Assess America’s policy toward Vietnam under Eisenhower and under Kennedy. Do you believe that these two presidents laid the foundation for future action by Johnson? Provide evidence from your book.
Eisenhower and Kennedy did just enough to get by when it comes to Vietnam. There were other priorities that the administrations were focusing on at the time. Eisenhower did not even discuss Vietnam with Kennedy when the changing of presidents happened. The commitments of both Eisenhower and Kennedy to the rise of Communism in Vietnam were limited at best. Kennedy was more focused on Berlin and disregarded what his advisers had told him about Vietnam. It was not until worsening conflict in 1961 that it spurred Kennedy to react. Kennedy, had decided that it would be hard to convince the American public that sending troops to Vietnam is necessary. This was due to the concern for Cuba and the “Bay of Pigs” issues that did not turn out the way that they had planned. The rise of a nuclear threat in Cuba would be more deserving of an American concentration of military action than sending troops overseas to areas that were not a direct threat to the American people. Cuba posed a more serious threat to the United States due to the proximity of Cuba to the United States. Eisenhower had decided to protect the rest of Indo-China to secure the surrounding areas of Vietnam. He also allowed the French to fight the battle in Vietnam to gain their colonies back that they had abandoned during World War II. The United States financed the majority of the operations and granted the use of American aircraft, carriers, and military personnel.