The Vietnam War was fought under three political regimes in the United States. The three presidents, Kennedy, Nixon and Johnson had different foreign policies. They also had different approaches when dealing with the war. Their actions and policies were faulted by both the Vietnamese and American citizens. All presidents wanted to act in America’s best interests, but their actions were always faulted in one way or another.
John Kennedy came to power promising to protect America from and fight communism. His policies were flexible, which allowed him to respond to various issues quickly. When the communists and rebels attacked in Northern Vietnam attacked South Vietnam, Kennedy responded by sending large troops there. He also funded the training of Southern soldiers. When the Southern soldiers were outnumbered by the rebels, they surrendered. This forced American troops to join the war to fight the north. Kennedy had thought well to use Vietnamese troops at first. His flexible policy allowed him to change his decisions whenever he made a mistake.
President Johnson approached the Vietnam War in a positive manner with his Americanization policy. He planned to endow the Southern Vietnamese to fight the northern communists. He also wanted to convince many people involved in the war that his ideas were right. However, before he could make an impact, a scandal broke out. His administration was accused of lying to the public to gain popularity. Despite the hitch, this approach was clever because he managed to deal with the war without involving rival powers like Russia and China to trigger nuclear war.
President Nixon promised to end the war in Vietnam if elected. However, his secret plan did not work. Embraced a Vietnamization policy where American military strength and involvement in the war was reduced. He expanded the war to Laos and Cambodia. Protests arose everywhere against this policy. Nixon later resigned because of the many scandals and poor foreign policies in Vietnam.
The 3 presidents wanted to stop Vietnam from occupying South Korea. Unfortunately, all of them failed. The U.S military experienced heavy losses in the war, but lost it in the end. The presidents were trying out impractical policies. However, President Kennedy and Johnson can be considered more successful than Nixon because their policies were in America’s best interests.
Melanson, R. A. (2005). American Foreign Policy Since The Vietnam War: The Search For Consensus From Richard Nixon To George W. Bush (4, illustrated ed.). New York: M.E. Sharpe.
Morrow, L. (2006). The Best Year of Their Lives: Kennedy, Johnson, And Nixon in 1948: the Secrets of Power (reprint ed.). New York: Basic Books.