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Kennedy's Vietnam Policy Watch

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    Hi, could somebody please tell me what Kennedy's Vietnam Policy was and what shaped it? I know before he became President he wanted to see South Vietnam independent, opposed Communsim because he was catholic and he believed in both containment and domino theory, but I'm not sure what his policy actually was?

    Thank you!
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    This really isn't my specialist subject, but I would minimise his Catholicism in the discussion, accentuate domino theory, and bring in the threat/failure in Cuba.
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    (Original post by LifeOfDreams)
    This really isn't my specialist subject, but I would minimise his Catholicism in the discussion, accentuate domino theory, and bring in the threat/failure in Cuba.
    Interesting. Thanks for replying!

    I think I'll definitely mention the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis (I personally don't think it was a failure) as a reason why JFK may have wanted to pull out of Vietnam. I only mentioned his Catholicism because (as stated in the book I was given) he and his family were strong Catholics, and they therefore hated Communism because it was atheistic.

    Cheers!
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    I was thinking more of the Bay of Pigs as a reason for him wanting to deal with communism in Vietnam, thus sending more troops/'advisors'...
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    Here is a very brief (list formatted) summary

    John F. Kennedy in 1961 was faced with a 3-part crisis- the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, the construction of the Berlin wall by the Soviets and an agreement signed between the Laos government and the Pathet Lao communists

    This seriously threatened to undermine U.S credibility being able to contain communism

    Kennedy feared another blow to stop communist expansion would be fatal to his administration and so he chose Vietnam as the place in which the United States would re-affirm its credibility

    However critics question whether monolithic world communism ever really existed citing the Sino-Soviet split as evidence to support their argument

    Linked to this is the long-term influence of ‘Domino Theory’. This speculated that if one state in a region fell to communism others would follow immediately afterwards. Therefore in the eyes of the United States, Vietnam under no circumstances could be allowed to follow China in falling to communism, for fear that the surrounding countries of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand would follow suit
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    (Original post by AndrewGrace)
    Here is a very brief (list formatted) summary

    John F. Kennedy in 1961 was faced with a 3-part crisis- the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, the construction of the Berlin wall by the Soviets and an agreement signed between the Laos government and the Pathet Lao communists

    This seriously threatened to undermine U.S credibility being able to contain communism

    Kennedy feared another blow to stop communist expansion would be fatal to his administration and so he chose Vietnam as the place in which the United States would re-affirm its credibility

    However critics question whether monolithic world communism ever really existed citing the Sino-Soviet split as evidence to support their argument

    Linked to this is the long-term influence of ‘Domino Theory’. This speculated that if one state in a region fell to communism others would follow immediately afterwards. Therefore in the eyes of the United States, Vietnam under no circumstances could be allowed to follow China in falling to communism, for fear that the surrounding countries of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand would follow suit
    Thanks for that! I think McCarthyism would also be a good point - Kennedy didn't want to go soft on the Communists in Vietnam in case he got accused by McCarthy. Thanks again!
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    (Original post by gaslight182)
    Thanks for that! I think McCarthyism would also be a good point - Kennedy didn't want to go soft on the Communists in Vietnam in case he got accused by McCarthy. Thanks again!
    Be careful talking about McCarthy himself as he died in 1957, McCarthyism itself is focused a lot more on American domestic politics, as opposed to foreign policy.

    The point in which McCarthyism could be included, is that Kennedy is likely to have been much warier about the actions of the Pathet Lao Communists, the Vietminh and the Chinese

    However there is a case to be made that beyond the right-wing of American politics McCarthyism never really took hold, therefore the impact is limited
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    (Original post by AndrewGrace)
    Be careful talking about McCarthy himself as he died in 1957, McCarthyism itself is focused a lot more on American domestic politics, as opposed to foreign policy.

    The point in which McCarthyism could be included, is that Kennedy is likely to have been much warier about the actions of the Pathet Lao Communists, the Vietminh and the Chinese

    However there is a case to be made that beyond the right-wing of American politics McCarthyism never really took hold, therefore the impact is limited
    Didn't realise he'd died before Kennedy was even President! I guess I could try and argue that McCarthyism increased Kennedy's opposition to Communism during his time as Senator...? I see what you mean about it being more for the domestic politics.

    Thanks so much for this!
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    (Original post by gaslight182)
    Didn't realise he'd died before Kennedy was even President! I guess I could try and argue that McCarthyism increased Kennedy's opposition to Communism during his time as Senator...? I see what you mean about it being more for the domestic politics.

