Why Are We Vietnam? Essay

1746 Words May 10th, 2016 7 Pages
While not included in the enumerated powers of the Executive branch in the United States constitution, the advent of instantaneous communication afforded American presidents both the opportunity and duty to defend their positions and policies over the airwaves. As presidential authority centers around the “Commander in Chief” element of the role, the American people looked to the White House for an understanding of the cause and goals of American military deployments. This duty magnified in conflicts such as the war in Vietnam, where the selective service was in place and the media was incapable of providing the public with a complete picture of the situation. Without a clear cause for intervention, the American people turned to their presidents in the 1960 's with the question, “Why are we in Vietnam?” as Johnson referenced in his 1965 address on the topic. The presidential response to this sort of inquiry was a form of path dependency, whereby the United States was the only nation who could combat the advance of Asian communism, a phenomenon they portrayed as centrally directed by China1. Preempting the obvious follow-up question, presidents Johnson and Nixon cited national honor, and the possible consequences to American reputation if the nation were to abandon its allies. While these concerns are certainly present in 1965 and beyond, they fail to explain the course of events that led to American involvement in Vietnam following the World War II2. The United States…

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