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Good Day.... http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washingt...vietnam/?page=1

<QUOTE>

Papers reveal JFK efforts on Vietnam

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff | June 6, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Newly uncovered documents from both American and Polish archives show that President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet Union secretly sought ways to find a diplomatic settlement to the war in Vietnam, starting three years before the United States sent combat troops.

Kennedy, relying on his ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, planned to reach out to the North Vietnamese in April 1962 through a senior Indian diplomat, according to a secret State Department cable that was never dispatched.

Back-channel discussions also were attempted in January 1963, this time through the Polish government, which relayed the overture to Soviet leaders. New Polish records indicate Moscow was much more open than previously thought to using its influence with North Vietnam to cool a Cold War flash point.

The attempts to use India and Poland as go-betweens ultimately fizzled, partly because of North Vietnamese resistance and partly because Kennedy faced pressure from advisers to expand American military involvement, according to the documents and interviews with scholars. Both India and Poland were members of the International Control Commission that monitored the 1954 agreement that divided North and South Vietnam.

The documents are seen by former Kennedy aides as new evidence of his true intentions in Vietnam. The question of whether Kennedy would have escalated the war or sought some diplomatic exit has been heatedly debated by historians and officials who served under both Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.

When Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, there were 16,000 US military advisers in Vietnam. The number of troops grew to more than 500,000, and the war raged for another decade.

''I think the issue of how JFK would have acted differently than LBJ is something that will never be settled, but intrigues biographers," said Robert Dallek, author of noted biographies of Kennedy and Johnson.

''Historians partial to Kennedy see matters differently from those partial to LBJ," Dallek added. ''Vietnam has become a point of contention in defending and criticizing JFK."

But some Kennedy loyalists say the documents show he would have negotiated a settlement or withdrawn from Vietnam despite the objections of many top advisers, such as Kennedy and Johnson's defense secretary, Robert S. McNamara, who opposed Galbraith's diplomatic efforts at the time.

''The drafts are perfectly authentic," said Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who was a White House aide to Kennedy. ''They show Kennedy felt we were over-committed in Vietnam and he was very uneasy. I think he would have withdrawn by 1965 before he took steps to Americanize the war."

McNamara said in an interview Wednesday that he had ''no recollection" of the Galbraith discussions, but ''I have no doubt that Kennedy would have been interested in it. He reached out to divergent views."

Others, however, are highly skeptical the new information signals what action Kennedy would have ultimately taken.

''It's unknowable what he would have done," said Carl Kaysen, who was Kennedy's deputy special assistant for national security.

Kaysen, who also judged the documents to be authentic, believes Kennedy was just as likely as his successors to misjudge the situation. ''The basic mistake the US made was to underestimate the determination of North Vietnam and the communist party in South Vietnam, the Viet Minh, and to overstate its own position," he said Thursday.

He also doubted that North Vietnam would have been willing to negotiate a deal acceptable to the United States. ''In hindsight, it would have been another futile effort," Kaysen said, because the North Vietnamese were determined to control the fate of South Vietnam.

But the documents, which came from the archives of then-Assistant Secretary of State W. Averell Harriman and the communist government in Warsaw, demonstrate that Kennedy and the Soviets were looking for common ground.

They also shed new light on Galbraith's role. The Harvard economist was on friendly terms with India's prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and a close confidant of Kennedy's. Galbraith sent numerous telegrams to the president warning about the risks of greater military intervention.

Galbraith told the Globe last week that he and Kennedy discussed the war in Vietnam at a farm in rural Virginia in early April 1962, where Galbraith handed the president a two-page plan to use India as an emissary for peace negotiations.

Records show that McNamara and the military brass quickly criticized the proposal. An April 14 Pentagon memo to Kennedy said that ''a reversal of US policy could have disastrous effects, not only upon our relationship with South Vietnam, but with the rest of our Asian and other allies as well."

Nevertheless, Kennedy later told Harriman to instruct Galbraith to pursue the channel through M. J. Desai, then India's foreign secretary. At the time, the United States had only 1,500 military advisers in South Vietnam.

''The president wants to have instructions sent to Ambassador Galbraith to talk to Desai telling him that if Hanoi takes steps to reduce guerrilla activity [in South Vietnam], we would correspond accordingly," Harriman states in an April 17, 1962, memo to his staff. ''If they stop the guerrilla activity entirely, we would withdraw to a normal basis."

