The Vietnam War Questions and Answers

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

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President Lyndon B. Johnson led the United States during the first half of the Vietnam War (1965–1973). It was his decision to send US land and air forces into battle. US involvement in Vietnam before 1965 did not involve much direct combat.

The US government viewed the Vietnam conflict as part of its containment policy. Containment was America's foreign policy after World War II, and its goal was to stop Communism from spreading throughout the globe. However, US policymakers—including almost all of those in the Johnson administration—did not fully understand the situation. Nationalism was at least as important as Communism in Vietnam. After WWII, the Vietnamese won independence from France on the battlefield.

The French defeat in 1954 led to the creation of two states: Communist North Vietnam and an American-supported South Vietnam. America supported the dictatorial regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. Diem, a Catholic, persecuted the Buddhist majority. In 1963, Diem was murdered by a group...

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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.