    Thanks so much for this!
    If you can find sufficient evidence to support this judgement then i don't see why not, however i would probably suggest place your focus elsewhere in terms of McCarthyism towards the wider context of the period and the long-term impact
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    Kennedy was committed to the withdrawal of the small force of US military "advisors". As soon as LBJ was sworn in he authorised full mobilisation, 500,000 troop ceiling and monumental budget uplift which unleashed inflation in the western world. A company which had never made a helicopter in its existence was awarded one of the biggest contracts in US defence history for the Bell Huey Helicopter. When he died LBJ who was a public sector employee for his entire life left over 40 million dollars in his estate. (oh ps: He owned half of the real estate around Huston just prior to sending the NASA HQ there. )
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    Hey not sure if you still need it, but I did the exam this year and this is from some of my notes:

    The National Security Action Memorandum 52 (NSAM 52) of May 1961 committed the USA to counter the communist threat and accelerate US involvement in Vietnam through political involvement (sending political advisors), economic involvement (providing financial support) and military involvement (providing advice and hardware) Now I'll talk about how successful this strategy was.
    ~~~~~
    How did Kennedy increase the USA's military involvement?
    - Kennedy formed the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) to coordinate military aid
    - Kennedy initiated Operation ranch Hand, spraying thousands of acres of forests with defoliants and pesticides in order to remove the VC (Viet Cong)'s cover and destroy their food supplies
    - Kennedy increased the number of military advisers:
    - 1960: 800 advisers
    - 1961: 2000 advisers
    - 1962: 12,000 advisers
    - 1963: 16,000 advisers
    - Kennedy sent Special Forces (the Green Berets) to train the ARVN (Army of republic of Vietnam) (US-supporting Vietnam 'south' troops)
    - Kennedy authorised the deployment of US troops to perform reconnaissance missions to assist the ARVN
    - Kennedy authorised the deployment of US helicopters to support ARVN troops (ARVN troop

    How successful was Kennedy's military strategy?
    - The strategic hamlets failed to stop the Viet Cong because they were easily infiltrated by Viet Cong agents
    - US military aid was unable to stop an escalation in the civil war
    - The Battle of Ap Bad (January 1963) demonstrated the failings of Kennedy's strategy as ARVN troops, equipped with US weapons and outnumbering the Viet Cong four to one, were still unable to win a military victory.
    - The herbicides used by the US, including Agent Orange, are believed to be responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer and birth defects that later struct the Vietnamese and US servicemen
    - US advice was sometimes ineffective and sometimes ignored
    - US military aid was ineffective in combating the Viet Cong

    ~~~~~~
    This is only the Military successes and actions that kennedy took, if you still need it, I can post the other half of this, which is about Kennedy increasing the USA's political and economic involvement and how successful those strategies were.

    Hope I helped and am not too late!
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    (Original post by Acius1106)
    Hey not sure if you still need it, but I did the exam this year and this is from some of my notes:

    The National Security Action Memorandum 52 (NSAM 52) of May 1961 committed the USA to counter the communist threat and accelerate US involvement in Vietnam through political involvement (sending political advisors), economic involvement (providing financial support) and military involvement (providing advice and hardware) Now I'll talk about how successful this strategy was.
    ~~~~~
    How did Kennedy increase the USA's military involvement?
    - Kennedy formed the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV) to coordinate military aid
    - Kennedy initiated Operation ranch Hand, spraying thousands of acres of forests with defoliants and pesticides in order to remove the VC (Viet Cong)'s cover and destroy their food supplies
    - Kennedy increased the number of military advisers:
    - 1960: 800 advisers
    - 1961: 2000 advisers
    - 1962: 12,000 advisers
    - 1963: 16,000 advisers
    - Kennedy sent Special Forces (the Green Berets) to train the ARVN (Army of republic of Vietnam) (US-supporting Vietnam 'south' troops)
    - Kennedy authorised the deployment of US troops to perform reconnaissance missions to assist the ARVN
    - Kennedy authorised the deployment of US helicopters to support ARVN troops (ARVN troop

    How successful was Kennedy's military strategy?
    - The strategic hamlets failed to stop the Viet Cong because they were easily infiltrated by Viet Cong agents
    - US military aid was unable to stop an escalation in the civil war
    - The Battle of Ap Bad (January 1963) demonstrated the failings of Kennedy's strategy as ARVN troops, equipped with US weapons and outnumbering the Viet Cong four to one, were still unable to win a military victory.
    - The herbicides used by the US, including Agent Orange, are believed to be responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of cancer and birth defects that later struct the Vietnamese and US servicemen
    - US advice was sometimes ineffective and sometimes ignored
    - US military aid was ineffective in combating the Viet Cong

    ~~~~~~
    This is only the Military successes and actions that kennedy took, if you still need it, I can post the other half of this, which is about Kennedy increasing the USA's political and economic involvement and how successful those strategies were.

    Hope I helped and am not too late!
    Thanks so much for this, it's very helpful! If you could send me the rest that would be great! Thank you!!
 
 
 
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