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Roger Hilsman on JFK vs LBJ on Vietnam


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David Giglio found this interview.  This was in 1983, ten years before John Newman's milestone book JFK and Vietnam  was published. 

https://kennedysandking.com/videos-and-interviews/clete-roberts-interviews-roger-hilsman-on-vietnam-1983

Its kind of odd that this thesis created the uproar that it did. Today I chalk it up to the laziness and sloth of both the media and academia.  Also to Hallin's spheres.  If you do not know what that is, you should:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallin's_spheres.  Part of that is because its clear now that LBJ tried to cover up the fact that he was breaking with Kennedy's withdrawal policy.  In all honesty, I have to admit though i was unaware of this until about 1990-91, when I started my first book.  Even though, as with many things, it was Jim Garrison who first put this thesis forth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallin's_spheres

 

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12 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

David Giglio found this interview.  This was in 1983, ten years before John Newman's milestone book JFK and Vietnam  was published. 

https://kennedysandking.com/videos-and-interviews/clete-roberts-interviews-roger-hilsman-on-vietnam-1983

Its kind of odd that this thesis created the uproar that it did. Today I chalk it up to the laziness and sloth of both the media and academia.  Also to Hallin's spheres.  If you do not know what that is, you should:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallin's_spheres.  Part of that is because its clear now that LBJ tried to cover up the fact that he was breaking with Kennedy's withdrawal policy.  In all honesty, I have to admit though i was unaware of this until about 1990-91, when I started my first book.  Even though, as with many things, it was Jim Garrison who first put this thesis forth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallin's_spheres

 

    Hilsman's account of JFK's position on Vietnam in this interview also dovetails with L. Fletcher Prouty's firsthand narrative about the history of NSAM 263 and NSAM 273, in Prouty's 1992 book on The CIA, Vietnam, and the JFK Assassination.

    It appears that several LBJ administration staffers must have colluded in suppressing the true history of LBJ's reversal of JFK's NSAM 263 Vietnam policy-- including Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, Maxwell Taylor, Walter Rostow, and even Bill Moyers(?)

Edited by W. Niederhut
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1 hour ago, Joseph McBride said:

Clete Roberts is the man who has one of the key lines in John

Ford's body of work. He's the TV reporter who describes

Spencer Tracy's Mayor Skeffington in THE LAST HURRAH as "victorious in defeat."

Darn you sir (thank you too).  Spencer Tracy, Bad Day in Black Rock.  Haven't seen it in 30...what years?  Going to have to remedy that.  Bad ass years before that word could be Said in a movie much less on tv.  Sorry to detract from the thread.  I understand the concept of the concentric circles but don't understand how it fits in with all virtually all media being owned by the 1% and in turn their minions being subservient to their views on what is acceptable to publish.  Obligations to truth and honesty in reporting be damned.  Objectivity and critical thinking are discouraged.  Truth often ends up in the deviant sphere because they're (we're?) all dependent on a paycheck.  Off the soap box.

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Hallin based his book on coverage of the Vietnam War from about 1965-70.  Back then the media concentration was not nearly that bad.

It was under Reagan and then Clinton that the monopolization really accelerated like a freight train. 

Bundy, McNamara, and Taylor eventually came out of the closet on this issue of LBJ vs JFK on Vietnam.  McNamara in his book, Taylor later on in an interview said the same.

Bundy was cooperating with Gordon Goldstein on a book that was published posthumously.   In that book, Lessons in Disaster, he said the same, that JFK was not going into Vietnam.

But I must add, in an unrelated book, I found evidence that McGeorge Bundy and his brother Bill were secretly supplying info to HHH during the 1968 election to get him to come out against the war.

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Paul Rigby added this interview with Hilsman done for the LBJ Library over at DPF.

https://www.adst.org/OH TOCs/Hilsman, Roger.toc.pdf

There are two bombshells in this one that I have never seen, and I have spent the last five years studying JFK's foreign policy.

1.  On page 7, he says Bobby Kennedy wanted to negotiate out of Vietnam in 1963.

2.  JFK was thinking of recognizing Red China in 1961.  And he sent Hilsman to do a speech on this subject in 1963, keying the speech around one of the many stupid things Foster Dulles had said, that communism was only a passing fancy in China.

Remember all that crapola by Nixon about China?  Only he could go there because of his rightwing credentials?  The more you compare JFK with Nixon, the more of the primitive and stupid Cold Warrior RMN looks.

