Jump to content
The Education Forum

Caro book on LBJ lays the groundwork facts of JFK assassination


Recommended Posts

As I finished the book, I had so many marked pages concerning the assassination. I can recommend to all that the book assists in filling in (with more substantive facts) the background for the JFK murder. Caro may say LBJ had nothing to do with the murder, but the well read assassination researcher will see otherwise. I believe that Evelyn Lincoln provided excellent documentation for Caro. She was so meticulously detailed in her diary that she even had the annual amount of time that LBJ had spent alone with JFK down to the minutes! The Bobby Baker section in the book is first rate as it evolves into the Don reynolds matter. Also, when reading about how LBJ was psychologically destroyed by the Kennedy administration as VP, one can see how Johnson was just one of many who took the Kennedy wrath. With the death of Sam Rayburn and the political death of LBJ as VP which is covered well in the book, one can draw insights regarding the Texas Connection to the assassination. No oil depletion allowance and no Vietnam was going to hit that bottom line hard. Finally, (I do no justice to the book), the behavior of LBJ immediately after the 1960 election illustrates that he was attempting to become even more powerful than Dick Cheney. His desire to set up a "Junior varsity" type Joint Chiefs of Staff under his leadership as VP and to also try to run the Senate by controlling Mike Mansfield is amazing to behold, and it illustrates LBJs grab for power. LBJs behavior in the Excomm during the missile crisis showed me that he was carrying the water for the chiefs throughout the matter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Anthony. While I haven't got around to reading the book from cover to cover, my feelings, from the hundred or so pages I've read, are much the same. There's much fodder for conspiracy thinking within this book. LBJ was a broken man who rose up from the ashes of Dallas. And we're supposed to believe this was a coincidence?

I suspect Caro knew full well what he was doing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I can understand these comments as attempts to balance earlier negative ones, I think they are overstated. This Caro book is really quite bad, IMO. Yes the Bobby Baker scandal is covered in a way that makes it seem unequivocally terminal for LBJ's career. But the deeper structural ties of the scandal and also the TFX scandal are only lightly touched upon. Everything is seen in terms of one pol's career rather than in terms of what this core sampling indicates about the shifts in wider economic interest groups. What a remarkable contrast with the great description of the oil and natural gas legislation of 1948, as depicted in Master of the Senate!

Moreover there is virtually NO POLICY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JFK AND LBJ in the entire book!! Yes the differences during the CMC are very lightly hinted at, but with no background whatsoever. Caro gets out of there ASAP. No referencing to Newman's point about LBJ getting different intel from Vietnam than JFK was getting. Almost no reference to JFK's struggle to get Laos done and the strong opposition it generated. We never hear about Johnson on that.

You will not believe how fast Caro goes from 263 to 273. Think ski-jump.

The Vietnam differences are cauterized by Caro, and he does this by waxing long and heavy on the ceremonial aspects of the secession... er.. succession to the point that policy differences in Vietnam are crowded out of the Volume. Then at the end he hints he will do Johnson's big decisions on Vietnam in the next volume, but one senses by the little contrast that he does do that the bigger contrasts will be left out, as if lost between volumes. Needless to say there are no contrasts between the two on Brazil, Indonesia, or even Soviet relations. Caro hints that LBJ was not all that popular with unions, but does not go there at all.

The CIA and its ongoing struggle with elected officials-- including Eisenhower and JFK-- is nonexistent in this book. Continuity via cauterization. Caro's decision to place the back cover between the assassination and most of LBJ's radical policy shifts has the effect of creating continuity where disjuncture ruled, and the effect is profoundly deceptive.

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I can understand these comments as attempts to balance earlier negative ones, I think they are overstated. This Caro book is really quite bad, IMO. Yes the Bobby Baker scandal is covered in a way that makes it seem unequivocally terminal for LBJ's career. But the deeper structural ties of the scandal and also the TVX scandal are only lightly touched upon. Everything is seen in terms of one pol's career rather than in terms of what this core sampling indicates about the shifts in wider economic interest groups. What a remarkable contrast with the great description of the oil and natural gas legislation of 1948, as depicted in Master of the Senate!

Moreover there is virtually NO POLICY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN JFK AND LBJ in the entire book!! Yes the differences during the CMC are very lightly hinted at, but with no background whatsoever. Caro gets out of there ASAP. No referencing to Newman's point about LBJ getting different intel from Vietnam than JFK was getting. Almost no reference to JFK's struggle to get Laos done and the strong opposition it generated. We never hear about Johnson on that.

