LBJ Psychoanalysis Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2538 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Leadership

" (Mackoff 19-20). Clearly, family experiences can have very different influences depending upon the individual, but they can still be valuable for analyzing leadership on a case to case basis.

For Johnson, some of his qualities can be better understood in light of an incident early in his life. "Having been spurned by a girl he was to meet on a date, Johnson ended up wrecking his father's car and fled to his uncle's house to avoid facing his wrath. The next day, summoned to the phone by his father, Johnson was met not with anger but reward, his father instructing the teen-age boy to pick up the new car he had just bought that morning and to drive it around town slowly to dispel any notions that the younger Johnson was a coward who could not face his father." (Fujii 82). Without a doubt, this unique set of values instilled by his father had an influence on Johnson as a leader.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Almost in contradiction to his professed idealist views concerning poverty and racism ran the values endorsed by his father: courage and manliness. Johnson simultaneously held both liberal and egotistical perspectives concerning how a country should be run and how a President should behave. These perspectives seemed to come into the most direct conflict over the Vietnam War. On one hand, Johnson wanted to provide for the South Vietnamese all of the democratic advantages that the western world could offer, but on the other, he sought to sustain his image as the hard nosed anti-communist. As a consequence, he seemed to possess notions about the way in which the conflict could be resolved that were completely unrealistic from the Vietnamese perspective. Actually, following his only visit to the nation, he described Vietnam as "a remote, backward place dominated by squabbling factions unresponsive to political reason. Few there seemed to understand the great American traditions of compromise and consensus, of getting on with business by accommodating to political, economic, social, and political realities." (Fujii 81). Evidently, despite Johnson's feelings concerning domestic policy that, "We have enough to do it all.... We're the wealthiest nation in the world. And I cannot see why, if we have the will to do it, we can't provide for our own happiness, education, health, and environment," his feelings regarding Vietnam were more aligned with the values his father tried to impress upon him as a youth (Fujii 80).

Culturally, the United States was concerned with what was termed the "domino theory." Basically, the threat of communism consuming the undeveloped world seemed so immanent that people believed they could project which nation would fall under the communist yolk next. Without a doubt communist Russia was a threat to the national security of the United States, and at the time, this contributed to everything communist being interpreted as undemocratic and un-American. This illustrates another apparent contradiction in Johnson's beliefs that led to unsure policies. Because he ascribed to the popular notion that the domino theory was true, he could not withdraw from Vietnam; but ever since his visit to the nation, he did not feel that United States intervention could every completely win the war. "He did not withdraw from the country, because he subscribed to the "domino theory" and was concerned that all the nations of Southeast Asia would become communist. But Johnson did not believe that U.S. could win a war for the South Vietnamese people -- they had to fight for their freedom themselves." (Levy 82). Possessing these duel points-of-view meant that any action he made in Vietnam would violate one or both of his positions.

The historical analogy that Johnson seemed to draw most upon was that of the Korean War. President Johnson went to great lengths to avoid what he saw as the most significant mistakes that peppered the affair. "Johnson drew three prescriptive lessons, all of which were critical in steering him towards his decisions in both February and July of 1965. The first was not to repeat Truman's mistake of 1949 by withdrawing too early." (Fujii 78). The second "was not to repeat Truman's mistake of failing to gain congressional approval for his actions.... The third and perhaps most important lesson Johnson drew from Korea was to avoid MacArthur's mistake of provoking the Chinese to enter the war." (Fujii 78). What Johnson deemed as the historical actions that led to failure in Korea, greatly influenced his policies in Vietnam. In fact, Johnson managed to avoid all of these mistakes, to some extent, but still ended-up leading an unsuccessful and costly war.

Lyndon Johnson was a leader who rose to power by recognizing and allying himself with political trends. Additionally, his familial experiences infused into his personality notions considering pride, manliness, and public image. One theory of leadership holds that a leader is dependent upon the people that give him power; these people give him power because they recognize a unity of purpose, similarity in ideals and values. However, during the Vietnam War, just as the nation was torn over whether to commit more troops or to withdraw, Johnson was torn himself. On the one hand, he wanted to be the fearless leader his father would have been proud of, but on the other, he recognized that the Vietnamese situation required more than just bombs. Unfortunately, this resulted in Johnson's faltering actions during the conflict. The unique conglomeration of ideals, experiences, and historical lessons that determined Lyndon Johnson's personality required that any approach he took to the war -- one way or the other -- would, necessarily, contradict some aspect of his character. When he begrudgingly issued the order to commit 100 thousand more ground troops to the conflict, Johnson was as polarized over the issue as the American public.

Works Cited

Axline, Virginia M. Dibs in Search of Self. New York: Ballantine Books, 1964.

Blank, Warren. The 9 Natural Laws of Leadership. New York: American Management Association, 1995.

Fujii, Lee Ann. "Finding the Middle: an Analysis of Johnson's 1965 Decision to Escalate the War in Vietnam." The International Relations Journal winter/spring 2000-2001: 62-95.

Herrmann, Ned. The Whole Brain Business Book. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996.

Levy, Debbie. Lyndon B. Johnson. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2003.

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