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Greater Dublin Area (GDA) for Leaving Cert Geography

Tip: I found it extremely beneficial to know this chapter inside out and back to front. There is more to write about the GDA in comparison with the West of Ireland, and the questions are often easier to get big marks in. There’s a good bit in this chapter, but much of it is common sense or things you’d hear about on the news. Be specific; learn exact figures regarding population, average temperatures etc. This is a critical piece of advice across the entire geography course, but particularly in the Regional section. 

Our Geography notes are coming soon, subscribe to our emails to get all the important updates (it's free and secure) Physical processes  Climate  Cool temperate maritime  Lower precipitation (compared to the WoI). 800-1000mm per year. In rain shadow of Dublin Mountains (which are 1200m high) Sunshine- 4 hours per day average Summer temperature- 16 degrees Celsius Winter temperature- 5 degrees Celsius Growing season- 270 days Relief
Lowland region- low, flat land Dublin…

US and The World Sample Answer: Lyndon Johnson as a Political Leader

“What were the strengths and weaknesses of Lyndon Johnson as a political leader?”

2014 Higher Level Paper, Section 3, Topic 6, Q2. 
THE US AND THE WORLD, 1945-1989

Printer-friendly PDF of this essay: “What were the strengths and weaknesses of Lyndon Johnson as a political leader?”
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Lyndon B. Johnson displayed a variety of political strengths and weaknesses throughout his Presidency, which began abruptly in 1963 with the murder of his predecessor John F. Kennedy and ended in 1969 with his resignation. His lack of experience lead to a great number of misgivings and mistakes on his part, but he put great emphasis on the importance of negotiation and stuck to his convictions for the most part.


Johnson’s biggest weakness as a leader, and arguably his biggest difficulty to overcome, was his inexperience in presidential affairs. While he had served as Kennedy’s vice president before his death, he had very little involvement with foreign affairs. Upon being thrust abruptly into the Oval Office in 1963, Johnson struggled to deal with the developing conflict in Vietnam and felt obliged to continue Kennedy’s policies, turning to his advisors Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk for help. Allowing his lack of experience to overrule his personal opinions meant that Johnson was easily convinced by Rusk and McNamara, both of whom were strongly anti-communist, that action was needed in Vietnam, quickly escalating the conflict.

As Commander-in-Chief of the US military, Johnson displayed another major weakness, his inability to limit the wars he was fighting. Having consulted Rusk and McNamara, Johnson announced that he was “not going to lose Vietnam” and made the decision to fight a contained war in order to force a peace deal with the Vietnamese. Despite his personal pledge to prevent an escalation of the war, Johnson ordered a bombing offensive against the Vietcong after the Gulf of Tonkin incident, wherein a US navy vessel claimed to have been attacked by Vietnamese war ships. Instead of stopping there, Johnson continued to worsen the situation, launching yet another offensive in the form of Operation Rolling Thunder in 1965 and eventually sending in ground troops. Johnson’s actions marked the development of America’s longest war, a huge blow to American foreign affairs, and are a lasting testament of his incompetence as both a military and political leader.

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Johnson was also shown to be a deceptive and manipulative politician and leader throughout his career. Perhaps the most glaring incident of this occurred during the 1964 Presidential Election, which Johnson fought against Republican Barry Goldwater. Goldwater had been keeping a careful eye on the developing situation in Vietnam and was keen to send in American troops, an idea that was not popular with the working classes at the time. Johnson saw his opportunity to appeal to the voters and seized it, swearing that he was not willing to “send American boys to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves”. This move resulted in Johnson winning with a record breaking landslide, but unbeknownst to the American public, Johnson had been secretly planning Operation Rolling Thunder, a massive bombing offensive against the Vietnamese, and the commitment of more US troops to the cause, throughout the election. This was a detrimental display of weakness by Johnson, as the anti-war movement later used his lies against him.

Johnson was a very poor leader when it came to keeping the masses content and on his side regarding the Vietnam War. One huge example of this flaw in his leadership was the rapidly growing anti-war movement. While the movement did not really take off until Nixon’s term as president, it finds its beginnings in Johnson’s rule. Johnson, rather foolishly, failed to censor images coming from Vietnam and allowed images of horrific atrocities be streamed onto televisions in homes across the country. As Dean Rusk once said, “this was the first struggle fought on television in everybody’s living room every day” and Johnson did nothing to combat the consequences of this. Anti-war protests became frequent and public support for both Johnson and the war dropped dramatically. People began to unravel Johnson’s lies and through encouragement from famous faces such as Muhammad Ali, Norman Mailer and Martin Luther King, people withdrew support for the Johnson administration.

