Vietnam: Going to War, 1963–5

Jonathan Colman

in The Foreign Policy of Lyndon B. Johnson

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640133
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652693 | DOI:
Vietnam: Going to War, 1963–5

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This chapter explores the escalation of the American commitment under President Johnson from 1963 to 1965. It notes key developments such as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in the summer of 1964, the initiation of a bombing campaign in Vietnam in February 1965, and the introduction of American combat troops throughout South Vietnam a few months later. It presents an account of the various influences, potential or actual, upon the White House. These include concerns with international credibility; the ‘domino theory’; the role of advisers; public opinion in the United States; the role of allies; the regime in Saigon; and the Sino-Soviet dimension to policymaking. Johnson escalated the US commitment in Vietnam with deep foreboding and reticence and only after seeking a range of opinions from both inside and outside the Administration. Cold War anxieties about the United States' international credibility were the main motivation for intervention.

Keywords: American commitment; President Johnson; Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; bombing campaign; White House; domino theory; international credibility

Chapter.  11201 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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