Vietnam war synthesis essay
On the contrary, the US show of force through Rolling Thunder might have ended the war by the spring of 1965, and the fact that it did not may have a lot to do with the internal struggles on the enemy side. The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam
Fredrick Logevall University of California Press $35 443 pp ISBN 0520 21511 7 A Noble Cause? They were written on the assumption that it was the ‘wrong’ war, which could and should have been avoided, and that the Vietnam War represented a black mark in American foreign policy. After 1954, when France had the opportunity to exit gracefully, the conflict became international: The three books under review are all concerned with the latter. Logevall assumes that the war should have been avoided, and that a lot of blood should have been spared. The tendency is influenced by the growing availability of official documents for the 1960s in most Western capitals, as well as new evidence coming from Russia, China, and Vietnam. His focus is on the American decision-makers during the ‘long 1964’ (late August 1963 to late February 1965) when, he argues, the United States had a chance of resolving the Vietnam issue peacefully without losing face.
His rich narrative takes us along the route to the American commitment to the Vietnam War. Yet it was by no means clear as to what kind of war to wage. Has undertaken this task and has done remarkably well. Yet Gerald De Groot’s A Noble Cause? Vietnam war synthesis essay. Kaiser explains this by using the mentality of the GI generation, like Johnson, Bundy, and McNamara, who believed ‘armed aggression anywhere had to be resisted immediately both as a matter of right and because of a failure to resist aggression would inevitably lead to more aggression’. Lyndon Johnson, though, was in a position to deal with, rather than pontificate about, the situation in South Vietnam. The initial assumption was more in line with deterrent theory rather than a decision to wage a major war. The decision to go to war was made because their own credibility, not the credibility of the United States, mattered most.
The author seems to regard these as two sides of the same coin, which is what it turned out to be, but was not necessarily what was anticipated. And he scores some insightful points, eliminating all the plausible credibility factors like the domino theory, the obligation to defend South Vietnam, and the fear of Chinese intervention. He starts with a lively discussion of the current historiography, then has two chapters on the Vietnamese perspectives, and has taken account of the role of women, the morale of soldiers, and military strategies, and the situation in Vietnam and the United States. In the meantime, international pressure to seek peace negotiations was increasing, and some US officials expressed anxieties about the military escalation. He states that the war ‘occurred largely because of Cold War policies adopted by the State and Defense Departments in 1954-56, and approved secretly by President Eisenhower’. Finally, he identifies a handful of US decision-makers as choosing war, with Johnson the most responsible. He points out that the international community wanted peaceful negotiations, while influential Americans voiced their concern against ‘the Americanisation’ of the war. The administration did show interest in peace negotiations, provided that the initial deterrence worked. Professor Kaiser’s book is well written and convincing (except perhaps for Eisenhower’s policies).
He refutes the accusation that Kennedy played a part in ordering the assassination of Ngo Dinah Diem, ineffectual leader of South Vietnam. The United States did not know in February, July, or even in December 1965 how long it was to become involved in the Vietnam issue. Frederick Logevall also regards the Vietnam War as ‘the modern American tragedy’. He has produced a full and sophisticated account of how the Americans became involved in Vietnam. The deterrence failed, and military escalation followed in the summer of 1965. The decision-makers stuck to that decision despite knowing that the public was ‘not persuaded of the wisdom of a major war in Southeast Asia’. Logevall’s logic is clever and his discussion scholarly, but his assumptions are controversial. Given the ever-growing literature on the war, it is now very difficult to write an account in a single volume. Nor did the use of American military force (Westmoreland had initially thought that ‘the deployment of just two American divisions could transform the situation’) produce the desired result.