1 -United States Involvement in Vietnam








Source A is useful for saying why the USA got involved in Vietnam, but like most sources it has its limitations.


This source is a speech made by President Johnson in April 1965, one month after the start of Operation Rolling Thunder (the strategic bombing of important targets in North Vietnam by the US air force). This speech was made by the American president to the American people, designed to justify his entering them into the war in Vietnam. It’s also useful because it tells us what the people of America are being told, and what the president wants the people to think. It does have its limitations though, as it was designed to make the audience agree with the war and see it as a good thing so its message is biased.


President Johnson talks about the American commitment to strengthening world order and supporting the South Vietnamese people though the majority of them saw the Americans as invaders and supported the Vietcong. This implies, but doesn’t mention communism.


Johnson uses emotive language as another attempt at winning the approval of his audience. He uses two words that are very meaningful to American people; ‘freedom’ and ‘independence’, the thought of giving that to another country would appeal to US people more than most.


Though this source is useful because it informs us of what the US are told and what they are expected to think, we know that it is not the whole truth and that a large number of the American people, beginning with the students, did not believe that the war was purely for the good of South Vietnam, who the Americans were allegedly sworn to protect, and those people went on to protest against the war in Vietnam.


Source B on the other hand was a private speech again by President Johnson, but this time in May 1964, before the outbreak of war. Johnson appears to be weighing the pros and cons for entering the war.


Unlike source A, source B is more useful in telling us about the US involvement in Vietnam, because as it is a private conversation, it is more likely to be truthful and not biased because it is Johnson’s thoughts.


Throughout this speech he discusses the political pressure that is on him to join the war, especially the pressure to contain communism. It is obvious that he feels he has to go to war especially because of the political pressure at election time. He is worried about the threat of communism, he uses the term ‘chase you into your own kitchen’ to express his views on what will happen if they ignore the communists. Johnson believed in the domino theory where as each new country falls to communism it pushes down another with it, falling like dominos, getting closer to home. Even though we know that Johnson does fight in the war, during this speech he seems against the idea and stresses that’s there is nothing in it for America, and wonders how they can fight in a war so far from home. By the end of the speech he still has not come to any conclusion, it appears that he really cannot see any reason to join the war except the threat of communism and political pressure which we know eventually over rides his concerns.


Source C is another useful source about American involvement in Vietnam giving the view of an opponent. Together with A and B we have an overall picture of US involvement, we now have both sides of the argument.


This source is by Professor Noam Chomsky, an American critic of the war, being interviewed in 1982, after the war. During this interview Chomsky talks about the reasons


S.Manasseh, Farnborough Hill, 58317


he thinks the US were going to war, one of which was fear that South Vietnam would no longer be under American influence. This is a classic example of American playing the super power.


At the end of his interview Chomsky speaks about the US not wanting to let South Vietnam out of its orbit, referring to the cold war and arms race, where if a satellite was not in American orbit it was in Russian orbit, meaning the Americans thought that if they did not control South Vietnam, the