Lyndon B. Johnson: Causes on the Vietnam War Essay Sample

Lyndon B. Johnson: Causes on the Vietnam War Pages
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America has gone through high and lows as a country, but overall we overcome and grow and use our history to shape out future. When John F. Kennedy died, Lyndon B. Johnson took over as president and was at first liked and favored that he came back for a real term after the term he took over after JFK died. He then changed, and brought many Americans to fight in Vietnam and sacrifice their lives for a Vietnamese war, and was greatly looked down upon for this. Lyndon B. Johnson politically and socially with his Great Society and changed during his time as President of the United States of America. During the course of 1965, Lyndon Johnson set the stage for three years of legislation that completed the social transformation of the United States which begun thirty-three years earlier with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. At the same time, he turned a North versus South and civil war in Vietnam into an American war that had gone on for seven years and ended in a failure for Americans. Some people argue that Johnson’s biggest mistake was not trying to win the war by making the war bigger. Many people also argued that the Great Society’s legislation produced mainly waste, as well as fraud and abuse. Others say that LBJ’s role in getting legislation passed was just reflecting his skill of Senate politics.

Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War, from 16,000 American advisors or soldiers in 1963 to 550,000 combat troops in early 1968. As he changed the amount of combat troops, American casualties ascended greatly and the peace process started to go downward. The involvement stimulated a large angry antiwar movement based especially on university campuses in the U.S. and abroad. Summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965, and crime rates soared, as his opponents raised demands for “law and order” policies. The Democratic Party split in multiple groups that would feud against each other, and after Johnson did very poorly in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, he ended his bid for reelection, as he saw that he wouldn’t win if he tried. Republican Richard Nixon was elected to succeed him as the next President of the United States. Historians argue that his presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States after the New Deal era. Johnson is ranked favorably by some historians because of his domestic policies. Johnson was not unfavorable to greater US military involvement, but he was simply aware that it would not be well liked by all people of America.

He gave his support to Operation Plan 34B. What this meant was that he would agree to sending Asian mercenaries in to North Vietnam to carry out acts of sabotage. As part of an inspection, the USS Maddox was sent in to the Gulf of Tonkin to inspect North Vietnamese naval defenses. The outcome of this was the attack on the ‘Maddox’ by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Johnson was given the reason he needed to order bombing raids on North Vietnam. As president and commander-in-chief he would have been seen as a weak leader if he had done nothing to counter this just as both his Chiefs of Staff and he, himself, had bargained on. On national television Johnson told the US public “Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense, but with a positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak tonight.” Johnson was liked, and received much support for his actions that he chose to do, and this is why he was liked at first and was reelected to Presidency. Congress gave Johnson near enough total support for his actions. The senate supported him 88 to 2 and House of Representatives supported him 416 to 0.

They also authorized him to take whatever measures he deemed necessary against North Vietnam. In the months that came before or proceeded the 1964 presidential election, Johnson was mocked or blamed by the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, for being too soft in his approach to North Vietnamese military. In response to these comments by Barry Goldwater, Johnson told the public that he was not prepared to send US troops thousands of miles overseas to do what the South Vietnamese Army should be doing this whole time which was to protecting their own people. Johnson won the 1964 election by a landslide. Among the vast array of bills that he got passed were health assistance for the elderly and the poor and measures to protect the environment, increase aid to education, prohibit discrimination in housing, and protect consumer. Johnson hoped to pressure the North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong allies to give up, while at the same time avoid drawing China or the Soviet Union into the fighting.

He had sent 550,000 U.S. troops to South Vietnam by 1967, a vast increase from the 16,000 that had been there when he succeeded to the presidency in November 1963. His failure to honestly discuss how badly the war was going and to reveal the true costs of the conflict led to a credibility gap with voters. He also badly underestimated the determination of the enemy to win. The Great Society did make some historic achievements, such as providing the elderly with health insurance through Medicare, providing the money to spark economic development in the South, and extending civil and voting rights to African-Americans. But the momentum behind Johnson’s programs stalled under the weight of the war’s unpopularity and cost. In the end, his overreaching in Vietnam and in the domestic arena were seen by Americans as vast and expensive mistakes. Amid rising antiwar protests and rebellions in his party, Johnson did not seek re-election in 1968.

These decisions helped to change the way American society was. He changed as his presidency has gone on, and he shaped his policy and changed it much during his presidency. He was greatly favored at first but then slowly diminished on popularity by the time it came to the 1968 presidency. I think that he shouldn’t of sent as many troops to Vietnam as he did because he made many people lose their lives and made it too much of a task that we didn’t even really ever win.

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