To answer the question “How useful are sources A – C to explain why the U.S. became involved in the war in Vietnam?” I will look at how useful sources A – C are for explaining why the United States became involved in the war. The United States grew more involved in Vietnam as the War went on, Johnson then found that it would be extremely difficult to back out of Vietnam, if not impossible.
Source A is President Johnson’s speech from April 1965, one month after operation rolling thunder commenced. Source A tells us that America became involved to keep the promise they had made to the people of South Vietnam. America had promised to support Vietnam and offer the people of South Vietnam support. Source A also tells us that America was there to fight for the independence of Southern Vietnam and to strengthen world order, and because “to leave Vietnam to its fate, would shake the value of American commitment and in the value of America’s word”. In other words if America didn’t support Vietnam then Vietnam and other countries would lose faith in America’s word. I know from my own knowledge that the US sent military experts into Vietnam to help train up the South Vietnamese, he also agreed to equip a further 20,000 troops for the ARVN. From this you can tell that America wasn’t keen to get involved in Vietnam but did want to offer help. I also think that America wanted to help Vietnam to make sure that they still had some influence in that part of the world so they could prevent the spread of communism. This makes source A reliable because we know that these were the official reasons why America eventually joined in the war. The information in this source gives us a basic account of what the reasons were but do not give enough reasons to give a full account.
Source B is an account of a private conversation between President Johnson and another person from May 1964. This source gives us two reasons for why the U.S. became involved, the first is because the President wanted to protect the U.S. from communism.
“Of course if you stat running from the communists, they may chase you into your own kitchen….” Quote from Source B
And the second is that he had no choice, all the politicians wanted to go into the north. If president Johnson had ignored them and not gotten involved he would have been thrown out.
“All the politicians are saying ‘Lets move, lets go into the north’. They’d bring a President down if he ran out.” Quote from Source B
We know this information is correct because I know from my own knowledge that President Johnson feared communism and he wanted to stop it from spreading. He also wanted to do what the people wanted him to, within reason and it is because of this we know that he didn’t want to go into Vietnam but was practically forced to go in. we also know this is a reliable source because it was not meant to be heard by the public, therefore Johnson wouldn’t have held back on his opinions or any confidential information he had.
Source C is an interview with an American critic of the war. He says that America joined because they didn’t want an Independent South Vietnam and that Vietnam would reform and improve itself and undermine American influence in the area. This source is less reliable for what we require it for because we do not know if the reasons they give are true or just rumours as nothing had been published by the American government to imply this. This information is not reliable enough because the critic seems to have a bias opinion of the reasons for America joining the war.
America’s involvement in the war grew and grew so much that they could not detach themselves from it. America offered support to South Vietnam, trained people to fight and , supplied them with money and weapons. The involvement grew until they eventually ended up sending their own troops in which they had not planned to do.
Sources A and C are very useful for explaining America’s reasons for getting involved when combined. They give you most of the reasons why they became involved and we know that the reasons it gives are correct because we know that from our own knowledge. Source C however is less useful for explaining why America got involved in the war because there is no evidence to support the reasons that it gives. It is also less reliable because the critic who wrote the source seems to have a biased opinion about the war making it less reliable and therefore less useful.