Lyndon Johnston on Vietnam
Lyndon Johnson succeeded John F Kennedy as president. Like many ‘hawks’ in the White House, Johnson was a fervent supporter of the ‘Domino
Theory’ and he was keen to support South Vietnam against the NLF:
"In 1961, Kennedy agreed that America should finance an increase in the size of the South Vietnamese Army from 150,000 to 170,000. He also agreed that
an extra 1000 US military advisors should be sent to South Vietnam to help train the South Vietnamese Army. Both of these decisions were not made
public as they broke the agreements made at the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
JFK Vietnam History
It was during Kennedy’s presidency that the ‘Strategic Hamlet’ programme was introduced. This failed badly and almost certainly drove a number
of South Vietnamese peasants into supporting the North Vietnamese communists. This forcible moving of peasants into secure compounds was supported by
Diem and did a great deal to further the opposition to him in the South. American television reporters relayed to the US public that ‘Strategic
Hamlet’ destroyed decades, if not hundreds, of years of village life in the South and that the process might only take half-a-day. Here was a
super-power effectively orchestrating the forced removal of peasants by the South Vietnamese Army who were not asked if they wanted to move. To those
who knew about US involvement in Vietnam and were opposed to it, ‘Strategic Hamlet’ provided them with an excellent propaganda opportunity.
Kennedy was informed about the anger of the South Vietnamese peasants and was shocked to learn that membership of the NLF had increased, according to
US Intelligence, by 300% in a two year time span – the years when ‘Strategic Hamlet’ was in operation. Kennedy’s response was to send more
military advisors to Vietnam so that by the end of 1962 there were 12,000 of these advisors in South Vietnam. As well as sending more advisors to
South Vietnam, Kennedy also sent 300 helicopters with US pilots. They were told to avoid military combat at all costs but this became all but
impossible to fulfil.
Kennedy’s presidency also saw the response to the Diem government by some Buddhist monks. On June 11th 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk,
committed suicide on a busy Saigon road by being burned to death. Other Buddhist monks followed his example in August 1963. Television reported these
events throughout the world. A member of Diem’s government said:
“Let them burn, and we shall clap our hands.”
Another member of Diem’s government was heard to say that he would be happy to provide Buddhist monks with petrol.
Kennedy became convinced that Diem could never unite South Vietnam and he agreed that the CIA should initiate a programme to overthrow him. A CIA
operative, Lucien Conein, provided some South Vietnamese generals with $40,000 to overthrow Diem with the added guarantee that the US would not
protect the South Vietnam leader. Diem was overthrown and killed in November 1963. Kennedy was assassinated three weeks later."
20-4-2013 by whatzshaken because: (no reason given)