Johnson's War/Johnson's Great Society: The Guns and Butter Trap

Johnson's War/Johnson's Great Society: The Guns and Butter Trap

Johnson's War/Johnson's Great Society: The Guns and Butter Trap

Johnson's War/Johnson's Great Society: The Guns and Butter Trap

Synopsis

Helsing provides a unique perspective on the escalation of the Vietnam War. He examines what many analysts and former policymakers in the Johnson administration have acknowledged as a crucial factor in the way the United States escalated in Vietnam: Johnson's desire for both guns and butter--his belief that he must stem the advance of communism in Southeast Asia while pursuing a Great Society at home.

Excerpt

This book is essentially an examination of what many analysts and former policymakers in the Johnson administration have acknowledged as a crucial factor in the way in which the United States escalated in Vietnam: Johnson's desire for both guns and butter -- that is, his belief that he must stem the advance of communism in Southeast Asia while pursuing a Great Society at home. This is not a new insight, but it has never been explored in depth before.

The book presents two major arguments. The first is that the U.S. government and the president and his key advisers, in particular, engaged in a major pattern of deception in how the United States committed its military force in Vietnam. Some authors have noted how the public was deceived, and many have analyzed Lyndon Johnson's "credibility gap" but there is no detailed analysis of the decision-making process that lays out a pattern of deception.

My second argument incorporates a new dimension to this analysis: that a significant sector of the government was deceived as well. Just as the American public and Congress were deceived, so, too, were the domestic and economic planners in Johnson's administration kept in the dark about the planning for escalation in Vietnam. They were not aware of the contingencies being developed that would command considerable resources from the government's budget and the American economy as a whole. The military and political decisions to escalate in Vietnam influenced (and were influenced by) the economic advice and policies being given the president.

In making this case, I have drawn upon considerable numbers of declassified documents from the Bureau of the Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Treasury Department in order to show how the domestic and economic advisers were misinformed about Vietnam in the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.