The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000

Lyndon Johnson, Foreign Policy, and the
Election of r9 6o
NICHOLAS EVAN SARANTAKES*
AS POLITICAL ISSUES, AMERICAN FOREIGN RELATIONS ARE OFTEN THE SUB-
ject of intense national debate. Since it is a matter of national inter-
est, foreign policy is discussed across the country often at both the state
and local levels. This discussion normally takes place as part of an elec-
tion for the U.S. House of Representatives or the Senate. Anyone run-
ning for one of these offices must have some positions about, and
understanding of, America's place in the world. Lyndon Baines Johnson
was no different. He had years of experience in foreign relations as a
member of the legislative branch, and his understanding of the subject
came from this background. When he ran for president of the United
States, he had his own distinct vision of what course the United States
should pursue in world affairs. These ideas reflected a fairly sophisticat-
ed understanding of international relations. He also understood how to
use foreign policy to his political advantage, and he cleverly did so first
opposite Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts in an effort to win the
Democratic nomination, and then, to much greater effect, against
Richard Nixon as a member of the national ticket in the general elec-
tion. In short, he understood foreign affairs as both a policy and a politi-
cal issue.
Previous accounts of this election have failed to give Johnson due
credit. Most writers have concentrated on the Nixon-Kennedy con-
frontation in the general election. This focus started with Theodore
White's The Making of the President, z96o. This work makes little mention
* Nicholas Evan Sarantakes is an assistant professor in the department of history at Texas
A&M University-Commerce He is currently writing a book about Richard Nixon and sports. The
author would like to thank Roger Dingman, Paul Newman, Maurico Mazon, and the anonymous
reviewers of the SHQ for their comments. The Johnson Research Foundation provided a grant
which allowed me to conduct supplementary research. Members of the Johnson, Eisenhower,
and Kennedy Libraries helped me in so many ways that it would be difficult to list them all.
Nevertheless, I am deeply grateful for all their assistance.
VOL. CIII, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER, 1999

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed September 19, 2014.