What were JFK’s two greatest speeches?


President Kennedy gave two speeches, on June 10 and June 11, 1963 that changed the course of American history, says  historian Andrew Cohen, author of “Two Days in June.” Cohen explained what JFK wrought in a recent interview with CBC TV host Peter Mansbridge.

 

50 comments

  1. Paul Turner says:

    Two excellent speeches indeed. I was glad to see the appearance by Ted Sorensen, as he was the speechwriter. I agree with Cohen that JFK was coming into his own as POTUS by that time, and also that JFK would have avoided sending ground soldiers into Vietnam. There were many things that “might have been” had JFK not been killed, and those “what might have been”s would have kept this country great and confident, something that I don’t think we’ve seen since 11-22-63.

    • Bill Clarke says:

      Paul Turner
      March 26, 2015 at 10:24 am

      I certainly agree that there was a respect for the office and the president himself that has faded since the passing of JFK. Today the office of president seems to be a running joke.

      Several items I think should be noted for historical accuracy;

      1. JFK had “ground troops” in Vietnam and some were killed. Calling them “advisers” doesn’t make them any less dead. JFK did not send “combat UNITS” to Vietnam.

      2. Cohen states that there was no bombing policy like Rolling Thunder under JFK. That is correct but fails to mention the bombing policy going on in SVN. There JFK did in fact have a bombing policy and the fight between the “bombers” and the “hearts and minds” men on the ground is well documented.

      3. Cohen flatly states that the civil rights bill would have been passed under JFK had he lived. This is pure speculation on his part.

      4. And of course JFK would have saved us from Vietnam. Maybe, maybe not. More speculation.

      • anonymous says:

        And of course speculating that JFK would have invaded Vietnam is Not speculation?
        http://www.ctka.net/reviews/virtual_jfk_2.html

        “1. JFK had “ground troops” in Vietnam and some were killed. Calling them “advisers” doesn’t make them any less dead.”

        Obama has “ground troops” in Iraq and Putin has “ground troops” in Ukraine but neither has invaded – contrary to chicken little NATO. American advisers have died in plenty of places that were not invaded: http://williamblum.org/books/killing-hope/#toc

        • Bill Clarke says:

          anonymous
          March 31, 2015 at 11:29 am

          And of course speculating that JFK would have invaded Vietnam is Not speculation?
          http://www.ctka.net/reviews/virtual_jfk_2.html

          Bc. I have always said anyone who tells you what Jack would have and would not have done is full of it. I don’t see where I said JFK would have “invaded” Vietnam. Can you show me?

          Bc. The reference you gave me is junk. Let me show you a bit of your references dishonesty.

          1. “Frederick Logevall is a Professor of History at Cornell who in 1999 wrote an extraordinary volume called Choosing War. This was an exhaustive study of Johnson’s decision making from Kennedy’s death until the great escalations of 1965 and beyond.”

          Bc. What DiEugenio leaves out is that the book is also an exhaustive study of JFK decision making on Vietnam from summer of 1963 until his death. Not flattering to the “Jack would have saved us from Vietnam” crowd, JFK resisted all request by the communist to negotiate on Vietnam during this time. Part of the reason Diem was disposed was the rumors Nhu was talking to the communist. Page numbers on request.

          2. “It was precipitated by the influence of Newman’s compelling and fully documented 1992 book, JFK and Vietnam”. (Newman is mentioned at several points in the discussion.)

          It is not “fully documented”. In fact there is much speculation and little scholarship in the book. Here are the main points of Newman’s book page 322.
          ________________________________________________________
          “Kennedy decided to use Taylor’s and Harkin’ reports of battlefield success to justify the beginning of the withdrawal he was planning.” Italics by Newman.

          “Kennedy kept his plan a closely guarded secret, but by March he was determined not only to withdraw—come what may—after 1964, but, if possible, to take a clear step in that direction….”
          __________________________________________________________________

          “Withdraw come what may”. How grand! Total BS. You wonder why there isn’t supporting evidence for these bloopers. There is none and none is listed in the book. No footnote, no Kenny O’Donnell said Jack told him this, No senator saying Jack told him this. Nothing. Newman pulled it straight out of the air. Pure junk. DiEugenio thinks highly of Newman’s “JFK and Vietnam”. If you wish to read the true history you’ll have to go somewhere else.

          And then DiEugenio gets down to Fletcher Prouty and that is as far as I am going.

