On JFK’s foreign policy: Douglas Horne v. Robert Dallek

What kind of president was John F. Kennedy? Who were his enemies? These questions still preoccupy the American people. And the answers are found in a debate of two leading experts on the subject.

The Future of Freedom Foundation has published a five-part series, written by former JFK review board analyst, Douglas Horne, entitled “JFK’s War Against the National Security Establishment.”

Historian Robert Dallek covered much the same ground in his piece in the November issue of Atlantic, “JFK vs. the Military.”

They reach different conclusions about the events of November 22, 1963.

Horne says that JFK was pursuing liberal polices that alienated Pentagon when he was killed by enemies of those polices within his own government.

Dallek says that JFK was pursuing liberal polices that alienated the Pentagon when he was killed by one man for no reason.

Read both articles, and tell me who you think is more credible.

9 comments

  1. Chris Roberts says:

    They both agree JFK was moving in liberal policy directions that the pentagon didn’t like.

    We have moved since 1990′s.Then the idea JFK was going to pull out of vietnam after reelection was attacked.Now more agree that was direction he was heading In.

    Robert Dallek just can’t ever believe the public was lied to about any aspect of JFK case.He has dismissed conspiracy theories by saying noone would have trusted loner like Oswald.He assumes the assassination happened the way The WC said and Oswald was who the government said.

  2. Photon says:

    Again, people tend to forget that JFK accepted the Diem coup as necessary. Like it or not, that coup meant more American involvement in Vietnam.
    Why did Diem have to go? Because he and his brother were involved in back door negotiations with the National Liberation Front. When the Kennedy administration became aware of those activities Diem became a dead man – as Kennedy was obviously aware.

    • Arthur says:

      JFK was very hesitant to remove diem from power and he most certainly was not on board with his assasination. I hope your not using that as an argument to say that kennedy would have escalated in Vietnam. If our president had not been betrayed and assassinated by treasonous elements of our government we were out of nam by 65-66.

    • JSA says:

      http://whitehousetapes.net/clip/john-kennedy-john-kennedy-jr-caroline-kennedy-jfks-memoir-dictation-assassination-diem

      It sounds to me, listening to the President (he tape recorded his thoughts on Monday evening, November 4), that he regretted Diem’s assassination and regretted the coup. I think President Kennedy felt pushed into making a decision in the Summer, and wasn’t completely onboard with support for a coup. When he heard that it had taken place and that Diem was assassinated, he found it to be “abhorrent”. He still planned on continuing his withdrawal of US military advisors in December, and he still planned to distance our involvement from that civil war there. There’s a pattern throughout JFK’s presidency of not sending in the troops (in Berlin he refused to confront the communists over the construction of the wall in 1961, and in Cuba he refused to sign on to a full scale invasion after the small clandestine forces failed in 1961, and again he refused to strike Cuba in 1962 when all of his JCS wanted him to strike, not blockade. I see very little concrete evidence to support your premise that Kennedy was willing to commit full scale boots on the ground, as Lyndon Johnson was willing to do. McNamara said this too, in his book, “In Retrospect.”

    • Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

      As usual Photon vastly oversimplifies for purposes of quick magazined dismissal.

      JFK knew that a Diem Coup was be taken by the military as the go ahead to take its replacement as a more stable basis for a more US support, and could be manipulated by CIA , JCS and media into some new sort of obligation toward the new government.

      He also knew that the Military had been giving him wrong data on the status of the war and was trying to use that false optimism as a means of calling the military’s bluff and cutting US involvement to hand it all back to south Vietnam.

      He also knew that Diem was opening channels with North Vietnam and that all three teams, JFK , the National Security State& the south Vietnam Generals, and Diem’s regime were watching each other closely trying to anticipate the next move.

      This had been the situation since the August 24th memo had been sent out under the direction of Harriman, who much more committed to CIA and JCS plans for escalation and actively contravened JFK’s plans for withdrawal, plans that JFK had already made absolutely clear to the JCS in May of 1963, and which were finalized in early October, 1963.

