The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

By Mark Atwood Lawrence | Go to book overview

4
ESCALATION

THE NEW KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION HAD NO ILLUSIONS about the difficulties faced in South Vietnam. A state of “active guerrilla warfare” existed throughout the country and the Saigon government was nearing “the decisive phase in its battle for survival,” a U.S. government study asserted in spring 1961.1 The crisis only worsened over the next few years, leading some frustrated U.S. officials—along with many journalists, members of Congress, and leaders of allied nations—to caution against deeper involvement. The task of stabilizing South Vietnam was, the skeptics insisted, simply not worth the vast expenditure of resources and blood that it seemed likely to require. A few warned that success might not be possible at all.

In Hanoi, many North Vietnamese leaders were also wary of a major war. They warned that further intensification of military activity in the South risked sparking an all-out American intervention to shore up the Saigon regime. For such a small, technologically unsophisticated country as North Vietnam, it was a fearsome prospect.

Yet in Hanoi, as in Washington, the logic of escalation prevailed. Step by step, both sides expanded their commitments to

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The Vietnam War: A Concise International History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Road to Revolution 7
  • 2 - Colon Ialism and Cold War 27
  • 3 - An Anguished Peace 47
  • 4 - Escalation 67
  • 5 - War on Many Fronts 91
  • 6 - The Tet Offensive 115
  • 7 - Ending the American War 137
  • 8 - Wars Unending 161
  • Notes 187
  • Index 205
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