During the Vietnam War era, the United States and other democratic and free nations were fearful of communism spreading to more parts of the world. They fought two world wars to protect freedom, and to contain the communist movements. The foreign policy of the United States evolved to that of a pre-emptive type strike on the possibility of communism surfacing and threatening free countries. Harry S. Truman began to theorize that if a communist nation took over a non-communist state, then neighboring countries would also fall. This became known as the “domino effect,” and was the foreign policy that Dwight D. Eisenhower applied to countries in South East Asia in the 1950s. The United States’ role in Vietnam spanned from 1955 to
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By August of 1964, Ngo Diem of South Vietnam was assassinated, along with John F. Kennedy a few weeks later. Lyndon B. Johnson was the acting president, and Congress had not granted permission for the United States to declare war on Vietnam. It was only known as a “conflict.” In such status, there were limits to the scope of United States involvement until the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed in the US House of Congress unanimously. It gave the president of the United States authorization for military action in other countries, even without a declaration from Congress. These powers were under the premise that the Command and Chief needed immediate, emergency authority, such as with the case of the torpedo attacks on US Navy patrol ships form which birthed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution changed forever America’s foreign policy. One can trace back to this defining document reasons for current engagements across the world using America’s military might, without the act of Congress declaring war. This policy was used to back United States involvement in Iraq wars, as well as many other small wars across the world, all without the need of approval from Congress. After this monumental resolution was passed, United States troops saw a sharp increase, with combat units entering Vietnam beginning in 1965, shortly after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.