Thanks to Paul Rigby for these gems.

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So, in this Paul Rigby interview, Hilsman doesn't mention anything about LBJ signing NSAM 273 on 11/25/63-- which, if I understand the analyses of Peter Dale Scott and Prouty correctly, essentially reversed JFK's NSAM 263, by emphasizing the military objective of defeating communism in Vietnam, at any cost.

Apparently, the Honolulu conference draft of NSAM 273 was dated 11/21/63 as I recall.

Doesn't this hint that LBJ was involved in some sort of pre-assassination plan with the "hawks" to reverse NSAM 263?

And, if not, why did LBJ and the "hawks" go to such great lengths to conceal their NSAM 273 Vietnam policy reversal?

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Roger Hilsman:  Buddhists bit – tasted a little bit of political blood.  Bit harder – tasted more political blood -- and then finally began to use American television.  None of them spoke English but their signs were all in English.

(36:53)

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WN:

IMO, I do not think that it is proper today to say that NSAM 273 reversed NSAM 263.  I think that is an overstatement. It significantly altered it, but did not reverse it.

 I think its more proper to say that NSAM 288 reversed NSAM 263.  That was in March of 1964.  That was the one that really previewed full scale American involvement.

The alteration of the draft, and John Newman's examples of it, were LBJ's changes to what Bundy had put together in Hawaii.  John actually has those in his files.  The most significant one is the change LBJ made in the patrol missions being able to use direct American involvement, since Saigon had no navy.  That is what made the OPLAN 34/DeSoto missions possible.  And that led to the Tonkin Gulf Incident. 

Tonkin essentially activated NSAM 288.

In the first interview, HIlsman talks about the big difference between Kennedy and LBJ on the war.  How Kennedy did not see any point in direct American involvement especailly the bombing of the north.

But I  think  people see here that Hilsman seems to think that the USA could win a guerrilla war.  The evidence says that JFK did not think that.  He wanted to pull everything out.

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1 hour ago, James DiEugenio said:

WN:

IMO, I do not think that it is proper today to say that NSAM 273 reversed NSAM 263.  I think that is an overstatement. It significantly altered it, but did not reverse it.

 I think its more proper to say that NSAM 288 reversed NSAM 263.  That was in March of 1964.  That was the one that really previewed full scale American involvement.

The alteration of the draft, and John Newman's examples of it, were LBJ's changes to what Bundy had put together in Hawaii.  John actually has those in his files.  The most significant one is the change LBJ made in the patrol missions being able to use direct American involvement, since Saigon had no navy.  That is what made the OPLAN 34/DeSoto missions possible.  And that led to the Tonkin Gulf Incident. 

Tonkin essentially activated NSAM 288.

In the first interview, HIlsman talks about the big difference between Kennedy and LBJ on the war.  How Kennedy did not see any point in direct American involvement especailly the bombing of the north.

But I  think  people see here that Hilsman seems to think that the USA could win a guerrilla war.  The evidence says that JFK did not think that.  He wanted to pull everything out.

I'll take your word for it on this NSAM 273 issue.  I recall reading some sort of analysis (by Peter Dale Scott?) describing a slight change in the 273 wording, to emphasize the over-arching objective of stopping communism in Vietnam.

(Whereas, JFK had said something along the lines of the war, ultimately, being "South Vietnam's war to win or lose," as I recall.)

I was surprised to read about Hilsman's optimism in 1963 about the "strategic hamlet" program, because Col. Fletcher Prouty described it as a grossly immoral, operational disaster (in his 1992 book about JFK and Vietnam.)

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On 4/22/2018 at 8:49 PM, Greg Burnham said:

.....

Let's see if we can get Greg Burnham to weigh in on this. It seems that Jim and Greg have different takes on this. I have been following Greg's line on this, as I understand it. 

Jim's take is sparse on detail, here anyway. 

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On 8/25/2018 at 10:42 AM, James DiEugenio said:

I think this is what Mike is talking about.

 

http://www.studien-von-zeitfragen.de/Druckversion/273_1997(by Prouty).HTM

Jim,

     Your link (above) is the Prouty text about NSAM 263 and NSAM 273 that I was thinking of, and here is the Peter Dale Scott analysis that I mentioned.

https://www.history-matters.com/essays/vietnam/KennedyVietnam1971/KennedyVietnam1971.htm

 

 

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