What was LBJ's approach to the Vietnam War?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

President Johnson's approach to the war was rooted in the belief of the Domino Theory.  In this paradigm, it was understood that if one nation in a particular region moved towards Communism, its neighboring nations would move in that direction.  With this in mind, the stakes are the highest for any anti- Communist nation to stand up to the forces of Communism, if nothing else to show to other nations that the United States would not allow Communist infiltration of a region to pass without a credible response.  Johnson's predecessor, Kennedy, had placed "military advisors" in Vietnam to counter the threat from the North.  Johnson inherits this and commits himself to not "losing Vietnam."  At this point, Johnson sees the issue as both the stopping of Communism and the testing of American pride.  The escalation of the war continues with the increasing of "advisors," whose function is to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves against the Viet Cong/ Northern attacks.  This progresses with limited bombing campaigns, "Rolling Thunder," and the increase of financial appropriations for the war, along with increasing the number of United States military personnel in the region.  Seeing that this has minimal, if any, tangible effect on the will of the North, Johnson begins to send in armed forces in the forms of significant deployments, and in the process convinces the American public of the need to commit themselves to the war effort in the region.  The increase in troops was enhanced by bombing of populated areas in the region, not limiting itself to strategic targets, but designed to weaken the will and resolve of the enemy.  With all this in mind, Johnson continued to ensure that the United States had a presence in the region.  Once the building resentment and unpopularity of the war in both casualty and perception had resulted, Johnson understood that he could no longer successfully seek another term as President and took measures to reduce the bombing for offensive effect and reserved it as use to defend the soldiers present.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the course of the Vietnam Conflict altered considerably.  Where Kennedy had been planning to withdraw, President Johnson increased troops and, once the supposed Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred in 1964, he ordered the aerial bombing of targets supporting the Viet Cong.  The "Air War" spread over the whole country, and became the major form of attack for the remainder of the war. Johnson continued to increase American military presence during his administration, and at times began to micromanage the conflict from the war room in the White House.  By the late Sixties, with the war going badly, and facing increasing opposition from the public regarding his policy of escalation, he declined the Democratic nomination for the Presidential Race of 1968.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Johnson had a number of approaches to the war, but I guess you could say that his main approach was to increase the number of troops in Vietnam.  Troops went from a very low number to around 600,000 during his time in office.

Another thing you could say about his approach is that he was committed to keeping the war within South Vietnam.  He did not try to invade the North even though that is where the real problems were centered.

Finally, you could say that an aspect of his approach was to try to kill the enemy rather than to take and hold specific pieces of territory.

krishna-agrawala | Student

The Vietnam conflict had its origin in 1957 when non-communist government and communists in Vietnam fought for control of South Vietnam.

When Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ) became president, the official policy of USA was to support the non_communist government in South Vietnam. LBJ continued with this policy. In 1965, when the communist in Vietnam appeared to be in a very strong position, LBJ responded by sending American troops to fight the Communist in Vietnam in 1965. This clearly indicates policy of LBJ of direct military intervention of USA in the war between communists and non-communists in Vietnam.

Involvement of America in the Vietnam war was initially supported by American people, but as the American involvement in war escalated the people began opposing it and there were strong civil protests against the Vietnam war. Discouraged by this opposition, LBJ decider not to contest of presidency in 1968 reelection. He halted bombing of North Vietnam Territories in November 1968, and began a process of peace talks between United States, North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

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