You will not believe how fast Caro goes from 263 to 273. Think ski-jump.

The Vietnam differences are cauterized by Caro, and he does this by waxing long and heavy on the ceremonial aspects of the secession... er.. succession to the point that policy differences in Vietnam are crowded out of the Volume. Then at the end he hints he will do Johnson's big decisions on Vietnam in the next volume, but one senses by the little contrast that he does do that the bigger contrasts will be left out, as if lost between volumes. Needless to say there are no contrasts between the two on Brazil, Indonesia, or even Soviet relations. Caro hints that LBJ was not all that popular with unions, but does not go there at all.

The CIA and its ongoing struggle with elected officials-- including Eisenhower and JFK-- is nonexistent in this book. Continuity via cauterization. Caro's decision to place the back cover between the assassination and most of LBJ's radical policy shifts has the effect of creating continuity where disjuncture ruled, and the effect is profoundly deceptive.

I find little to disagree with you on the Caro book in terms of the topics you mentioned. My point is that the book fills in some very important pieces in terms of the state of mind of LBJ, his political liabilities, the Kennedy wrath, and Johnson's illegal activities all leading up to the assassination. To your very valid points, Caro does dance in the book and the ski jump is true. The book is not the end all finger pointer to LBJ as the ring leader of the assassination like Mastermind is. Again to your points, there is no mention of the Murchinson meeting the night before the assassination nor the Madeline Brown remarks. But Caro does lay very strong foundations for linking the Texas Connection to the assassination. He also, I believe inadvertently, leads us to the "JV" joint chiefs that LBJ wanted to command as VP ~ that I believe leads to the Military link to the assassination (with The CMC and contracts). I feel however that the book does miss only because of the fact that the LBJ estate and library were very angry at Caro for the previous volumes and even denied him access to the LBJ papers for this volume (the reason it took so long). Caro very well could have been keeping his bridges to the libray papers secure by not travelling down some dark roads as Barr McClellan did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm curious as to whether or not the book mentioned Howard Burris' association with LBJ or his role as Johnson's aide circa 1963?

Beyond that, if Caro was unaware of or does not mention the rather mysterious last minute flight down to Texas by Burris at

the time of the assassination, it suggests that Caro wasn't really digging....if he does and has a good explanation I'll be excited to

hear it. Burris' own explanation would have suggested a high level international affairs confrontation between Johnson and JFK,

at the ranch, something dramatic enough so Burris remarks should have hit Caro's radar.

-- Larry

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, responding to Jim on another thread made me recall some lines from the book I mentioned on Iran.

In The Eagle and the Lion, James Bill makes the following remarks:

"Johnson basked in the spotlight of power and was always impressed by those who maintained power monopolies in their own lands. The more power, pomp, and circumstance, the more impressed Johnson was. The shah of Iran, therefore, was an extremely attractive and important figure to Johnson...the shah was an ally...a tough one at that... ...."toughness" was important to LBJ , whose foreign policy rested ultimately on a ""mythical Alamo Syndrome" that guided America's actions in places like the Dominican Republic and Vietnam"

Earlier Bill has stated that JFK considered the shah a corrupt and petty tyrant and considered attempting to force his abdication...his descriptions of JFK and RFK's views on the shah are diametrically opposed to Johnson's views and illustrate the differences between the two administrations cleanly.

Those remarks about pomp, power and the Alamo syndrome seem so right on to me, and such a clear distinction between JFK and Johnson that I wonder if Caro captures the spirit of Bill's observations in discussing or comparing the two men and the two administrations?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fred Kaplan's Slate article on Caro's Cuban Misslie Crisis omissions:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2012/05/robert_caro_s_new_history_of_lbj_offers_a_mistaken_account_of_the_cuban_missile_crisis.single.html

"And yet, when it came to the defining episode of JFK’s presidency, a pivotal moment in Cold War history, the closest that the United States and the Soviet Union ever came to nuclear war, Caro left many pages—whole documents—unturned, unread, unopened. Either that, or (a more troubling and, my guess is, less likely possibility) he chopped and twisted the record to make it fit his narrative."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm curious as to whether or not the book mentioned Howard Burris' association with LBJ or his role as Johnson's aide circa 1963?

