Page 72 – (A) How far do you agree that the growing success of the Viet Cong was the decisive factor in persuading the USA to escalate its commitment in South Vietnam in the years 1961-1968?
In early August 1964, two U.S. destroyers stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam radioed that North Vietnamese forces had fired them upon. In response to these reported incidents, President Lyndon B. Johnson requested permission from the U.S. Congress to increase the U.S. military presence in Indochina. On August 7, 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing President Johnson to take any measures he believed were necessary to retaliate and to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in Southeast Asia. This resolution became the legal basis for the Johnson and Nixon Administrations prosecution of the Vietnam War. Though this wasn’t a compete success solely by the Vietcong, many of them were involved with the North Vietnamese Army and contributed to the failure of the US forces in this incident. I feel this wasn’t a success for the Vietcong, but a failure however it did provided the justification for further U.S. escalation of the conflict in Vietnam.
In the period when Johnson was president, US involvement in the war in Vietnam had escalated. The use of air power to bomb North Vietnam was to necessitate land forces to secure American bases. One of the main successes for the Vietcong and North Vietnam was the Tet Offensive in 1968. This is where the communists launched an attack on the US Embassy in Saigon, and an attempt to launch widespread assaults on the cities of South Vietnam. The Vietcong’s pressure on this attack cause the aftermath for the media to make the assumption that Johnson’s administration was considering sending a further 206,000 troops into Vietnam as a request of the US military. This resulted in the popularity in the ‘opinion polls’ for Johnson go down from 40 per cent in 1967 to a low 26 per cent...
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