A draft cable dated the same day instructed Galbraith to use Desai as a ''channel discreetly communicating to responsible leaders [in the] North Vietnamese regime . . . the president's position as he indicated it."

But a week later, Harriman met with Kennedy and apparently persuaded him to delay, according to other documents, and the overture was never revived.

Galbraith, 97, never received the official instructions but said last week that the documents are ''wholly in line" with his discussions with Kennedy and that he had expected Kennedy to pursue the Indian channel.

The draft of the unsent cable was discovered in Harriman's papers by scholar Gareth Porter and are outlined in a forthcoming book, ''Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam."

Meanwhile, the Polish archives from a year later revealed another back-channel attempt to find a possible settlement.

At the urging of Nehru, Galbraith met with the Polish foreign minister, Adam Rapacki, in New Delhi on Jan. 21, 1963, where Galbraith expressed Kennedy's likely interest in a Polish proposal for a cease-fire and new elections in South Vietnam. There is no evidence of further discussions between the two diplomats. Rapacki returned to Warsaw a day later. Galbraith wrote in his memoirs that it was not followed up.

But the newly released Polish documents, obtained by George Washington University researcher Malgorzata Gnoinska, show that Galbraith's message was sent to Moscow, where it was taken seriously.

A lengthy February memo from the Soviet politburo reported on the Galbraith-Rapacki discussions. It concluded that Kennedy and ''part of the administration . . . did not want Vietnam to turn into a second Korea" and appeared interested in a diplomatic settlement akin to one reached in 1962 about Laos, Vietnam's neighbor.

''It is apparent that Kennedy is not opposed to finding a compromise regarding South Vietnam," the memo said, according to Gnoinska's translation. ''It seems that the Americans have arrived at the conclusion that the continued intervention in Vietnam does not promise victory and have decided to somehow untangle themselves from the difficult situation they find themselves in over there."

It went on to say that ''neutralizing" the crises ''could untangle the dangerous knot of international tensions in Southeast Asia."

Definitive reasons both the Indian and Polish attempts were not pursued further are not known. In October 1963, the South Vietnamese government was overthrown, igniting political chaos. North Vietnam may have become more certain it would prevail. Neither the Indian or Vietnamese archives are available. The would-be Indian emissary, Desai, whom records indicate still lives in Bombay, could not be reached.

Kennedy had few options. Many believe North Vietnam would have swiftly prevailed over the South if the United States pulled out; that is what happened more than a decade later. It would have been extremely difficult to risk such an outcome at the height of the Cold War, fearing communism would spread to other countries under the so-called domino theory.

''There was no open debate in the Kennedy or Johnson administration about whether the domino theory was correct," McNamara said. It was simply gospel, he said.

Nonetheless, the new information sheds light on Kennedy's misgivings about getting further embroiled in the Vietnam War; up to his death he refused to do as most of his advisers urged and allow US ground troops to participate in the fighting, as Johnson did beginning in 1965. Galbraith said Kennedy ''harbored doubts, extending to measured resistance, on the Vietnam War." But it was ''countered by the fact that he had such articulate and committed warriors to contend with" in his administration, he said.

''It's another clear indication that my brother was very reluctant to accept the strong recommendations he was getting to send troops to Vietnam," Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, told the Globe on Friday after reviewing the cable to Galbraith. ''It's hard to believe that Jack would ever have allowed the tentative steps he took in those days to escalate into the huge military crisis that Vietnam became."

Of the cable, Theodore Sorensen, who was a special assistant to Kennedy, said: ''It is clearly consistent with what I have always thought and said about JFK's attitude toward Vietnam."

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official and coauthor of the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of US policy toward Vietnam, added that the documents ''show a willingness to negotiate [a pullout] that LBJ didn't have in 1964-66." But, Ellsberg added, ''he might not have been able to do it."

Bryan Bender can be reached at Bender@globe.com

<END QUOTE>

Don Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, "Big John" Plank Walker

Sooner, or later, the Truth emerges Clearly

http://members.aol.com/DRoberdeau/JFK/DP.jpg

http://members.aol.com/DRoberdeau/JFK/ROSE...NOUNCEMENT.html

T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore

TEAMWORK.gif

DHS3elevatedYELLOW.gif

"That’s when they encountered Oswald drinking a coke on the second floor."

