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Michael Clark

Fletcher Prouty Vid.: Best hour I have spent

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Fletch was an insider. He was present, when Foster Dulles in his home was calling his Russian counterpart (Mikoyan, Gromyko?), Topic: How to tell (present) Ike a certain cold war incident. 

 

 

 

Edited by Karl Kinaski

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What he says at the 37:00 mark is very important about the whole Vietnam issue.

When McNamara and Taylor made their journey to Saigon in late September of 1963, Kennedy did not even allow them to write their own report about what they observed.  The whole time they were there, back in Washington, Krulak and Prouty were working on the report under the supervision of Bobby Kennedy, per the instructions of JFK.  (John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, p. 401)

This is how determined JFK was to control the results of what why were going to say about the conditions in Vietnam. The report was being written by people who were not even there, but in Washington. (Ibid, p. 416)  It was given to Taylor and McNamara in Hawaii rebound in leather covers. This happened because JFK was  determined to base the change in policy upon this resultant report.  That new policy was, of course, NSAM 263.  (ibid, p. 401)  In fact, Kennedy made this the second conclusion of the report.  That America should be able to withdraw by 1965 since the military campaign was going well. And this withdrawal would begin with the removal of a thousand men at the end of that calendar year. (ibid, p. 402)

Kennedy then rammed the report and the NSAM through a meeting of his advisors and told McNamara to announce it to the press.  But before he did, JFK shouted at him, "And tell them that means all of the helicopter pilots too." (p. 407)

IMO, this is one of the most important pieces of evidence about Kennedy's intent to withdraw from Vietnam. He was now taking unilateral control over the information his advisors were getting in order to impress his own views on them.  And most of them did not know that. (Although McNamara and Taylor had to.)

Think this will be in the PBS documentary?  

Edited by James DiEugenio

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He is not in very good form here, IMO. Hindsight is 20/20 but it looks like he is a bit nervous on 11-14-63.

Edited by Michael Clark

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There is a German book APOCALYPSE VIETNAM where Pierre Salinger said, quote: The day I embarked for Tokyo (via Honolulu) (20.11. 1963) Kennedy told me: I am about to negotiate with North Vietnam and I will make clear, that there will be no war in Vietnam. 

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Was Kennedy Planning to Pull Out of Vietnam?


John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy confer.Robert Kennedy was not merely John Kennedy's brother, he was his closest political ally and closest confidant. So what Bobby said about John's view of the war in Vietnam is not merely speculation or opinion.

The following is a passage from an oral history interview done with Bobby in April, 1964 by the John F. Kennedy Library.


Third Oral History Interview with
ROBERT F. KENNEDY

April 30, 1964
New York, New York

By John Bartlow Martin
For the John F. Kennedy Library

[BEGIN TAPE V, REEL 1]

[snipping earlier portion of interview]

Martin:
All right. Now, Vietnam began in the first--on the 3rd of January started appearing rather prominently in the papers and, of course, still is, and was all through '63. Do you want to talk about it now? Do you want to wait till we come and pick up the coup later? In, on, in January, the Vietnamese killed three Americans and shot down five helicopters.

 

Kennedy:
Viet Cong, you mean.

 

Martin:
That's right. That's what I mean, I'm sorry, Viet Cong. A little later Mansfield said that we were, this thing was turning into an American war and wasn't justified by our national interest; we hadn't any business going in so deep, but we kept going in deeper. The president sent Maxwell Taylor and McNamara out there. And then, and Lodge, he appointed Lodge as the ambassador--and you remember the hassle between the CIA and Lodge. The president brought the CIA fellow back, and, in the end, there was the coup against the Diem brothers. Do you want to discuss the whole thing now? You must have been in on a good deal of this.

 

Kennedy:
Yes. Well, yeah, what do you want to start with?

 

Martin:
All right. At the beginning we seemed to have our lines crossed. I mean, the majority leader in the Senate, Mansfield, was saying this was not an American war, and he didn't think it was--that our--it should be--not, not--should not be an American war. He didn't think our heavy commitment there was justified. How'd you feel about it; how'd the president feel about it; and at what point did we get our lines straightened out?

 

Kennedy:
Well, I don't think that . . .

 

Martin:
Did I make myself clear?