Beyond that, if Caro was unaware of or does not mention the rather mysterious last minute flight down to Texas by Burris at

the time of the assassination, it suggests that Caro wasn't really digging....if he does and has a good explanation I'll be excited to

hear it. Burris' own explanation would have suggested a high level international affairs confrontation between Johnson and JFK,

at the ranch, something dramatic enough so Burris remarks should have hit Caro's radar.

-- Larry

Burris is in book as LBJ US Air Force aide and the aide incharge of requesting airplanes for LBJ trips (pp.186-7 and 200). I agree Burris flight on assassination eve and his closeness to LBJ makes him important in any Caro volume. The depth of which is sorely lacking....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Anthony, actually that's even more frustrating - since Caro is obviously aware of Burris then he certainly should have come across the mystery of that last minute flight to Dallas. Burris' explanation implies a major policy issue between JFK and Johnson about to erupt over a clash on international affairs. If that were true it should have been very significant to Caro....if not....well the trip still should have been very significant to Caro....

Actually there are a number of memos from Burris to Johnson on international affairs available for the period, which would have been grist for Johnson's international policy stance, then there is the whole backchannel thing on Johnson's trip to Vietnam where he massively undercut JFK - against direct orders.

I was a big fan of Caro's early work specifically because he was willing to dig deep - looks to me like he may have missed some real opportunities when he got this far...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noticed another omission, a giant one, in my opinion. While Caro goes into some depth while discussing the intense hatred between LBJ and RFK, he never mentions what I consider to be the clearest proof of this hatred and/or suspicion. He mentions William Walton several times in his book, but never mentions--if only to reject--that Russian documents unearthed by Naftali and Fursenko show that Walton spoke to Bolshakov--as a pipeline to Khruschev--to tell him that RFK thought JFK was killed by a domestic right-wing conspiracy...which would cast a shadow over Johnson.

Now, perhaps he'll get into RFK's suspicions of LBJ--and LBJ's paranoid belief RFK was secretly orchestrating the critics of the Warren Commission--in his next book. But I doubt it. Walton's meetings with Bolshakov are central to the conflict between LBJ and RFK--which takes up much of this book--and its exclusion is most puzzling.

Perhaps it didn't fit Caro's narrative of LBJ as a heroic if complex figure uniting the country in a time of turmoil...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't had a chance to read Caro's book yet, and will asap, but I noticed that in his excerpt in New Yorker re: 11/22/63, he doesn't mention the phone call to J. W. Bullion, which I find significant.

I'm also working on the phone calls LBJ and Cliff Carter make from LBJ's office in the Ex. Office Building after they leave Andrews and before they go to the Elms.

Those phone calls now seem very significant.

I'd also like to know more about what he says about Burris and LBJ's using AF planes to travel, as well as the establishment of a "Junior Joint Chiefs of Staff."

BK

JFKcountercoup

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Poster's note: I hope that Caro's final volume on LBJ will refer to the 1965 crucial meeting described below between LBJ and the Joint Chiefs of Staff that set the stage for the Vietnam War being a long drawn out disaster. The readers' comments are well worth reading also.

-----------------------------------------

The Day It Became the Longest War

Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper, USMC (Ret.)

1-20-07

History News Network

http://hnn.us/articles/34024.html

Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper, USMC (Ret.) is the author of "Cheers and Tears: A Marine's Story of Combat in Peace and War" (2002), from which this article is excerpted. The article recently drew national attention after it was posted on MILINET. It is reprinted with the author's permission.

"The President will see you at two o'clock."

It was a beautiful fall day in November of 1965; early in the Vietnam War-too beautiful a day to be what many of us, anticipating it, had been calling "the day of reckoning." We didn't know how accurate that label would be.

The Pentagon is a busy place. Its workday starts early-especially if, as the expression goes, "there's a war on." By seven o'clock, the staff of Admiral David L. McDonald, the Navy's senior admiral and Chief of Naval Operations, had started to work. Shortly after seven, Admiral McDonald arrived and began making final preparations for a meeting with President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Vietnam War was in its first year, and its uncertain direction troubled Admiral McDonald and the other service chiefs. They'd had a number of disagreements with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara about strategy, and had finally requested a private meeting with the Commander in Chief-a perfectly legitimate procedure. Now, after many delays, the Joint Chiefs were finally to have that meeting. They hoped it would determine whether the US military would continue its seemingly directionless buildup to fight a protracted ground war, or take bold measures that would bring the war to an early and victorious end. The bold measures they would propose were to apply massive air power to the head of the enemy, Hanoi, and to close North Vietnam's harbors by mining them.

