- In the context of the Vietnamese society as the course has presented it through the online textbook so far, what evaluation can be made about the leadership styles and personal examples of Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dinh Diem that would enable both of them to tap into the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people and mobilize support for their initiatives? Why, in Vietnam, was personal leadership so very important? Refer to specific examples.
- Given the emerging role of the United States in mid-20th century world affairs as described on the online textbook, what evaluation can be made of the leadership styles Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy that made them effective or inhibited their effectiveness? Why in the United States is the direct leadership of the President so very important?
In the United States, direct leadership by the president in time of war is very important for two reasons. First, the president is, under the Constitution, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. When in a war, the armed forces clearly need strong leadership. They need to have a clear direction and clear goals laid out for the war so that they can plan out ways to achieve those goals. Second, the president is the only figure with a truly national profile. In a war, the people always look to the president for strength and guidance. They want the president to reassure them that things will be well. They want the president to clearly express the aims of the war so they can feel that the war is worth fighting. For both of these reasons, direct leadership by the president is very important.
In Vietnam, personal leadership was even more important than in the US. This is because Vietnam had only recently become a country (or two countries). It did not have a long history with a settled system of government in the way that the United States did. This meant that the leadership abilities of Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dinh Diem were of paramount importance. The people of their countries did not have years of tradition to fall back on that would allow them to have faith in the government and the country, regardless of who the leader was. Instead, they associated the leader with the state. Since Ho had so much more credibility with his people than Diem did with his, North Vietnam was much more committed to the war and the morale of its people was much higher than in South Vietnam.
Thus, while direct leadership was important in the US, it was even more important in Vietnam.