Conflict Origins

We return to the years preceding the American escalation of troop levels that began in 1965 and recount events and decisions that caused the United States to deepen its military involvement in Vietnam.

Part 1: Truman and the Specter of Communist China

In reaction to Communist advances in the Far East, U.S. policymakers began to support the French in their struggle to subdue the Viet Minh.

Part 2: JFK and the Laos Crisis

In July 1962, a compromise agreement declared Laos a neutral country. In retrospect, President Kennedy should have either made or stronger commitment or decided to abandon the region.

Part 3: Maxwell Taylor Recommends Sending Combat Troops

In November 1961, President John Kennedy sent a mission to South Vietnam led by General Maxwell Taylor, to assess how a looming disaster could be prevented.