"We had a similar case with another officer named McLain. We had a guy come to Dallas several years ago with a sound device listening to some noise on one of the police radios. He said that he counted seven shots. McLain told them it was his radio making the noise, so he was taken to Washington and questioned. Mac didn’t know what in the hell he was talking about. He was kind of a nit wit, and when he went up there, he made an ass out of our whole department. It was disgraceful! I think he just wanted a trip to Washington."

"After the assassination, the FBI did their investigative work on the curb where I had seen the shot and cut off the section to analyze. However, they cut off the wrong section. We later found the place where it hit. Sergeant Harkness knows. He was a three-wheel sergeant who worked traffic downtown."

----STAVIS "Steve" ELLIS, D.P.D. Sergeant/motorcyclist/presidential motorcade motorcyclist lead line Supervisor 11-22-63 to Larry Sneed, "No More Silence" (1988)

Edited by Don Roberdeau
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Guest Stephen Turner

Great post Don.

Of course the interesting point is not whether JFK would have been able to pull it off, But whether the Hawks belived he was seriously going to try. :D

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Stephen

The "hawks" already knew he could stand up to them...Cuban Missle Crisis is a case in point. The question then is, perhaps, did the "hawks" (Taylor?) what to give him the opportunity to stand up to them/him again?

Jim Root

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Hi Don-

Excellent job! Thanks for the informative post. These new documents are important.

In a prior post, I suggested that NSAM 263, Kennedy’s signing of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963, Kennedy’s decision to opt for a naval blockade during the missile crisis (despite pressure from within his own administration to strike), Kennedy’s intensive back-channel communications with Khrushchev re: the missile crisis while publicly taking a firm, no-negotiations stance toward the Soviet Union, Jean Daniel’s meeting with Castro, and the deal Kennedy ultimately made to resolve the missile crisis form a framework, a context, to help us understand JFK’s “dual track” efforts with regard to Cuba.

Without opening that can of worms again on this thread (Cuba), I believe that these new documents and the supporting statements made by Schlesinger, McNamara, Galbraith, Edward Kennedy, Sorenson, and Ellsberg, add yet another significant structural element to that framework which shows us, regardless of any political maneuvering in which he may have been engaged, JFK’s true beliefs with regard to confrontation, war, and communism (eradication by force vs. diplomatic/political solutions).

As Dallek and Kaysen correctly point out, these latest revelations don’t PROVE anything. It is impossible to know with 100% certainty what track Kennedy would have ultimately pursued, or been compelled to pursue, with regard to Vietnam. Tim Gratz has pointed out the same about Kennedy’s Cuba policy. So perhaps these events, when viewed in isolation, can be interpreted somewhat loosely. But when these matters of fact are viewed in relation to one another, we have no less than seven matters of historical record, all of which occurred almost immediately prior to Kennedy’s bloody removal from office, that force us to draw certain conclusions about Kennedy’s true beliefs and his ultimate foreign policy track, beginning at least as early as April 1962, but most especially during and after October 1962.

Couple this with the fact that the CIA and the Joint Chiefs learned from the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis that while Kennedy may seek their counsel, he would not be manipulated or bullied into supporting an agenda in which he did not believe. They now knew that they could not control him. Given the fact that many of these men (Taylor, LeMay, Lemnitzer, Dulles, Walker, Lansdale, etc.) were hardened Cold Warriors who helped their country to victory in WWII and who were now leading the fight against the communists around the globe, it is interesting to wonder about their attitudes toward their commander- the young, inexperienced, independent-spirited president who would engage in so much back-channel discussion about peace with the Soviet leader at the height of the Cold War. All while Mary Meyer was filling his head with these pacifist notions, Dr. Jacobson was giving him daily injections of God-knows-what, while he’s been sleeping with Giancana’s woman, a possible communist spy in Ellen Rometsch, and who knows how many other women.

