Henry Kissinger Diplomacy Chapter 26 Vietnam: On the Road to Despair Discussion Questions
1. (644) Assess Kissinger’s notion that guerrilla warfare was a “relatively new phenomenon” in the 1960s?
2.* (644) How important was the fundamental misconception that Moscow “called all the shots” in a global conspiracy with Beijing and Hanoi?
3.* (645) Why was Vietnam the battle to confront communism in the third world?
4. (646) Why would North Vietnamese political leaders have made great public relations executives for aggressive countries?
5. *(646) How did the failed Bay of Pigs invasion affect the Kennedy Administration’s conduct of foreign policy?
7. * (647) Would a Kennedy reversal of U.S. policy of Laotian neutrality to one of an expanded war in Laos have been acceptable to the American public?
8. *(647) What was the Cambodian “catch-22” that Kissinger describes?
9. *(647) Big Picture: Bay of Pigs, 2nd Berlin Crisis, Laotian neutrality – Was withdrawal from Vietnam a viable option for the Kennedy Administration?
10. (648) How do the Special Forces served the goal articulated by Kennedy’s quote on page 648?
11. (648) Do you think that in 1954 Senator Kennedy was hinting at a “Vietnamese Marshall Plan”? Would that have been acceptable to the American public and leadership?
12. *(649) The concept of nation building was (to some extent) formalized as U.S. policy under the Kennedy Administration. Why would this idea gain support from both liberals and conservatives since is requires increased U.S. commitment and involvement to interests outside our borders? Despite rhetoric against this idea (W during his first presidential campaign), do you feel that the U.S. is still committed to this idea?
13. (649) Is a Vice-Presidential envoy assessment a valid political measure?
14. (650) What was Vice-President Johnson’s “assessment” of the situation in South Vietnam in May 1961?
15.* (651) Why do you think that there was uniform underestimation of the future size of the conflict?
16.* (652) Why was gradual escalation the “fashion of the day”? Why did it prove to be the “most dangerous” option?
17. (652) Is Kissinger guilty of hyperbole on page 652 at the end of the 3rd paragraph?
18. (652) Was history on “America’s side” in this emerging guerrilla war?
19. (653) Does Kissinger give any evidence to the theory that JFK would have withdrew from Vietnam? (658) What does Kissinger imply later on page 658?
20. *(655) Describe how Diem was removed from office to include: (a) domestic tensions leading to the coup and (b) U.S. involvement
21. *(655) Assess the following statement in context of the American Revolution, “And history teaches this iron law of revolutions: the more extensive the eradication of existing authority, the more its successors have to rely on naked power to establish themselves.”
22. *(655/6) What problems did Diem’s coup solve? What problems were created?
23. (657) Why does Kissinger believe a withdrawal from Vietnam would have only been possible by the Kennedy Administration and not the Johnson Administration?
Context • Goal of War - _______ • Limited or Total War • Measurement of success • Political: _______ • Battlefield: _______ • Gradual Escalation • “This is Language” • 1964/5 – Civil War to Invasion • OP-Plan 34A • De Soto Patrols • Gulf of Tonkin
24. *(659) What does Kissinger mean when he said that methods used to achieve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution would not be possible today? Was he right?
25. (659) Evaluate Kissinger’s comparison of FDR to LBJ in entering the U.S. into war.
26. *(660) Does Kissinger offer any new lessons from the Korean War? Why do these lessons seem so fundamental? Are they being heeded today?
27. *(660) Describe 2 strategies Kissinger believed would have produced a “victory” in Vietnam.
29. *(660/1) How did the U.S. and North Vietnam view the theaters of war differently? How did reflect their approaches to foreign policy?
30. *(661/2) Assess the policy outlined by President Johnson’s quote on pages 661 and 662.
31. (662) Is war a unifying force for a country? Assess Kissinger’s use of the unification of Germany as an example?
32. *(662) Does Kissinger clearly articulate the idea (previously discussed in class) that U.S. strategies aimed at bringing North Vietnam to negotiation would never work? Does he add any new analysis to that idea?
33. (663/4) Describe Kissinger’s early involvement in the Vietnam War? What insights do you suppose his experiences gave him in comparison with a special visit by a sitting Vice-President?
34. (664) What was your impression of the description of “unofficial” diplomacy?
35. (664/5) What was the San Antonio Formula? Why was the proposal doomed for refusal? (669) Briefly explain why North Vietnam would never commit to negotiations.
36. *(665) Describe how the experiences of the Korean and Vietnam Wars differed in respect to domestic support for the war.
37. *(666) Explain what is meant by Lipmann’s assertion that U.S. world standing would improve if it were “defeated” in Vietnam.
38. *(666) Explain how critics of Johnson’s Vietnam policy linked it to an “arrogant” and “universal” U.S. policy that will prove to be ineffective.
39. (667) How did the nature of the post-Diem governments raise concerns from Americans who were growing critical of the war?
40. *(670/1) Does Kissinger offer any new perspectives and/or information about the Tet Offensive?
41. (671) Who (what group) does Kissinger credit for ending the escalation of the war and beginning the process of liquidation?
42. *(672) Why does Kissinger criticize Johnson for his ending of bombing campaigns in 1968? What strategy would have produced a more favorable climate for negotiations to be conducted by his successor (ultimately Nixon)?