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NSAM 263


Guest Stephen Turner
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Guest Stephen Turner

Some researchers claim it was Kennedy's plan to end the Vietnam war that served as a trigger to the assassination, and that NSAM 263, with its plan to withdraw 1,000 soldiers in 1963, and all troops by 1965 proves his commitment to a peaceful end to the conflict. However in reading the document it is difficult not to come to a different interpretation. NSAM 263 is not, as some claim, a simple roadmap for ending the war, it does talk of troop removal but under very specific circumstances, for example, McNamara and Taylor were "Convinced that the Vietcong insurgency could be sharply reduced in a year." and that the US efforts should be "completed by the end of 1965" They called for an "Increase in military tempo of the war" and withdrawal of some troops in 63 and all by 65 if this could be achieved "without impairment of the war effort" and further that "The insurgency has been surpressed, or so weakened that the US client regime (GVN) is capable of surpressing it" And they stressed that the "The overidding objective is victory, a matter vital to US security" These were the recomendations that JFK approved.

A constant refrain during America's ill-fated war was that there was "Light at the end of the tunnel" or they were"close to total victory" all that was needed was "one final push" from Kennedy through LBJ to Nixon advisors, both military, and civilian cosistantly assured them that 1,The war was winable, indeed close to being won, and 2,That to prevent the spread of Communism and to protect American interests, and security it must be won..Viewed in this context, it is difficult to percieve NSAM 263 as much more than the usual wrong headed, blue sky thinking based on troop withdrawal following rapid victory.

I have little doubt that Kennedy was deeply uneasy about the the possibilities for escalation in the conflict, and it is possible that a second term Kennedy administration would have slowly turned away from the growing carnage, to full implementation of his social contract. It could also be argued that give his performance over BOP, Cuban missile crisis and Northwoods certain people felt that he couldn't be trusted with Vietnam, or indeed ANY future conflict, and I doubt that Kennedy would have escalated the war in such a rapid way as LBJ. All of this however is speculation, as it stands NASM 263 is only a roadmap out of Vietnam on the back of a victory we now know never happened, let alone by 1965. Cuba, and domestic policies did for JFK, not Vietnam.

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Guest John Gillespie

Some researchers claim it was Kennedy's plan to end the Vietnam war that served as a trigger to the assassination, and that NSAM 263, with its plan to withdraw 1,000 soldiers in 1963, and all troops by 1965 proves his commitment to a peaceful end to the conflict. However in reading the document it is difficult not to come to a different interpretation. NSAM 263 is not, as some claim, a simple roadmap for ending the war, it does talk of troop removal but under very specific circumstances, for example, McNamara and Taylor were "Convinced that the Vietcong insurgency could be sharply reduced in a year." and that the US efforts should be "completed by the end of 1965" They called for an "Increase in military tempo of the war" and withdrawal of some troops in 63 and all by 65 if this could be achieved "without impairment of the war effort" and further that "The insurgency has been surpressed, or so weakened that the US client regime (GVN) is capable of surpressing it" And they stressed that the "The overidding objective is victory, a matter vital to US security" These were the recomendations that JFK approved.

A constant refrain during America's ill-fated war was that there was "Light at the end of the tunnel" or they were"close to total victory" all that was needed was "one final push" from Kennedy through LBJ to Nixon advisors, both military, and civilian cosistantly assured them that 1,The war was winable, indeed close to being won, and 2,That to prevent the spread of Communism and to protect American interests, and security it must be won..Viewed in this context, it is difficult to percieve NSAM 263 as much more than the usual wrong headed, blue sky thinking based on troop withdrawal following rapid victory.

_____________________________________

Stephen,

Eerie, are they not, these refrains we've heard over the years, including some of the same platitudes used by the mouthpieces du jour? But the wording of NSAM 263 essentially outlines withdrawal despite the DOD stock-in-trade qualifiers that Johnson, Nixon and now Rumsfeld/Bush have offered ("Peace with Honor") over the years. This is all very much on point, though, and was as one of the key threats - along with Kennedy's fiscal proposals regarding currency and the Federal Reserve - to the plans of the elite.

