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The Other Domino Effect John F Kennedy Lyndon B Johnson and Richard Nixon did not define the importance of fighting communism in Vietnam in the same way Each individual ascended to power at very different periods of US involvement in the conflict inheriting pressures ranging from omnipotent national theories and verbal commitments ie the Kennedy administration to tangible large-scale US involvement eg the Johnson administration and even more so the Nixon administration which subsequently changed the importance of fighting communism from noble liberating ideology to the preservation of our vulnerable national prestige In other words the perceived importance of fighting communism in Vietnam by these three presidents evolved from supporting political rhetoric to supporting dying American boys Each attempted to follow the same strategy of involvement in which the war should be won by the Vietnamese and the US should only be minimally involved until the Souths government was resilient enough to support itself Escalation of US involvement occurred begrudgingly by each administration but was inevitable due to the inertia of the situation a domino effect of its own Kennedy believed in the importance of freedom in South Vietnam subscribing whole-heartedly to the Domino Theory and the US containment policy His convictions as to the importance of South Vietnam were pure and idealistic exemplified by a 1961 statement Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the free world in Southeast Asia the keystone in the arch the finger in the dikeshould the red tide of communism pour into it much of Asia would be threatened Herring p 47 Although national pride was a significant issue in determining our involvement in 1961 US commitment was at a minimum with only 675 advisers present at the time Kennedy was sworn into office This placed an intangible pressure only on his ideals of US foreign policy to persuade him towards escalading US involvement He had the choice to abandon his rhetoric and extricate the miniscule amount of
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