakings over the whole 200 years of its history”. In retrospect, few would not disagree. Yet at first, the Vietnam War seemed simply one more Third World struggle on the periphery of the Cold War, a struggle in which the United States would try to tip the balance against communism without becoming too deeply or directly engaged (Brinkley, 2007), but by both administrations to justify involvement in smaller initiatives...
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