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New Statesman: US foreign policy if JFK had lived


Paul Rigby
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http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2013/08/jfk-anniversary-what-if-kennedy-had-lived

The JFK anniversary: What if Kennedy had lived?

James G. Blight & Janet M. Lang

Actual JFK

JFK’s well-documented record of his decisions on matters of war and peace is as astonishing as it is unambiguous. We now know that no American president was ever pressured more intensely or more often to take the US to war. His advisers lobbied him, attempted to intimidate him and schemed throughout his presidency to force him to authorise direct US military interventions.
The pressure was most intense over Cuba (twice, in April 1961 and October 1962), Laos (spring 1961), the Berlin Wall (summer and fall 1961) and in South Vietnam (twice, November 1961 and October 1963). In each case, Kennedy successfully resisted their pressure to intervene militarily even though, on each occasion, intervening would have been politically popular, at least initially. The declassified documents and oral testimony that have become available over the past quartercentury (much of it produced by our own research projects on the Cuban missile crisis, the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Vietnam war) are unequivocal – JFK was regularly out in front of his advisers in articulating what might go wrong if military force was used as an early option rather than, as he believed, an option of last resort, and how such action, if taken, could escalate into a disaster.
A half-century after JFK’s assassination in Dallas, we know that he was right, and that those counselling the use of force were wrong. This is because, during the past 25 years, we have gained access to a trove of important documents and oral testimony from former cold war adversaries: from Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere. We now have the data necessary to calculate with confidence the probable result if JFK had ordered, for example, the demolition of the Berlin Wall after 13 August 1961, when its construction by the East Germans and Soviets began; or the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam in November 1961 to an American war by despatching US combat personnel to South Vietnam; or an invasion of Cuba during the October 1962 missile crisis.
Had Kennedy caved in to his hawkish advisers on any of these occasions, the probable result would have been a disastrous war that would have been much bloodier and more costly than his hawkish advisers estimated. Today, we know what Soviet leaders were thinking during the Berlin Wall and Cuban missile crises, and what they were prepared to do in the event of a US military intervention.
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Here’s the headline: his death was an Olympian tragedy because the United States and the world lost a leader whose number-one priority was to keep his nation out of war...

Thank you for posting this Paul, I had no idea the New Statesman was on top of this,

or as we say in New York "all over it like a cheap suit."

I found only one glaring error in the piece, where they write:

The bizarre, still incompletely solved assassination has focused succeeding generations....

They think, completely mistakenly in my view, that the crime has been partially solved.

In my book, Oz had no hand, act or part in any crime that day

but apparently I am a minority of one

on this forum at least.

Of course history is piled high with examples of truths that began

with a minority of one.

Edited by J. Raymond Carroll
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