Bureaucratic Pressures and Decisions for War

Gareth Porter

in Perils of Dominance

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780520239487
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940406 | DOI:
Bureaucratic Pressures and Decisions for War

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This chapter investigates the decisions on ground troop deployments, culminating in the final decision for a major ground troop deployment in mid-1965. It also reviews the effect of the global imbalance of power, and that of the Byzantine domestic politics of blame for any future defeat in South Vietnam. The incentive for systematic bombing of the North was underlined by a new intelligence estimate in October that reemphasized the importance of U.S. military dominance over North Vietnam and China. Johnson's rejection of even the threat of massive devastation to try to put pressure on the North Vietnamese made the bombing policy very different from what had been envisioned by the national security bureaucracy. Johnson's final effort to avert an open-ended general war in Vietnam concluded with political theater. Robert McNamara abandoned the limited commitment option just as Johnson was trying to make it official policy.

Keywords: ground troop deployments; global power imbalance; Byzantine domestic politics; South Vietnam; Lyndon Johnson; Robert McNamara; bombing policy; North Vietnam; national security bureaucracy

Chapter.  11895 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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