The Kennedy Years 1960-1963 • What legacy in Vietnam did Kennedy inherit from Eisenhower? • In what ways and why did the Kennedy administration increase involvement in South East Asia? Why? • Why was Diem removed in 1963? What intervention had Eisenhower left in Vietnam? • Propped up Diem’s regime • 1500 US advisors to Vietnam • Not Combat troops – he had learnt lessons from Korea 1. How effective a ruler was Diem in South Vietnam in the years 1955-1960? • 1960: Containment under serious challenge in SE Asia. • Laos – North Vietnamese never really withdrawn from there – another ‘domino’ about to fall? • South Vietnam also looking unstable – Politburo in Hanoi ( Northern government) had decided to step up aid to supporters in South who were under pressure from Diem • North Vietnamese govt re-activated the Ho Chi Minh Trail along the Laos and Cambodian border to supply arms to fighters in S. Vietnam • Dec 1960: Anti-Diem coalition formed in S. Vietnam called the NLF. • Growing unpopularity of Diem regime – • Seen as a US stooge but in reality was stubborn, arrogant and distrustful of all but his family. • Failed to take advice from American representatives in Vietnam • Nepotism – power to his family. • Sister in Law: ‘Power is lovely. Absolute power is absolutely lovely’ • Reforms under Diem too little too late • ‘Agrovilles’ not popular among peasants – had to leave their villages and graves of ancestors • Buddhist majority treated with contempt • 1960 (1 month before JFK election) 2 colonels attacked palace of president Diem with ARVN. Diem survived but the revolt made him more distrustful and only listened to closet associates This was the legacy that Kennedy had inherited in 1960....... Agroville Diem and his sister in law Madame Nhu Who wasWho Kennedy? was https://www.youtube.com /watch?v=MfC5RheiV7U JFK? 6 facts you probably already know 1. He was the youngest president to be elected at 43 and youngest to die in office 46. Also the only president to die before both of his parents. 2. He was the first Roman Catholic to be elected as President. 3. 'Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country', this was the famous quote that shot JFK to popularity. His 1961 inaugural speech which was entirely devoted to foreign policy 4. He was a charming, handsome and well educated man from the upper class of US society in New England. 5. JFK was an effective public speaker and writer winning the Pullitzer prize in 1954 for Profiles in Courage 6. He was a fervent anti communist. Believed in the world wide communist conspiracy and the domino theory. Had a keen interest in American history culture and American achievement. And 6 interesting facts you may not know.. 1. He always gave the impression of being fit and healthy but throughout his adult life he was badly affected by back pain. In 1935 he underwent two life threatening operations to deal with this problem. He also suffered from Addisons disease. 2. Though Kennedy was never religious, he attended confessions regularly. But he was constantly worried that some priest may recognize his voice and reveal to the world the things he confessed. He used to go to church with a group of Catholic Secret Service Men, so that he would not be recognized. 3. Kennedy never carried cash with him and he used to constantly borrow money from his friends to pay cab fares, restaurant checks, etc. Though Kennedy was wealthy he never made it a point to pay his friends back, leaving them irritated. 4. Kennedy kept a green beret on his oval office desk 5. He was decorated for heroism in the Second World War 6. Wrote While England Slept in 1940 which became a best seller. The Kennedy Crusade Kennedy was a Cold War warrior - a fervent and militant anti communist This was at the heart of his rhetoric: “The enemy is the Communist system itself- implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination.. This is not a struggle for supremacy of arms alone. It is also a struggle for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies : freedom under God versus ruthless godless tyranny.” Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foes to assure the survival and the success of liberty. Task: Who were the key players in the Kennedy administration? Introduce yourself to the others on your table • Who are you? • What is your role? • What is your attitude to Communism and Vietnam? Kennedy Views on Vietnam McNamara Views on Vietnam Rusk Views on Vietnam Was the Kennedy administration going to signal a change of policy? Perhaps the combination of the three men would mean greater action would be taken by the USA.... Rhetoric + Third World + Youth and Inexperience + Dominance of Defence dept and McNamara + Hesitancy of Rusk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8fH8p73E ME Kennedys early ideas about Vietnam Kennedys background suggests he might be even more interested in and committed to Vietnam than his predecessors.... Opposed French Colonialism Catholicism (hatred of communism because it was atheistic) McCarthyism McCarthy was a family friend Domino theory Kennedys ideas – what were they what shaped them Containment of communism Third World was the new Cold War battleground Truman ‘lost’ China Vietnam was important In what ways and why did the Kennedy administration increase involvement in South East Asia? Why did they increase their involvement in There was shared belief that thea‘Quagmire? Communism had to be contained! 