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Vietnam: JFK's decision against escalation

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I just got this e-mail from DL, and thought it was interesting enough to be posted here on the forum.


Sec 2: My Post to “all” (see the “to” and “cc” list above, in Sec 1)

I disagree with the statement that JFK "only turned toward withdrawal in 1963 after almost two years of escalation." Its not at all clear when "the turning point"--if there was such an event--

actually was reached, but JFK certainly decided "against escalation" much earlier--indeed, some two years prior to his death.

An important time-marker for JFK--or at least the point when it seems clear what his future intentions were--was December 1961. At that point, JFK turned down the JCS in their request for combat troops for Vietnam.

This particular time marker--call it a "turning point" if you will--was a central focus for John Newman's Ph.D thesis, which was turned into the book, over the summer of 1991, and published that fall by Warner.

Relying here on recollection (so the quote which follows is approximate), a key document indicating JFK's future intentions was dated November 22, 1961 and pertained to a critical JFK meeting with the JCS. At that meeting, which marked JFK's rejection of requested combat troops, the document records JFK as saying something like, "How can you expect me to send troops 10,000 miles and halfway around the world, when I cannot invade Cuba, which is only 90 miles away?"

To which General Lemnitzer (of Northwoods fame) replied: "We should invade Cuba, too."

It was after this Nov/Dec 1961 period that it became clear that JFK was not going to escalate any further. Certainly, American combat troops were NOT going to be sent there. That whole idea was anathema to JFK, and he made that very clear to his inner circle. Going back to George Ball's 1968 memoir, "Discipline Of Power," one will find very strong and unequivocal statement to the effect that JFK never intended to send American combat troops to Vietnam, or follow the course that LBJ subsequently did.

Of course, around 1965--with the publication of "To Move A Nation," by Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Roger Hillsman--the same point was made, if not in his book, certainly on his L.A. Book tour.

Besides Ball, there is Michael Forrestal, who said that JFK told him--and I believe this was within a week of his death, and just prior to his going to Vietnam on a fact finding mission on the weekend of the assassination--that he (JFK) was involved in an extensive policy review, which also addressed the question of "whether we should even be there in the first place." (Quote from memory, from NBC "White Paper," circa 1971)

There is much more that can be said on this whole question of whether there was--as I and other JFK researchers called it-- a Post Assassination Foreign Policy Switch (PAFPS). While no foreign policy expert, I am quite familiar with the underlying documentation, because (a) I was tracking this situation carefully, from back in 1965; (B) I was an early friend of John Newman, a good 6 years before be became involved in the JFK research movement; and © I was very much involved with the ARRB, and Doug Horne, at the time key documents were being unearthed.

Here are some further comments, and anecdotal evidence, thrown together just for this email.

To begin with---and by that, I mean going back to the period 1965-1968--I, like many others who believed there was a conspiracy in Dallas, initially had some difficulty discerning the political motive. After all, didn't LBJ keep most of JFK's advisers? Didn't LBJ get the civil rights legislation passed? Etc. Over the years, as research on the Dealey Plaza aspects intensified, the foreign policy puzzle remained.

Then came the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department's top-secret study of the growth of United States military involvement in Vietnam, leaked to the New York Times, which commenced publication on June 13, 1971. Suddenly, every morning's New York Times carried another collection of previously top secret document which exposed the debate that had been going on in the government, prior to the escalation, and many details pertaining to the secret planning.

Next came Peter Dale Scott's high original 1972 work, piecing together the puzzle of NSAM 263/273, and significant new light was shed. Of course, the publication of the Pentagon Papers, and particularly allusions to JFK's withdrawal plan --and then the actual documents in the Gravel edition--provided much new data. Yes, indeed, it seemed there had been a post-assassination foreign policy switch. But you didn't have to be a Talmudic scholar to understand. I remember going to the UCLA dorm to have dinner, and watching Walter Cronkite, once a week, announce American casualties, which were topping 250 per week, back in 1967/68.

