To what extent is the following statement true? "Pres. Johnson escalated US involvement in Vietnam in order to strengthen his position with the North Vietnamese government."
From 1965 onwards, President Lydon Johnson escalated the US' involvement in the Vietnam war with Rolling Thunder, increased number of American troops, etc. Was this escalation intended to increase his negotiating position with North Vietnam: i.e. was he using America's military power to 'frighten' the North into surrendering?
President Johnson was certainly using the increase in US involvement to try to push North Vietnam out of the war. Up to the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the war had been mostly a Vietnamese affair with increasing US aid to South Vietnam. This approach did not appear to be succeeding. Therefore, Johnson decided to turn the war into an American war. He did so because he thought that this was the best way for the US and South Vietnam to win the war. We can say, then, that the escalation was meant to “frighten” North Vietnam, but also to simply overwhelm it and force it out of the war.