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2. Why did Johnson go to war in Vietnam?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about why Johnson went to war in Vietnam in 1965, focusing in particular on: (i) the history of US involvement in Vietnam between 1950-63; (ii) the extent of Johnson's escalation of the US commitment to Vietnam between 1965-68; (iii) the importance of Johnson's status (before 1965) as an unelected president; (iv) the 1964 presidential election and the extent to which the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater influences Johnson's policy on Vietnam; (v) the state of affairs in Vietnam in 1965, and the reason Johnson could not follow the policy of previous presidents of simply increasing aid to South Vietnam; (vi) the various assumptions that underlay Johnson's foreign policy decisions, e.g. his belief in domino theory; (vii) Johnson's belief that support for his domestic policies relied on victory in Vietnam; and (viii) the extent to which the ghost of John F. Kennedy haunted Johnson's presidency.
In this course, Professor Mark White (Queen Mary, University of London) explores the life, political career and presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson through five key questions: (1) How did Johnson rise to power?; (2) Why did Johnson go to war in Vietnam?; (3) Why could Johnson not win in Vietnam?; (4) Why did Johnson launch the Great Society and how successful was it?; and (5) What was Johnson's legacy?
Mark White is Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in US foreign policy in the Cold War and the US presidency since 1945. His recent publications include Against the President: Dissent and Decision-Making in the White House (2007) and The Presidency of Bill Clinton: The Legacy of a New Domestic and Foreign Policy (2012)
Cite this Lecture
White, M. (2021, March 15). The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-69 - Why did Johnson go to war in Vietnam? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-lyndon-b-johnson-1963-69-white/why-did-johnson-go-to-war-in-vietnam
White, M. "The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-69 – Why did Johnson go to war in Vietnam?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Mar 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-presidency-of-lyndon-b-johnson-1963-69-white/why-did-johnson-go-to-war-in-vietnam