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Us History Essay

1. JFK increased involvement in the war with Vietnam because he wanted to reassert American military might follow: the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Berlin Crisis, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. JFK also viewed Northern Vietnam as a communist threat and containment depended on American support of South Vietnam against Northern aggression to prevent the communist aggressor from gaining strength. Kennedy believed governments would have to develop mobile forces to deal with small international problems before they developed into global nuclear war. For this reason, he created the Special Forces, otherwise known as the Green Berets. Kennedy sent these troops to Korea to test their effectiveness. LJB entered into conflict with Vietnam for more threatening reasons. Unlike JFK—there was direct confrontation; there was an apparent attack on US ships by the North Vietnamese Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin in July 1964. LBJ pushed for a US military response against the North.

On August 7, Congress authorized the President to commit US aircraft and ground troops to the war, which still consisted mainly of the guerrilla war in the South. 2. The upheaval and dissent on American college campuses during the Vietnam War helped shape the United States domestic and foreign policy because it showed the government how much the public disagreed with the war in Vietnam. The government was requesting soldiers from the US to fight in a war in which no one was winning or gaining anything from. The draft of American men into a war that people did not believe turned many Americans against the Vietnam war and against the Nixon administration. When the National Guard fired into a college protest (against the war) this provoked even more US citizens to despise the war. Because of the lack of public support—Nixon had to withdraw the troops and advocate for a different kind of policy to deal with the Soviet Union.

This plan was known as: “Détente”–a French word meaning “release from tension.” It was a new type of diplomacy developed by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor (Kissinger later became Secretary of State in 1973). Détente allowed for a partial thawing of the Cold War and the recognition that the Soviet Union was not, in the eyes of the United States, the seat of evil in the world. Détente worked to play off the tension between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, two Communist states with a history of animosity and rivalry. Nixon and Kissinger’s plan was to use balance of power diplomacy to maintain world equilibrium. Since the Vietnam war, the US now knows that if the public does not support the governments actions it is likely that the war will be lost. This has changed foreign policy because the government must take the public opinion into consideration now before entering major foreign conflict.

3. In some senses JFK is a more dynamic president and in other senses Ike is. In terms of successfulness, I would say that Ike was more successful. His new deal plans and efforts to raise money through interstate highways improved the economy. Ike tried to end the Korean war whereas Kennedy expanded it. In terms of dynamics in the civil rights movements, Kennedy was more successful. Eisenhower decided not to shed light on the civil rights movements during his presidency. He tried to avoid as much as possible. Kennedy however faced the issue head on. He was however, unsuccessful. No civil rights bills were passed during his administration—and no beneficial improvements happened for civil rights until after he was shot and Johnson took over the presidency. With this in mind though, Kennedy definitely got the ball rolling and made civil rights an issue that the government had to deal with. 4. Johnson was a loyal Democrat who had risen through the party ranks and became a really good negotiator.

He had an ability to manipulate his colleagues into supporting his legislation the “Johnson Treatment,” which meant that he got right in his opponents’ faces and used humor, statistics, whatever it took to “hypnotize” them into agreeing with his positions. As President, Johnson followed the legislative process very closely, down to the smallest detail. Due to his legislative skill and experience, Johnson was able to pass many of the bills that had proved unsuccessful for earlier Democrats and turned much of the modern liberal agenda into law. Ike differed because of his absence in the presidency in his first term—the Congress generally did not support him as much.

5. The primary goals of the civil rights movement were to end segregation in all states, to end discrimination, to move more African Americans out of poverty, and to get more African Americans registered to vote. Most of these goals were accomplished through Johnsons’ Big Four Reforms. Because of Johnson’s war on poverty, he managed to bring a third of African American families into the middle class economic range, though a third still remained below the poverty line. Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped to reduce racial discrimination by giving the federal government more liberty to enforce school-desegregation orders and to prohibit racial discrimination in all kinds of public accommodations and employment. Finally, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the ratification of the 24th Amendment, poll taxes in federal elections, literacy tests, and other forms of intimidation were banned (these things originated from the Jim Crow laws) and more African Americans registered to vote. Whites wanted more African American votes and business and African Americans began to truly migrate into Southern society for the first time.

6. FDR’s New Deal was like LBJ’S Great Society plans because it included a war on poverty using government spending for redevelopment (but on the hills of Appalachia instead of roads and dams) and a Medicare and Medicaid program created entitlements similar to FDR’s Social Security program. However, while the New Deal was focused mostly on unemployment and stimulating the economy, Great Society focused not only on poverty medical aid, it also focused on immigration and voting rights. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the “national-origins” quota and doubled the number of immigrants allowed to enter annually, but also set limits on the number of immigrants from the Western hemisphere for the first time. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 created less racial discrimination and helped more African Americans register to vote.

7. Booker T. Washington pursued “self-help” techniques for African Americans so that they could gain self-respect and economic security, believing that would eventually lead to political and civil rights, while through marches and protests post-WWII civil rights leaders demanded political and social rights. Du Bois, however, preached that the “talented tenth” of the African American community should be given full and immediate access to the mainstream American life, while post-WWII civil rights leaders marched so that all of the African American community could be free of racial discrimination and have the same rights as any white.

Garvey founded the United Negro Improvement Association to promote resettlement of African Americans in their own “African Homeland”, while post-WWII civil rights leaders marched so that African Americans could be fully integrated into all parts (like voting) of white American society. 8. America elected Richard Nixon because he was considered the best option for America. He primary issues of the election were the divisions over the war and protest against the unfair draft, crime, and rioting. Nixon’s platform of victory in Vietnam and strong anticrime policy appealed to conservative and moderates accepted it. After the murder of Robert F. Kennedy, antiwar “zealots” had no one to back, as both Humphrey and Nixon were both committed to continuing the war until the enemy settled for an “honorable peace”. As the Democrats were extremely divided after RFK’s death, Nixon won in a “cliffhanger”.


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