The situation was not a simple one, and for several reasons. The most important reason was that North Vietnam's neighbor to the north was communist China. Only 12 years had passed since the Korean War had ended in stalemate. The aggressors in that war had been the North Koreans. When the North Koreans' defeat had appeared to be inevitable, communist China had sent hundreds of thousands of its Peoples' Liberation Army "volunteers" to the rescue.

Now, in this new war, the North Vietnamese aggressor had the logistic support of the Soviet Union and, more to the point, of neighboring communist China. Although we had the air and naval forces with which to paralyze North Vietnam, we had to consider the possible reactions of the Chinese and the Russians.

Both China and the Soviet Union had pledged to support North Vietnam in the "war of national liberation" it was fighting to reunite the divided country, and both had the wherewithal to cause major problems. An important unknown was what the Russians would do if prevented from delivering goods to their communist protege in Hanoi. A more important question concerned communist China, next-door neighbor to North Vietnam. How would the Chinese react to a massive pummeling of their ally? More specifically, would they enter the war as they had done in North Korea? Or would they let the Vietnamese, for centuries a traditional enemy, fend for themselves? The service chiefs had considered these and similar questions, and had also asked the Central Intelligence Agency for answers and estimates.

The CIA was of little help, though it produced reams of text, executive summaries of the texts, and briefs of the executive summaries-all top secret, all extremely sensitive, and all of little use. The principal conclusion was that it was impossible to predict with any accuracy what the Chinese or Russians might do.

Despite the lack of a clear-cut intelligence estimate, Admiral McDonald and the other Joint Chiefs did what they were paid to do and reached a conclusion. They decided unanimously that the risk of the Chinese or Soviets reacting to massive US measures taken in North Vietnam was acceptably low, but only if we acted without delay. Unfortunately, the Secretary of Defense and his coterie of civilian "whiz kids" did not agree with the Joint Chiefs, and McNamara and his people were the ones who were actually steering military strategy. In the view of the Joint Chiefs, the United States was piling on forces in Vietnam without understanding the consequences. In the view of McNamara and his civilian team, we were doing the right thing. This was the fundamental dispute that had caused the Chiefs to request the seldom-used private audience with the Commander in Chief in order to present their military recommendations directly to him. McNamara had finally granted their request.

The 1965 Joint Chiefs of Staff had ample combat experience. Each was serving in his third war. The Chairman was General Earle Wheeler, US Army, highly regarded by the other members.

General Harold Johnson was the Army Chief of Staff. A World War II prisoner of the Japanese, he was a soft-spoken, even-tempered, deeply religious man.

General John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, was a native of Arkansas and a 1932 graduate of West Point.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., a slim, short, all-business Marine. General Greene was a Naval Academy graduate and a zealous protector of the Marine Corps concept of controlling its own air resources as part of an integrated air-ground team.

Last and by no means least was Admiral McDonald, a Georgia minister's son, also a Naval Academy graduate, and a naval aviator. While Admiral McDonald was a most capable leader, he was also a reluctant warrior. He did not like what he saw emerging as a national commitment. He did not really want the US to get involved with land warfare, believing as he did that the Navy could apply sea power against North Vietnam very effectively by mining, blockading, and assisting in a bombing campaign, and in this way help to bring the war to a swift and satisfactory conclusion.

The Joint Chiefs intended that the prime topics of the meeting with the President would be naval matters-the mining and blockading of the port of Haiphong and naval support of a bombing campaign aimed at Hanoi. For that reason, the Navy was to furnish a briefing map, and that became my responsibility. We mounted a suitable map on a large piece of plywood, then coated it with clear acetate so that the chiefs could mark on it with grease pencils during the discussion. The whole thing weighed about 30 pounds.

The Military Office at the White House agreed to set up an easel in the Oval Office to hold the map. I would accompany Admiral McDonald to the White House with the map, put the map in place when the meeting started, then get out. There would be no strap-hangers at the military summit meeting with Lyndon Johnson.

The map and I joined Admiral McDonald in his staff car for the short drive to the White House, a drive that was memorable only because of the silence. My admiral was totally preoccupied.