And so it would seem that by late 1962, Kennedy was surrounded by some very powerful men to whom he was diametrically opposed when it came to the very serious issues of national security. Add to that the women, drugs, and Kennedy’s refusal to be bullied, and it’s hard to imagine these men had much respect for him by the time 1963 rolled around. These were not stupid men. They probably ticked off the same seven foreign policy issues listed above and were terrified of what that might mean in the global struggle of ideologies. These were big-picture guys. Men with strong views about how the world ought to be. And men of action. It’s hard to believe they would sit back impotently and watch JFK piss it all away.

So, does this prove that they organized and carried out his murder? No. No more so than do the motivations possessed by the other casts of usual suspects prove that they “did it.”

But as more of these pieces fall into place, especially as they continue to construct the framework that reveals Kennedy's true foreign policy agenda, it becomes even more difficult to imagine that these men just sat back and did nothing.

Edited by Greg Wagner
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I was rewatching '13 days', the Kevin Costner film there a few days ago and it only really hit me then how much Taylor and Lemay were trying to railroad JFK into going into Cuba.

It really showed how the pentagon did not come under the jurisdiction of the president.

Lemay bringing the country to defcom2, unauthorised by the president and also the testing of nuclear weapons during the crisis.

The hawks tried to intimidate Kennedy into going into Cuba. I think it was after the missile crisis that they said enough was enough and decided to take action.

No action on Cuba to them was unnacceptable.

I agree with Shanets 25th amendment scenario and I feel both Lemay and Taylor were key to this, having the authority to go to defcom2 would suggest that they had the power to sanction the removal of the commander in chief.

John

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Good Day.... http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washingt...vietnam/?page=1

<QUOTE>

Papers reveal JFK efforts on Vietnam

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff | June 6, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Newly uncovered documents from both American and Polish archives show that President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet Union secretly sought ways to find a diplomatic settlement to the war in Vietnam, starting three years before the United States sent combat troops.

Kennedy, relying on his ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, planned to reach out to the North Vietnamese in April 1962 through a senior Indian diplomat, according to a secret State Department cable that was never dispatched.

Back-channel discussions also were attempted in January 1963, this time through the Polish government, which relayed the overture to Soviet leaders. New Polish records indicate Moscow was much more open than previously thought to using its influence with North Vietnam to cool a Cold War flash point.

The attempts to use India and Poland as go-betweens ultimately fizzled, partly because of North Vietnamese resistance and partly because Kennedy faced pressure from advisers to expand American military involvement, according to the documents and interviews with scholars. Both India and Poland were members of the International Control Commission that monitored the 1954 agreement that divided North and South Vietnam.

The documents are seen by former Kennedy aides as new evidence of his true intentions in Vietnam. The question of whether Kennedy would have escalated the war or sought some diplomatic exit has been heatedly debated by historians and officials who served under both Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.

When Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, there were 16,000 US military advisers in Vietnam. The number of troops grew to more than 500,000, and the war raged for another decade.

''I think the issue of how JFK would have acted differently than LBJ is something that will never be settled, but intrigues biographers," said Robert Dallek, author of noted biographies of Kennedy and Johnson.

''Historians partial to Kennedy see matters differently from those partial to LBJ," Dallek added. ''Vietnam has become a point of contention in defending and criticizing JFK."

But some Kennedy loyalists say the documents show he would have negotiated a settlement or withdrawn from Vietnam despite the objections of many top advisers, such as Kennedy and Johnson's defense secretary, Robert S. McNamara, who opposed Galbraith's diplomatic efforts at the time.

''The drafts are perfectly authentic," said Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who was a White House aide to Kennedy. ''They show Kennedy felt we were over-committed in Vietnam and he was very uneasy. I think he would have withdrawn by 1965 before he took steps to Americanize the war."

McNamara said in an interview Wednesday that he had ''no recollection" of the Galbraith discussions, but ''I have no doubt that Kennedy would have been interested in it. He reached out to divergent views."

Others, however, are highly skeptical the new information signals what action Kennedy would have ultimately taken.

''It's unknowable what he would have done," said Carl Kaysen, who was Kennedy's deputy special assistant for national security.

Kaysen, who also judged the documents to be authentic, believes Kennedy was just as likely as his successors to misjudge the situation. ''The basic mistake the US made was to underestimate the determination of North Vietnam and the communist party in South Vietnam, the Viet Minh, and to overstate its own position," he said Thursday.

He also doubted that North Vietnam would have been willing to negotiate a deal acceptable to the United States. ''In hindsight, it would have been another futile effort," Kaysen said, because the North Vietnamese were determined to control the fate of South Vietnam.

