How Far Was US Involvement In The Growing Conflict In Vietnam due to the Policies Of President Kennedy?
For the Presidents that had proceeded Kennedy Vietnam had not a main concern and was seen to be a minor side-show against the growing pressures of the Cold War. Under Kennedy the war became more important and only later, after Kennedy’s death, did it become a national incident; being the first televised war. Kennedy himself loathed Communism and he believed that Communism should be ‘contained’ by America and was scared of Eisenhower’s apocalyptic ‘Domino Theory’.
After his failure at the ‘Bay of Pigs’ Kennedy was desperate to reinstate himself as a firm and reliable President, with a ‘no tolerance’ attitude to Communists, Kennedy pushed ahead with military solutions such as increased financial aid to Diem’s army and he increased the numbers of US military ‘advisers’ in Vietnam. After the first two years of his office the numbers rose from 800 to 12,000 in 1962 accompanied by weapons that flooded into South Vietnam. This was ‘mission creep’, which had been in place since Eisenhower; Kennedy simply seemed to have inherited it; although he pursued it more vigorously, due to previous failures, and his overbearing youth and inexperience. Vietnam became “the place” where after the ‘Bay of Pigs’ Kennedy would restore his honour, it became Kennedy’s crusade.
Kennedy’s foreign policy was perceived to be more anti-communist, in the wake of the McArthur period, and in his Inaugural address: "Pay any price, bear any burden" he clearly states that it is the duty of the United States to “assure the survival and the success of liberty” and that any perceived “tyranny, poverty, disease, and war” would be brought to justice. His anti-communist rhetoric however is also due the overwhelming pressure from his military and civilian advisers, the ‘hawks’, who urged him into a war.
Dedication to US involvement in Vietnam could also be down to the ‘commitment trap’,...
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