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Exploring American History. Unit IX- Post War America Chapter 29 – Section 1 Kennedy and Foreign Policy. Kennedy and Foreign Policy. The Big Idea The United States confronted Communist nations in Cold War conflicts around the world. Main Ideas

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exploring american history

Exploring American History

Unit IX- Post War America

Chapter 29 – Section 1

Kennedy and Foreign Policy

kennedy and foreign policy
Kennedy and Foreign Policy
  • The Big Idea
  • The United States confronted Communist nations in Cold War conflicts around the world.
  • Main Ideas
  • President Kennedy confronted Communist threats around the world.
  • The United States and the Soviet Union raced to send a person to the moon.
  • The Cold War conflict in Vietnam led the United States into war.
president john f kennedy
President John F. Kennedy
  • 35th President - 1961-1963 Democrat
  • Who was John F. Kennedy?- War Hero, Irish Catholic, Famous Political Father, Writer, Congressman and Senator . Youngest President
  • Election of 1960
    • Republican- Nixon
    • Democrat- Kennedy
      • Issues- Republican have a stagnate economy, no help to old, poor and minorities, Recession was imminent. Schools poor, Defense poor
      • “New Frontier”
    • “The Great Debates” a series of four one-hour debates on Television
      • Large audience- the whole nation
      • Kennedy looks good
    • Outcome- Kennedy win cliffhanger
kennedy takes office
Kennedy Takes Office

Inaugural Address

  • Focused on change
  • Strong anti-Communist tone
  • Did not specify his domestic policy goals because so much division existed over domestic issues

Kennedy’s Advisors

  • Gathered a group some called “the best and the brightest” as his advisors
  • Most of Kennedy’s advisors were young.
  • Closest advisor was his brother, Robert (“Bobby”) Kennedy
  • Cabinet members had less influence than White House advisors.
main idea 1 president kennedy confronted communist threats around the world
Main Idea 1: President Kennedy confronted Communist threats around the world.
  • President Kennedy was committed to stopping the spread of communism worldwide.
    • Maintained strong military forces
    • Expanded nation’s supply of nuclear weapons
    • Through Alliance for Progress program, pledged $20 billion in aid to Latin American countries
    • Developed the Peace Corps, which in 1961 started sending volunteers to developing countries to help with projects such as digging wells and building schools
how did kennedy s foreign policy reflect his views of the world
How did Kennedy’s foreign policy reflect his views of the world?
  • Believed in peace that did not have to be enforced with weapons of war
  • Believed in peace for Americans and for all men and women around the world




  • Trained and sent volunteers to Africa, Asia, and Latin America to serve for two years
  • Most volunteers were young college graduates
  • Increased goodwill toward the United States



  • Offered billions of dollars in aid to Latin America to build schools, hospitals, roads, power plants, and low-cost housing
  • Intended to counter communism’s influence