Going to microfilmed records of newspaper, someone discovered how, in early October 1963, the L.A. Times ran a front page banner headline after the October meeting when JFK made the decision. In big bold letters across page one: JFK: Out of Viet by '65 (again, from memory).

The contrast between "then and now" was striking.

Jumping forward now a full decade (or more) to the truly groundbreaking research of John Newman:

I worked closely with John Newman, during the period he was doing his Ph.D thesis--back in the late 80s. John had taught a course on Best Evidence, when stationed in Hawaii, looked me up in 1985, and we spoke often, and visited. This was a good five years prior to his becoming known to those in "the movement." I am proud to count myself as someone who persuaded John to do his PhD on the issue of whether there had been a policy change after Dallas.

After John embarked on his project, we spoke frequently, sometime immediately after he had critical interviews. Often, I functioned as a sounding board, and consequently suggested we should record the conversations (which we did). John didn't just do a fine thesis--we have what amounts to an oral history of his process. John had a whole range of conversations, with a variety of people, including a significant one--with McNamara. At some point, he obtained the actual official history of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and that provided a record of McNamara, himself, saying that it was not JFK's intention to send in combat troops.

During this same period, John and I gave two "joint lectures" on the subject of Dallas and Vietnam (one in Maryland, which was mostly attended by various USG personnel, including those at NSA). When it was clear he was to be posted to China, around 1989, I was frankly concerned that something might happen and we would lose this fabulous resource. So I arranged for a professional film crew to record the state of his Vietnam research--this, during a time when he was stationed at Ford Ord.

One of the central themes that emerges from John's research is the extent to which JFK had a political problem that complicated any decision he might make. Specifically, it came down to this: whereas LBJ's problem was to disguise an escalation, JFK's was to disguise a withdrawal.

Those are two diametrically opposite scenarios, and it seems clear that both Presidents acted deceptively, but there is a major difference in the reason for the deceptive behavior in each case. As far as JFK is concerned, recognizing this "political problem" is the key to understanding, and properly interpreting, what otherwise appears to be a confusing and somewhat bifurcated record.

JFK recognized that problem and acted accordingly. He had no intention of provoking a right-wing backlash and throwing away his chance of a second term. On the other hand, the evidence seems clear he intended to disengage, even if that meant a "Laos-like" solution. Some of the best writing about JFK's intentions--admittedly difficult to fathom at times--is to be found in Ellsberg's book "Secrets," where he describes a frank and detailed discussion with RFK about the matter, circa 1967 (again, from recollection).

So much for those who are citing such superficial data as what JFK said in Fort Worth the day before, or even the month before. That is a weak argument.

The September 1963 interviews on national TV are of course important, and depending on which sentence one quotes, one can perhaps find support for either position (withdrawal, or "stay the course" etc). However, when one puts those interviews ("its their war, they have to fight it, etc.," omitted from the Gus Russo quotes) in the context of the documents, and the secret orders, and the JFK withdrawal plan, JFK's intention is very clear: to disengage; and to do so in such a manner as to not provoke a right-wing backlash.

I do not believe for one minute that JFK wanted to see Saigon become Ho Chi Minh City, but neither did he subscribe to the domino theory. He was just too smart for that. Further, JFK was a writer and a historian at heart, had visited the area (with his brother, I believe) back in the early fifties, and had a thorough understanding that he was President at a time that nationalist revolutions were sweeping the globe, and the question was how to tame that force and not have radicals take control in foreign countries. As it pertains to South America, that's what the Alliance for Progress was all about.

But let's focus on Vietnam, and the enormous change that took place between November, 1963, and, say, the summer of 1965.

Remember: in the course of JFK's two years and 10 months, only 78 Americans---mainly, Green Berets--died in Vietnam. By no means am I demeaning their courage or sacrifice, but those casualties resulted from an attempt to implement assistance via a counter-insurgency strategy. Those numbers offer a striking contrast to the carnage that followed (under Johnson): the fourth largest war in American history, with 58,000 Americans dead, and millions of Asians killed and wounded.

