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LBJ and Vietnam


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[quote name='John Simkin' date='Mar 3 2006, 12:04 AM' post='57150']

I read somewhere that LBJ told one of his aides something like "get me elected (in 1964) and I will give them the Vietnam War that they are after". Can anyone remember what was actually said and the book that this information came from?

This quote, (according to "JFK The book of the Film") is attributed to Stanley Karnow from "Vietnam:A History" p. 326

Dawn

[quote name='Dawn Meredith' date='Mar 3 2006, 01:09 AM' post='57162']

[quote name='John Simkin' date='Mar 3 2006, 12:04 AM' post='57150']

I read somewhere that LBJ told one of his aides something like "get me elected (in 1964) and I will give them the Vietnam War that they are after". Can anyone remember what was actually said and the book that this information came from?

This quote, (according to "JFK The book of the Film") is attributed to Stanley Karnow from "Vietnam:A History" p. 326

Dawn

And the quote is "Just get me elected and you can have your war".

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[quote name='John Simkin' date='Mar 3 2006, 12:04 AM' post='57150']

I read somewhere that LBJ told one of his aides something like "get me elected (in 1964) and I will give them the Vietnam War that they are after". Can anyone remember what was actually said and the book that this information came from?

This quote, (according to "JFK The book of the Film") is attributed to Stanley Karnow from "Vietnam:A History" p. 326

Dawn

Dawn

For those of us who have Karnow's revised and updated edition of his book

that was printed in 1991, the quote is on page 342. According to Karnow in this 1991

edition, LBJ said to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963,

"Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."

The quote is quite interesting, in my opinion. He says, "let me get elected,"

as if the joint chiefs were going to act in some way that would prevent him from

winning the election. Why would LBJ say to the joint chiefs, "let me.......?"

Bill C

And the quote is "Just get me elected and you can have your war".

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English isn't my first language, but perhaps he meant it as 'let me' meaning 'leave it to me to go through the process of 'get'tting 'elected'. or simply 'just wait till I've gotten elected'. Which could indicate an expectation of victory rather than a request. Perhaps a southerner of that generation, Tom?, could comment?

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For those of us who have Karnow's revised and updated edition of his book

that was printed in 1991, the quote is on page 342. According to Karnow in this 1991

edition, LBJ said to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963,

"Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."

Thank you for this. I don't have a copy of Karnow's book at hand. Does he give his source for this comment?

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For those of us who have Karnow's revised and updated edition of his book

that was printed in 1991, the quote is on page 342. According to Karnow in this 1991

edition, LBJ said to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963,

"Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."

Thank you for this. I don't have a copy of Karnow's book at hand. Does he give his source for this comment?

John

Karnow has what he calls "Notes on Sources" at the end of his book. Unfortunately,

he lists only the books he found his information in. For example, chapter 9 holds the

quote we're discussing now. Under the "notes and sources" section for chapter 9,

Karnow lists over twenty books which are responsible for the information in that chapter.

However, he's not specific as to which book is responsible for a particular piece of

information. In reality, one would have to search various books to find which one had

the quote in it. I don't like this procedure for sourcing material, and it leaves the

reader to ask just how valid is his information in the chapter.

Bill C

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According to Karnow in this 1991 edition, LBJ said to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, "Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."
Thank you for this. I don't have a copy of Karnow's book at hand. Does he give his source for this comment?
Karnow has what he calls "Notes on Sources" at the end of his book.... In reality, one would have to search various books to find which one had the quote in it. I don't like this procedure for sourcing material, and it leaves the reader to ask just how valid is his information in the chapter.

While that line made for good theater in the movie, JFK, it seems an unlikely comment for LBJ to make "to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963." For one thing, what would the joint chiefs have to do with getting LBJ "elected?" For another, the image of the joint chiefs gathered together being addressed as a group at a White House reception seems like a dramatic contrivance. Also, the quote implies a quid pro quo arrangement, as if the joint chiefs would be rewarded for providing an election victory with a war. A more credible scenario would have LBJ expressing the need to prevail in the election before acquiescing to the joint chiefs' war plans. Similarly, JFK was known to have expressed the need to get reelected before he could do certain things.

Tim

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According to Karnow in this 1991 edition, LBJ said to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, "Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."
Thank you for this. I don't have a copy of Karnow's book at hand. Does he give his source for this comment?
Karnow has what he calls "Notes on Sources" at the end of his book.... In reality, one would have to search various books to find which one had the quote in it. I don't like this procedure for sourcing material, and it leaves the reader to ask just how valid is his information in the chapter.

