Why Lyndon Johnson Won The Vietnam War

998 Words4 Pages
President Lyndon Johnson 's continued support for the South Vietnamese was a culmination of misunderstandings and misconceptions throughout the war. Johnson inherited a difficult issue from Kennedy, and his choices were few and crucial. The United States entered the war confident of, if not certain of, success. However, a small-scale military effort quickly expanded into a vast military crisis. Events of Vietnam locked the United States onto a path of immense military intervention and ultimately destroyed Johnson 's presidency. Johnson’s decision to escalate the situation was based on America’s initial understanding of the war, combined with poor war tactics and a terribly unreliable security counsel apparatus, which resulted in the…show more content…
Johnson transformed a limited war tactic to assist the South Vietnamese government into an open-ended commitment to preserving the independent non-Communist South Vietnam (Herring #1, 108). Writers such as Thomas Schelling, Henry Kissinger, and Herman Kahn have defined the limited war theory as focusing on military power to coerce your enemy to act in your favor by threatening the use of force (Herring #2, 4). Johnson and his advisors saw their primary task in July 1965 as persuading the North Vietnamese to stop the insurgency in South Vietnam (Herring #2, 5). Johnson set out to accomplish that goal by gradually escalating the use of airpower and ground forces without destroying North Vietnam itself (Herring #2, 5). Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara were both certain that a limited war approach was the only way the war could be fought in a time when the Communist threat was so intrusive and nuclear weapons so destructive (Rusk 246). However, Schelling strongly argued that the limited war theory had numerous flaws, primarily that the strategy was an academic rather than a military concept. This consequently resulted with the misconception of the dynamics of war (Herring #2, 4). Hence, the North Vietnamese did not respond as limited war theory suggested that they would, refusing to bend to American pressure and instead tried to match the US escalation by escalating themselves(Herring #2, 23). As a limited war grew into a full-scale war, the military…show more content…
Johnson abandoned Eisenhower 's national Security Council apparatus and appointed McGeorge Bundy special assistant for national security affairs with an office in the White House basement (Herring #2, 10). Bundy had achieved a position in the Kennedy white house that made him even more valuable to Johnson as manager of the flow of information and made him closer to the president than any other cabinet officer (Herring #2, 11). Bundy and McNamara committed themselves to Vietnam, when the NLF struck Pleiku on February 7, 1965, resulting in Bundy becoming a firm and biased advocate for escalation (Herring #2, 8). Johnson, Bundy, McNamara, and Rusk worked effectively as a team and were considered the “awesome foursome” (Herring #2, 10). The Tuesday lunch meetings that they attended were one of Johnson 's primary means for making major political decisions, such as improving bombing targets, increasing force, and promoting major initiatives such as the December 1965 bombing pause (Herring #2, 12). However, Dean Rusk believed that negotiations could not succeed until military operations by both the United States and South Vietnam had made it clear to the North Vietnamese that their military efforts were futile (Schandler 184). Consequently, many have argued that Rusk 's failure to balance military input with political and diplomatic advice contributed to the militarization of the Vietnam issue (Herring #2, 12). In addition, former Army general in South Vietnam Maxwell Taylor and his
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