As to Krulak, I believe it to be absurd to cite him as a source, and for two reasons. To begin with: Krulak was a right-wing hawk, and represented (at a relatively "low" level) the kind of problem JFK had to deal with (constantly) at the Pentagon. Second: after the Bay of Pigs, JFK caught on, and realized he had a major problem with his right-wing military. In the Vietnam documents that became available via the ARRB (and this was largely the work of Doug Horne, who painstakingly chaired meetings in which official A had to be coaxed into working with Official B, to get material declassified), a most interesting picture emerges.

Moving briefly away (for just a moment) from "foreign policy" to the psychology of the individual military officers, one of the documents which struck me as significant was how JFK went so far as to inquire about the reading material of these chiefs. I think the reason is obvious: JFK wanted to know just what the heck some of these people were reading, that they were talking and thinking as they did (e.g., preemptive nuclear strike on the USSR, etc.) And should we forget the top Air Force General (White?, I'm not sure) who said that if there was a full-fledged conflict, involving nuclear exchanges, and one American remained living, that, as far as he was concerned, it would have all been worth it; that we would have been successful, that we would have "won"? What kind of craziness (may I ask) is that? Well, that's the kind of mentality that JFK had to deal with. And that's why he was trying to reorganize and promote people to his liking, and who shared his view.

But back to Krulak: in the fall of 1963, Krulak was one of two people sent to Vietnam to assess the situation. When they returned, and met with JFK, one gave a rather bleak report; Krulak propounded some rosy scenario.

JFK turned to them and asked: "Have you two gentlemen visited the same country?" (Source: Schlesinger, I believe).

One cannot understand how JFK was dealing with Vietnam, without understanding who he was, and how he approached the world. Rather than the superficial view based on out of context quotes from JFK-detractors (that includes many who promote the notion that Oswald was his murderer), I commend the book JFK: The Education of a Statesman, by Barbara Leaming (2006). This remarkable book, based on serious research, paints an accurate picture of who JFK was, intellectually, how he evolved, and the profound influence of Winston Churchill, and David Ormsby-Gore, on his beliefs and development.

JFK was, at heart, a writer and a historian. Had his older brother Joe not died, he probably would have gone through life as a newspaper publisher. He also had a very high-minded view of the Presidency, and public service. What other president would say that after a second term, he wished to go back to the Senate, and serve there? The Bay of Pigs may have been botched, and was a disaster, but the key point about it was that JFK learned from the experience.

Isn't that what we all try to do, in our personal lives? Why this tendency, then, to reduce JFK to some two-dimensional stick figure who was driven by petty motives of revenge?

Further: the notion that a U.S. President who wanted to accelerate the making of a movie of Seven Days in May, published in 1962, about the possibility of military coup (and so expedited filming by his friend, John Frankenheimer, at the White House) to help raise the public consciousness about the problems he was facing, would then turn around and escalate in Vietnam, is, in my opinion, just plain absurd.

Further, those who are "connecting the dots" in that manner--quoting statements from public speeches, obviously made while JFK was doing everything possible to hold things together, politically, while engineering a change in policy (behind the scenes)-- are making a serious error. This represents superficial thinking that dwells on appearances, and not the reality.

The situation--vis a vis Vietnam policy--is far more complex and nuanced than that.

It does not surprise me that the same folks who believe in the single bullet theory and the "Oswald did it alone" scenario, approach the area of foreign policy in the selective manner they do; and ignore the most significant data (i.e., what the documents say, and what JFK was saying to his most important confidants; e.g., Mansfield, O'Donnell, etc.) and proclaim that there was policy continuity. This approach denudes the assassination of political meaning, robs JFK's death of its true meaning; and removes a key political motive for his assassination. Yet in doing so, these same people say they are refusing to believe in "mythology--referring to Camelot. But in fact, they are subscribing to a different mythology--that of the lone assassin, and a political assassination that suddenly, because of their faulty analysis, has no apparent motive.