1. Cold War Context meant Ho Chi Minh’s regime in N. Vietnam could not be seen as separate from the Communist conspiracy to subvert Western values 2. Curse of Appeasement – stand up to Dictators! 3. US Self-confidence in economic and military power: ‘Can do’ mentality 4. Public anti-Communist sentiment – could make and break a politician – Crusade against Communism. Ho Chi Minh portrayed as Communist Devil rather than sincere Vietnamese Nationalist who happened to be Communist Cuba has a role too.... • Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 – failure for US to stop Communism • Total failure • Makes Kennedy administration more determined And Laos.... Partial US failure there Threat of Ho Chi Minh using the Communist trail..... Compromise in 1962 established a neutral Laos but Communist DRV forces still there... How did Escalation take place? Did Kennedy have any success at Containment? MILITARY ESCALATION • 800 Military ‘advisors’ in Vietnam at start of his Presidency • Surreptitious intervention (concealing military presence) stepped up in 1961 – US planes ordered to shoot down any hostile planes over Vietnam • May 1961 Blue Print for escalation created – NSAM 52. Memorandum outlining intervention to ‘prevent communist domination’ • Aid stepped up from $220 million to $262 Million MILITARY ESCALATION • Kennedy under pressure from advisors to deploy US troops – Vice President Johnson already visited Saigon in 1961 and returned saying Diem was their key to containment and needed support • Bundy (special assistant for national security affairs) and deputy Rostow wanted a tougher line • Kennedy sends out fact finding missions • Oct 1961: Sends General Maxwell Taylor – recommends massive increase in aid and troop deployment • Differing advice from his advisors – Kennedy cautious also • Agrees to step up involvement but not ground troops • Increases numbers of US advisors hugely – Oct 1961 2,000, 1962 12,000 • Firepower also in form of helicopters and pilot ‘advisors’ • Authorised use of ‘defoliants’ • Feb 1962 MACV created in place of MAAG • Increasingly looking like a US-led conflict advisors were in control of operations 1962-63: Downfall of Diem • REFORM was another way in which Kennedy tried to help Diem defeat the Communists – bring social, economic and political equality and you won’t have rebellion • But Diem did not listen to the US and ignored their advice • Incompetent in leading the ARVN • Over-anxious to minimise troop loss at the expense of effective action • Hyper-sensitive, expelled US journalists in 1962 1962-63: Downfall of Diem • Many were critical of Diem’s ‘strategic hamlet’s programme: built like the agrovilles to deprive the Vietcong of rural support by putting peasants into fortified and protected villages where they could be protected • Run badly by Diem’s brother- did not bring reforms • Vietcong nicked 1000.s of US weapons from the Hamlets 1962-63: Downfall of Diem • Jan 1963 Battle of Ap Bac – AVRN hopelessly defeated – Vietcong were outnumbered 4 to one but won • US accused AVRN of cowardice • Convinced the US that Diem would not be strong enough to stop Viet Cong • Final straw was Diem’s treatment of Buddhist majority • May 1963 prohibited use of Buddhist flags • 10,000 Buddhists protested. 9 people killed • Senior Buddhist monk set himself on fire in protest – further suicides followed • Madame Nhu referred to him as a ‘barbecue monk’ – World Press horrified • Kennedy expresses chock (although surely he knew before?...) 1962-63: Downfall of Diem AVRN begin to plan a Coup US aware and supportive - CIA did not warn Diem although they knew about it Henry Cabot Lodge – appointed as ‘strong’ ambassador to Vietnam. Good relations with the press Kennedy distracted with March on Washington Lodge quite free to make decision to support Diem’s assassination – held a lot of power and orchestrated press leaks on Diem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V Zf_rCma6jw https://www.youtu be.com/watch?v =wGJaJBocqdQ At the end of Kennedy’s Administration • • • • • 17,000 advisors Increased expenditure Tottering South Vietnamese government Would be now more difficult to withdraw Approval of the Coup further committed the US to help South Vietnam • Did Kennedy have plans to get out of Vietnam? Conclusions on Kennedy and Vietnam • How can we support the idea that he had passed a ‘poisoned chalice’ to his successor Johnson? • Do you agree? • How far were Kennedy’s policies similar to Eisenhower’s? • Did Kennedy leave the US committed to Vietnam? • How consistent was his policy towards Vietnam? • Do you think Kennedy was going to get out?