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Reply #3: In 1963, JFK ordered a complete withdrawal from Vietnam [View All]

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-04-09 01:19 AM
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3. In 1963, JFK ordered a complete withdrawal from Vietnam
Imagine if Kennedy had run against Barry "Extremism Is No Vice" Goldwater as the "Peace Candidate" in 1964?

Ambassador Galbraith's son, James, makes the case JFK would not have committed the U.S. to an unwinnable civil war in Vietnam.

Exit Strategy

In 1963, JFK ordered a complete withdrawal from Vietnam

James K. Galbraith

Forty years have passed since November 22, 1963, yet painful mysteries remain. What, at the moment of his death, was John F. Kennedys policy toward Vietnam?

Its one of the big questions, alternately evaded and disputed over four decades of historical writing. It bears on Kennedys reputation, of course, though not in an unambiguous way.

And today, larger issues are at stake as the United States faces another indefinite military commitment that might have been avoided and that, perhaps, also cannot be won. The story of Vietnam in 1963 illustrates for us the struggle with policy failure. More deeply, appreciating those distant events tests our capacity as a country to look the reality of our own history in the eye.

One may usefully introduce the issue by recalling the furor over Robert McNamaras 1995 memoir In Retrospect. Reaction then focused mainly on McNamaras assumption of personal responsibility for the war, notably his declaration that his own actions as the Secretary of Defense responsible for it were terribly, terribly wrong. Reviewers paid little attention to the books contribution to history. In an editorial on April 12, 1995, the New York Times delivered a harsh judgment: Perhaps the only value of In Retrospect is to remind us never to forget that these were men who in the full hubristic glow of their power would not listen to logical warning or ethical appeal. And in the New York Times Book Review four days later, Max Frankel wrote that

David Halberstam, who applied that ironic phrase to his rendering of the tale 23 years ago, told it better in many ways than Mr. McNamara does now. So too, did the Pentagon Papers, that huge trove of documents assembled at Mr. McNamaras behest when he first recognized a debt to history.

In view of these criticisms, readers who actually pick up McNamaras book may experience a shock when they scan the table of contents and sees this summary of Chapter 3, titled The Fateful Fall of 1963: August 24November 22, 1963:

A pivotal period of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, punctuated by three important events: the overthrow and assassination of South Vietnams president Ngo Dinh Diem; President Kennedys decision on October 2 to begin the withdrawal of U.S. forces; and his assassination fifty days later. (Emphasis added.)


How's that peace dividend going, America?
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