My favorite quote on this topic is from 1969, uttered by Senator George Aiken, Replican of Vermont, who said, when asked about a Vietnam exit strategy, "Declare victory and get out."

Best Regards,

JG

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Some researchers claim it was Kennedy's plan to end the Vietnam war that served as a trigger to the assassination, and that NSAM 263, with its plan to withdraw 1,000 soldiers in 1963, and all troops by 1965 proves his commitment to a peaceful end to the conflict. However in reading the document it is difficult not to come to a different interpretation. NSAM 263 is not, as some claim, a simple roadmap for ending the war, it does talk of troop removal but under very specific circumstances, for example, McNamara and Taylor were "Convinced that the Vietcong insurgency could be sharply reduced in a year." and that the US efforts should be "completed by the end of 1965" They called for an "Increase in military tempo of the war" and withdrawal of some troops in 63 and all by 65 if this could be achieved "without impairment of the war effort" and further that "The insurgency has been surpressed, or so weakened that the US client regime (GVN) is capable of surpressing it" And they stressed that the "The overidding objective is victory, a matter vital to US security" These were the recomendations that JFK approved.

A constant refrain during America's ill-fated war was that there was "Light at the end of the tunnel" or they were"close to total victory" all that was needed was "one final push" from Kennedy through LBJ to Nixon advisors, both military, and civilian cosistantly assured them that 1,The war was winable, indeed close to being won, and 2,That to prevent the spread of Communism and to protect American interests, and security it must be won..Viewed in this context, it is difficult to percieve NSAM 263 as much more than the usual

wrong headed, blue sky thinking based on troop withdrawal following rapid victory.

_____________________________________

Stephen,

Eerie, are they not, these refrains we've heard over the years, including some of the same platitudes used by the mouthpieces du jour? But the wording of NSAM 263 essentially outlines withdrawal despite the DOD stock-in-trade qualifiers that Johnson, Nixon and now Rumsfeld/Bush have offered ("Peace with Honor") over the years. This is all very much on point, though, and was as one of the key threats - along with Kennedy's fiscal proposals regarding currency and the Federal Reserve - to the plans of the elite.

My favorite quote on this topic is from 1969, uttered by Senator George Aiken, Replican of Vermont, who said, when asked about a Vietnam exit strategy, "Declare victory and get out."

Best Regards,

JG

Stephen and John,

There are two incidents which happened days before JFK was assassinated. One

was on November 12, 1963, ten days before the tragedy in Dallas. Senator Wayne

Morse was a vocal critic of the Vietnam War, and had business with the President at

the White House on that particular day. Morse describes what happened with Kennedy

that day:

I'd gone into President Kennedy's office to discuss education bills, but he said, "Wayne,

I want you to know you're absolutely right in your criticism of my Vietnam policy. Keep this

in mind. I'm in the midst of an intensive study which substantiates your position on Vietnam.

When I'm finished I want you to give me half a day and come over and analyze it point by

point." ("JFK And Vietnam" by John Newman, pp 423-424).

What was this "intensive study" on Vietnam that Kennedy was performing? Since early

in the year, his plan was to wait until after the 1964 elections to pull out. (Newman, p. 424).

Newman's book also reveals yet another hint that JFK was pulling out of Vietnam, as

late as November 21, 1963, a day before the assassination. Michael Forrestal was a member

of the NSC. According to Newman, Kennedy told Forrestal that because this "was in the

context of an election campaign," he could not consider a quick, "drastic change" of policy

but instead how "some kind of a gradual shift in our presence in South Vietnam could occur."

(Newman, p. 427).

Of course, these events do not finally clarify that Kennedy was pulling out of Vietnam.

However, it does give us a look at his thought process regarding Vietnam, just days and

literally hours before his death. It seems that he was leaning towards leaving Vietnam.

Bill C

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Guest Stephen Turner

John, and Bill thanks for your thoughtful replies. I had hoped that this subject might stir up a bit more controversy, but there you go.