* * *

LBJ -Moyers Meeting of November 24, 1963

On November 24, 1963, in the evening, LBJ met in the office with one or more of the Chiefs. As I recall, one cannot tell from the typical media coverage that there was any new policy. However, what was going on behind the scenes tells a different story.

Immediately afterwards, he met with Bill Moyers, alone. Moyers kept a diary--which presumably is going to provide valuable data for the memoir he is currently writing.

Sometime in the early 70s, when (in the aftermath of the Pentagon Papers publication) the Vietnam debate was raging, and at a time when Moyers was a columnist for Newsweek, he addressed the issue of policy continuity in one of his columns. Moyers described--and this is from memory--how he and LBJ were alone in the Oval office on November 24, 1963, drinking scotch, after that meeting with the JCS. LBJ related to Moyers how he was having to now deal with the issue of Vietnam, and he told Moyers: "I'm going to give the Generals what they want. I don't want to see Vietnam go the way China went."

So there one has the Munich Analogy (and JFK certainly rejected that kind of fatuous reasoning) and the policy switch, all wrapped up into one quote.

When Stone was making his film--and I always thought his sub-theme about Vietnam was far more important, and well documented, than anything about Clay Shaw--I dug up the file, and provided that quote --via John--to Stone. (And as I recall, it was put into some scene in the movie, somewhere).


One other final point: During the 13 months following the assassination, LBJ laid low, not implementing the actual policy switch, or really letting on as to his future intentions, until after his January, 1965, inauguration. It was in August 1964, and as a result of the machinations of OP-PLAN 34A (in which the U.S. hit North Vietnam covertly, and then cried foul at the response) that these incidents led to the Gulf of Tonkin, which provided the legal basis for the subsequent escalation. Then, in May 1965, came the first "surge" (to use current terminology) and then July 1965, LBJ had detailed meetings with congressional leaders getting everybody on board before he made the big push. (See Califano's books, if there is any doubt about these statements). All very well--that's just the unfolding chronology; of a US President who is supposedly "wrestling" with this "new" problem, and going "Gee, what am I going to do about all this?" etc.

As ex-LBJ press secretary George Reedy said, the President is presented with options. That's the way it always is. But then HE makes the decision. It seems pretty clear, from the record, that JFK was making one kind of choice; and LBJ another; that JFK was going in one direction; and Johnson, another. But the escalation was incremental. After all, nobody stood up, after the assassination, and announced: "Well now that he's dead, we're going to change policy. So here we go, let's now execute a U turn."

Obviously, that didn't happen; but the course-change is evident nonetheless.

McNamara and possible "second thoughts"

By the last half of 1967, McNamara (and it is hard to believe RFK, with whom he was very close, wasn't kept fully informed about all this) ordered the secret study (later to become known as the Pentagon Papers) in which 40 analysts with top secret clearances (and higher) were assembled to get to the bottom of just how things had gone that far. They were to have access to ALL cable traffic. Every piece of paper. Nothing would be withheld. Notably, McNamara ordered that Secretary of State Dean Rusk be excluded from any knowledge of that study.

The notion that a Secretary of Defense would order such a study--with secret orders issued to exclude the Secretary of State--is unprecedented.

What I am suggesting is that McNamara was not just doing this out of an abstract devotion to history, and truth, but because there was genuine suspicion--at the highest levels--as to what the heck had gone on, for events to have gotten to the point they were; and to unearth evidence of any secret plan, if there was such a thing lying in plain view.

Also note, and this again concerns McNamara and LBJ: in the documentary, Fog of War, and because of the splendid research done at the LBJ Library by the producer, one can hear, on the soundtrack, one or more critical conversations between Johnson and McNamara in February, 1964. In that conversation, Johnson very clearly states that he was against the JFK October, 1963 pullout order.

