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I want to know if Congress gave permission to go into Southeast Asia and get involved in the Vietnam War, or was it just to support  France and the other countries that were fighting back in 1953–57?

Judy Morse

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Dear Ms Morse,

Congress was not directly involved in any of the decisions supporting France in Indochina or the subsequent appointment of Ngo Dinh Diem as South Vietnam’s prime minister, although it tacitly approved of any act opposing any movement judged “communist” or “socialist” in accordance with the Truman Doctrine and the later Eisenhower Doctrine, which had extended the former to the Middle East. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, passed by Congress on August 7, 1964, greatly increased President Lyndon B. Johnson’s powers to act in support of the Saigon government, which swiftly took the form of a bombing campaign against North Vietnam and, in March 1965, the landing of the first contingent of U.S. Marines in South Vietnam. At no time in the course of its limited involvement, however, did Congress declare war against North Vietnam.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History

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