Bill, I dont disagree with a word, it is entirely possible that Kennedy would have walked away from the whole mess, he was after all one of the most astute politico's of the 20th century, my only point being that NSAM 263 cant be used to support this position, other sources, such as your's are a different matter.

John, Eerie indeed. the same noises from military and Politicians down throughout the centuries. First world war? All over by Christmas, of course they forgot to mention which Christmas.

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John, and Bill thanks for your thoughtful replies. I had hoped that this subject might stir up a bit more controversy, but there you go.

Bill, I dont disagree with a word, it is entirely possible that Kennedy would have walked away from the whole mess, he was after all one of the most astute politico's of the 20th century, my only point being that NSAM 263 cant be used to support this position, other sources, such as your's are a different matter.

John, Eerie indeed. the same noises from military and Politicians down throughout the centuries. First world war? All over by Christmas, of course they forgot to mention which Christmas.

Stephen

If we take a look at NSAM 273, I think it gives us some insight as to

the alteration of the approach Lyndon Johnson took after the assassination to

JFK. NSAM 273 is a much more aggressive policy towards the North, and

it specifically states that in part 7:

"Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity,

and in each instance there should be estimates of such factors as:

A. Resulting damage to North Vietnam

B. The Plausibility of Denial

C. Possible North Vietnamese retaliation

D. Other International Reaction

Stephen, this part is not included in NSAM 263. In my opinion, it calls for

increased hostilities against the North. If NSAM 263 was able to be utilized in the

same way, why was there a need for NSAM 273?

Thanks

Bill C

Edited by Bill Cheslock
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Guest Stephen Turner

John, and Bill thanks for your thoughtful replies. I had hoped that this subject might stir up a bit more controversy, but there you go.

Bill, I dont disagree with a word, it is entirely possible that Kennedy would have walked away from the whole mess, he was after all one of the most astute politico's of the 20th century, my only point being that NSAM 263 cant be used to support this position, other sources, such as your's are a different matter.

John, Eerie indeed. the same noises from military and Politicians down throughout the centuries. First world war? All over by Christmas, of course they forgot to mention which Christmas.

Stephen

If we take a look at NSAM 273, I think it gives us some insight as to

the alteration of the approach Lyndon Johnson took after the assassination to

Vietnam. NSAM 273 is a much more aggressive policy towards the North, and

it specifically states that in part 7:

"Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity,

and in each instance there should be estimates of such factors as:

A. Resulting damage to North Vietnam

B. The Plausibility of Denial

C. Possible North Vietnamese retaliation

D. Other International Reaction

Stephen, this part is not included in NSAM 263. In my opinion, it calls for

increased hostilities against the North. If NSAM 263 was able to be utilized in the

same way, why was there a need for NSAM 273?

Thanks

Bill C

Bill, good point. I need to re-read 273 (been a long time) But wasnt it a responce to the Tonkin inncident, I may be wrong here, going from my 51 year old memory, but I feel the reasoning was 273 was drafted as a responce to a worsening situation....Regards, Steve.

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John, and Bill thanks for your thoughtful replies. I had hoped that this subject might stir up a bit more controversy, but there you go.

Bill, I dont disagree with a word, it is entirely possible that Kennedy would have walked away from the whole mess, he was after all one of the most astute politico's of the 20th century, my only point being that NSAM 263 cant be used to support this position, other sources, such as your's are a different matter.

John, Eerie indeed. the same noises from military and Politicians down throughout the centuries. First world war? All over by Christmas, of course they forgot to mention which Christmas.

Stephen

If we take a look at NSAM 273, I think it gives us some insight as to

the alteration of the approach Lyndon Johnson took after the assassination to

Vietnam. NSAM 273 is a much more aggressive policy towards the North, and

it specifically states that in part 7:

"Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity,

and in each instance there should be estimates of such factors as:

A. Resulting damage to North Vietnam

B. The Plausibility of Denial

C. Possible North Vietnamese retaliation

D. Other International Reaction

Stephen, this part is not included in NSAM 263. In my opinion, it calls for

increased hostilities against the North. If NSAM 263 was able to be utilized in the

same way, why was there a need for NSAM 273?

