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Perils of DominanceImbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam$
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Gareth Porter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520239487

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520239487.001.0001

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Bureaucratic Pressures and Decisions for War

Bureaucratic Pressures and Decisions for War

(p.203) 7 Bureaucratic Pressures and Decisions for War
Perils of Dominance

Gareth Porter

University of California Press

This chapter investigates the decisions on ground troop deployments, culminating in the final decision for a major ground troop deployment in mid-1965. It also reviews the effect of the global imbalance of power, and that of the Byzantine domestic politics of blame for any future defeat in South Vietnam. The incentive for systematic bombing of the North was underlined by a new intelligence estimate in October that reemphasized the importance of U.S. military dominance over North Vietnam and China. Johnson's rejection of even the threat of massive devastation to try to put pressure on the North Vietnamese made the bombing policy very different from what had been envisioned by the national security bureaucracy. Johnson's final effort to avert an open-ended general war in Vietnam concluded with political theater. Robert McNamara abandoned the limited commitment option just as Johnson was trying to make it official policy.

Keywords:   ground troop deployments, global power imbalance, Byzantine domestic politics, South Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, bombing policy, North Vietnam, national security bureaucracy

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