Event Title

The New Kid on the Block: How the Dominican Republic Intimidated Lyndon B. Johnson into His Biggest Mistake

Session Title

Political Science

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor

Gregory S. Crider, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of History

Description

In 1965, just two years into Johnson’s presidency, the Dominican Republican government led by Juan Bosch found itself in a civil war with the Dominican Revolutionary Party. Johnson’s decision to send American troops to the Dominican Republic is one of his most regretful choices of his presidency, but he indicated on record that he would do it again if he had to. This paper contends that Johnson had personal and economic motives for intervening in the Dominican Republic but used the guise of protecting the United States and the West from communism. It also argues that Johnson was intimidated by the small island country just as he was by Cuba, and that he feared that the rest of Latin America was beginning to contend in the world power arena. The paper then analyzes voice memos and transcripts from the National Security Archives and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, along with telephone conversations between President Johnson, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the U.S. Ambassador in the Dominican Republic. These voice memos and phone conversations provide insight into Johnson’s motives. The use of official memoranda between Johnson and his administration pertaining to activity in the Dominican Republic is deployed to compare the confidence of Johnson on paper compared to reality.

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

The New Kid on the Block: How the Dominican Republic Intimidated Lyndon B. Johnson into His Biggest Mistake

In 1965, just two years into Johnson’s presidency, the Dominican Republican government led by Juan Bosch found itself in a civil war with the Dominican Revolutionary Party. Johnson’s decision to send American troops to the Dominican Republic is one of his most regretful choices of his presidency, but he indicated on record that he would do it again if he had to. This paper contends that Johnson had personal and economic motives for intervening in the Dominican Republic but used the guise of protecting the United States and the West from communism. It also argues that Johnson was intimidated by the small island country just as he was by Cuba, and that he feared that the rest of Latin America was beginning to contend in the world power arena. The paper then analyzes voice memos and transcripts from the National Security Archives and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, along with telephone conversations between President Johnson, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and the U.S. Ambassador in the Dominican Republic. These voice memos and phone conversations provide insight into Johnson’s motives. The use of official memoranda between Johnson and his administration pertaining to activity in the Dominican Republic is deployed to compare the confidence of Johnson on paper compared to reality.