Dissatisfaction with the Great So- ciety came to be more than matched by unhappiness with the situation in Vietnam . A series of South Viet- namese strong men proved little more successful than Diem in mobi- lizing their country . The Viet Cong, insurgents supplied and coordinated from North Vietnam, gained ground in the countryside .

Determined to halt Communist advances in South Vietnam, Johnson made the Vietnam War his own . Af- ter a North Vietnamese naval attack on two American destroyers, John- son won from Congress on August 7, 1964, passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed the presi- dent to “take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression .” After his re-election in November 1964, he


embarked on a policy of escalation . From 25,000 troops at the start of 1965, the number of soldiers — both volunteers and draftees — rose to 500,000 by 1968 . A bombing cam- paign wrought havoc in both North and South Vietnam .

Grisly television coverage with a critical edge dampened support for the war . Some Americans thought it immoral; others watched in dismay as the massive military campaign seemed to be ineffective . Large pro- tests, especially among the young, and a mounting general public dis- satisfaction pressured Johnson to be- gin negotiating for peace .

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