Sunday, March 10, 2013

Unwanted Legacy of LBJ

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office. His term as President could be coined as the tail of two presidents, one on the home front and the other was the one who was “not going to lose Vietnam”.[1] Johnson was stuck between a rock and a hard place, not wanting to lose a war for what was though to be a strategic piece in the in the Cold War nor wanting to be “the President who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion”[2]. What Johnson wanted, was to be a social reformer, a president who that acted in the best interest of the people, “the President who educated young children…who helped to feed the hungry…who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election.”[3] To some extent President Johnson achieved this, he was the President that signed two of the most important pieces of legation for the 20th century into law, those of course being the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unfortunately, much of what he wanted to achieve at home could not be done because of the growing war in Vietnam, and the resources being allocated there.
  From the onset of his administration Johnson wanted America to be more involved in Vietnam than Kennedy had and he took the first steps with the National Security Action Memorandum 237 or NASM.[4] By April of 1965 Johnson had sent 75,000 troops and by July 125,000[5] and the amount only increased over the course of his term. Along with increasing the numbers of troop, the Johnson Administration undertook an immense bombing campaign against targets in both North and South Vietnam. Johnson did not just stop at Vietnam with his fight to stop the spread of Communism; he secretly funded rightwing governments and forces though out the globe including South America and Indonesia.[6] Johnson had to make a choice, between waging a war for social reform at home or fighting a global war against communism and protecting America’s investments abroad. He choice the latter and forever changed the legacy of him and his administration.

[1] Oliver Stone, and Peter Kuznick. The Untold History of the United States. 393
[2] Ibid, 394.
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid, 395.
[5] Ibid, 400.
[6] Ibid, 420.

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