      JFK was in a situation similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis in which he knew that his policy was opposed by virtually all the most direct players in the National Security State. Yet this time, the CIA had its hands much closer to the relevant levers of power, in Saigon and Cholon. JFK understood that Diem might not last, but also wanted, if possible to maintain the exit strategy with Diem still there. There was even a possibility that Diem might be useful in asking the US to leave. The situation was much more fluid than Photon suggests. It is a picture of its nominal boss losing final control over CIA and it is perhaps the most relevant Kodachrome of all to show todays America who the government really is in 2014, the one that “bipartisanly” waits untile 5 days after its 100% corporate elections before announcing the bipartisan escalation in our new Middle East wars.

      I hear we’re bombing letters this time instead of countries.

      • Bill Clarke says:

        Nathaniel Heidenheimer November 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm

        Reply Part I.

        Heidenheimer: As usual Photon vastly oversimplifies for purposes of quick magazined dismissal.

        Heidenheimer: JFK knew that a Diem Coup was be taken by the military as the go ahead to take its replacement as a more stable basis for a more US support, and could be manipulated by CIA , JCS and media into some new sort of obligation toward the new government.

        Clarke: Actually it is pretty simple as Photon stated. JFK approved a coup to remove Diem. The SV generals removed Diem, murdering him in the process. Lodge, in a phone call with Diem, offered him safe passage out of the country. Diem refused, sealing his fate. I suspect Diem thought he could regain control, having survived another coup attempt in 1960. There is no doubt JFK approved the coup, there is also no doubt that he did not approve the murder of Diem. He didn’t want him dead, JFK just wanted him gone. Some think this is the biggest mistake we made in Vietnam. Uncle Ho called it “stupid”. Ho should know and the history of what happened in SV after the coup bears this out. The SV generals would have never gone forward with the coup without American support and approval. They canceled another earlier planned coup when they decided that they didn’t have the full support of the U.S…

        Clarke: Have you heard the expression, “you break it you buy it”? Well JFK broke it in Vietnam. The Camelot crowd makes excuses here for JFK but anyone with a moral compass knows that after the coup we sponsored removed a sitting government we were obligated to “buy” Vietnam.

        Heidenheimer: He also knew that the Military had been giving him wrong data on the status of the war and was trying to use that false optimism as a means of calling the military’s bluff and cutting US involvement to hand it all back to south Vietnam.

        Clarke: This astounding piece of history surfaced with “JFK and Vietnam” by John Newman, page 323. Please note that Newman failed to reference this jewel. This is understandable since Newman pulled it out of the air. There is nothing to support this fairy tale. If you have a reference I’d certainly like to see it. And this doesn’t mean you quote DiEugino or others that blindly buy Newman’s junk and regurgitate it. Some primary evidence please.

      • Bill Clarke says:

        Nathaniel Heidenheimer November 8, 2014 at 8:30 pm

        Reply Part II

        Heidenheimer: He also knew that Diem was opening channels with North Vietnam and that all three teams, JFK, the National Security State& the south Vietnam Generals, and Diem’s regime were watching each other closely trying to anticipate the next move.

        Heidenheimer: This had been the situation since the August 24th memo had been sent out under the direction of Harriman, who much more committed to CIA and JCS plans for escalation and actively contravened JFK’s plans for withdrawal, plans that JFK had already made absolutely clear to the JCS in May of 1963, and which were finalized in early October, 1963.

        Clarke: This is just plain wrong. The JFK plans for SV are clearly written in NSAM 263. I know of no incident in which Harriman interfered or tried to break this plan. If you do I’d appreciate another reference. FYI, NSAM 263 does not say we will withdraw “all” of our troops and it does not set 1965 as a deadline.

        Heidenheimer: JFK was in a situation similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis in which he knew that his policy was opposed by virtually all the most direct players in the National Security State. Yet this time, the CIA had its hands much closer to the relevant levers of power, in Saigon and Cholon. JFK understood that Diem might not last, but also wanted, if possible to maintain the exit strategy with Diem still there. There was even a possibility that Diem might be useful in asking the US to leave.

        Clarke: You can’t have it both ways. Either Diem was talking to the communist and JFK feared Diem would ask us to leave South Vietnam OR JFK was trying to get out of South Vietnam and thought he could use Diem asking us to leave as a way out! Try the first one.

  3. Eric Saunders says:

    “Dallek says that JFK was pursuing liberal polices that alienated the Pentagon when he was killed by one man for no reason.”

    This is a very funny way of accurately conveying that position.

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