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Johnson’s Defense of the U.S. Presence in Vietnam Essay

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Updated: Jul 8th, 2021

What was President Johnson’s Great Society? Did it accomplish its goals over the past 50 years? Explain.

The Great Society is generally referred to a series of legislation and public programs which were enacted by President Johnson, particularly after the death of President Kennedy. Many of the policy initiatives had their basis in ideals that Kennedy promoted but often failed to pass in Congress. However, after Kennedy’s death, Johnson used empathy and legacy as a strategy to pass these policies. A significant aspect of the Great Society was the war on poverty.

He wanted to disrupt the poverty cycle by introducing jobs and training as well as assistance to the unemployed and poverty-stricken families. Johnson also reformed healthcare by introducing Medicare and Medicaid which helped with health costs for the elderly and uninsured. Some of the other programs included education reform, urban renovation, environmental laws, and Civil Rights legislation (Moss and Thomas 2012, 127-129). Overall, the Great Society was aimed at improving the American quality of life and long-term future through welfare initiatives.

Many of the policies enacted during the Great Society initiative are still in place to the current day, significantly expanded and serving as critical aspects of American society. Medicare and Medicaid are vital parts of healthcare that remain a crucial aspect of every national reform. Civil Rights laws were critical in shaping a tolerant and multiracial society today where freedoms are legally guaranteed for everyone. Education and environmental reforms served as foundations for the further, more expansive policy (East 2015). Overall, many of the legislation accomplished their goals of improving lives and services offered to Americans.

Describe the impact of the Warren Court on U.S. society? Do you agree with their rulings? Explain

Under the leadership of a liberal Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court during the 1960s passed a number of landmark decisions which had profound impacts on US society. The most influential decisions were regarding segregation, which in combination with Civil Rights legislation, were able to significantly impact racial relations in America. In a landmark decision on Engel v. Vitale (1962), prayer in school was banned, which had an effect on separating public education from the church. I agree with this decision, as religion may often disagree with science, influencing the curriculum in a negative manner, making education less independent.

The case Miranda v. Arizona is one of the most iconic court cases in the US, protecting rights of citizens against self-incrimination and presence of a lawyer. The Miranda rights were introduced with this legislation (Moss and Thomas 2012, 131). This decision is also prolific and beneficial as it brought more justice to the judicial system and allowed for fair trials.

Warren Court also struck down a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives in Griswold v. Connecticut, as it was an invasion of privacy and Constitutional rights. I agree with this decision due to the profound impact it has on sexual health and family planning as well as eliminating a severe intrusion of government into private life. In a decision on Baker v. Carr (1962), it was ruled that the court could evaluate the fairness of districting for state legislature (Moss and Thomas 2012, 131). This is crucial to prevent such concepts as gerrymandering which manipulates district lines, usually in a racial or economic divide, thus leading to unfair representation.

Describe the circumstances surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Was this incident a legitimate reason to start a land war in Asia? Explain.

Vietnam was ongoing civil war, with North Vietnam supported by Communist forces from China and the U.S.S.R., while South Vietnam was Democratic and aided by the United States. In August of 1964, a US military destroyer was conducting espionage off the coast of North Vietnam, when it was attacked by torpedo boats on multiple occasions. This led to Johnson to authorize retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnam. In light of the incident, Congress convened and determined the attacks as acts of aggression against the United States considering the US Navy was in international waters. Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which authorized Johnson to declare and wage war against Vietnam if necessary (Moss and Thomas 2012, 134).

Johnson inherently believed in the necessity to initiate US presence in Vietnam for several reasons. First was to protect South Vietnam and prevent the spread of Communism. He argued that Asian nations cannot independently represent the influence of Communism, referring to the Domino Theory. Furthermore, he believed the war was a fight for freedom and had profound impact on the region (“Johnson’s Defense of the U.S. Presence in Vietnam (1965)” n.d.). In all contexts, a military attack on US ships was justifiable to begin a war, but it was likely an already ongoing process, the incident simply provided the spark necessary to begin the invasion.

What was the Tet offensive? How did it impact U.S. foreign policy and domestic policy? How did the U.S. media affect public opinion regarding the war? Explain.

At the beginning of the war, Johnson and the American public were under the impression that the US-led forces were successful in pacifying the North Vietnamese and should not expect any major attacks. However, on January 30, 1968, a large offensive occurred with over 80,000 North Vietnamese troops attacking South Vietnamese cities, outposts, and the US military base. Despite being held back and suffering heavy losses, the Tet offensive significantly disturbed the balance and perception of the Vietnam War (Moss and Thomas 2012, 137). Foreign policy was impacted as more troops were requested to the region and the ultimate goal of the US war in Vietnam was examined.

For domestic policy, Congressional opposition to the war increased, as well as tax hikes and drafting in order to meet troop requirements. Furthermore, it led to Johnson’s political career to be essentially over as he chose to walk away after his term as president due to the divisive nature of the Vietnam War.

The US media at home began a grueling campaign covering and commonly criticizing the war. A propaganda effort for the war was replaced by violent and disturbing imagery which showed the reality of the partisan warfare and losses that American troops were experiencing. The American public was confused and angered due to the government misleading them about success in Vietnam over the years (Chomsky and Reynolds 2016). This severely demoralized many and numerous protests the war took place.

What was the Six Days War? What role did the United States play in this war? Should Israel have been required to give back the land taken in the Six Days War? Explain.

Middle East tensions were growing as an Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser promoted Arab Nationalism. Israel and Syria were experiencing border clashes, which led to Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to unite their forces against Israel, greatly outnumbering them. Nasser mobilized his army and blockaded Israel’s port in the Red Sea. With imminent war, Israel carried rapid preemptive strikes, decimating Arab forces and winning the war in six days. From the very beginning, the US was inherently pro-Israel and viewed Nasser’s Arab nationalism as a threat (Moss and Thomas 2012, 132).

Leading up to and during the Six Days War, the US rejected Israel’s call for military aid and permission for pre-emptive strikes on Egyptian forces. The Johnson administration believed in diplomatic solutions to the crisis and even challenged Israel in international courts afterward (“The 1967 Arab-Israeli War” 2017). By international law, Israel should have left occupied territory after peace accords were negotiated. However, from Israel’s perspective, the border expansion significantly protected its territory and provided strategic positioning to prevent future Arab attacks. The Six Days War was a satellite war because Arab countries were actively supported by the Soviet Union while Israel was considered an ally of the US, which fueled speculation that both superpowers provided military aid to conflicting sides.

Reference List

Chomsky, Noam, and Louis Reynolds. 2016. “The Responsibilities of Privilege: An Interview with Noam Chomsky on the Role of the Public Intellectual.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 29, no. 1: 103-108. Web.

East, Andy. 2015. “LBJ Presidential Library. Web.

” N.d. Pearson Myhistorylab. Web.

Moss, George D., and Evan A. Thomas. 2012. Moving on: The American People Since 1945, 5th ed. London: Pearson.

” 2017. Office of the Historian. Web.

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