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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Melvin Small


During the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961, a small advisory role in South Vietnam evolved into a far more substantial nation-building effort. Three men stand out as being most responsible for escalating the American commitment to Vietnam: President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT) and South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. My monograph will address the familiar subject of how and why the United States became involved in Vietnam, but it will take a different approach by focusing primarily on the contributions and motivations of the three main characters. Specifically, I will explore the Eisenhower administration's Vietnam policy from January 1953 to October 1954, and how the President, Mansfield, and Diem each in his own way was crucial to the decision to initially assist and then ultimately replace the French in Vietnam. The events during this time period proved to be the "beginning of a disintegration" of the French and American alliance in Vietnam, which made future disengagement from Vietnam far more difficult politically. The actions of these three men laid the foundation for the much larger military commitment of the Vietnam War.

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