  2. gerry campeau says:

    Peter Mansbridge – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Mansbridge

    Peter Mansbridge, OC (born July 6, 1948), is an English-Canadian broadcaster and news anchor. He is chief correspondent for CBC News and anchor of The …

    Nationality: English, Canadian

    Children: two daughters, one son

  3. Yes, listen for yourselves. Kennedy was sincere in his quest for peace.

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BWC7I4C9QUmLG9J6I8oy8w.aspx

    And to get back to the purpose of this site, JFKfacts; It was this quest for peace that led to his assassination by those who had no vested interest in peace, those arrogant warmongers who were too short sighted to see that their vested interests were deeper than their bloated hubris could grasp.
    \\][//

    • Paul Turner says:

      I certainly agree to that, Willy. The”warmongers” knew that they’d have a better chance of success with LBJ as POTUS.

  4. Dan says:

    This very good piece sets out the fact that both JFK and Khrushchev were removed from office within three months of one another. One is forced to consider the possibility that Cold War hardliners in each country were behind the removals.

    • Dan,
      It was in the interest of the military-industrial-complex of both the US and USSR (which were totally entangled – See Sutton) to get rid of both of their peace seeking leaders.
      \\][//

  5. Dan says:

    Clarification to the above post- Wikipedia says Brezhnev began organizing Khrushchev’s ouster in March 1964 and he was removed in October 1964.

    • Fearfaxer says:

      As I recall, the last straw was a trip he made to Egypt in the summer of that year, attempting to get Nasser to enter into an alliance that would have drawn Egypt as close to the USSR as Cuba and the Warsaw Pact nations were. Nasser turned him down.

  6. J.D. says:

    Watching President Kennedy’s speech at American University was what sparked my interest in his presidency — and ultimately his death — in the first place. It is probably the single finest speech any president gave in the 20th century, and seems as relevant today as it was in 1963.

  7. Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

    I have to place American University as top speech. I’m not sure if I would place it as high as #2, but if anyone has not heard it, the JFK speech at Yale– the one in which he quips “I have the best of both worlds, a Harvard Education and a Yale Degree”– is fascinating on many different levels. Everyone should hear it at least twice. New facets wait to glisten.

  8. ed connor says:

    Andrew Cohen attributes the assassination to a climate of hate in Dallas, due to JFK’s civil rights speech and his initiative toward peace with the soviets following his American University speech of June, 1963.
    He also sides with the LN view.
    LHO, assuming the LN view, would have agreed with the rapprochement with the USSR, as well as the civil rights initiative. Everything Kennedy did in June was in concert with LHO’s supposed communist goals.
    But where was LHO that summer? Not in the Dallas “hate climate,” but at 544 Camp Street in New Orleans, with the anti-Castro Cubans and “Col. Roselli” and the mob.
    Mr. Cohen reminds me of Dawn Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard, who made her mark by writing that the Civil War produced great grief in the land. Big whoop. The South didn’t like civil rights in 1963. Big whoop.
    This author adds nothing to the discussion.

  9. Alex says:

    That is actually Peter Mansbridge interviewing Cohen.

  10. Alan Dale says:

    JFK: Imperialism – The Enemy of Freedom July 2, 1957

    http://www.jfklink.com/speeches/jfk/congress/jfk020757_imperialism.html

    Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, September 12, 1962

    http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/JFK-Speeches/Rice-University_19620912.aspx

    He was quite a guy.

    • Thank you Alan Dale, for turning me on to the; JFK: Imperialism – The Enemy of Freedom July 2, 1957.

      It is a rather astonishing thing, the lucid wisdom of Kennedy as a young Senator, especially in those times of single and narrow minded anticommunism. For an American statesman to admit to western imperialism in that era is remarkable. JFK’s trajectory towards reasonable negotiation and diplomacy in favor of belligerence was so rare then … as it is yet today.
      \\][//

      • Alan Dale says:

        You’re welcome, Willy.

        You may be interested in this article written by Jim DiEugenio, JFK’s Embrace of Third World Nationalists:

        https://consortiumnews.com/2013/11/25/jfks-embrace-of-third-world-nationalists/

        My conversation with Jim on this topic may be heard here:

        http://www.jfklancer.com/audioconversations.html

        • Bill Clarke says:

          Alan Dale
          March 27, 2015 at 12:11 am

          Bc. I find it hard to accept JFK as the darling of the third world since I know what the man did in the third world. He tried to overthrow two third world governments. One attempt failed so he continued attempting an overthrow with Operation Mongoose and assassination attempts on Castro. The tragic result of his overthrowing Ngo Dinh Diem is well known. I also note several problems with the scholarship of Mr. DiEugenio’s article.

