Since the creation of the Southeast Asia Treat Organization in 1954 which affirmed the rights of Pacific and Asian countries to determine for themselves their economic, social and cultural goals with the cooperation of the other member nations, the United States had been committed to helping to build and defend South Vietnam.
The United State had made a formal statement at the end of the Geneva Convention in which we stated that we would view any renewed aggression toward South Vietnam as very serious and would act accordingly. It was felt my many including Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara that losing South Vietnam to the communists would destroy SEATO and undermine the United States’ credibility with our other allies. Rusk and McNamara informed then President Kennedy that if South Vietnam was allowed to fall to the communists then the rest of Southeast Asia stood to fall also. Lyndon Johnson said that it had been a long-standing commitment made by United States’ Presidents that we would continue to assist and defend South Vietnam. He felt it was imperative that we keep our word.
President Johnson felt that other countries throughout the world were watching for our reaction to the aggression in Vietnam. He worried that both our allies and our enemies would see our backing down in South Vietnam as a sign of weakness. Our allies would lose faith in our ability to defend them and our enemies would take advantage of our lack of commitment to become aggressive against other of our allies.
Some people in the United States felt that we should never have gotten involved in South Vietnam. They felt that we had enough of our own problems at home and should keep ourselves closer to home. Many called for a ‘Vietnamazation” of the war which would replace United States’ troups with anti-communist troops from the South Vietnamese government.
This would in effect leave the North and South Vietnamese to fight things out on their own without our input…