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Study the following source material and then answer the
questions which follow.
Adapted from a letter President Kennedy sent to President Diem, 14 December 1961
We have been deeply disturbed by the assault on your
country. Our anger mounted as the deliberate savagery of
the Communist programme of mindless violence became
clear. We are prepared to help the Republic of South
Vietnam to protect its people and preserve its
independence. We shall promptly increase our assistance
to your defence effort. The United States remains
devoted to the cause of peace and our primary purpose is
to help your people maintain their
independence. If the Communist authorities in North
Vietnam will stop their campaign to destroy the Republic
of South Vietnam, the measures we are taking to assist
your defence will no longer be necessary.
I think it highly probable that President Kennedy would
have pulled us out of Vietnam. I think he would have
come to that conclusion, even if he had thought that
South Vietnam and, ultimately, Southeast Asia would then
be lost to Communism. He would have accepted that cost.
Kennedy would have agreed that withdrawal would cause
the ‘fall of the dominoes’ but that staying in South
Vietnam would ultimately lead to the same result, while
exacting a terrible price in blood from young American
Adapted from R S MCNAMARA, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, 1995
Kennedy viewed the conflict in Vietnam as communist
aggression within the context of the Cold War. US Army
Special Forces trained the South Vietnamese Army in
guerrilla warfare. The USA also developed strategic
hamlets, villages surrounded by barbed wire and guarded
by troops, to isolate National Liberation Front (NLF)
guerrillas from political recruits and other resources.
In November1961, Kennedy agreed to provide aircraft,
intelligence equipment and additional economic aid. By
mid-1963, of the 3 700 strategic hamlets, the NLF had
destroyed 2 600 and they controlled a significant
portion of South Vietnam’s villages and population. By
the end of 1963, they were preparing for an offensive
and uprising. Kennedy left to Johnson a US military
force of 16 000 troops and a commitment to the growing
Adapted from M HALL, The Vietnam War, 2000
1. Use Sources A and B and your own knowledge.
Explain how far the views in Source B differ from those in Source A in relation to Kennedy’s concern for South Vietnam’s independence. (12 marks)
2. Use Sources A, B and C and your own knowledge.
How far was President Kennedy determined to use military force in South Vietnam in order to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia? (24 marks)
Nothing written worthy of credit. 0
L1: Answers will either briefly paraphrase/describe the content of the two sources or identify simple comparison(s) between the sources. Skills of written communication will be weak. 1-2
L2: Responses will compare the views expressed in the two sources and identify some differences and/or similarities. There may be some limited own knowledge. Answers will be coherent but weakly expressed. 3-6
L3: Responses will compare the views expressed in the two sources, identifying differences and similarities and using own knowledge to explain and evaluate these. Answers will, for the most part, be clearly expressed. 7-9
L4 Responses will make a developed comparison between the views expressed in the two sources and will apply own knowledge to evaluate and to demonstrate a good contextual understanding. Answers will, for the most part, show good skills of written communication. 10-12
Note: This content is not prescriptive and candidates are not obliged to refer to the material contained in this mark scheme. Any legitimate answer will be assessed on its merits according to the generic levels scheme. Candidates will need to identify differences between the views of the two sources. For example:
Source B concludes that Kennedy would have withdrawn from Vietnam because he came to regard communism as a successful and pervasive force there. Source A presents Kennedy as determined to help and protect South Vietnam from the spread of
communism and the threat that it posed to South Vietnam’s independence
Source B suggests that Kennedy was prepared to abandon the Domino Theory, and by implication, containment in Vietnam. Implied in Source A is the view that Kennedy was History - AQA GCE Mark Scheme 2010 January series upholding the USA’s commitment to containment and therefore its commitment to the Domino Theory
whilst Source B suggests that US aid to South Vietnam would be military, Kennedy rejects this as an unacceptable cost in young American lives. Source A suggests that Kennedy is willing to use ‘measures’ to ‘assist’ South Vietnam to protect its independence. This vagueness may imply that anything up to and including military force is possible.
Candidates will need to apply their own knowledge of context to explain these differences. They might, for example, refer to:
there was a growing degree of popular support amongst the South Vietnamese peasants for communism because it was closely linked to the wider aim of Vietnamese nationalism present in the Vietcong
the Domino Theory was basic to US foreign policy during the Cold War years. It was a further re-statement of containment and together these concepts formed the foundations of US relations with the communist world
up to this point the US had offered economic and political aid to South Vietnam. Only with the arrival of Kennedy did the possibility of military aid, and its expansion, emerge. Reference may be made to the nature of Kennedy’s military aid and its gradual development through ‘advisors’.
