United States involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1950 when the U. S. began to support the French Army in South Vietnam. This involvement continued to escalate throughout the 1950's and into the early 1960's. On August 4, 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred in which American Naval Vessels in South Vietnamese waters were fired upon by North Vietnam. On August 5, 1964 President Johnson requested a resolution expressing the determination of the United Sates in supporting freedom and in protecting peace in southeast Asia. On August 7, 1964, in response to the presidential request, Congress authorized President Johnson to take all necessary measures to repel any attack and to prevent aggression against the U. S. in Southeast Asia. The selective bombing of North Vietnam began immediately in response to this resolution. In March of the following year U. S. troops began to arrive.
Although the Gulf of Tonkin resolution specifically stated that we had no military, political, or territorial ambitions in Southeast Asia, the interests of Americans were the exact opposite. The political involvement in Vietnam was about much more than just promised aid to a weak country in order to prevent the spread of communism. It was about money. After all, wars require equipment, guns, tools and machinery. Most of which was produced in the United States. It was about proving America's commitment to stop communism. Or rather to confine communism in its present boundaries, but most of all it was about politics. The presidential political involvement in Vietnam had little to do with Vietnam at all. It was about China for Eisenhower, about Russia for Kennedy, about Washington D.C. for Johnson, and about himself for Nixon. The last two of which were the major users of U.S. troops.
The military involvement in Vietnam is directly related to the political management of the military throughout the war. The military controlled by the politicians. The micro management of the military by the White House for political gain is the primary reason for both the length and cost, both monetary and human, of the Vietnam War. One of the largest problems was the lack of a clear objective in the war and the
support to accomplish it. The politicians controlled the war in Vietnam. It was to be a limited war. The military was never allowed to fight the war how they thought that they needed to in order to win it.
To conclude on the Vietnam War, the political management of the war made it unwinnable. The military was at the mercy of politicians who knew very little about what needed to be done militarily in order to win the war. There is an enormous difference between political judgment and military judgment. This difference is the primary reason for the outcome of the Vietnam War.
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