Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President

By Robert Dallek | Go to book overview

8
FOREIGN POLICY
DILEMMAS

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August 1964 gave Johnson a temporary respite from unpleasant choices in Vietnam. Having hit back at the North Vietnamese and having rallied Congress and the country behind a promise not to abandon South Vietnam, he wished to mute discussion about Southeast Asia. But he knew the problem would not go away. On August 10, he told national security advisers that the next challenge from Hanoi, which he expected soon, would have to be met with firmness. He had no intention of escalating the conflict “just because the public liked what happened last week,” he said. But he wanted planning that would allow us to choose the grounds for the next confrontation and get maximum results with minimum danger.

Still, he wanted no significant change in policy before the November election. Having “stood up” to Communist aggression, he now wished to sound a moderate note. In speeches during the campaign, he emphasized giving Vietnam limited help: He would “not permit the independent nations of the East to be swallowed up by Communist conquest,” but it would not mean sending “American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”


VIETNAM: THE FORK IN THE ROAD

In December, after the elections, Mike Mansfield wrote Johnson that we were on a course in Vietnam “which takes us further and further out on a sagging limb.” In time, he predicted, we could find ourselves saddled with “enormous burdens in Cambodia, Laos, and elsewhere in Asia, along with those in Viet Nam.” In reply, Johnson objected to Mansfield's suggestion

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Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Preface ix
  • Lyndon B. Johnson *
  • 1 - The Making of a Politician 1
  • 2 - The Congressman 36
  • 3 - The Senator 72
  • 4 - The Vice President 112
  • 5 - From JFK to LBJ 145
  • 6 - Landslide Lyndon 171
  • 7 - King of the Hill 190
  • 8 - Foreign Policy Dilemmas 208
  • 9 - Retreat from the Great Society 227
  • 10 - Lyndon Johnson''s War 251
  • 11 - A Sea of Troubles 272
  • 12 - Stalemate 295
  • 13 - Last Hurrahs 318
  • 14 - Unfinished Business 343
  • 15 - After the Fall 362
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 379
  • Index 382
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