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James DiEugenio

LBJ, VIetnam, and the Kennedys

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I am reading a book by Joe Palermo on RFK called In his Own Right.  Its a good book.  

In it, I discovered something new about what LBJ did in 1967 that presaged that slime ball Nixon.

As anyone who has read the fine Jim Blight book on the subject, Virtual JFK, Johnson deliberately covered up the fact that he was breaking with Kennedy's withdrawal plan in Indochina.  There is no question about this today, since Blight produced documentary evidence on the topic, which I have posted here and used in a couple of my lectures.

I thought that was bad.  But I also thought the fact that Nixon, through Charles Colson, arranging the hardhat demonstrations FOR the Vietnam War to counteract the student demonstrations against the war, to me that was a purposeful attempt by Tricky Dick to polarize the country over a war that he knew could not be won.  That began the breaking up of the Democratic Party coalition and was a prelude to the Reagan Democrats phenomenon.

Well, in Palermo's book, (pgs. 67-71)I now found out that this did not begin with Nixon.  It actually started with Johnson in 1967.  His advisors created something called the National Citizens' Committee for Peace with Freedom in Vietnam.  It was meant to head off the doves in the Democratic Party, including RFK.  It called itself, the great Silent Center of American life.  Which, of course, recalls Nixon's Silent Majority. And LBJ got his Vietnam War buddy Eisenhower to endorse it. They also set up an office in the White House to monitor and surveil the anti war groups, since they though they were linked to RFK.

As I said in my review of the Burns/Novick documentary, LBJ started out as Ahab on Vietnam, and ended up resembling MacBeth.  Its this crack up of the party and, of course RFK's murder, that gave us the disaster of Nixon/Agnew.   

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James,

I appreciate your research and your involvement here at EF that we all benefit from (sorry for ending on a preposition ..!).

What is your opinion of the Johnson NSAM draft reversing JFK's NSAM (is it #363? that ordered the drawdown of troops from Vietnam) - that was dated 11/21/1963?  Why would that be dated the day before the assassination?  I'm just curious if you've researched this - thanks.

Draft of NSAM 273

Edited by Rick McTague
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Its NSAM 273.  Unlike others, I don't see that as malignant, I just see that as another draft.

And BTW, in relation to that, I now do not see 273 as a reversal of JFK on Vietnam.  I see that as a material alteration.

Today, I agree with Fletcher Prouty, that it was NSAM 288 that was the reversal of JFK. Up until then, it was done in increments.  It was 288 that was an entire rearrangement.

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2 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

Its NSAM 273.  Unlike others, I don't see that as malignant, I just see that as another draft.

And BTW, in relation to that, I now do not see 273 as a reversal of JFK on Vietnam.  I see that as a material alteration.

Today, I agree with Fletcher Prouty, that it was NSAM 288 that was the reversal of JFK. Up until then, it was done in increments.  It was 288 that was an entire rearrangement.

James,

What about the date of the draft (11-21-63), referencing a discussion and approval of the content of 273 with "the President" who could not have been JFK they were referencing?

"The first sentence is indeed quite revelatory of its dubious nature: “The President has reviewed the discussions of South Vietnam which occurred in Honolulu, and has discussed the matter further with Ambassador Lodge...."

"That is false. The majority of those who attended the Honolulu Conference arrived on the 19th and the remainder arrived in the early morning of the 20th. The conference itself took place on the 20th and part of the 21st. The DRAFT was written on the evening of the 21st. JFK and Jackie left Washington aboard Air Force One for their 2-day, 5-city “whirlwind” Texas trip on the 21st. So, the conference took place all day on the 20th and part of the 21st in Hawaii without the President in attendance. Since he and the First Lady were en route to Texas from Washington on the 21st, it is therefore quite clear that the President could not have reviewed the discussions conducted in Honolulu in depth, nor could he have spoken with Ambassador Lodge in a meaningful way about the conference before the DRAFT of NSAM 273 was written. After all, the attendees were still in Hawaii and JFK was still in Texas on a very tight schedule. The next day he was dead (on the 22nd). So, to which President does this document refer in its first sentence?

The official record can aid us in answering this question. The Gravel Edition of the Pentagon Papers states, referring to the Honolulu Conference: “But the meeting ended inconclusively. After [Ambassador] Lodge had conferred with the president a few days later in Washington, the White House tried to pull together some conclusions and offer some guidance for our continuing and now deeper involvement in Vietnam”. [emphasis added]

As shown above, it could not have been the sitting president, JFK, as he was in Texas at the time. The record confirms that the first and only President to ever review the discussions conducted at the Honolulu Conference and further discuss them with Ambassador Lodge in Washington was LBJ. How do we know with certainty? JFK never survived Dallas. He never returned to Washington to meet with Lodge or anyone else. He returned to Washington in a casket. The only person to whom this DRAFT document could therefore refer by implication, is LBJ." 

Thanks in advance.

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Jim

"LBJ got his Vietnam war buddy to endorse ... ". LBJ defered to Ike on Vietnam.

Eisenhower managed the Vietnam War. All major decisions, from troop levels to bombing campaigns were made by Eisenhower. On Vietnam LBJ was a yes man.

Read excerpts of "Dwight Eisenhower and American Foreign Policy in the 1960's An American Lion in Winter" by Richard Filipink on the internet.

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