military confrontations
Military Confrontations
  • Bay of Pigs
  • Cuban rebel Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government and established a Communist state.
  • Proximity of Cuba worried Americans.
  • Kennedy approved CIA operation to remove Castro from power.
  • April 17, 1961– About 1,500 Cuban exiles landed by boat at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs but the invasion failed.
  • Kennedy faced criticism for the disastrous invasion.
  • The Berlin Wall
  • Many East Germans fled to democratic West Germany.
  • Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded that the border be closed and threatened war.
  • August 13, 1961– East German government began building the Berlin Wall, a barrier of concrete and barbed wire between East and West Berlin.
  • Wall became symbol of the Cold War.
the cuban missile crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis
  • In October 1962, American spy planes discovered Soviets installing nuclear missiles in Cuba.
    • If launched, missiles could reach American cities in minutes.
  • Kennedy demanded removal of the missiles.
  • U.S. Navy formed a blockade around Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from bringing more weapons.
  • Soviet ships turned back, ending the Cuban missile crisis.
  • Effects
    • Soviets later agreed to remove missiles from Cuba.
    • Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba and to remove some missiles in Turkey and Italy.
    • United States and Soviet Union set up a telephone “hotline” so leaders could talk directly to each other at a moment’s notice.
    • United States and Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which banned the testing of new nuclear weapons aboveground.
main idea 2 the united states and the soviet union raced to send a person to the moon
Main Idea 2: The United States and the Soviet Union raced to send a person to the moon.
  • The space race, competition between the United States and Soviet Union to explore space, heated up in the 1960s.
    • April 1961– Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became first person in space.
    • May 1961– Alan Shepard Jr. became first U.S. astronaut in space.
    • 1962– John Glenn became first American to orbit Earth.
  • 1961– Kennedy outlined bold plan to Congress to land first man on the moon.
    • Congress provided NASA with billions of dollars of funding.
    • Began work on Project Apollo
  • July 20, 1969– American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became first people to walk on moon.
main idea 3 the cold war conflict in vietnam led the united states into war
Main Idea 3: The Cold War conflict in Vietnam led the United States into war.
  • Vietnamese nationalist Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh fought the French for control of Vietnam.
  • Presidents Truman and Eisenhower supported France with military aid
    • Concerned that Vietminh victory would lead to spread of communism in Asia
    • Feared domino theory– that if one country became Communist, nearby countries would follow
  • In July 1954, French and Vietnamese leaders agreed to Geneva Accords.
    • Temporary division of Vietnam into North Vietnam and South Vietnam
    • Called for democratic elections in July 1956 to unite the two countries under one government
southeast asia s colonial history
Southeast Asia’s Colonial History
  • France gained control of Vietnam by 1883 despite fierce resistance from the Vietnamese.
  • The French combined Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia to form French Indochina.
  • Ho Chi Minh led a growing nationalist movement in Vietnam.
  • During World War II, the Japanese army occupied French Indochina.
  • A group called the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or the Vietminh, fought the Japanese.
  • After World War II, the Vietminh declared independence, but the French quickly moved in to reclaim Vietnam.
colonial vietnam
Ho Chi Minh

Real name is Nguyen That Thanh; Ho Chi Minh means “He Who Enlightens.”

Participated in tax revolts against the French.

Joined the French Communist Party.

Believed that a Communist revolution was a way Vietnam could be free of foreign rulers.

World War II

Japan occupied French Indochina.

Ho Chi Minh organized the Vietminh to fight the Japanese.

Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, and the Vietminh declared Vietnam to be independent.

Ho Chi Minh hoped for U.S. support of their independence.

The French reclaimed Vietnam after World War II.

Colonial Vietnam
vietnam after world war ii
The Domino Theory

Domino theory—the belief that communism would spread to neighboring countries if Vietnam fell to communism

To avoid this, the United States supported the French during the Vietnam War.

By 1954 the United States was paying more than 75 percent of the cost of the war.

The French continued to lose battle after battle.

Vietminh used guerrilla tactics effectively.

France Defeated

French soldiers made a last stand at Dien Bien Phu.

French forces hoped for a U.S. rescue, but Eisenhower did not want to send U.S. soldiers to Asia so soon after Korea.

The French surrendered on May 7, 1954.

After eight years of fighting, the two sides had lost nearly 300,000 soldiers.

The Vietminh had learned how to fight a guerilla war against an enemy with superior weapons and technology.

Vietnam after World War II
the geneva conference
The Geneva Conference

The goal of the Geneva Conference was to work out a peace agreement and arrange for Indochina’s future.

According to the Geneva Accords, Vietnam was temporarily divided at the 17th parallel.

Vietminh forces controlled the North and the French would withdraw from the country.

General elections were to be held in July 1956 and would reunify the country under one government.