The chiefs' appointment with the President was for two o'clock, and Admiral McDonald and I arrived about 20 minutes early. The chiefs were ushered into a fairly large room across the hall from the Oval Office. I propped the map board on the arms of a fancy chair where all could view it, left two of the grease pencils in the tray attached to the bottom of the board, and stepped out into the corridor. One of the chiefs shut the door, and they conferred in private until someone on the White House staff interrupted them about fifteen minutes later. As they came out, I retrieved the map, and then joined them in the corridor outside the President's office.

Precisely at two o'clock President Johnson emerged from the Oval Office and greeted the chiefs. He was all charm. He was also big: at three or more inches over six feet tall and something on the order of 250 pounds, he was bigger than any of the chiefs. He personally ushered them into his office, all the while delivering gracious and solicitous comments with a Texas accent far more pronounced than the one that came through when he spoke on television. Holding the map board as the chiefs entered, I peered between them, trying to find the easel. There was none. The President looked at me, grasped the situation at once, and invited me in, adding, "You can stand right over here." I had become an easel-one with eyes and ears.

To the right of the door, not far inside the office, large windows framed evergreen bushes growing in a nearby garden. The President's desk and several chairs were farther in, diagonally across the room from the windows. The President positioned me near the windows, then arranged the chiefs in a semicircle in front of the map and its human easel. He did not offer them seats: they stood, with those who were to speak-Wheeler, McDonald, and McConnell-standing nearest the President. Paradoxically, the two whose services were most affected by a continuation of the ground buildup in Vietnam-Generals Johnson and Greene-stood farthest from the President. President Johnson stood nearest the door, about five feet from the map.

In retrospect, the setup-the failure to have an easel in place, the positioning of the chiefs on the outer fringe of the office, the lack of seating-did not augur well. The chiefs had expected the meeting to be a short one, and it met that expectation. They also expected it to be of momentous import, and it met that expectation, too. Unfortunately, it also proved to be a meeting that was critical to the proper pursuit of what was to become the longest, most divisive, and least conclusive war in our nation's history-a war that almost tore the nation apart.

As General Wheeler started talking, President Johnson peered at the map. In five minutes or so, the general summarized our entry into Vietnam, the current status of forces, and the purpose of the meeting. Then he thanked the President for having given his senior military advisers the opportunity to present their opinions and recommendations. Finally, he noted that although Secretary McNamara did not subscribe to their views, he did agree that a presidential-level decision was required. President Johnson, arms crossed, seemed to be listening carefully.

The essence of General Wheeler's presentation was that we had come to an early moment of truth in our ever-increasing Vietnam involvement. We had to start using our principal strengths-air and naval power-to punish the North Vietnamese, or we would risk becoming involved in another protracted Asian ground war with no prospects of a satisfactory solution. Speaking for the chiefs, General Wheeler offered a bold course of action that would avoid protracted land warfare. He proposed that we isolate the major port of Haiphong through naval mining, blockade the rest of the North Vietnamese coastline, and simultaneously start bombing Hanoi with B-52's.

General Wheeler then asked Admiral McDonald to describe how the Navy and Air Force would combine forces to mine the waters off Haiphong and establish a naval blockade. When Admiral McDonald finished, General McConnell added that speed of execution would be essential, and that we would have to make the North Vietnamese believe that we would increase the level of punishment if they did not sue for peace.

Normally, time dims our memories-but it hasn't dimmed this one. My memory of Lyndon Johnson on that day remains crystal clear. While General Wheeler, Admiral McDonald, and General McConnell spoke, he seemed to be listening closely, communicating only with an occasional nod. When General McConnell finished, General Wheeler asked the President if he had any questions. Johnson waited a moment or so, then turned to Generals Johnson and Greene, who had remained silent during the briefing, and asked, "Do you fully support these ideas?" He followed with the thought that it was they who were providing the ground troops, in effect acknowledging that the Army and the Marines were the services that had most to gain or lose as a result of this discussion. Both generals indicated their agreement with the proposal. Seemingly deep in thought, President Johnson turned his back on them for a minute or so, then suddenly discarding the calm, patient demeanor he had maintained throughout the meeting, whirled to face them and exploded.

I almost dropped the map. He screamed obscenities, he cursed them personally, he ridiculed them for coming to his office with their "military advice." Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the free world on his shoulders, he called them filthy names-xxxxheads, dumb xxxxs, pompous assholes-and used "the F-word" as an adjective more freely than a Marine in boot camp would use it. He then accused them of trying to pass the buck for World War III to him. It was unnerving, degrading.

