The Rhetoric of Vietnam: Reaction to Adversity

Freedenberg, Paul

     This dissertation is an analysis of the language used by top Administration officials to explain and justify the American Government's Vietnam policy during the period from 1961 through 1968. My purpose in undertaking this study is threefold: (1) to examine the relationship between the Administration's rhetoric and the course of the war; (2) to analyze the strategy of argumentation used by the Administration to make its case more convincing to the public through the use of propaganda devices such as the selective presentation of themes and symbols; (3) to analyze, whenever possible, the conscious and unconscious images and beliefs which members of the Administration and the Administration as a whole held about enemies and allies in Vietnam and the relationship of this war to the post-war foreign policy of the United States. Throughout the text of this work both the substantive aspects of the argumentation and the presentation of that substance will be considered of co-equal interest. The study is organized according to the themes which together comprise the various threads of argumentation which the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations wove into the fabric of explanation and justification for the United States Government's policy in Vietnam from 1961 through 1968.

Nathan Leites (chair), Morton Kaplan, Hans Morgenthau