This weakness in Johnson’s leadership can also be seen in his failure to deal with the unfair conscription system that the US had in place at the time. In 1968, there were 500,000 troops stationed in Vietnam, and most of these were conscripted (given no choice but to join the army) for one-year tours of duty. The major flaw in this system however, that Johnson completely overlooked, was that the wealthy upper and upper-middle classes could easily avoid the draft by going abroad or enrolling in university. This meant that the army was largely made up of working class white men, and the poor black and Hispanic communities. This contributed majorly to anti-war, anti-Johnson sentiment during the conflict.

A weakness of Johnson’s that many view to be his biggest mistake as a leader was his neglect of the soldiers stationed in Vietnam, as this was a contributing factor to America’s loss in the war. The US troops lived in brutal conditions in the Vietnamese jungle. They were surrounded by mosquitoes and the weather was humid and unbearably warm. The Vietcong were practically invisible as they worked in guerrilla groups that hid under the cover of the jungle and disguised as peasants, so soldiers were never sure if they were killing the enemy or civilians. As troop morale took a dive, 30% of men were using hard drugs and 60% smoked marijuana. Soldiers were desperate to make it home alive and began the practice of fragging, using fragmentation grenades, to murder their officers, who they viewed as a threat to their safety. Huge numbers of soldiers were depressed and deserting and yet Johnson failed to listen to concerns, and allowed his own men to live in such poor conditions.

Johnson’s weaknesses were not small by any account but his leadership was not without strengths. One such strength was his great vision and his dedication to the cause. Johnson, throughout his political career, had fantastic plans for a “Great Society” with fairer education, healthcare, welfare and housing systems. Despite the fact that the Vietnam War overshadowed his achievements in this field, Johnson remained determined to see his promises through and increased the federal budget in order to funnel $800 million into his “war on poverty”. Johnson’s vision of a better country for the poor and vulnerable was admirable, and the fact that he implemented his plans despite difficulty was a major strength of his character.

Another example of Johnson’s strength in his compassion for the struggling was his big role in the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King. Johnson was the President during a period of huge racial conflict in the States and witnessed race riots, protest marches and terrible violence. He used his position for good in this particular aspect, signing the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to ban racial discrimination and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to give black people in the southern states equal voting rights. Johnson was also responsible for protecting marchers from the police during Martin Luther King’s protest march from Selma to Montgomery by sending the Alabama National Guard. Johnson’s actions during the Civil Rights Movement are commendable, even today, and show one of his greatest strengths as a leader.

Johnson was also desperate to end the war in Vietnam with peaceful negotiations which is to be viewed as a strength in any political leader’s career. Even at the beginning of the war, when Johnson initially sent in troops, it was with the hope of forcing peace talks. Johnson himself claimed to have initiated 70 separate attempts to reach an agreement during his six years in office. He reduced American bombing of Vietnamese cities in hopes of coming to a ceasefire during Christmas negotiations in 1965 but no one was able to agree on the terms of a truce. Johnson wanted the South of Vietnam to be left an independent state but the North refused to allow this, creating a constant stalemate between the two sides. Despite the fact that Johnson’s moves for peace were unsuccessful, they were one of Johnson’s only displays of strength during the war.

Johnson was also a politically strong character as he stuck to his political convictions and upkept his beliefs. Since the beginning of the Cold War, Johnson subscribed to the Domino Theory, which theorised that if Communism was allowed to take hold in one country, then it would spread to those around as well. This lead to an American policy of containment that pledged to “support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities” or provide military aid against the spread of Communism. Johnson swore to his people that he was “not going to lose Vietnam” to Communism, and certainly kept this promise. Despite the fact that sticking to his convictions lead Johnson to escalate one of the worst wars in American history, it is always a testament to the political strength of a leader to keep his word.

Finally, arguably Johnson’s biggest strength was his ability to take a step back and recognise that his policies were no longer popular amongst his colleagues or the American public. When the 1968 Presidential election came around, Johnson was opposed by Bobby Kennedy, a member of his own party. Support for Johnson and his war had plummeted amongst the public and he therefore announced his resignation on television in March 1968. The very fact that Johnson accepted that his foreign policy had been a disaster and that it was his time to go was very important, and a strong aspect of his political life.

In conclusion, Lyndon Johnson was not prepared to become the President when he did and this contributed hugely to the long list of weaknesses and flaws that made him a rather unpopular leader. This being said, however, his domestic policies were largely a success and the time and money he invested into social development of his country were incredible strengths of his career.


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