The United States never fully supported the peace agreements fearing that Ho Chi Minh and the Communists would win the nationwide election.

what policies did presidents truman and eisenhower pursue in vietnam after ww ii
What policies did Presidents Truman and Eisenhower pursue in Vietnam after WW II?
  • Saw Vietnam in terms of the Cold War struggle against communism
  • Supported France; unwilling to back the Vietminh because many were Communists


  • Communists seized China in 1949.
  • Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950.
  • Communist-led revolts in Indonesia, Malaya, and the Philippines


  • Believed in the domino theory
  • Sent arms, ammunition, supplies, and money to the French forces in Vietnam.


north and south vietnam
North and South Vietnam
  • North Vietnam
  • Communist state led by Ho Chi Minh
  • Introduced land redistribution plan and thousands killed and imprisoned during process
  • Funded and supplied Communist guerilla forces, called the Vietcong, for South Vietnam’s NLF
  • South Vietnam
  • Western-style government led by Ngo Dinh Diem, supported by United States
  • Poor leadership resulted in many problems.
  • Growing numbers of South Vietnamese began to support Ho Chi Minh and Vietminh.
  • Diem refused to allow South Vietnam to participate in elections.
  • Diem‘s opponents form National Liberation Front (NLF) and began fighting against Diem’s government in late 1950s.
growing conflict in vietnam
Vietnam’s Leaders

Ngo Dinh Diem became the president of South Vietnam in 1954.

Diem’s government was corrupt, brutal, and unpopular from the start.

He favored Catholics and the wealthy.

Diem cancelled the 1956 election that would unify Vietnam under one government.

Ho Chi Minh’s leadership in North Vietnam was totalitarian and repressive.

He gave land to peasants, which made him popular.

A Civil War

Diem’s opponents in South Vietnam began to revolt.

North Vietnam supplied weapons to Vietminh rebels in South Vietnam.

The Vietminh in South Vietnam formed the National Liberation Front and called their military forces the Vietcong.

The Vietcong assassinated many South Vietnamese leaders and soon controlled much of the countryside.

In 1960 Ho Chi Minh sent the North Vietnamese Army into the country to fight with the Vietcong.

Growing Conflict in Vietnam
american involvement in vietnam
American Involvement in Vietnam
  • Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy sent military advisers and special forces to South Vietnam.
    • U.S. military accompanied South Vietnamese army on combat missions.
    • By 1963 about 16,000 U.S. military personnel were serving in Vietnam.
  • Diem became more and more unpopular
    • Would not hold elections
    • Ordered troops to fire on Buddhist demonstrators
    • Opponents began to consider violence as only option.
  • In November 1963 a group of South Vietnamese army offices seized power and killed Diem.
u s involvement in french indochina war truman
U.S Involvement in French Indochina War- Truman
  • President Harry Truman began covertly authorizing support for the French in their attempt to retake Indochina, giving money and supplies in an effort to suppress the rebellion, and in July 1950 he announced publicly that the U.S. was doing so.
u s involvement in french indochina war eisenhower
U.S Involvement in French Indochina War- Eisenhower

Former General Dwight D. Eisenhower became President of the United States and first advanced the so-called domino theory, warning that if America did not support France in stopping the Communists in Indochina, all of the Eastern, India and Southeastern Asia would fall to the "Communist Bloc".

  • 1950- U.S. begins to help the French with money and arms.
  • 1953- Eisehower asks for $60 million in aid to French.
  • 1954- The U.S. is paying for 80% of the war between the French and the Vietnamese communists.
kennedy and indochina
Kennedy and Indochina
  • Laos and the coalition government (Pathet Lao)
  • Problems in Vietnam
  • 1956 National Elections- Geneva Accords
  • Civil War
  • President Diem
  • Government Opposition- many groups, Buddhists, Communists all joined the NLF- National Liberation Front (“Vietcong” nicknamed by Diem)
  • Overthrow of Diem- “Coup”, and military junta.
  • Kennedy sending supplies, money and advisors (16,000 by 1963.)
increasing u s involvement
Diem’s Overthrow

Diem’s government continued to grow more and more unpopular.

He arrested and killed Buddhist protesters.

U.S. leaders said they would withdraw support if Diem did not change his ways.

Diem refused to change his stand against Buddhists, and the United States began to support a plot to overthrow Diem.

In November 1963 the South Vietnamese plotters murdered Diem.

Tonkin Gulf Resolution

To increase the American military effort in Vietnam, Johnson needed to obtain authority from Congress.

Johnson asked Congress for this authority claiming that the USS Maddox had been attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Johnson claimed this attack was unprovoked, but really the Maddox had been on a spying mission and had fired first.

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was passed on August 7.

Increasing U.S. Involvement