While that line made for good theater in the movie, JFK, it seems an unlikely comment for LBJ to make "to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963." For one thing, what would the joint chiefs have to do with getting LBJ "elected?" For another, the image of the joint chiefs gathered together being addressed as a group at a White House reception seems like a dramatic contrivance. Also, the quote implies a quid pro quo arrangement, as if the joint chiefs would be rewarded for providing an election victory with a war. A more credible scenario would have LBJ expressing the need to prevail in the election before acquiescing to the joint chiefs' war plans. Similarly, JFK was known to have expressed the need to get reelected before he could do certain things.

Tim

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According to Karnow in this 1991 edition, LBJ said to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, "Just let me get elected, and then you can have your war."
Thank you for this. I don't have a copy of Karnow's book at hand. Does he give his source for this comment?
Karnow has what he calls "Notes on Sources" at the end of his book.... In reality, one would have to search various books to find which one had the quote in it. I don't like this procedure for sourcing material, and it leaves the reader to ask just how valid is his information in the chapter.

While that line made for good theater in the movie, JFK, it seems an unlikely comment for LBJ to make "to the joint chiefs at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963." For one thing, what would the joint chiefs have to do with getting LBJ "elected?" For another, the image of the joint chiefs gathered together being addressed as a group at a White House reception seems like a dramatic contrivance. Also, the quote implies a quid pro quo arrangement, as if the joint chiefs would be rewarded for providing an election victory with a war. A more credible scenario would have LBJ expressing the need to prevail in the election before acquiescing to the joint chiefs' war plans. Similarly, JFK was known to have expressed the need to get reelected before he could do certain things.

Tim

Tim

You bring up some valid points. It's a shame Mr. Karnow didn't specifically

identify his source for the alleged LBJ statement to the joint chiefs. Perhaps we

could speculate in place of possessing specific facts about this encounter.

It's possible that the joint chiefs were at the White House reception dressed

in civilian attire rather than their sparkling uniforms with medals, etc. Perhaps

LBJ was saying exactly what you inferred; that to escalate action in Vietnam, he

would have to be elected. Yes, JFK did express the need to get reelected before

he could do certain things. For example, he told Kenneth O'Donnell of his plans

to withdraw from Vietnam, "So we better make damned sure that I am reelected." The

source for that quote comes from the book, "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye," page 16.

Bill C

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Yes, JFK did express the need to get reelected before he could do certain things. For example, he told Kenneth O'Donnell of his plans to withdraw from Vietnam, "So we better make damned sure that I am reelected." The source for that quote comes from the book, "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye," page 16.

The statements made by JFK about matters that required waiting until after a critical election were well-known, and a more down-to-earth interpretation of LBJ's supposed statement to the joint chiefs may well have been that it was of that variety:

Kennedy told Mike Mansfield in the spring of 1963 that he now agreed with his thinking “on the need for a complete military withdrawal from Vietnam”. After the meeting with Mansfield, Kennedy told Kenneth O’Donnell that when he pulled out of Vietnam in 1965: “I’ll become one of the most unpopular Presidents in history. I’ll be damned everywhere as a communist appeaser. But I don’t care. If I tried to pull out completely now from Vietnam, we would have Joe McCarthy red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I’m re-elected. So we had better make damned sure that I am reelected.”*

*Kenneth P. O’Donnell & David F. Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1972 (page 16)

Certainly Kennedy and Johnson were both aware of the cruciality of timing in political life.

T.C.

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Just read something which I find pretty interesting. Not sure if this is the right thread for it or not. Anyhow, in Roger Goldman's book on Thurgood Marshall, he recounts that Marshall had a couple of conversations with LBJ shortly before LBJ passed in which LBJ told Marshall that while many people believed that he didn't run for re-election in 68 because of Vietnam, it was really because of his putting Marshall on the Supreme Court. LBJ hinted to Marshall that he'd lost the backing of powerful factions as a result of Marshall's nomination. While this may have been LBJ blowing smoke, I suspect there's some truth to this. If this is true it is more revelatory than LBJ probably intended. It means that he looked to the backing of certain factions for his re-election and was rejected. Since it's clear he wasn't looking for the backing of the East Coast Ivy League crowd, who backed McCarthy and/or Kennedy, one should suspect he's talking about Southern money. As Marshall was confirmed by a vote of 69 to 11 we should look to who were the 11 and who backed them. Well, Goldman's book clues us in by pointing out that there were four Southerners on the Judiciary Committee who fought against Marshall. The four: Thurmond of South Carolina, Eastland of Mississippi, McClellan of Arkansas, and Ervin of North Carolina. From this, it seems clear that the backing and money LBJ was looking for was the backing of the South and the Klan. While the Klan ended up in the corner of George Wallace, I suspect the big money ended up backing Nixon.

If these forces were desperate enough to abandon Johnson for a long shot like Wallace, or to jump parties for Nixon, might they also have been desperate enough to kill RFK, to make sure their worst nightmare didn't come true?

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