But the documents, which came from the archives of then-Assistant Secretary of State W. Averell Harriman and the communist government in Warsaw, demonstrate that Kennedy and the Soviets were looking for common ground.

They also shed new light on Galbraith's role. The Harvard economist was on friendly terms with India's prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and a close confidant of Kennedy's. Galbraith sent numerous telegrams to the president warning about the risks of greater military intervention.

Galbraith told the Globe last week that he and Kennedy discussed the war in Vietnam at a farm in rural Virginia in early April 1962, where Galbraith handed the president a two-page plan to use India as an emissary for peace negotiations.

Records show that McNamara and the military brass quickly criticized the proposal. An April 14 Pentagon memo to Kennedy said that ''a reversal of US policy could have disastrous effects, not only upon our relationship with South Vietnam, but with the rest of our Asian and other allies as well."

Nevertheless, Kennedy later told Harriman to instruct Galbraith to pursue the channel through M. J. Desai, then India's foreign secretary. At the time, the United States had only 1,500 military advisers in South Vietnam.

''The president wants to have instructions sent to Ambassador Galbraith to talk to Desai telling him that if Hanoi takes steps to reduce guerrilla activity [in South Vietnam], we would correspond accordingly," Harriman states in an April 17, 1962, memo to his staff. ''If they stop the guerrilla activity entirely, we would withdraw to a normal basis."

A draft cable dated the same day instructed Galbraith to use Desai as a ''channel discreetly communicating to responsible leaders [in the] North Vietnamese regime . . . the president's position as he indicated it."

But a week later, Harriman met with Kennedy and apparently persuaded him to delay, according to other documents, and the overture was never revived.

Galbraith, 97, never received the official instructions but said last week that the documents are ''wholly in line" with his discussions with Kennedy and that he had expected Kennedy to pursue the Indian channel.

The draft of the unsent cable was discovered in Harriman's papers by scholar Gareth Porter and are outlined in a forthcoming book, ''Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam."

Meanwhile, the Polish archives from a year later revealed another back-channel attempt to find a possible settlement.

At the urging of Nehru, Galbraith met with the Polish foreign minister, Adam Rapacki, in New Delhi on Jan. 21, 1963, where Galbraith expressed Kennedy's likely interest in a Polish proposal for a cease-fire and new elections in South Vietnam. There is no evidence of further discussions between the two diplomats. Rapacki returned to Warsaw a day later. Galbraith wrote in his memoirs that it was not followed up.

But the newly released Polish documents, obtained by George Washington University researcher Malgorzata Gnoinska, show that Galbraith's message was sent to Moscow, where it was taken seriously.

A lengthy February memo from the Soviet politburo reported on the Galbraith-Rapacki discussions. It concluded that Kennedy and ''part of the administration . . . did not want Vietnam to turn into a second Korea" and appeared interested in a diplomatic settlement akin to one reached in 1962 about Laos, Vietnam's neighbor.

''It is apparent that Kennedy is not opposed to finding a compromise regarding South Vietnam," the memo said, according to Gnoinska's translation. ''It seems that the Americans have arrived at the conclusion that the continued intervention in Vietnam does not promise victory and have decided to somehow untangle themselves from the difficult situation they find themselves in over there."

It went on to say that ''neutralizing" the crises ''could untangle the dangerous knot of international tensions in Southeast Asia."

Definitive reasons both the Indian and Polish attempts were not pursued further are not known. In October 1963, the South Vietnamese government was overthrown, igniting political chaos. North Vietnam may have become more certain it would prevail. Neither the Indian or Vietnamese archives are available. The would-be Indian emissary, Desai, whom records indicate still lives in Bombay, could not be reached.

Kennedy had few options. Many believe North Vietnam would have swiftly prevailed over the South if the United States pulled out; that is what happened more than a decade later. It would have been extremely difficult to risk such an outcome at the height of the Cold War, fearing communism would spread to other countries under the so-called domino theory.

''There was no open debate in the Kennedy or Johnson administration about whether the domino theory was correct," McNamara said. It was simply gospel, he said.