That conversation--which anyone can hear by buying FOG OF WAR on DVD--is tantamount to the new President telling the Sec Def that he didn't agree with his former boss, JFK, and that these were his thoughts on the matter.

When this evidence is appraised in context, and assembled in its entirety--and that includes the detailed documentation on the phased withdrawal plan, spelled out in the Pentagon Papers, and the periodic McNamara trips to Honolulu, to assure its implementation-- I don't see how anyone can seriously argue that it wasn't JFK's intention to disengage, and that it wasn't LBJ's intention to escalate.

Because LBJ became President, we know how he "did it." Because JFK was murdered, we don't know exactly how he would have micro-managed the disengagement. His life was cut short, but his intention seems clear enough.

The Lone-Nutters and the Vietnam Issue

It is very obvious to me that those who propound the false view that Oswald killed JFK alone, have a vested interest in denuding the assassination of its true political meaning. This is accomplished by removing a key political motive for a high level plot, and treating Johnson as some kind of Texas innocent, who was simply following the advice of JFK's advisers. Of course, this involves ignoring the fact that one of those advisers, Dean Rusk, was even termed a "plant" by Kennedy's own secretary, Evelyn Lincoln; and, according to Schlesinger, was to be replaced. It also ignores the manner in which LBJ manipulated the political situation after JFK's death, both to get the legal warrant to prosecute the war, and manipulate the political situation to get a consensus, of sorts.

But, all that having been said, in the final analysis this is more than just about policy--it is also about misunderstanding the man, John F. Kennedy, and what he represented. It also ignores a trajectory of growth that occurred after the April, 1961 Bay of Pigs, his suspicion of the military, and an innate caution evolving from his having been so badly misled.

The false view of JFK as some kind of secret Vietnam hawk is promoted by using evidence very selectively, and by "connecting the dots" in a completely incorrect manner when it comes to basic data pertaining to the Vietnam escalation, and a failure to properly assess a variety of data bearing on JFK's true intentions.

If one chooses to live in that world, then Oswald killed Kennedy alone, Johnson became President, and there was no change in foreign policy. Dallas was a quirk of fate, and the 60s was simply a decade of happenstance. For all practical purposes, JFK might as well have taken a bad fall in the bathtub, and met his end that way.

It must be comforting to live in that world, a tidy world of 3 shots, 3 shells, and no change in foreign policy. If the same mentality was brought to bear on the events of 9/11, I'm sure the conclusion would be that one plane went through both towers. Speaking only for myself, I believe that subscribing to the view of "Oswald and the 3 shots" is akin to believing in Goldilocks and the three bears.

Each to his own.


Word Count: 3800

Sec 3: Previous post (of Rex Bradford, and before that, Gus Russo)


From Rex Bradford. . .


Well, I agree with some of what you say. The Cuba policy was disastrous and the White House

was responsible for the main policy, though it is all more complex than simply "Kennedy vendetta

driven". The Vietnam policy, particularly around Diem, was conflicted and JFK only turned toward

withdrawal in 1963 after almost two years of escalation. In any case, the main reason I'm

responding is that this caught my eye:

Martin (interviewer): There was never any consideration given to pulling out?

Kennedy: No.

Since it is a matter of public record that a 1000-man pullout was ordered via NSAM 263 on Oct 11,

and since documents declassified in 1997 confirm that the planning for complete withdrawal was

put on paper as early as May 1963, RFK's statement seems very curious. It is one thing to say

that Kennedy was driven to win and would have changed his mind about drawing down forces as

things unraveled; it is quite another to say that no consideration was given to pulling out, when it

was (partially) announced in the New York Times. RFK is simply not telling the truth in this quote,

or is using a shorthand "no" to describe a much more complex view.

