The Vietnam War
Richard H. Immerman
Final Examination Questions
Here we go again. The instructions, guidelines, and "helpful
hints" I provided in the preface to the midterm questions apply to the
final as well. Indeed, the only difference (other than the content of the
questions themselves) is that 1) I will require you to respond to
of the questions that follow, and 2) you will have twohours
to complete your examination. Oh, I forgot. There is one more difference:
you are all much more experienced and
thus skilled in the art of Immerman-exam
taking. According, only the sky (i.e., 150 points) is your limit.
2. Trace the influence of domestic considerations on U.S.
conduct during the Vietnam War. Be certain to specify what domestic facts
you believe were salient, and what specifically was their impact. Conclude
with your evaluation of Ronald Reagan's comment that the United States
would have prevailed in the "noble cause" of combating communism in Vietnam
were its government and military officials not sabotaged by subversive
elements within the United States.
3. Examine the policies and programs pursued by and political
fortunes of Ngo Dinh Diem from the time of his appointment by Bao Dai as
prime minister of the State of Vietnam (then Republic of Vietnam) until
the coup d'etat and his subsequent assassination in November 1963. How
would you define and assess the role of the United States in Diem's ascension
to power and ultimate demise?
4. In July 1965 key advisors to Lyndon B. Johnson waged
a "battle of memos" regarding whether the president should grant General
William Westmoreland's request that the United States deploy an additional
44 battalions [sic] to Vietnam. Among the principals engaged in this battle
were Robert McNamara, George Ball, McGeorge and William Bundy, and Dean
Rusk. Using the 20-20 hindsight that attends historical scholarship, provide
me with a draft of the memo you would have written to LBJ on this subject
in July 1965. Be sure to identify your position/office within the Johnson
administration and entitle your memorandum (e.g., "Cutting our Losses,"
"To Turn the Tide," etc.) It goes without saying, or it should go without
saying, that unlike the memo-ists in 1965, you are an expert on Vietnamese
history, culture, and society. Make certain, moreover, to write as explicitly
as possible, addressing the fundamental questions/issues. Future students
may well receive an assignment from a crazed professor to prepare an "op-ed
essay" based on his/her interpretation of your memo.
5. As one distinguished historian has commented, "A fundamental feature of the American political system is that each president has the opportunity, has the power, to place his or her personal imprint on the formulation and execution of U.S. foreign policy." Assess this comment in terms of the experience of Presidents Eisenhower through Ford in Vietnam.