Vandermark's Arguement In Vietnam

1921 Words 8 Pages
The year 1965 constituted a huge turning point in US history, under Johnson’s administration the decision was made to deploy US troops to a deteriorating situation in Vietnam. The debate surrounds Johnson, and whether he had choice to make his own decision. Vandemark and Cuddy present the argument that pressure felt from the public and the lack of a popular mandate left Johnson with constrained choice. However, this is countered through the lack of supporting evidence and the stance taken by Halberstam, Logevall and McMaster, historians who all demonstrate the argument that although Johnson felt it was vital to stop the spread of communism, there was a vast range of choices that Johnson could have taken without committing to ground troops. …show more content…
Vandermark argues that heightened media pressure inevitably meant ‘each step generated demands for another, even bigger step’, whilst Barret agrees with Vandermark on the ‘political storm that would have faced Johnson upon the fall of South Vietnam’, thus limiting choice for Johnson. However, Both Barret and Vandermark do not mention the little interest shown by the public up to 1964, with Hess arguing that ‘Vietnam was no longer an significant cold war issue’, adding credibility to the view that a ‘growing number of Americans would have welcomed disengagement’, this contradicts Vandermark’s and suggests that Johnson had more leeway to refuse commitment. Furthermore, Johnson supports this view, suggesting that Americans knew little about the war and ‘cared a hell of a lot less’, suggesting that the role played by the media and the public was not significant in Johnsons decision. Despite this, 75% of Americans believed that sending troops was the correct decision according to polls in 1965, furthermore Johnson somewhat contradicts his statement by suggesting that ‘if we walked away from Vietnam, there would follow a decisive and destructive debate in our country’, somewhat constraining his choice. The escalated interest in 1965 can be drawn back to the gulf of Tonkin incident, whereby Hallin states that although journalists had ‘a great deal of information contradicting the official account’, this information was not reported. From this, the Americans wanted a retaliation to the perceived attacks, however as McMaster argues, ‘the gulf of Tonkin resolution gave the president a carte blanche for escalating the war’. Suggesting that in fact Johnson coordinated the pressure on the public, persuading them that it was a deliberate attack to generate support, supported crucially needed for Johnson to win the presidential election of 1964. McMaster is correct in asserting

Related Documents