 

Kennedy:
No, I don't think that fact, Senator Mansfield or somebody in the Senate takes a position, necessarily means .. .

 

Martin:
Well, he was majority leader.

 

Kennedy:
Yeah, but, you know, he's frequently taken that, those, that line or that position on some of these matters. I don't think that the fact he has an independent view from the executive branch of the government, particularly in Southeast Asia, indicates that the lines aren't straight. I, no, I just, I think every. . . . I, the president felt that the. . . . He had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.

 

Martin:
What was the overwhelming reason?

 

Kennedy:
Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.

 

Martin:
What if it did?

 

Kennedy:
Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also, it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just, it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of these countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists, particularly as we had made such a fuss in the United States both under President Eisenhower and President Kennedy about the preservation of the integrity of Vietnam.

 

Martin:
There was never any consideration given to pulling out?

 

Kennedy:
No.

 

Martin:
But the same time, no disposition to go in all . . .

 

Kennedy:
No . . .

 

Martin:
. . . in an all out way as we went into Korea. We were trying to avoid a Korea, is that correct?

 

Kennedy:
Yes, because I, everybody including General MacArthur felt that land conflict between our troops, white troops and Asian, would only lead to, end in disaster. So it was. . . . We went in as advisers, but to try to get the Vietnamese to fight themselves, because we couldn't win the war for them. They had to win the war for themselves.

 

Martin:
It's generally true all over the world, whether it's in a shooting war or a different kind of a war. But the president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there . . .

 

Kennedy:
Yes.

 

Martin:
. . . and couldn't lose it.

 

Kennedy:
Yes.

 

Martin:
And if Vietnamese were about to lose it, would he propose to go in on land if he had to?

 

Kennedy:
Well, we'd face that when we came to it.

 

Martin:
Mm hm. Or go with air strikes, or--direct from carriers, I mean, something like that?

 

Kennedy:
But without. . . . It didn't have to be faced at that time. In the first place, we were winning the war in 1962 and 1963, up until May or so of 1963. The situation was getting progressively better. And then I . . .

 

Martin:
But then it got progre-- started going downhill, didn't it?

 

Kennedy:
Yes, and then we had all the problems with the Buddhists and the . . .

 

Martin:
Yeah.

 

Kennedy:
And, uh . . .

 

Martin:
Why did they go down, why did they get bad, Bob?

 

Kennedy:
Well, I just think he was just, Diem wouldn't make even the slightest concessions. He was difficult to reason with, well, with the. . . . And then it was built up tremendously in an adverse fashion here in the United States and that was played back in Vietnam, and . . . . And I think just the people themselves became concerned about it. And so, it began to, the situation began to deteriorate in the spring of 1962, uh, spring of 1963. I think David Halberstam, from the New York Times' articles, had a strong effect on molding public opinion: the fact that the situation was unsatisfactory. Our problem was that thinking of Halberstam sort of as the Ma-- what Matthews [unidentified] did in Cuba, that Batista [Fulgencio R. Batista] was not very satisfactory, but the important thing was to try to get somebody who could replace him and somebody who could keep, continue the war and keep the country united, and that was far more difficult. So that was what was of great concern to all of us during this period of time. Nobody liked Diem particularly, but how to get rid of him and get somebody that would continue the war, not split the country in two, and therefore lose not only the war but the country. That was the great problem.

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McAdams and his ilk only quote the first part of this interview, not this part:

"Yes, because I, everybody including General MacArthur felt that land conflict between our troops, white troops and Asian, would only lead to, end in disaster. So it was. . . . We went in as advisers, but to try to get the Vietnamese to fight themselves, because we couldn't win the war for them. They had to win the war for themselves."

And I like the way he brings in Halberstam.  JFK wanted the NY Times to transfer Halberstam--who by the way had been stationed in Congo prior to going to Saigon.  Because Halberstam and his guru Jean Paul Vann were pushing for American direct involvement.  This was when Halberstam was in is hawkish phase.  Years later when LBJ granted the wishes of Vann and Halberstam and their third amigo Sheehan (who was another Vann acolyte), and gave them what they wished, Halberstam reversed himself.  He now said it was all a mistake.

