JFK and the Vietnam War

analytical Essay
1800 words
1800 words

JOHN F. KENNEDY IN VIETNAM There are many critical questions surrounding United States involvement in Vietnam. American entry to Vietnam was a series of many choices made by five successive presidents during these years of 1945-1975. The policies of John F. Kennedy during the years of 1961-1963 were ones of military action, diplomacy, and liberalism. Each of his decision was on its merits at the time the decision was made. The belief that Vietnam was a test of the Americas ability to defeat communists in Vietnam lay at the center of Kennedy¡¦s policy. Kennedy promised in his inaugural address, Let every nation know...that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. From the 1880s until World War II, France governed Vietnam as part of French Indochina, which also included Cambodia and Laos. The country was under the formal control of an emperor, Bao Dai. From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese struggled for their independence from France during the first Indochina War. At the end of this war, the country was temporarily divided into North and South Vietnam. North Vietnam came under the control of the Vietnamese Communists who had opposed France and aimed for a unified Vietnam under Communist rule. Vietnamese who had collaborated with the French controlled the South. For this reason the United States became involved in Vietnam because it believed that if all of the country fell under a Communist government, Communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia and further. This belief was known as the domino theory. The decision to enter Vietnam reflected America¡¦s idea of its global role-U.S. could not recoil from world leadership. The U.S. government supported the South Vietnamese government. The U.S. government wanted to establish the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which extended protection to South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in case of Communist subversion. SEATO, which came into force in 1955, became the way which Washington justified its support for South Vietnam; this support eventually became direct involvement of U.S. troops. In 1955, the United States picked Ngo Dinh Diem to replace Bao Dai as head of the anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam. Eisenhower chose to support Ngo Dinh Diem. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass., on May 29, 1917. Kennedy graduated from Harvard University in 1940 and joined the Navy the next year.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the united states' involvement in vietnam was a series of choices made by five successive presidents during the years of 1945-1975. kennedy's policies were one of military action, diplomacy, and liberalism.
  • Explains that the decision to enter vietnam reflected america's idea of global leadership. the southeast asia treaty organization (seato) extended protection to south vietnam, cambodia, and laos in case of communist subversion
  • Explains that kennedy's cabinet members were made up of many different thinkers, including dean rusk, walt rostow, mcgeorge bundy, and george ball.
  • Explains how taylor and mcnamara were sent on a series of trips during 1961-1963 to vietnam.
  • Analyzes how the civil rights movement created a climate for protest. the cuban missile crisis raised doubts about kennedy's leadership ability.
  • Explains that south vietnamese troops are defeated by a much smaller vietcong force despite u.s. assistance.
  • Opines that there is speculation about what president kennedy would have done in vietnam had he not been assassinated.
Get Access