The Economic Consequences of the Vietnam War

By Anthony S. Campagna | Go to book overview

1 THE INITIAL YEARS The Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations

U.S. involvement in Vietnam began when the Truman administration promised to help the French continue their control in Indochina. Following World War II, successive U.S. presidents maintained, in one form or another, that the United States was responsible for order in the world. Part of Truman's foreign policy, evident in Southeast Asia, was the containment of communism. In Asia, this meant the Chinese communists, who could presumably control the Vietnamese, notwithstanding the fact that the Chinese and the Vietnamese had been enemies for centuries.

The commitment to colonialism continued in the Eisenhower administrations with the direct support of the French in the form of weapons, equipment, and technical help. Eisenhower considered the need to do more than just aid the French in their struggle but was very reluctant to intervene alone, and when the British rebuffed all attempts to get involved, he abandoned this more direct route. After Korea, Eisenhower was not eager to confront the Chinese again. 1 Still he predicted that were the communists to win in Vietnam, other countries would "topple like a row of dominoes." 2

Charles E. Wilson, secretary of defense in Eisenhower's first term, stated in his Semiannual Report that:

In September 1953, $385 million were allocated to the direct support of the French Union Forces and added to the $400 million previously appropriated for this purpose in the budget for fiscal year 1954. These amounts were in addition to the regular Indochinese military assistance program for weapons and equipment, the delivery of which maintain in operational order the major weapons and equipment supplied by the United States. During the emergency in May 1954,

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The Economic Consequences of the Vietnam War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • I - Early Involvement in Southeast Asia 1
  • 1 - The Initial Years the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations 3
  • 2 - The Economy Prior to Full-Scale War 13
  • Notes 22
  • II - The War Years: the Economic Record 27
  • Notes 48
  • 4 - The Changing Economic Structure, 1966 51
  • Notes 76
  • 5 - Nixon's War, 1969-73 79
  • Notes 90
  • III - The Economic and Societal Consequences of the Vietnam War: a Final Accounting 93
  • Notes 109
  • 7 - The Post-Vietnam Society 113
  • Notes 135
  • 8 - Summary and Conclusions 139
  • Notes 151
  • Select Bibliography 153
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 161
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