The Vietnam War and the U.S. Government
From the 1880s until World War II, France governed Vietnam as part of French Indochina, which also included Cambodia and Laos. The country was under the formal control of an emperor, Bao Dai. From 1946 until 1954, the Vietnamese struggled for their independence from France during the first Indochina War. At the end of this war, the country was temporarily divided into North and South Vietnam. North Vietnam came under the control of the Vietnamese Communists who had opposed France and aimed for a unified Vietnam under Communist rule. Vietnamese who had collaborated with the French controlled the South. For this reason the United States became involved in Vietnam because it believed that if all of the country fell under a Communist government, Communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia and further. This belief was known as the “domino theory.” The decision to enter Vietnam reflected America’s idea of its global role-U.S. could not recoil from world leadership. The U.S. government supported the South Vietnamese government.
The U.S. government wanted to establish the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which extended protection to South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in case of Communist “subversion.” SEATO, which came into force in 1955, became the way which Washington justified its support for South Vietnam; this support eventually became direct involvement of U.S. troops. In 1955, the United States picked Ngo Dinh Diem to replace Bao Dai as head of the anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam. Eisenhower chose to support Ngo Dinh Diem. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Mass., on May 29, 1917. Kennedy graduated from Harvard University in 1940 and joined the Navy the next year. After recovering from a war-aggravated spinal injury, Kennedy entered politics in 1946 and was elected to Congress. After a hard primary battle, Kennedy won the Democratic presidential nomination on the first ballot at the 1960 Los Angeles convention. With a majority of 118,574 votes, he won the election over Vice President Richard M. Nixon and became the first Roman Catholic president. Kennedy was inaugurated January 20, 1961.
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In 1962, President John F Kennedy and his chief negotiator Averell Harriman worked together to communicate with 14 nations that involved north Vietnam , Red china. Coming to the conclusion that military services were not in the best interest of the US or the Soviet Union. The Media caused major changes in America. The media brought all the horrors of the war to life. For the first time, people were able to see the action everyday on the news. Death and destruction caused by the bombing were shown, and the nightly news even counted the dead. This greatly affected America’s opinions on the war. The media itself also experienced changes. Before the war the media focused on the positive aspects of wars. It showed U.S. action in a positive way and focused on what people wanted and needed to hear. Money wasn’t a factor for journalist, and they didn’t need to compete. Their job was to help the public stay optimistic and keep them from panicking. Many people from the television, magazines, and newspapers were able to travel to Vietnam to gain information to write more informative stories.
Most reporters supported the war initially, but after being in Vietnam for long periods of time they grew skeptical and formed biased opinions. They lost enthusiasm and started to give offensive and biased reports. In 1971 the Pentagon Papers were published by the New York Times. They were a copy of the Defense Department’s history of involvement in Vietnam, and were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. This revealed that Kennedy and Johnson had misled the public about the intentions in Vietnam. America would no longer fully trust the government. Journalist criticized the army’s methods and revealed the true horrors of war. The media became an endless competition to earn money, fame, and success.