Thanks

Bill C

Bill, good point. I need to re-read 273 (been a long time) But wasnt it a responce to the Tonkin inncident, I may be wrong here, going from my 51 year old memory, but I feel the reasoning was 273 was drafted as a responce to a worsening situation....Regards, Steve.

Stephen

Actually, NSAM 273 is dated November 26, 1963, just four days after the

assassination. Johnson signed it, and I believe that the provisions in it actually

led to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. However, I would like to get your impressions

of NSAM 273 before we jump into this.

Thanks

Bill C

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Guest Stephen Turner

Bill, quick reply, more later.

Lets be clear what were talking about.

NSAM 263 is a simple rubber stamping of the Mcnamara-Taylor Vietnam report of Oct 2nd, and all troop withdrawals are conditional on victory in the field.

NASM 273 refers to the White House statement of Oct 2nd already cited which approves the same proposal, further, the draft signed by LBJ is identical to one prepaired (11/21/63) for JFK's signature.

I agree that 273 is more aggressive in content, but is essentially an approval of the points covered in 263.

Would you agree, Regards, Steve.

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"Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity,

and in each instance there should be estimates of such factors as:

A. Resulting damage to North Vietnam

B. The Plausibility of Denial

C. Possible North Vietnamese retaliation

D. Other International Reaction

What did B mean? Bomb North Vietnam and blame it on somebody else? Who did they have in mind? Castro?

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Bill, quick reply, more later.

Lets be clear what were talking about.

NSAM 263 is a simple rubber stamping of the Mcnamara-Taylor Vietnam report of Oct 2nd, and all troop withdrawals are conditional on victory in the field.

NASM 273 refers to the White House statement of Oct 2nd already cited which approves the same proposal, further, the draft signed by LBJ is identical to one prepaired (11/21/63) for JFK's signature.

I agree that 273 is more aggressive in content, but is essentially an approval of the points covered in 263.

Would you agree, Regards, Steve.

Steve

I'll also have to re read both of the NSAM's. I took a quick look at John Newman's

book, "JFK And Vietnam," and Newman's interpretation of the events in October 1963 are

quite relevant. He cites three dates; October 2, October 5, and October 11.

October 2, the mission members had their first meeting with Kennedy. After a one

hour oral presentation to the President, McNamara was called in to a private meeting by

the President in the Oval Office. When they emerged McNamara ordered the recommendation

on the 1,000-man withdrawal be PUT BACK ( my emphasis) into the report. The withdrawal

recommendation was originally in the report, but McNamara and Taylor succumbed to

a recommendation by William H. Sullivan, an Assistant to the Under Secretary of State,

to delete it, or he would write a dissenting report.

However, McNamara put the withdrawal recommendation back into the report after his

private meeting with Kennedy, as stated above. (p. 403).

October 5, at a White House meeting, JFK brought up the 1,000 man withdrawal

recommendation. The minutes of this meeting indicate that Kennedy brought it up during the discussion on the McNamara-Taylor report. The minutes state:

"The President also said that our decision to remove 1,000 U.S. advisors by December of this year should not be raised formally with Diem. Instead the action should

carried out routinely as part of our general posture of withdrawing people when they

are no longer needed." (p. 409). Newman points out that JFK used the words, "our

decision" to remove the 1,000 men, and that the President decided to implement the

1,000-man withdrawal that day.

October 11, President Kennedy signed NSAM 263. Newman points to the

following words in the signed NSAM:

"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." (p. 409).

Newman states that October 5th was Judgment Day for the McNamara-Taylor

report, and Kennedy made the withdrawal "a policy objective in its own right." (p. 409).

I'd like to hear what you, Steve, and other members feel about the

level of validity of Kennedy's desire to withdraw 1,000 troops, through his words

in NSAM 263.

Thanks

Bill C

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"Planning should include different levels of possible increased activity,

and in each instance there should be estimates of such factors as:

A. Resulting damage to North Vietnam

B. The Plausibility of Denial

C. Possible North Vietnamese retaliation

D. Other International Reaction

What did B mean? Bomb North Vietnam and blame it on somebody else? Who did they have in mind? Castro?