After the tantrum, he resumed the calm, relaxed manner he had displayed earlier and again folded his arms. It was as though he had punished them, cowed them, and would now control them. Using soft-spoken profanities, he said something to the effect that they all knew now that he did not care about their military advice. After disparaging their abilities, he added that he did expect their help.

He suggested that each one of them change places with him and assume that five incompetents had just made these "military recommendations." He told them that he was going to let them go through what he had to go through when idiots gave him stupid advice, adding that he had the whole damn world to worry about, and it was time to "see what kind of guts you have." He paused, as if to let it sink in. The silence was like a palpable solid, the tension like that in a drumhead. After thirty or forty seconds of this, he turned to General Wheeler and demanded that Wheeler say what he would do if he were the President of the United States.

General Wheeler took a deep breath before answering. He was not an easy man to shake: his calm response set the tone for the others. He had known coming in, as had the others that Lyndon Johnson was an exceptionally strong personality and a venal and vindictive man as well. He had known that the stakes were high, and now realized that McNamara had prepared Johnson carefully for this meeting, which had been a charade.

Looking President Johnson squarely in the eye, General Wheeler told him that he understood the tremendous pressure and sense of responsibility Johnson felt. He added that probably no other President in history had had to make a decision of this importance, and further cushioned his remarks by saying that no matter how much about the presidency he did understand, there were many things about it that only one human being could ever understand. General Wheeler closed his remarks by saying something very close to this: "You, Mr. President, are that one human being. I cannot take your place, think your thoughts, know all you know, and tell you what I would do if I were you. I can't do it, Mr. President. No man can honestly do it. Respectfully, sir, it is your decision and yours alone."

Apparently unmoved, Johnson asked each of the other Chiefs the same question. One at a time, they supported General Wheeler and his rationale. By now, my arms felt as though they were about to break. The map seemed to weigh a ton, but the end appeared to be near. General Greene was the last to speak.

When General Greene finished, President Johnson, who was nothing if not a skilled actor, looked sad for a moment, then suddenly erupted again, yelling and cursing, again using language that even a Marine seldom hears. He told them he was disgusted with their naive approach, and that he was not going to let some military idiots talk him into World War III. He ended the conference by shouting "Get the hell out of my office!"

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had done their duty. They knew that the nation was making a strategic military error, and despite the rebuffs of their civilian masters in the Pentagon, they had insisted on presenting the problem as they saw it to the highest authority and recommending solutions. They had done so, and they had been rebuffed. That authority had not only rejected their solutions, but had also insulted and demeaned them. As Admiral McDonald and I drove back to the Pentagon, he turned to me and said that he had known tough days in his life, and sad ones as well, but ". . . this has got to have been the worst experience I could ever imagine."

The US involvement in Vietnam lasted another ten years. The irony is that it began to end only when President Richard Nixon, after some backstage maneuvering on the international scene, did precisely what the Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended to President Johnson in 1965. Why had Johnson not only dismissed their recommendations, but also ridiculed them? It must have been that Johnson had lacked something. Maybe it was foresight or boldness. Maybe it was the sophistication and understanding it took to deal with complex international issues. Or, since he was clearly a bully, maybe what he lacked was courage. We will never know. But had General Wheeler and the others received a fair hearing, and had their recommendations received serious study, the United States may well have saved the lives of most of its more than 55,000 sons who died in a war that its major architect, Robert Strange McNamara, now considers to have been a tragic mistake.

Custom text:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Let's look at what Caro writes about the Bay of Pigs: please read all of page 183 here http://books.google....f power&f=false

Now I will type the top part of 184 which is not available on Google Books.

".. he was arranging the ransom of the prisoners the next year, "It was,"Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston said, "the first time I ever saw tears in his eyes"), no one was taking the blame but him. During the postmortem meeting on the catastrophe, however, Johnson launched into what has been described as "a general criticism of " the CIA. Kennedy said, "Lyndon, you've got to remember we're all in this, and that, when I accepted responsibility for this operation, I took the entire responsibility on myself, and I think we should have no sort of passing the buck of backbiting, however justified." A the first meeting on the Bay of Pigs to which Johnson was invited, he had been rebuked by the President in front of the other men at the table."

I am left with a lot of questions re: this depiction of the Bay of Pigs.

None of them reflect kindly on Caro's scholarship. What do you think?

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...