How did President Johnson lead the United States deeper into the Vietnam quagmire?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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President Lyndon Johnson got the US deeper into the Vietnam War through the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.  Johnson believed that the war was very important and he believed that the South Vietnamese were not doing a good enough job of waging it.  Therefore, he believed that it was necessary to make the war an American war.  He got Congress to authorize him to do whatever he felt was necessary to wage the war.  With this authorization, he sent more and more US troops in, to the point that there were over 500,000 US military personnel involved in the war at its peak.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The role of the United States had been gradually increasing since the French were defeated in Indochina. We encouraged South Vietnam not to hold elections in 1956. This led to the outbreak of war. We sent military and economic aid to Vietnam during the presidencies of Eisenhower and Kennedy. We also sent more advisors during Kennedy’s presidency. While Johnson was president, our involvement changed dramatically.

President Johnson wanted to respond after North Vietnam reportedly fired at our ships in the Golf of Tonkin. When Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, President Johnson was free to send troops to Vietnam. While Johnson was president, the number of American troops continued to increase in Vietnam. We had about 580,000 troops in Vietnam at one point while Johnson was president. Whether he realized it or not, Johnson was deepening our involvement in a war that may have impossible to win. As more troops were sent to Vietnam, it became harder for us to pull back from our involvement there.

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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President Lyndon B Johnson escalated the American involvement in the Vietnam war by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (enacted on August 10, 1964). The resolution authorized the use of conventional military by the Supreme Commander (the President) without prior declaration of war by the Congress, in Southeast Asia. To gain a decisive edge in the conflict, the number of a\American military and advisory personnel increased dramatically after the passage of this resolution. From 16,000 advisors (all non-combat roles) in 1963, the number of American personnel grew to 5,50,000 in 1968. The prolonged conflict led to a very high casualty rate for American soldiers and massive anti-war demonstrations in the US. 

Interestingly, the Gulf of Tonkin incident is controversial and the veracity of the claim of North Vietnamese attack on the US ship was not verified. However, this suspected incident provided enough leverage for President Johnson to involve the US more deeply in the Vietnam War. 

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