Ron:

An excellent question you bring up. Perhaps part C could help interpret

what part B really meant. Is it possible that a devious plot was being set up here?

What I mean is, the U.S. would bomb North Vietnam, forcing retaliation. The U.S.

could then tell the world that North Vietnam actually started hostile actions, and that

the subsequent bombing of North Vietnam was retaliation for the North's military

actions against us. To the rest of the world, North Vietnam started the fighting, and

not the U.S.

Bill C

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Guest Stephen Turner

Foe JK Galbraith's take on this subjecttry this He makes some good points regarding the vital differences between 263-273.

Part of a memo from McGeorge Bundy to.

Secretary of State, Secretary of Defence and Chairman Joint Chief's of Staff.

"The president (JFK)approved the military recomendations contained in section 1 B (1-3) of the report, but directed that NO FORMAL ANNOUNCEMENT be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 US military personnel by the end of 1963."

From McNamara-Taylor report on Vietnam Oct 1963.

" Major US assistance in support of this military effort is needed only only until THE INSURGENCY HAS BEEN SUPPRESSED, or the security forces of the S/V Government are capable of suppressing it."

" Secretary McNamara, and General Taylor reported that the major part of the US military task can be completed by the end of 1965....By the end of this year (1963) the US programme for training Vietnamese personnel should have progressed to the point where 1,000 US troops can be withdrawn."

I'd like to hear what you, Steve, and other members feel about the

level of validity of Kennedy's desire to withdraw 1,000 troops, through his words

in NSAM 263.

Thanks

Bill C

Bill, In reading Galbraith, and Peter Dale Scotts research in this area my original belief has shifted somewhat. It appears that there were real, concrete differences between 263 and 273, which I had not picked up on, this mainly concerns the differing objectives for continued support 263 "to offer continued support to South Vietnam" 273, To win the conflict" I now concede that the two Documents are materially different. Regards, Steve.

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Foe JK Galbraith's take on this subjecttry this He makes some good points regarding the vital differences between 263-273.

Part of a memo from McGeorge Bundy to.

Secretary of State, Secretary of Defence and Chairman Joint Chief's of Staff.

"The president (JFK)approved the military recomendations contained in section 1 B (1-3) of the report, but directed that NO FORMAL ANNOUNCEMENT be made of the implementation of plans to withdraw 1,000 US military personnel by the end of 1963."

From McNamara-Taylor report on Vietnam Oct 1963.

" Major US assistance in support of this military effort is needed only only until THE INSURGENCY HAS BEEN SUPPRESSED, or the security forces of the S/V Government are capable of suppressing it."

" Secretary McNamara, and General Taylor reported that the major part of the US military task can be completed by the end of 1965....By the end of this year (1963) the US programme for training Vietnamese

personnel should have progressed to the point where 1,000 US troops can be withdrawn.

I'd like to hear what you, Steve, and other members feel about the

level of validity of Kennedy's desire to withdraw 1,000 troops, through his words

in NSAM 263.

Thanks

Bill C

Bill, In reading Galbraith, and Peter Dale Scotts research in this area my original belief has shifted somewhat. It appears that there were real, concrete differences between 263 and 273, which I had not picked up on, this mainly concerns the differing objectives for continued support 263 "to offer continued support to South Vietnam" 273, To win the conflict" I now concede that the two Documents are materially different. Regards, Steve.

Stephen

Yes, Galbraith and Scott did excellent work in this area. Thank you for

reminding me of these two important sources. Now that you mention Scott,

I believe he cooperated with John Newman on researching the NSAM's.

Thanks

Bill C

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Guest Stephen Turner

Bill, Peter Dale Scott is a member of this Forum, I will send him a P/M and ask if he would contribute to this thread.

I am a little surprised at the general lack of comment on this matter. Perhaps if I had posted a cropped, blurred Nix frame claiming it showed Ritchie Cunningham, and the Fonz discharging blunderbuses from the storm drain instead..................

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