Pages from the May 1963 SecDef conference:


> d=109


> http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...22&relPageI

> d=107


> (Entire document):

> http://www.maryferrell.org/mffweb/archive/...22&relPageI

> d=1


> Rex


* * *

On 3/22/07, Gus Russo <rusgus4@earthlink.net> wrote:

Sorry, I'm not convinced. Kennedy's words and actions were consistent from day one. Claiming

that he kept Krulak in the dark is not proof that he did. You should ask Krulak about that

proposition. I can hear him laughing now. (his old numbers: (619)224-3353; also Copley News

(619)293-1818 - if he's still alive).

Likewise, claiming that only his inner circle -- the same inner circle that created the Camelot myth

-- knew the truth, is just that: a claim. This was the same inner circle that advised LBJ to escalate

the war. Johnson regretted keeping them on board until the day he died. It was his greatest

regret, in fact. And how can anyone trust what McNamara says after sending thousand of young

people to their deaths in a war he now claims he knew all along was a disaster (he just didn't feel

it necessary to tell the 18-year-olds. His kids, of course, were exempt)?

Saying that Kennedy was diplomatic in private goes against what everyone who had to carry out

the Cuba project says - it was the WHITE HOUSE that was PRIVATELY cracking the whip, not vice

versa. I see absolutely nothing "heroic" about Kennedy and Cuba; the evidence is overwhelming

that the brothers tried to murder Castro by any means possible, and for no reason other than that

their family pride was hit by the BOP atrocity. I also see nothing heroic about Kennedy personally

authorizing the coup that killed the Diem brothers.

Even Bobby came to realize the mistakes they made. See his 1967 Senate speech on Vietnam"

"If fault is to be found or responsibility assessed, there is enough to go around for all – including

myself." Was he still engaged in the hypothetical "shadow dance" in 1967?

And regarding Cuba, RFK said in 1968: "If the policy was wrong, it was ot the product of the CIA,

but of each administration. We must not forget that we are not dealing with a dream world, but

with a very tough adversary." Are we to suppose that near the end of his life, he was STILL

worried about the dastardly generals and CIA agents, and that he was still enacting a ruse?

These are far from "cherry-picked" quotes. One can find a multitude of them. But where are the

multitude of quotes to the contrary? Better yet where are the actions (other than the rumored


It's one thing to say that all of Kennedy's hawkish actions and words were just a ruse (an old

theory which few in DC believe) and another to discount what Bobby said in his oral history that

was private, only opened many years after his death. (below) Was this also part of the elaborate

"shadow dance"? Was Bobby still trying to trick the Pentagon's bad guys? What you are saying

sounds overly apologetic, not to mention theoretical, in the face of Kennedy's words and actions.

I give RFK credit. I am certain that he at least came to realize the folly of his and his brother's

foreign policy blunders. What is interesting to me is that his apologists haven't caught up to him.

Ironically, the Camelot myth seems to have had stronger hold on many writers than it did on

Bobby himself. And before the onslaught of responses that think I am a JFK hater, let me say that

I am not. I am just realistic. He is to be admired for the Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress,

his (belated) support of the civil rights movement, the American University speech, and the way

he inspired young people to get involved in politics. On the other hand, his foreign policy was a

disaster. Sorry. Kennedy's horrible death blinded people to the truth. For many he will always be

a saintly, peace-loving martyr. I would bet anything that if JFK could chime in, even he'd (like his

brother) admit more of his errors than his biographers do.

Martin (interviewer): There was never any consideration given to pulling out?

Kennedy: No.

Martin: …But the president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there . . .

Kennedy: Yes.

Martin: . . . and couldn't lose it.

Kennedy: Yes.

Martin: And if Vietnamese were about to lose it, would he propose to go in on land if he had to?

Kennedy: Well, we'd face that when we came to it.