But in that overrated and mendacious book, The Best and the Brightest, try and find where the author  cries mea culpa and admits he was wrong in any kind of systematic and rigorous way.  Secondly, see where you can find a place where he says Kennedy was right about not committing combat troops and he refers to NSAM 263 and the Taylor/McNamra trip report.  He then says that what he wrote coincides with the recent release of the Pentagon Papers.  Not true, because the Pentagon Papers does deal with Kennedy's intent to withdraw.

Read the following for a complete evisceration of the book: https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-reviews/halberstam-david-the-best-and-the-brightest-part-1

 

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Posted (edited)

I added notes in the first post for the Fletcher Prouty Video that opens and is the subject of this thread. Times are approximate. Sorry for the typos.

 

Edited by Michael Clark

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I was looking for some comments that I recall Prouty having made regarding the new kind of soldier, the covert soldier of intelligence. He made the point as to how different those men were from fighting soldiers of "hot" wars. I did not find that in this video. To be sure, I recently restored the Youtube link after I had found that it had been broken. I am not sure that it is the same video, or of the same length.

 

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Just a fabulous video link.He is articulate and he was there. He knows what he's talking about. I have read many accounts of the Bay of Pigs and of Vietnam, but hearing of the processes of both combined in Prouty's interview clarifies their connection. The part in the Pentagon Papers that has Lodge talking to the President on November 22 is a jaw dropper.

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On 2/27/2017 at 9:19 AM, James DiEugenio said:

What he says at the 37:00 mark is very important about the whole Vietnam issue.

When McNamara and Taylor made their journey to Saigon in late September of 1963, Kennedy did not even allow them to write their own report about what they observed.  The whole time they were there, back in Washington, Krulak and Prouty were working on the report under the supervision of Bobby Kennedy, per the instructions of JFK.  (John Newman, JFK and Vietnam, p. 401)

This is how determined JFK was to control the results of what why were going to say about the conditions in Vietnam. The report was being written by people who were not even there, but in Washington. (Ibid, p. 416)  It was given to Taylor and McNamara in Hawaii rebound in leather covers. This happened because JFK was  determined to base the change in policy upon this resultant report.  That new policy was, of course, NSAM 263.  (ibid, p. 401)  In fact, Kennedy made this the second conclusion of the report.  That America should be able to withdraw by 1965 since the military campaign was going well. And this withdrawal would begin with the removal of a thousand men at the end of that calendar year. (ibid, p. 402)

Kennedy then rammed the report and the NSAM through a meeting of his advisors and told McNamara to announce it to the press.  But before he did, JFK shouted at him, "And tell them that means all of the helicopter pilots too." (p. 407)

IMO, this is one of the most important pieces of evidence about Kennedy's intent to withdraw from Vietnam. He was now taking unilateral control over the information his advisors were getting in order to impress his own views on them.  And most of them did not know that. (Although McNamara and Taylor had to.)

Think this will be in the PBS documentary?  

James,

In watching this just now, the connection he makes between the withdrawal in Vietnam and the fact that only covert CIA operatives were there - and had been since 1965 - was his first major step in disabling the operations of the CIA, on his way to splintering it into a thousand pieces and scattering it to the winds.  Other countries where they were operating would have followed as well, effectively dismantling the operations side of the CIA for good.

The withdrawal of troops from Vietnam was the withdrawal of CIA personnel - not formal military personnel - from Vietnam.  

Sorry if I'm stating the obvious here but that was a revelation to me.

Thanks

Rick

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On 2/26/2017 at 6:39 PM, James DiEugenio said:

Fletcher is not correct on Bundy's culpability.

What Bundy was doing was in reply to the CIA's attempts to get a  D Day air strike which Kennedy had taken out of the plan once it was transferred to its new location at the Bay of Pigs.  And the CIA acknowledged this change in their own documents  (Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, p. 45)

There has been much debate about this on this site.  And Greg Burnham, Larry Hancock and myself all rely on the newest documents and we all agree that that is what happened.  Fletcher was not aware of these at the time he said this.

 

@22:00 to 26:00, Prouty is adamant that this is not his speculation or opinion. He says it is part of the record. 

Jim says that this has been much debated about on this forum. Is there a difinitive debate about this to which the reader can be referred?

Pinging Greg Burnham; hoping he may chime-in...

On 8/16/2017 at 12:36 PM, Greg Burnham said:

....

 

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