Vietnam: History as tragedy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Vietnam War occupies a special place in the national psyche, a cypher for the United States’ most humiliating defeat and for the memory of divisions at home that still reverberate in the nation’s political cleavages and culture wars, to an extent that more recent controversial interventions do not. Irrespective of how much racist views contributed to a change of heart in the Roosevelt administration, shortly before his death, the president tacitly consented to a French return by making any trusteeship decision in the Global South dependent on the colonial power’s preferences. The Korean War that broke out in 1950 directed US attention on Asia even more, with ominous implications of a major communist push in one of the most populous regions on the globe. The resolution gave Johnson what he wanted, political cover for any course of action in Vietnam, and the ability to neutralize Vietnam as a campaign issue.

This article analyses the decisions that led to U.S. intervention in Vietnam. It also highlights the different schools of historians on the subject.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge History of U.S. Foreign Relations
EditorsTyson Reeder
Place of PublicationNew York and London
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781003034889
ISBN (Print)9780367473235
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Histories


  • U.S. Foreign Relations
  • encyclopedias
  • Vietnam War


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