John F Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson both saw Vietnam as the vital frontline in America's struggle against communism, but it was Chinese, as opposed to Soviet communism they were most concerned about. The widely accepted 'Domino Theory' which postulated that one country in Asia after another would fall to the communist rule was widely accepted across the administrations of both presidents, and it was also a vision that Mao and his inner circle hoped for. However, the lack of understanding about Indochinese history on the part of the USA meant that America was blind to the intense animosities and rivalries between China, Vietnam and Laos. This led to countless miscalculations by both Kennedy and Johnson, and Mao also failed to predict that an assertive and well armed North Vietnam would soon wish to throw off the mantle of 'obedient pupil' and wish greater autonomy in its affairs. This would be an unforgivable affront to the great helmsman in Beijing.
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