To Reason Why

The Debate about the Causes of U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War

Edited by Jeffrey P. Kimball
Book Cover

HC: $59.50
EAN: 978-0-87722-709-0
Publication: Jun 90

Ebook: $31.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-120-4
Publication: Jun 90

216 pages

1 maps

Thirty-eight readings that best exemplify the conflicting ideas and theories about U.S. intervention in Vietnam


This anthology provides a comprehensive overview of the major theories about the causes of American involvement in Southeast Asia from 1945 to 1975. Presenting the often conflicting arguments advanced by national leaders, policy makers, strategists, historians, social scientists, journalists, and activists, this volume represents the major reasons why and how the U.S. became involved, diplomatically and militarily, in the quagmire of Vietnam. As the first book to focus on the debate about the reasoning and causes of U.S. involvement, it fills a major gap in the study of the Vietnam war.

Table of Contents


Part I: The Official View: The U.S. Government's Public Explanation
1. The Munich Analogy and the International Communist Conspiracy – Harry S. Truman
2. Falling Dominoes – Dwight D. Eisenhower
3. Capitalist vs. Communist Economic Growth – Dwight D. Eisenhower
4. Wars of National Liberation – John F. Kennedy
5. Chinese Dominoes – John F. Kennedy
6. Commitment and Credibility – Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Still Fighting against the Munich Analogy – Lyndon B. Johnson
8. Nightmares of Crucifixion – Lyndon B. Johnson
9. Talking to the Dominoes – Richard M. Nixon

Part II: States of Mind: Abstract Ideas, Ideals, and Strategic Concepts
10. Images of the Past – Göran Rystad
11. Unquestioned Assumptions – The Pentagon Papers
12. Avoiding Humiliation and Preserving the Pillar of Peace – The Pentagon Papers
13. Psychological Reality Worlds – Ralph K. White
14. Liberal Idealism – Graham Greene
15. Arrogance of Power – J. William Fulbright
16. Moral Anticommunism – Norman Podhoretz
17. Credibility and Limited War – Jonathan Schell

Part III: The Process of Involvement: Stumbling into the Quagmire or Knowingly Accepting Stalemate?
18. The Politics of Inadvertence – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
19. Discovering the Quagmire – Henry Kissinger
20. How the System Worked – Leslie H. Gelb
21. Cycles of Optimism and Pessimism – Daniel Ellsberg

Part IV: The Buck Stops Here: The President as Primary Cause
22. JFK: A Can-Do President – Thomas G. Paterson, J. Garry Clifford. and Kenneth J. Hagan
23. Accidents of History: JFK and LBJ Compared – Bernard Brodie
24. LBJ and Presidential Machismo – David Halberstam
25. Nixon and the Imperial Presidency – Arthur M. Schlesinger. Jr.

Part V: The Advisers: Managers and Bureaucrats
26. An Autopsy of the Bureaucracy – James C. Thomson, Jr.
27. Bureaucracy's Call for U.S. Ground Troops – George McTurnan Kahin
28. Careerism and Ego Investment – Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars
29. The Pentagon Propaganda Machine – J. William Fulbright

Part VI: Pressures and Aims: Politics and Economics
30. Foreign Policy and Electoral Politics – Richard J. Barnet
31. Lobbyists for Diem: Politics in the U.S. and Vietnam – George McTurnan Kahin
32. Pax Americana Economicus – Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars
33. The Drive for a Global Political Economy – Gabriel Kolko
34. Neocolonial Aggression – Nguyen Khac Vien and Vo Nguyen Giap

Part VII: Ways of Living: Cultural Misunderstanding and Conflict
35. Culture of the Earth – Frances FitzGerald
36. American Exceptionalism – Loren Baritz
37. Technowar – James William Gibson
38. The Combative Structure of the English Language – John M. Del Vecchio

About the Author(s)

Jeffrey P. Kimball is Associate Professor of History at Miami University of Ohio.