On Mar 22, 2007, at 8:55 PM, David Talbot wrote:


With all due respect, I don't believe you are correct on this. JFK was keeping his military men --

including Krulak -- in the dark about his true intentions regarding Vietnam, which was to withdraw

following the 1964 presidential election. His closest advisors -- including O'Donnell, McNamara and

Sorensen -- were aware of his true plans. (As McNamara and Sorensen confirmed to me, and as

O'Donnell wrote in his memoir.) But throughout his presidency -- particularly after the Bay of Pigs

-- Kennedy did a shadow dance with his national security apparatus, rarely committing his real

plans to paper, because he knew this sort of transparency risked provoking a sharp backlash

from the hardliners in his administration. Gareth Porter gets this Kennedy two-step right in his

excellent book, "Perils of Dominance" -- talk tough in public but work behind the scenes

diplomatically to avoid military confrontations. I think the hardliners began to see through this

artful Kennedy dance -- on Cuba, Vietnam etc -- and grew increasingly fed up with it. You can see

how they might regard this as cowardly and duplicitous behavior on Kennedy's part. Although --

when you consider what the CIA's own analysts predicted would occur if the US launched an

all-out assault on Cuba (an intelligence estimate that calls to mind with startling similarity what

happened decades later in Iraq) and what of course happened in Vietnam -- you can also

consider Kennedy's machinations heroic.

David Talbot

JFK to Walter Cronkite Sept 2, 1963:

"But I don't agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a mistake. That would

be a great mistake." One week later, on Sept. 9, 1963, Kennedy explained to David Brinkley that

he believed in the domino theory in Southeast Asia. "I believe it. I believe it," the President

repeated and then expressed his categorical opposition to withdrawing from Vietnam:

"What I am concerned about is that Americans will get impatient and say because they don't like

events in Southeast Asia or they don't like the government in Saigon, that we should withdraw.

That only makes it easy for the communists. I think we should stay. We should use our influence

in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw."

At a news conference on Sept. 12, 1963, Kennedy emphasized that "what helps to win the war we

support. What interferes with the war effort we oppose." [The] president felt that the. . . . He had

a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.

Martin (interviewer): What was the overwhelming reason?

Kennedy: Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite

clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.

Martin: What if it did?

Kennedy: Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position

in a rather vital part of the world. Also, it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in

turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just, it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It

would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of these countries would be

affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists, particularly as we had made such a fuss in

the United States both under President Eisenhower and President Kennedy about the preservation

of the integrity of Vietnam.

Martin: There was never any consideration given to pulling out?

Kennedy: No.

Martin: But the president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there . . .

Kennedy: Yes.

Martin: . . . and couldn't lose it.

Kennedy: Yes.

Martin: And if Vietnamese were about to lose it, would he propose to go in on land if he had to?

Kennedy: Well, we'd face that when we came to it.


Schlesinger, who promulgated the Kennedy hagiography, even said that Kennedy kept the troops dying needlessly for political reasons:

Regarding withdrawal, Schlesinger claims Kennedy said: "But I can't do it until 1965--after I'm reelected."

For my take on it, please see my essay on historymatters.com: JFK, Vietnam, and Oliver Stone

Gary Aguilar November, 2005It's at:




As a postscript to my piece, Rex added: editor's note: for a forceful presentation of the

argument that JFK was indeed proceeding with an unconditional withdrawal from Vietnam in 1963, see James K. Galbraith's essay Exit Strategy at http://www.bostonreview.net/BR28.5/galbraith.html].

On 3/21/07, Gus Russo <rusgus4@earthlink.net> wrote:

> On 3/20/07, Gus Russo <rusgus4@earthlink.net> wrote:

>> > From: Gary Aguilar [mailto:garaguilar@gmail.com]>> > On 3/18/07, Paul Hoch

<paulhoch@berkeley.edu> wrote:>> >> From: Gus Russo [mailto:rusgus4@earthlink.net]>> >>


Attachment converted: David's Powerbook G4:Supermob cover 2.jpg

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