Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy and the Vietnam War Essay

Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy and the Vietnam War Essay

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The leadership styles, experience, personality, and temperament of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy played a role in deepening the U.S. involvement and commitment to Vietnam. Both presidents vowed to stop the spread of communism, which was viewed as a direct assault to democracy, human rights, and capitalism. (Tucker, 1999) Both presidents also subscribed to the domino theory, or the belief that if one key country should fall to communism, then it would have a cascading effect on other countries turning to communism. (Divine, 1981) This theory was used by many presidents as the reason for ongoing support to the effort in Indochina.
After World War II, the French began a fight for their former colony of Indochina, which included Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The French and other countries failed to see at that time the will and desire of the Vietnamese people to gain independence from foreign rule and to have their country unified. Ho Chi Minh, a Vietnamese nationalist, fought the French and overtook the North Vietnam capital of Hanoi with his followers, the Viet Minh, declaring the area the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. (Anderson, 2002) The French were unwilling to give up their colony and drove the Vietminh from many of the larger cities in the south. The United States entered the Vietnam struggle in 1950 when $15 million in aid was pledged to France in order to fight the Vietminh. (Anderson, 2002) The rationale was to align with France and keep the Soviet Union from expanding in Europe and to keep another country from falling into communist rule.
Despite the $2.6 billion in aid to the French over a span of four years, they could not defeat the Viet Minh. (Miller Center, 2009) During a siege by the Viet Minh...


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...untry to war at anytime and anywhere in the world. Because of this, the American people want to have confidence in its leader’s abilities. Plus, the actions of the President and his staff have a direct influence on the thoughts and perceptions of the people towards interference in foreign countries. Most people did not find the threat of Vietnam falling to communist rule as justification for the number of lives that were lost.



Works Cited

Anderson, D. (2002). The Columbia guide to the Vietnam War. New York: Columbia University Press.
Divine, R. (1981). Eisenhower and the cold war. New York: Oxford University Press.
Miller Center. (2009, May). American President: A reference resource. Retrieved November 2, 2011, from University of Virgina: http://millercenter.org/president/eisenhower/essays/biography/print
Tucker, S. (1999). Vietnam. London: UCL Press Limited.

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