          “In April 1962, Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith volunteered to get a message to North Vietnam through Indian diplomats about a possible truce in return for a phased withdrawal of American forces. Almost everyone at senior levels of the Kennedy administration opposed Galbraith’s venture. The one man who liked the idea was Kennedy, who instructed Assistant Secretary of State Averell Harriman to follow up on the proposal.”

          Bc. That is strange since one of the reasons JFK approved the overthrow of Diem was because of rumors that Nhu was talking to the communist. Did JFK think it acceptable for the U.S. to chat with the communist but it wasn’t acceptable for Nhu to do likewise?

          Bc. Beginning in the summer of 1963 until near the end of 1964 the communist made an offer to negotiate in hopes of preventing the Americans from escalating the war. They didn’t offer much, just a two year face saving period for the Americans before they rolled over SVN. Kennedy and Johnson both not only ran like hell from it they did all they could to prevent any talks from happening. See “Choosing War”, Fredrik Logevall. So did JFK change his mind or what?

          “At a key meeting in Hawaii in May 1963, McNamara was presented with an update on the planning for the withdrawal. He deemed the plans too slow and asked them to be speeded up. (James DiEugenio, Destiny Betrayed, pgs. 366-367) But the point was that the plan was in place. Kennedy activated it in October 1963 by signing National Security Action Memorandum 263, stating that the withdrawal would begin in December of 1963 and be completed in 1965.”

          Bc. This is not true. NSAM 263 does not say that. The point isn’t debatable since NSAM 263 has been in print since 1963. It won’t ever be changed although many try.

          “In other words, Kennedy’s plan for a military withdrawal wasn’t just some vague notion or, as New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson recently wrote, a belief among his admirers “rooted as much in the romance of ‘what might have been’ as in the documented record.”

          Bc. I believe the statement of Abramson is bang on. I believe it is this “what might have been’ oath of the Camelot crowd that makes so many people, even some of some note, dishonestly claim what NSAM 263 says.

          • H.P. Albarelli Jr. says:

            Well stated, Mr. Clark. Very well stated. Sad that one must worship at the Kennedy altar in order to be taken seriously by some folks… I value your facts, Bill.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan
            March 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

            Excellent article by John Prados. I have several of his books but don’t have the one concerning the tapes. I’ll have to get that one.

            I don’t know of any hard evidence that JFK approved or even knew of the assassination attempts on Castro either. As Richard Helms said, “you won’t find it on paper but….”. In fact if you could find it on paper the CIA would be guilty of failing the presidential use of denial plausibility.

            But as deeply involved as Bobby was in Cuban affairs I find it hard to believe that he didn’t know and if Bobby knew I find it hard to believe JFK didn’t know. Just my opinion.

          • David Regan says:

            10/2/1963 McNamara explains in his book that at a “”very important” National Security Council meeting on Oct. 2, 1963, President Kennedy made three decisions: (1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965; (2) to withdraw 1,000 U.S. troops by the end of 1963 to begin the process; and (3) to make a public announcement, in order to put this decision “”in concrete.” After the Oct. 2 meeting, Kennedy asked McNamara to issue these recommendations as a “”report” from himself as secretary of defense along with Gen. Maxwell Taylor. McNamara made the announcement personally from the steps of the White House. As he headed off to face the reporters, JFK yelled after him, “”And tell them that means all of the helicopter pilots, too.”

            10/4/1963 Armed Forces’ Pacific Stars and Stripes, “White House Report: U.S. Troops Seen Out of Viet[nam] by ’65”

            10/11/1963 President Kennedy issues National Security Action Memorandum 263, making official government policy the withdrawal from Vietnam of “1 ,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963″ and ” by the end of 1965 . . . the bulk of U.S. personnel. ”

            11/14/1963 JFK said in a press conference: “We do have a new situation there [in Vietnam], and a new government, we hope, an increased effort in the war” and his goal was “to bring Americans home, permit the South Vietnamese to maintain themselves as a free and independent country, and permit democratic forces within the country to operate – which they can, of course, much more freely when the assault from the inside, and which is manipulated from the north, is ended.” He talked about the upcoming Honolulu conference: “How we can bring Americans out of there. That is our object, to bring Americans home.” He said that the exact number of men to be brought home would be determined at the conference, and he added, “I don’t want the United States to have to put troops there.”