To address ‘how far’, candidates should also indicate some similarity between the sources. For example:
both sources suggest US involvement. Source A refers to the USA’s willingness to ‘help’. The fact that Source B suggests Kennedy may have ‘pulled us out’ clearly implies that the US must have been ‘in’ Vietnam. Both sources suggest a degree of
commitment on the part of the USA towards South Vietnam
both sources suggest that the USA’s commitment to responding proactively to the Domino Theory is less than developed. Source A emphasises the USA’s lack of interest in anything beyond preserving peace and the independence of South Vietnam. There is
no suggestion of a wider geo-strategic interest in Southeast Asia. Similarly, Source B suggests that the US will accept the need to abandon any US interest in Southeast Asia. There is a geo-political interest, but it will not be pursued.
In making a judgement about the degree of difference, candidates may conclude that there are a number of significant differences. Despite this there are, equally, a number of important similarities.
Nothing written worthy of credit. 0
L1: Answers may be based on sources or on own knowledge alone, or they may comprise an undeveloped mixture of the two. They may contain some descriptive material which is only loosely linked to the focus of the question or they may address only a part of the
question. Alternatively, there may be some explicit comment with little, if any, appropriate support. Answers are likely to be generalised and assertive. There will be little, if any, awareness of differing historical interpretations. The response will be limited in development and skills of written communication will be weak. 1-6
L2: Answers may be based on sources or on own knowledge alone, or they may contain a mixture of the two. They may be almost entirely descriptive with few explicit links to the focus of the question. Alternatively, they may contain some explicit comment with relevant but limited support. They will display limited understanding of differing historicalinterpretations. Answers will be coherent but weakly expressed and/or poorly structured.
L3: Answers will show a developed understanding of the demands of the question using evidence from both the sources and own knowledge. They will provide some assessment backed by relevant and appropriately selected evidence, but they will lack depth and/or balance. There will be some understanding of varying historical interpretations. Answers will, for the most part, be clearly expressed and show some organisation in the presentation of material. 12-16
L4: Answers will show explicit understanding of the demands of the question. They will develop a balanced argument backed by a good range of appropriately selected evidence from the sources and own knowledge, and a good understanding of historical interpretations. Answers will, for the most part, show organisation and good skills of written communication. 17-21
L5: Answers will be well-focused and closely argued. The arguments will be supported by precisely selected evidence from the sources and own knowledge, incorporating welldeveloped understanding of historical interpretations and debate. Answers will, for the most part, be carefully organised and fluently written, using appropriate vocabulary.
Note: This content is not prescriptive and candidates are not obliged to refer to the material contained in this mark scheme. Any legitimate answer will be assessed on its merits according to the generic levels scheme. Candidates should be able to make a judgement by addressing the focus of the question and offering some balance of other factors or views. In ‘how important’ and ‘how successful’ questions, the answer could be (but does not need to be) exclusively based on the focus of the question.
Candidates should use the sources as evidence in their
Relevant material from the sources would include:
Source A: presents the communist regime as aggressive and expansionist. Reference to Kennedy’s focus on the protection of South Vietnam from communist control is clear. This source also refers to the increasing ability of South Vietnam to defend itself and
preserve its independence. This suggests that the USA’s primary purpose was to use whatever methods were necessary, including the use of military force
Source B: this implies that South Vietnam was a crucial part of communist ambitions in Southeast Asia. The key sentence in this source is the final one. Withdrawal from South Vietnam would have led to the realisation of the Domino Theory. The source implicitly challenges the notion that Kennedy was willing to use military force to protect South Vietnam
Source C: clearly places the conflict within the context of the Cold War. Implicit in this is containment. The source illustrates the growing military commitment that the USA made during the Kennedy Presidency and the determination of the ‘enemy’ to overcome this. The source also suggests alternatives to the use of military force, e.g. the Strategic Hamlets Programme.
From candidates’ own knowledge:
Factors suggesting Kennedy was determined to use
military force to stop the spread of
communism in Southeast Asia might include:
he was a well known anti-communist and often criticised the Eisenhower administration for its apparent soft liner against communism
he first introduced a US military presence of any size into Vietnam
he was committed to the idea of containment and the Domino Theory. Containment certainly allowed for the use of military force by the USA
he saw Southeast Asia as particularly exposed to the threat of communism.
Factors suggesting that Kennedy was not/less determined to use military force might include:
Kennedy was reluctant to commit conventional US military forces. He sent ‘advisers’
he wanted a diplomatic solution to the crisis
the issue of the USA vested interests is crucial. Kennedy did not see these being fulfilled by the loss of US lives in Vietnam. Memories of the Second World War and Korea were still raw in the US mentality
the Cuban Missile Crisis had moved Kennedy away from militarism.
Good answers are likely to/may conclude that on balance Kennedy was loath to use military force but he was not closed to the option.
Ziek ook AQA A-level history
Copyright: Albert van der Kaap, 2011