By the late 1960s, the conflict in Vietnam had escalated to a limited war involving approximately half a million military personnel and billions of dollars a year. The American presence in Indochina had steadily increased from the Truman administration to Kennedys decision to initiate greater American involvement in 1961. The peak of 543,000 American forces was achieved in 1969 and was the culmination of US aid to the nation of South Vietnam. The US policy since the beginning of the Cold War had been containment of Communist aggression and advances. US intentions of ensuring democracy throughout the world had not changed, however the US did not support the right of self-determination in Vietnam in scheduled elections in 1956. Rather an incorrect analysis of the Vietnam situation: inaccurately identifying it with the previous Korean quagmire and the overall attitudes of indiscriminate fear of any communist movement, regardless of circumstances, prevailed over American foreign policy
and helped begin an ill-advised escalation of American involvement into the Vietnamese civil war. The brief excerpts from The Arrogance of Power address these sentiments. J. William Fulbright discusses the reasons for American involvement in Vietnam as stemming significantly from previous American experiences, namely Korea and McCarthyism.
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