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan
            March 28, 2015 at 7:40 pm

            10/2/1963 McNamara explains in his book that at a “”very important” National Security Council meeting on Oct. 2, 1963, President Kennedy made three decisions: (1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965; (2) to withdraw 1,000 U.S. troops by the end of 1963 to begin the process; and (3) to make a public announcement, in order to put this decision “”in concrete.”

            Bc. This “to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965” is troubling. If JFK made the decision why isn’t it found in NSAM 263 or heard in the tapes of that meeting?

            Bc. McNamara is a self-serving liar. David Halberstam called “In Retrospect” shockingly dishonest. It is. I don’t believe anyone here will argue with me that McNamara willfully lied to Congress about the Tonkin Gulf incident. If a man will lie to you once he will lie to you again. That would look great for McNamara if we thought he had convinced JFK to pull out of Vietnam by 1965. The man should have been shot for his conduct of our efforts in Vietnam.

            Bc. David, I need a little help here please. I lost my hardbound copy of “In Retrospect” in Hurricane Ike so now I have a First Vintage Books Edition paperback. On page 80 (Chapter 3) I find the part where JFK accepts the 1,000 man withdrawal and the part about putting it in concrete. I do not find the part about JFK approving “(1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965;” Could you give me a page number or other help here? Thanks in advance.

            10/4/1963 Armed Forces’ Pacific Stars and Stripes, “White House Report: U.S. Troops Seen Out of Viet[nam] by ’65″

            Bc. You won’t win many debates using Stars and Stripes. It was a joke. They did list the dead each week and we’d look at it to see if we lost any friends that week. All you can see here is the headlines you quote. I once tried to run the article down to see what it actually said but ran into a wall and stopped. Do you have anything besides the headlines? If so I’d be interested in seeing it.

            10/11/1963 President Kennedy issues National Security Action Memorandum 263, making official government policy the withdrawal from Vietnam of “1 ,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963″ and ” by the end of 1965 . . . the bulk of U.S. personnel. ”

            Bc. No, NSAM 263 does not say that. It says, from memory, that we “should be able” to withdraw the bulk of our troops then. It doesn’t say we WILL or we ARE going to withdraw the bulk in 1965, come what may (As Newman suggest).

          • Jean Davison says:

            David,

            “McNamara explains in his book that at a “”very important” National Security Council meeting on Oct. 2, 1963, President Kennedy made three decisions: (1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965; (2) to withdraw 1,000 U.S. troops by the end of 1963 to begin the process; and (3) to make a public announcement, in order to put this decision “”in concrete.””

            Here are the minutes of the NSC meeting. Please point out where it says that.

            QUOTE:
            170. Record of Action No. 2472, Taken at the 519th Meeting of the National Security Council1

            Washington, October 2, 1963.

            McNAMARA-TAYLOR REPORT ON VIETNAM2

            a. Endorsed the basic presentation on Vietnam made by Secretary McNamara and General Taylor.

            Noted the President’s approval of the following statement of U.S. policy which was later released to the press:3

            “1. The security of South Viet Nam is a major interest of the United States as other free nations. We will adhere to our policy of working with the people and Government of South Viet Nam to deny this country to Communism and to suppress the externally stimulated and supported insurgency of the Viet Cong as promptly as possible. Effective performance in this undertaking is the central objective of our policy in South Viet Nam.

            “2. The military program in South Viet Nam has made progress and is sound in principle, though improvements are being energetically sought.

            “3. Major U.S. assistance in support of this military effort is needed only until the insurgency has been suppressed or until the national security forces of the Government of South Viet Nam are capable of suppressing it.

            “Secretary McNamara and General Taylor reported their judgment that the major part of the U.S. military task can be completed by the end of 1965, although there may be a continuing requirement for a limited number of U.S. training personnel. They reported that by the end of this year, the U.S. program for training Vietnamese should have progressed to the point where 1,000 U.S. military personnel assigned to South Viet Nam can be withdrawn.

            “4. The political situation in South Viet Nam remains deeply serious. The United States has made clear its continuing opposition to any repressive actions in South Viet Nam. While such actions have not yet significantly affected the military effort, they could do so in the future.

