Yet another historical revisionist, Godfrey Hodgson, has presumed to assert JFK - had he lived - would have escalated Vietnam the way LBJ did. See e.g. the core presentation of his codswallop in this salon.com piece:
Leaving out his swipes at Kennedy "partisans" including even his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, this Yale-based buffoon writes:
"Given the disintegration of the situation caused by external factors including the collapse of successive governments in Saigon, growing confidence on the part of the Viet Cong, and the growing understanding that North Vietnam could reinforce its order of battle in South Vietnam by way of the Ho Chi Minh Trail faster than the United States could inflict casualties, it seems clear that JFK’s advisers would have given him the same advice they gave LBJ."
Forgetting totally that JFK's advisors (as well as the Joint Chiefs) also pushed him to bomb and invade Cuba at the height of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, but he refused, resorting to a naval blockade instead. Disclosing that unlike too many presidents, JFK was ultimately his own man and made his own decisions in given critical situation.
Hodgson then quotes McGeorge Bundy successor Walter Rostow as some kind of impeccable guru who asserted:
“My own net judgment, for what it’s worth is that, if President Kennedy had not been killed, he would have made the same decisions as President Johnson and quite possibly made them earlier.”
To try to reinforce this Hodgson adds:
"It is true that Rostow was a classic cold warrior, deeply hostile to Communism, but so was John Kennedy"
Which is false on its face, as James Douglass shows in his book, JFK and the Unspeakable - Why He Died and Why It Matters ('Part 1 - 'A Cold Warrior Turns' ) showing that by the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy had dropped the Cold Warrior persona and become a powerful advocate for peace, even declaring for total nuclear disarmament in his June 1963 speech at American University. Then - as if to put an exclamation point on it - signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in August, 1963. That really raised the ire of true cold warriors because of the provision in the Treaty outlawing development of all anti-missile systems. The revisionists can spin this any way they want but those are the facts.
Regarding JFK's pulling out of Vietnam, let us now collectively get our heads straight and move away from what Mr X, Y or Z said to what JFK actually DID. That is, signed and approved National Security Action Memorandum 263 (which Hodgson doesn't even reference) to move all personnel out of Vietnam by calendar year 1965. Let's examine this in more detail because it remains controversial especially among disinformationists and revisionist historians.
What is often actually cited as the NSAM, i.e.
Is in fact only the cover letter by McGeorge Bundy. It has only passing relevance to the actual content of the NSAM, but it does clearly state “the President approved sections IB(1-3) of the report". Which report? To find these, the researcher must turn to Document 142 in The Pentagon Papers: ‘Report of McNamara Taylor Mission to South Vietnam'. Then the serious researcher will read:
IB(2) A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by the Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. military personnel by that time.
IB(3): In accordance with the program to train progressively Vietnamese to take over military functions, the Defense Department should announce in the very near future presently prepared plans to withdraw 1,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963.
Note the wording and that a partial drawdown of 1,000 was due for the end of 1963 and the bulk by 1965. Most lazy wannabes or pseudo-historians never get this far while some others that do mistake the "1,000" total for the entire intended lot.
So the documentary evidence, in conjunction with Kennedy's anti-Cold Warrior ACTIONS (including initiating a rapprochement with Castro and Cuba) show that Hodgson is totally out of his gourd on this claim that Kennedy would have escalated in Vietnam. No he would not have.
Further, IF that was true, why is it that LBJ found it necessary to issue NSAM 273, essentially nullifying JFK's NSAM 263? As pointed out by author Peter Dale Scott ( 'Deep Politics and the Death of JFK') Johnson’s NSAM 273 “deleted Kennedy’s restrictions and sanctioned plans for U.S.operations to begin shortly thereafter”. (That is, after Nov. 21 – one day before JFK was shot dead in Dallas). In other words, the fell plans for reversing Kennedy’s NSAM were already in existence a day in advance of the date JFK was killed. Scott notes (p. 30) a draft of this NSAM 273 had presumptively been readied for Kennedy to see. (The draft prepared for Kennedy’s signature spoke only of “additional resources” given by the South Vietnamese to fight North Vietnam – as per JFK’s original instructions in NSAM 263 – but this was the part deleted.)
Scott also correctly observed that in the wake of this perfidy most media sources (e.g. Michael Specter in the NY Times) and talking heads (e.g. Noam Chomsky) prattled that “NSAM 273 continued Kennedy’s policies” which it did nothing of the sort. Scott further observes (p. 29) that "even the Nation participated in this obfuscation of the record." The Nation? That icon of liberal media? You'd better believe it! At times, and too often to count, liberals can lose their bearings as much as conservatives.
Let’s bear in mind the NSAM 273 perversion led directly to an even greater outrage, the fabrication of the Tonkin Gulf incident in August 1964, when two U.S. gunboats - the Turner Joy and Maddox- were allegedly attacked without provocation. This precipitated the Tonkin Gulf Resolution which directly led to the massive expansion in ‘Nam. This is something Kennedy - having changed his Cold warrior stripes by late 1962- would never have done!
I advise those who want to seriously delve further into the background to LBJ's NSAM -273 to go to:
Where Hodgson is at least moderately correct is when he observes, regarding the assassination of the Diems on Nov. 2, 1963:
"There has been a tendency to interpret this episode to mean that Kennedy wanted to overthrow Diem. It more clearly demonstrates that even a strong president cannot always ensure that his policy is actually at all times carried out."
This is true, and the episode really showed how the CIA - still seething over Kennedy's assorted end runs around them (and firing of Allen Dulles), took matters into its own hands.
As Douglass notes (op. cit. p. 192): Kennedy got his final wake up call on who was controlling his government when, in an early September, 1963 meeting he was informed by a David Bell of AID (a CIA cover organization) that the funds from the Commodity Import Aid Program had “already been cut off”, essentially assuring a coup would ensue with the Diem government in South Vietnam. (The Diems were killed on Nov. 2, 1963 and the CIA had planned for Kennedy to be taken out the same day in Chicago, except that trip was cancelled. The lone assassin set up for that hit was Thomas Arthur Vallee. (About whom details were provided in Douglass' book).
Kennedy was evidently livid and directly asked Bell who had told him to do that, to which Bell replied, “No one” (ibid.). The will to power disclosed here indicates the CIA felt it more powerful than Kennedy himself or his decision-making authority. If they felt that way, there is nothing that they wouldn’t do to prevent the President from getting in their way.
The incident was confirmed by New York Times journalist Arthur Krock in his piece ‘The Inter-Administration War in Vietnam’, The New York Times, Oct. 3, 1963). wherein he wrote:
"If the United States ever experiences an attempt at a coup to overthrow the government, it will come from the CIA”
This followed his observation that: "the CIA had flatly refused to carry out instructions from Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge.”
This in regard to disbursing the funds from the Commodity Import Aid Program.
All of which shows that some "historians" - like Godfrey Hodgson - in his JFK revisionist phantasmagorias, are unworthy of the title. I prefer to call them anti-historians or pseudo-historians, much like the pseudo -scientists who spin the "global warming is a hoax" crap.
His new book, on which his salon.com article is based, merits the same treatment as Vince Bugliosi's 'Reclaiming History': a rapid one way ride to the nearest dumpster!