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(no name) ((no email))
Sat, 30 Nov 1996 23:11:39 -0500

From: Juan Jewell <jewell@gateway.us.sidwell.edu>
Subject: JFK and Vietnam (was Re: political elites 2)

On Mon, 25 Nov 1996 PUBBLAN@amber.indstate.edu wrote:

> remember jfk saw the mission not as ensuring victory but putting the south
> vietnamese in a positon where they could conduct the training that
> americans were responsible for. lbj changed this in NSAM 273 to an objective
> of winning.
No argument. But I guess the question becomes one of what would JFK have
done if it became apparent that the introduction of combat troops would
have been necessary to buy a weak S. Vietnamese gov't the time needed to
train its own army. Confronted with the situation that faced LBJ, would
the Inaugural Address rhetoric about "bearing any burden, paying any
price" have kicked in?
> curious as to what evidence you use to support the fact that jfk condoned the
> assassination of diem; it may be that at that point he wasn't even in favor of
> coup because a new government might create the argument that we
> needed to stay longer to help.

My mistake here. JFK condoned the coup. The assassination probably was
an unintended consequence of the coup.

> maybe it was other forces behind the coup
> and the assassination trying to force jfk's hand. what i have read indicates
> that jfk had offered an escape to diem and nhu, which they chose not to use,
> ands they were probably killed by vietnamese troops under the control of
> rogue cia elements.
> my suspicion is that had he lived the advisors would have been out by the
> end of 1965 and combat troops would have never been introduced.
Certainly the plan as of Oct. 1963 was to withdraw advisors by the end of
1965. My impression from a quick read of some of the October, 1963,
documents in the NYT edition of the Pentagon Papers was that we were
assuming that the government of S. Vietnam would have been able by that
time, with the assistance of US advisors, to bring the war to a successful
conclusion by that time. So in that sense it can be said that JFK did
intend to get the US out of Vietnam by that time. He also, of course,
intended to have the war brought to a victorious conclusion by that time.

I get no sense from the reading that JFK was questioning the fundamental
belief in the importance of preventing a Communist takeover of S. Vietnam.
So the question remains of what he would have done if a Communist takeover
became more likely. That, of course, was the situation that confronted
LBJ in the aftermath of the coup and through the course of 1964. At what
cost would JFK have decided that the price of a non-Communist South was
too large a price for the US to pay? I don't know that there is evidence
for us to decide one way of the other.

Of course, a Cold Warrior JFK removes some of the motives offered for a
conspiracy to assassinate him. I wonder which comes first: the belief
in the existence of a gov't conspiracy to kill JFK or the belief that
all would have been happiness and life had he lived. I suspect the two
are mutually reinforcing.

Juan Jewell Sidwell Friends School
jewell@sidwell.edu Washington, DC

"It is the dark secret of new computer technology of most any kind: It doesn't
always bring immediate benefit and, if it does, it demands that people first
change the way they work."

Elizabeth Corcoran and Caroline E. Mayer
The Washington Post, Saturday, September 14 1996