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International Relations Since 1945

International Relations Since 1945 (3rd edn)

John W. Young and John Kent
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date: 12 April 2024

p. 26310. The Vietnam Warlocked

p. 26310. The Vietnam Warlocked

  • John W. YoungJohn W. YoungProfessor of International History, The University of Nottingham, UK
  •  and John KentJohn KentEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics & Political Science


This chapter focuses on US involvement in the Vietnam War. Lyndon B. Johnson inherited the Vietnam conflict in difficult circumstances. He had not been elected president in his own right and so, perhaps, believed that he should carry on with John F. Kennedy’s policies. It was unclear what exactly Kennedy would have done in Vietnam, but Johnson retained his predecessor’s foreign policy team and did not question the basic principle of America’s foreign policy, which called for communism to be resisted. The chapter first considers the escalation of US involvement in Vietnam during the period 1963–5 before discussing the conflict between the US and North Vietnam in the succeeding years, along with the Tet offensive and its implications. It concludes with an assessment of Richard Nixon’s decision to restart large-scale US bombing of North Vietnam.

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