LBJ’s Speech on Vietnam 1965

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Before 1965 few Americans likely knew where Vietnam was in the world. They knew little of the culture or of the history of Vietnam. For many Americans, in the following years, they would become all too knowledgeable of the country and its people. President Johnson had picked up the responsibility of Vietnam from JFK and was determined to aid South Vietnam and prevent the spread of communism. In this speech, he compares the cause of Vietnam to the cause of Europe in WWII. This was a dangerous comparison because the way the U.S. got involved in WWII was by being bombed at Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and Germany declaring war on the U.S. a day later. No such things happened to get the U.S. involved in Vietnam. There had been advisors there since the 50s but no attack occurred to jumpstart the deployment of U.S. troops. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident been disproven [meaning that no North Vietnamese Navy vessels fired on any U.S. warships]. Johnson says in this speech, “We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired. We will not withdraw, either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement.” This shows the stubbornness and refusal to accept defeat that many American politicians had at the time. It’s ironic that the Peace Accords that officially withdrew all U.S. troops would ultimately mean nothing by 1975 with the fall of Saigon.

LBJ's speech

Excerpt from LBJ’s speech