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Confrontations In Cuba And The Vietnam War

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I chose to write about the confrontations in Cuba and the Vietnam War. The confrontation in Cuba began as the result of the Soviet Union placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. The Soviet Union was responding to President Kennedy's rearmament program. At the time, the United States (U.S.) was the dominant superpower and the Soviet Union wanted to restore the balance of power by placing nuclear weapons within range of every major American city. Only 90 miles off the Florida coast, Cuba was the perfect location to establish a formidable threat to the U.S. (Cuban Missile Crisis, n.d.).

When the U.S. obtained photo intelligence that confirmed the placement of the missiles, President Kennedy considered several options from a military attack to diplomacy. In the end, President Kennedy chose to create a naval blockade to disrupt the supply of missiles into Cuba. The blockade raised legal concerns as Cuba was not acting unlike the U.S. who already had several squadrons of nuclear missiles aimed at the Soviet Union throughout various European countries. President Kennedy risked possible retaliation from the Soviet Union in response to the blockade, so he placed some 40,000 troops in Florida to mount an attack if necessary, although their success would be difficult. The Soviet Union consented to remove their missiles from Cuba under two conditions: The U.S. had to guarantee that Cuba would not be invaded, and they had to withdraw their missiles from Turkey. The U.S. complied, and the Soviet Union withdrew their nuclear missiles from Cuba, effectively ending what had become known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The fall of the Soviet Union would later reveal that this crisis was far more serious than originally thought, as Cuba possessed many more missiles than the U.S. knew about (The Cuban Missile Crisis, n.d.).

The assassination of President Kennedy ushered in the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson vowed to continue the United States' support of South Vietnam and the war against the Communist North. During his campaign, Johnson seemed to lean toward de-escalation of the Vietnam War. However once in office he took a different stance. President Johnson began an escalation approach to fighting the Vietnam War, as he introduced more and more troops over time. The Johnson Administration wanted to support the South without directly provoking a military response from the Soviet Union or China. President Johnson maintained that defending South Vietnam against the spread of Communism was a critical task that the U.S. must support. The U.S. presence in Vietnam was unwelcome as evidenced by the 1972 attack of a U.S. Navy Destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. The attack took place in international waters and was disputed as a provoked attack in response to covert U.S. and South Vietnamese naval operations (Vietnam War, n.d.).

In February of 1965, Operation Rolling Thunder began and North Vietnam was bombed continuously for the next three years. President Johnson further escaladed the fighting in Vietnam with the addition of Marines in Danang. These troops represented the first American combat troops to enter the conflict and brought the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam to 200,000. In 1966, President Johnson introduced the B-52 to the Vietnam War when he ordered the heavy bombing of key supply routes in Laos. Heavy opposition to the Vietnam War was seen in the U.S. as Veterans from past American wars protested throughout the country. It was during this time that the first burning of draft cards was seen. President Johnson was finding it difficult to maintain support of the war effort. Renowned leaders, such as Martin Luther King spoke outwardly against the war, further heightening the public's distaste for the war and the leadership of President Johnson (Vietnam War, n.d.).

1968 saw the launch of the Tet Offensive,



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