Foreign Policy During the Vietnam War
The United States became deeply involved in Vietnam during the 1960s largely due to America’s desire to assure that developing countries modernize as capitalist and democratic. Thus, American involvement began with economic and social support in South Vietnam. Yet slowly, throughout the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, the goal of modernizing South Vietnamese society and containing communism became increasingly implemented by military means. Further, it seems clear that, regardless of how much effort the United States geared towards Vietnam, American defeat was inevitable. By Richard Nixon’s presidency, the initial modernization goals in Vietnam mattered only in so far as they could preserve American credibility. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all failed to realize that while U.S. time was limited in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had all the time they needed to fight for the independence of their country. The South Vietnamese forces could not defend themselves and the United States had to withdraw eventually.