The American Entanglement in Vietnam: A History of Misjudgment and Tragedy
In his book “Dereliction of Duty” H.R McMaster provides us with a stunning examination of the reasons why the U.S became absorbed in the Vietnam War. The book is based on the top secret documents and presidential recordings that were inaccessible to the public until recently. It provides unprecedented insight into the events that led to America’s direct involvement in the Vietnam War.
2. The American Entanglement in Vietnam
The Vietnam War was a product of the Cold War. The US became increasingly involved in Vietnam because they saw it as part of their fight against communism. They were also concerned about the spread of communism to other countries in Southeast Asia. The US began providing military aid to South Vietnam in 1950. They sent military advisors to help train the South Vietnamese Army. This increased to 16,000 by 1962. In August 1964, two US navy ships were allegedly attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. In response, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Johnson authority to use military force in Vietnam without declaring war. This marked the beginning of America’s direct involvement in the war.
3. The President and His Advisors
President Johnson was advised by a group of men known as “The Wise Men”. These were experienced statesmen who had served under Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. They supported Johnson’s decision to become more involved in Vietnam. However, they advised him to increase economic and military aid to South Vietnam rather than send US troops. Johnson ignored their advice and decided to send US troops to Vietnam. He did this for several reasons:
– he wanted to prove himself as a strong leader
– he feared that if South Vietnam fell to communism, the rest of Southeast Asia would follow
– he did not want to be seen as weak and indecisive like his predecessor, John F Kennedy
4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are responsible for advising the President on military matters. They supported Johnson’s decision to become more involved in Vietnam. They believed that if South Vietnam fell to communism, the rest of Southeast Asia would follow. They also believed that sending US troops would help preserve America’s credibility and reputation around the world.
5. The American Public
The American public was initially supportive of Johnson’s decision to become more involved in Vietnam. They believed that it was necessary to stop the spread of communism. However, as the war dragged on, public opinion began to change. More and more people began to question why America was fighting in Vietnam. They were also concerned about the high number of casualties. By 1968, polls showed that a majority of Americans were opposed to the war and wanted US troops to be withdrawn from Vietnam immediately.