July 23

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Jul 23, 1965:

Johnson urged to declare a state of national emergency

President Lyndon B. Johnson, in the course of discussions about what to do concerning the deteriorating situation in Vietnam, is told by some that he should give the American public all the facts, ask for an increase in taxes, mobilize the reserves, and declare a state of national emergency in the United States. Johnson rejected this approach, and informed his staff that he wanted any decisions implemented in a "low-key manner" in order to avoid an abrupt challenge to the communists, and to avoid undue concern and excitement in Congress and in domestic public opinion. During these discussions, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara urged the president to "expand promptly and substantially" the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam. Johnson, not wanting to "lose" Vietnam to the communists, ultimately accepted McNamara's recommendation and authorized a total of 44 U.S. battalions in South Vietnam, which led to a massive escalation of the war.

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