            “5. It remains the policy of the United States, in South Viet Nam as in other parts of the world, to support the efforts of the people of that country to defeat aggression and to build a peaceful and free society.”
            UNQUOTE

            http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d170

          • The Escalation at Kennedy’s Death

            Four days after Kennedy was killed, NSAM 273 incorporated the new president’s directives into policy. It made clear that the objectives of Johnson’s policy remained the same as Kennedy’s: “to assist the people and government of South Vietnam to win their contest against the externally directed and supported Communist conspiracy” through training support and without the application of overt U.S. military force. But Johnson had also approved intensified planning for covert action against North Vietnam by CIA-supported South Vietnamese forces.

            With this, McNamara confirms one of Newman’s central claims: NSAM 273 changed policy. Yes, the “central objectives” remained the same: a Vietnamese war with no “overt U.S. military force.” But covert force is still “U.S. military force.” And that was introduced or at least first approved, as McNamara writes, by NSAM 273 within four days of Kennedy’s assassination.Moreover, McNamara effectively supports Newman on the meaning of NSAM 273’s seventh paragraph, which was inserted in the draft (as we have seen) sometime between November 21 and 26—after the Honolulu meeting had adjourned and probably after Kennedy died.

            Conclusion

            John F. Kennedy had formally decided to withdraw from Vietnam, whether we were winning or not. Robert McNamara, who did not believe we were winning, supported this decision. The first stage of withdrawal had been ordered. The final date, two years later, had been specified. These decisions were taken, and even placed, in an oblique and carefully limited way, before the public.”~James K. Galbraith
            Read whole article at:
            http://new.bostonreview.net/BR28.5/galbraith.html
            \\][//

          • David Regan says:

            As per NSAM 263, President Kennedy had approved Section I B (1-3) of the McNamara-Taylor report:

            B. Recommendations.

            We recommend that:

            1. General Harkins review with Diem the military changes necessary to complete the military campaign in the Northern and Central areas (I, II, and III Corps) by the end of 1964, and in the Delta (IV Corps) by the end of 1965.

            2. A program be established to train Vietnamese so that essential functions now performed by U.S. military personnel can be carried out by Vietnamese by the end of 1965. It should be possible to withdraw the bulk of U.S. personnel by that time.

            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 1000 U.S. military personnel by the end of 1963. This action should be explained in low key as an initial step in a long-term program to replace U.S. personnel with trained Vietnamese without impairment of the war effort.
            https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v04/d167

            On October 2, 1963 it was announced some 1,000 men would be withdrawn from Vietnam by year end
            http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-061-005.aspx

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten
            March 29, 2015 at 4:31 pm

            The Escalation at Kennedy’s Death

            ww. But Johnson had also approved intensified planning for covert action against North Vietnam by CIA-supported South Vietnamese forces.

            Bc. Willie, be advised that the CIA ran the operations under JFK. MACV-SOG (military) ran the operations under LBJ.

            ww. With this, McNamara confirms one of Newman’s central claims: NSAM 273 changed policy. Yes, the “central objectives” remained the same: a Vietnamese war with no “overt U.S. military force.” But covert force is still “U.S. military force.” And that was introduced or at least first approved, as McNamara writes, by NSAM 273 within four days of Kennedy’s assassination. Moreover, McNamara effectively supports Newman on the meaning of NSAM 273’s seventh paragraph, which was inserted in the draft (as we have seen) sometime between November 21 and 26—after the Honolulu meeting had adjourned and probably after Kennedy died.

            Bc. If McNamara actually said that he was lying again. It doesn’t take much research to prove it. Try a little history of Operation 34-A, Willy.
            _________________________________________________________
            These PTFs were manned with South Vietnamese crews and conducted a series of coastal attacks against targets in North Vietnam as part of Operation 34A. Originally begun by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1961, 34A was a highly-classified program of covert operations against North Vietnam. After several early failures, it was transferred to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group in 1964, at which time its focus shifted to maritime operations. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/vietnamwar/p/gulfoftonkin.htm

            1. The operations began in 1961 and ran by the CIA! We both know who was president at that time. So LBJ didn’t create this operation.
            2. Due to these failures it was transferred to MACV-SOG not until early 1964.
            3. It remained a failure under LBJ. And this is what you boys want to call a “reversal of Jack’s policy before he was cold in his grave”. Pure BS.
            4. I like your statement that McNamara supports Newman! They both need all the support they can get.

            John F. Kennedy had formally decided to withdraw from Vietnam, whether we were winning or not. Robert McNamara, who did not believe we were winning, supported this decision. The first stage of withdrawal had been ordered. The final date, two years later, had been specified. These decisions were taken, and even placed, in an oblique and carefully limited way, before the public.”~James K. Galbraith

            bc. Pure speculation.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan
            March 29, 2015 at 6:15 pm

            That if fine David but I’d like to clear up this quote by McNamara; “(1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965;”.

