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Evolution of U.S. Policy Towards Vietnam Under Dwight Eisenhower

Because of their relatively low media profile in the United States, the Indochina War and problems presented by internal strife in South Vietnam were for most of the 1950s of little concern to the American public. Indochina/Vietnam policy was not an issue in the presidential elections of 1952, 1956 or 1960. The first protests against the war in Vietnam in America did not occur until the early years of the administration of President John Kennedy. When the Indochina War briefly dominated the headlines during the spring of 1954, President Eisenhower quickly took steps to deflect public criticism. In relation to Vietnam, he is principally remembered as the President who refused to commit American forces to fighting in the jungles and rice paddies of Indochina. In doing so, he acted wisely, but he also removed Vietnam policy from the arena of domestic political debate for the rest of his administration, a dubious legacy.

It follows that if the policies of the Eisenhower administration toward Indochina and later Vietnam were later shown to have been misguided, that failure was primarily attributable to the policy perceptions and decisions of the President and his


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