Nonetheless, the new information sheds light on Kennedy's misgivings about getting further embroiled in the Vietnam War; up to his death he refused to do as most of his advisers urged and allow US ground troops to participate in the fighting, as Johnson did beginning in 1965. Galbraith said Kennedy ''harbored doubts, extending to measured resistance, on the Vietnam War." But it was ''countered by the fact that he had such articulate and committed warriors to contend with" in his administration, he said.

''It's another clear indication that my brother was very reluctant to accept the strong recommendations he was getting to send troops to Vietnam," Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, told the Globe on Friday after reviewing the cable to Galbraith. ''It's hard to believe that Jack would ever have allowed the tentative steps he took in those days to escalate into the huge military crisis that Vietnam became."

Of the cable, Theodore Sorensen, who was a special assistant to Kennedy, said: ''It is clearly consistent with what I have always thought and said about JFK's attitude toward Vietnam."

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official and coauthor of the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of US policy toward Vietnam, added that the documents ''show a willingness to negotiate [a pullout] that LBJ didn't have in 1964-66." But, Ellsberg added, ''he might not have been able to do it."

Bryan Bender can be reached at Bender@globe.com

<END QUOTE>

Don Roberdeau

U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, CV-67, "Big John" Plank Walker

Sooner, or later, the Truth emerges Clearly

http://members.aol.com/DRoberdeau/JFK/DP.jpg

http://members.aol.com/DRoberdeau/JFK/ROSE...NOUNCEMENT.html

T ogether

E veryone

A chieves

M ore

TEAMWORK.gif

DHS3elevatedYELLOW.gif

"That’s when they encountered Oswald drinking a coke on the second floor."

"We had a similar case with another officer named McLain. We had a guy come to Dallas several years ago with a sound device listening to some noise on one of the police radios. He said that he counted seven shots. McLain told them it was his radio making the noise, so he was taken to Washington and questioned. Mac didn’t know what in the hell he was talking about. He was kind of a nit wit, and when he went up there, he made an ass out of our whole department. It was disgraceful! I think he just wanted a trip to Washington."

"After the assassination, the FBI did their investigative work on the curb where I had seen the shot and cut off the section to analyze. However, they cut off the wrong section. We later found the place where it hit. Sergeant Harkness knows. He was a three-wheel sergeant who worked traffic downtown."

----STAVIS "Steve" ELLIS, D.P.D. Sergeant/motorcyclist/presidential motorcade motorcyclist lead line Supervisor 11-22-63 to Larry Sneed, "No More Silence" (1988)

Don:

I have always been of the opinion that, had JFK lived, he would've withdrawn

from Vietnam like the documents now revealed reflect.

In the year 2000, a book was released by David Kaiser titled, "American Tragedy." Kaiser, uses complete documentation to make his argument that JFK

was not the Cold Warrior just itching for a fight with the Communists that many portray him to be. In fact, he makes the argument, using documentation from the

Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, that Eisenhower was ready to

go to war in Vietnam, using nuclear weapons if need be.

When Kennedy was elected, according to Kaiser, this policy changed from one of aggression that was Eisenhower's policy, to one of diplomacy, that was to

be the rule under Kennedy for the three years he was President.

Kaiser explains in his book that when Johnson was elevated to the presidency after the assassination, Eisenhower's policies reemerged in the military intervention in Vietnam mounted by the Johnson administration.

David Kaiser gives numerous examples of how JFK used diplomacy,

much to the chagrin of his senior advisors and the JCS, rather than raw military

power to solve an international problem. For instance, Laos was an immediate

problem inherited by the Kennedy administration. JFK asked his Chiefs and other

leading officials to provide individual opinions on intervention into Laos by the next day, which was May 2, 1961. McNamara and Roswell Gilpatrick, his deputy, suggested intervention with troops. The JCS, specifically General Lemnitzer, Admiral Burke, and General Decker of the Army shared their view. Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay wanted to prepare for all-out war with China. Only Marine Corps Commandant General David Shoup opposed troop intervention.

(Kaiser, pp 51-52)

And what did JFK conclude? He never considered the majority recommendation of troop intervention. His policy was one of reaching a diplomatic agreement; that of a neutral government that the people of Laos could

accept. This was to be the theme of his administration for the three years he was

in the White House. Were the powers that be in this country unhappy with this policy of diplomacy over force? I believe they were.

Bill Cheslock

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