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JFK vs LBJ Vietnam Policy Differences

Douglas Caddy

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Myra Bronstein posted the following on Facebook today:

JFK vs LBJ Vietnam Policy Differences

President Kennedy and LBJ had opposite Vietnam policies.

Yet the corporate media consistently spreads lies on this subject. And soon establishment shill Ken Burns will release a documentary on Vietnam. So it’s critical to understand the facts, and anticipate the standard lie spread by their proxies like Burns and Noam Chomsky who don’t want us to know that JFK and LBJ had opposite Vietnam policies and plans. Once we know the truth it points to a motive for the 1963 coup in which peace monger JFK was killed by war mongers.

President Kennedy’s refusal to spill more US blood in Vietnam, in spite of the determination of the military and CIA to go to war, is one of the reasons he was assassinated. He tried to do the right thing and he was murdered for it.

JFK’s murder marks the beginning of the US’s permanent war machine we see today.


-JFK's NSAM 263 is published October 11, 1963, in which McGeorge Bundy, JFK’s National Security Advisor, states:

“At a meeting on October 5, 1963, the President considered the recommendations contained in the report of Secretary McNamara and General Taylor on their mission to South Vietnam.

The President approved the military recommendations contained in Section I B (1-3)* of the report, but directed that no formal announcement be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.”

-National Security Action Memorandum 263:

-The McNamara Taylor Report (aka Report of McNamara-Taylor Mission to South Vietnam), Section I B (1-3), ordered the full withdrawal of all US personnel by end of 1965.

Excerpts from Section I B (1-3):

“B. Recommendations.

We recommend that:

1. General Harkins review with Diem the military changes necessary to complete the military campaign in the Northern and Central areas (I, II, and III Corps) by the end of 1964, and in the Delta (IV Corps) by the end of 1965.”
“2. A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time.”
a. The security of South Vietnam remains vital to United States security. For this reason, we adhere to the overriding objective of denying this country to Communism and of suppressing the Viet Cong insurgency as promptly as possible. (By suppressing the insurgency we mean reducing it to proportions manageable by the national security forces of the GVN, unassisted by the presence of U.S. military forces.) We believe the U.S. part of the task can be completed by the end of 1965, the terminal date which we are taking as the time objective of our counterinsurgency programs.”


"Perhaps the most powerful evidence indicating that select Senior Administration Officials and Senior Military personnel may have had foreknowledge of the plot to assassinate the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is found in the DRAFT of National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) Number 273. There are several smoking guns, but the one that initially stands out as the most obvious is the date of the DRAFT, which was subsequently signed by McGeorge Bundy, Special Assistant to the President for National Security. The DRAFT was written and dated November 21st, 1963 less than 24 hours before the assassination. It was ostensibly the result of the meetings that took place the previous day at the Honolulu Conference."

-Introduction to National Security Action Memorandum Number 273
By Greg Burnham


-LBJ's NSAM 273 is published November 26, 1963 (4 days after President Kennedy’s murder) in which McGeorge Bundy, who became LBJ’s National Security Advisor, states:

“1. It remains the central object of the United States in South Vietnam to assist the people and Government of that country to win their contest against the externally directed and supported Communist conspiracy.

6. Programs of military and economic assistance should be maintained at such levels that their magnitude and effectiveness in the eyes of the Vietnamese Government do not fall below the levels sustained by the United States in the time of the Diem Government.

7. With respect to action against North Vietnam, there should be a detailed plan for the development of additional Government of Vietnam resources, especially for sea-going activity, and such planning should indicate the time and investment necessary to achieve a wholly new level of effectiveness in the field of action.

8. With respect to Laos, a plan should be developed for military operations up to a line up to 50 kilometers inside Laos,

9. It was agreed in Honolulu that the situation in Cambodia is of the first importance for South Vietnam, and it is therefore urgent that we should lose no opportunity to exercise a favorable influence upon that country.”

Note that not only is LBJ is escalating in Vietnam and Cambodia, but also in Laos which had been NEUTRAL under JFK.

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Is Burns going to argue there was no difference between LBJ and JFK on Vietnam?

I hope not, because he will really leave himself wide open since a lot of academics and even part of the MSM was convinced by the ARRB releases that JFK was withdrawing at the time of his death.

I can understand PBS doing such a thing.  And even demanding such a thing.

But if Burns gave in on this, then he should go back to baseball.

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The most telling, or one of the most telling arguments, that Kennedy was withdrawing is a fact first brought out by Fletcher Prouty and then amplified by John Newman.

When Kennedy sent McNamara and Taylor to Saigon in the fall of 1963, they were supposed to write a report with recommendations.  Then that report would serve as the basis for a new policy announcement. Because it would tell the White House about the progress of the war.

Well, as Prouty understood, since he was a part of that process, and as Newman understood through further documentation and interviews, neither Taylor nor McNamara wrote that report.  Whatever they wrote was switched around with a report that was being written in Washington.  Whatever was forwarded was  being edited by a team led by Prouty's buddy Victor Krulak upon the immediate supervision of Bobby Kennedy, who was getting his instructions from JFK.  (John Newman JFK and Vietnam, p. 401)

That report portrayed a rosy picture of the American involvement in Vietnam.  When in fact, this was not at all what was going on.  But Kennedy wanted this in the report so that he could base his upcoming NSAM 263 upon these false assumptions.  Which, of course, is what happened.  Kennedy, knowing these estimates were off, was going to use the false intel to get America out of the war.  (ibid, p. 402)  In other words, he was going to foist the Pentagon on its own petard:  If everything was just jim dandy, then we do not need American involvement anymore.  But Kennedy understood such was not the case.  Which is why he did not want people like  commander and American advisor Jean Paul Vann talking to the public, or Davdi Halberstam writing for the NY Times.  Since they understood that there was no way that Saigon was going to win on its own.  And it was just a matter of time for Saigon to fall if America pulled out and did not inject combat troops.  And direct American involvement isis what Vann and Halberstam  wanted.   But Kennedy was dead set against  it.  (Of course, after LBJ did send in combat troops and it made no real difference, Halberstam  did an about face and a magic trick to make everybody forget he had been a hawk. He then disguised what he had done and what JFK was planning in his obsolete book The Best and the Brightest.)

So Kennedy jammed through NSAM 263 over the objections of some of his advisors. As Newman states, he actually "steamrollered his opposition". (ibid, pgs. 404-407)  He then sent McNamara out to tell the press about the withdrawal plan. Before he spoke, Kennedy stuck his head out the window and said, "And tell them that  means all the helicopter pilots too." (ibid, p. 407)

John's book has just been reissued.  In my opinion, even though there have been other good books written since on this subject, it is still the best volume on the issue.  IF you have not read  it, you are not well informed on the Big Picture and the why of this case.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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