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The Vietnam War: Containment Policy or Change in Policy

Uploaded by tommy3ts on Sep 04, 2006

The Cold War was born out of the quest for military and ideological supremacy between the United States and Soviet Union at the conclusion of the Second World War. The Vietnam War was a hot conflict which saw the United States exercise their containment strategy which was effectively in place to halt the spread of communism. However at the time of the Vietnam War, the policy of containment had been in place for almost two decades as a result had changed somewhat through different U.S. administrations and made to fit circumstances. However the containment strategy was not the only reason for United States involvement in Vietnam as there was also a general trend in U.S. foreign policy and which led to the fact that the war in Vietnam was a logical outcome not only from containment.

The idea for containment was constructed in 1947 when President Truman requested congressional support for the U.S. to provide military and economic aide to Greece and Turkey. As Truman stated in his speech, “it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” This basically meant that the U.S. would support free people threatened by communist aggression or subversion. The Marshall Plan of the same year bolstered this policy by providing economic stability to European countries on the west of the containment line. From this is can be seen that U.S. involvement in Vietnam could be justified under the auspices of containment. However according to George Kennan and Walter Lippman, Presidents Kennedy and Johnson failed to distinguish between vital and peripheral interests. In failing to recognize Vietnam as a peripheral interest, there was a severe misallocation of resources to the area, mainly military. Whereby Kennan “sought to maintain the balance of power through political, economic, military and psychological leverage in care fully selected areas…Johnson was relying almost exclusively on the use of military force in a theatre chosen by adversaries.” From this it can be ascertained that the Vietnam War was a logical outcome of U.S. containment policy, albeit veering from the intended application of the strategy and acting on incorrect perceptions about the country.

As the geopolitical importance of Vietnam was exaggerated, longer-term trends in U.S. foreign policy were brought to the fore. The Kennedy and Johnson administrations thought that the defense of...

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Uploaded by:   tommy3ts

Date:   09/04/2006

Category:   Vietnam War

Length:   4 pages (903 words)

Views:   4076

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