Would the United States have become involved in the Viet Nam War if Richard Nixon had won in 1960?
Do you think that Nixon's peace-loving Quaker beliefs would have had any influence on his decision, (should a president's religious beliefs influence his decisions?) or would he have done the same as Kennedy? It's interesting to note that Nixon served in the Navy during World War II (but never saw any actual combat) even though he was eligible for exemption from military service because of his Quaker religion. What say you?
The Gulf of Tonkin incident would have still taken place, regardless of who was president. That was the catalyst for the USA to get involved in the Vietnam War. Who was president was irrelevant.
BigEddie, Nixon's entire platform was postulated on defeating communism wherever it lay. Why else would Kennedy come out trying to swing at Russia, Cuba and Vietnam? Furthermore, Eisenhower already had some commitments to the region. An incoming Republican would naturally continue with said program. While I take your question seriously, I must say that anyone familiar with Nixon’s undercover bombing campaigns couldn’t really believe that Nixon was soft on anything…Nixon was shrewd to be sure, but he was one scary SOB with Presidential power.
That is a difficult call but my guess would be...yes, at least to a degree. We had people doing "advisory" roles in Vietnam before the 1960 elections. The CIA was already alive and well there. We had some strategic military theories in use which dictate both our need to respond and our response to certain situations in the Asian Theater. One guiding principle was the Domino Theory which basically stated that if one Asian nation fell to communism so would others until the entire continent of Asia belonged to the Communist. We did not feel that we could allow that to happen especially in light of our allies in Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Secondly, there was the "Rimland Theory" which based itself on the premise that whoever controlled the shorelines of Asia would also control the countries within. So you have two major theories which are being violated by the movement of communist forces in the region. Kennedy seemed to be leaning away from further involvement but was being pressured to react when he was assasinated. Johnson went along even so far as "creating" the Gulf of Tonkin incident to gain greater war powers. Had Nixon been elected in 1960, I think we might have seen him take a more diplomatic approach but I feel sure that we would have eventually been lured into reacting in Vietnam for it was inevitably a civil conflict which was bound to play out in the same manner regardless of our presence or that of Russia or China. WB
I don't think that Nixon's Quaker background would have been a factor (as you point out, he didn't adhere to the tenants of the faith enough that he requested a religious exemption - in fact, he enlisted). If anything, given his anti-Communist stance, I think we would have been more involved sooner.
I *do* think, though, that if Kennedy had lived, we would have had fewer troops in Viet Nam and they would have been out sooner. After all, in October 1963, Kennedy had signed orders to begin removing the so-called advisers and had laid out plans for complete withdrawal. Those orders were reversed after his death a little more than a month later.
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