Case #2277.0

A Fork in the Road: Simulating Lyndon Johnson's Choices in Vietnam in Early 1965

Publication Date: April 11, 2024
Current Stock:

Educator Access

A review copy of this case is available free of charge to educators and trainers. Please create an account or sign in to gain access to this material.

Permission to Reprint

Each purchase of this product entitles the buyer to one digital file and use. If you intend to distribute, teach, or share this item, you must purchase permission for each individual who will be given access. Learn more about purchasing permission to reprint.

This historical role-play simulation is set on March 28, 1965. The scenario places students within the context of that time, a point at which, after months of increasing tensions and contentious debate, President Lyndon Johnson appears to be moving in the direction of escalating the war in Vietnam. Yet, he remains uncertain of the best course of action. The US has now been engaged in carrying out airstrikes across North Vietnam for weeks and the first ground troops have already arrived in South Vietnam, but the situation only appears to be worsening by the day. The North Vietnamese show no sign of slowing their attacks on the South and the government in Saigon has done little to improve their own situation. Although the US has already escalated its role in the conflict by sending in an early wave of ground troops and engaging in retaliatory airstrikes following the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin and at Pleiku, the path to all-out war has not yet been paved. Set inside this scenario, this simulation places students in the roles of President Johnson's closest advisors whom he has called upon to help him decide on the future course of US action in Vietnam. 

Learning Objectives:
1. Deepen students' knowledge and understanding of the history and context of President Lyndon Johnson's decision to escalate the conflict in Vietnam.
2. Familiarize students with the norms and procedures of presidential decision-making and the ways in which key players within an administration deliberate and make decisions.
3. Develop students' abilities to use applied history and counterfactuals as tools of analysis.


Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Laurence D. Fredrik Logevall, Erin Baumann, Anjani Datla, Roberto Simon
Faculty Lead:
Laurence D. Fredrik Logevall
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Joseph B. Tompkins Jr., Fund for Case Study and Research