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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-03-09 06:52 PM
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1. Papers reveal JFK efforts on Vietnam
In 1963, President Kennedy asked Averell Harriman, his Ambassador for Far Eastern Affairs and former business partner of Prescott Bush, to get word to the North Vietnamese that the U.S. wanted OUT OF VIETNAM and was willing to negotiate. Harriman appears to have ignored tabled the order...

Papers reveal JFK efforts on Vietnam

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
Boston Globe 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.

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.


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 , 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 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.


President Kennedy, Ambassador Galbraith and Prime Minister Nehru aboard the presidential yacht, Sequoia.

This ancient history, believe it or not, impacts us still. Ask yourself:

Why does the U.S. Treasury contain no money for health insurance or public education or jobs, yet finds plenty of money to be had for Wall Street and War Inc?
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