            If you found it in McNamara’s book I’d appreciate a page number. If it is a cut and paste from one of these books written by those that misquote NSAM 263 I’d appreciate knowing who wrote it.

            Thanks.

          • J.D. says:

            Bill: While I doubt anyone would argue that McNamara frequently lied while in power, I’m not sure I can understand why he would lie about Kennedy wishing to withdraw from Vietnam. It doesn’t make him look better; quite the opposite. If McNamara believed that Kennedy was planning to withdraw, it raises the question why he (McNamara) pushed for such a hawkish policy during the Johnson administration, when Johnson himself was not inclined to pursue such a policy.

            According to Gareth Porter, McNamara actually lied to Johnson about the Tonkin Gulf incident: http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2014/08/05/robert-s-mcnamara-and-the-real-tonkin-gulf-deception/

            I don’t think that Noam Chomsky is a reliable writer on Vietnam, or anything related to Kennedy. For whatever reason, Chomsky despises Kennedy so much that he is unable to write objectively about him. It is difficult to take anyone seriously who argues, as Chomsky does, that anyone who admires Kennedy is a member of a “millenarian movement” comparable to “the cargo cults of South Sea islanders,” or that there was no significant difference between Kennedy’s politics and those of Ross Perot.

          • David Regan says:

            Gentlemen, it is my opinion that Roger Hilsman was bang on in his open letter to the New York Times of January 20, 1992.

            “The historical record, in sum, is clear: President Kennedy was determined not to let Vietnam become an American war — that is, he was determined not to send U.S. combat troops (as opposed to advisers) to fight in Vietnam nor to bomb North Vietnam. This does not prove he would have withdrawn completely, including the 16,500 advisers. However, the record is clear that he had laid the groundwork for doing so. Shortly before his death, he took the first step by ordering the first 1,000 advisers home.”
            How Kennedy Viewed the Vietnam Conflict http://nyti.ms/1yWDz2f

          • Bill Clarke says:

            J.D.
            March 30, 2015 at 4:57 pm

            Perhaps, JD, it is because McNamara knew that JFK was not withdrawing from Vietnam at the time of his death. Add to that perhaps McNamara, with all his arrogance and ego, simply could not accept the fact that he couldn’t devise a statistical model to win the war so he kept trying under LBJ.
            These are just my guesses for sure. Otherwise I don’t know.

            To be clear, NSAM 263, approved by JFK, is most certainly a withdrawal plan. But it wasn’t a cut and run order. It was based on the performance of ARVN and for ARVN to be trained to a level to handle the situation. I honestly do not believe JFK was prepared to abandon SVN at the time of his death. He might have been glad to abandon them in 1965 but we’ll never know.

            I fear I have to apologize for the Chomsky reply. I think he is an over educated fool and jackass. But I’ve been bombarded by comments that quote John Newman’s “JFK and Vietnam”, a junk book. So I decided to reply in ridiculous kind and could think of no better way than Chomsky. Chomsky and Newman both being full of it.

          • lysias says:

            Something else that must have happened, at latest immediately after JFK was assassinated, was an acceleration of the Israeli nuclear weapons program. The reactor at Dimona went critical on Dec. 24, 1963.

        • David Regan says:

          In terms of the Diem coup, the following provides interesting insight: http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB302/

          I know of no information to show that JFK approved Castro’s assassination. His actions towards Cuba after the Missile Crisis and Castro’s own statements about Kennedy seem to contradict this.

          • JohnR says:

            For Bill Clark: With all due respect, how does Mr. Regan’s 7:40 posting affect your argument?

          • Bill Clarke says:

            JohnR
            March 29, 2015 at 7:03 am

            For Bill Clark: With all due respect, how does Mr. Regan’s 7:40 posting affect your argument?

            Have you seen my reply of 1:51am this morning? David does good work finding the documents and I’ve been reading the same documents for decades now. So this was mostly old news and the now sadly common misquotes of NSAM 263.

            The one biggie is the statement by McNamara that JFK had made the decision, “(1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965;”.

            It is one thing when these pseudo historians and self acclaimed researchers go around misquoting (I’m being kind here) NSAM 263. It would be something else for McNamara, liar that he is, to make this claim.

            I can’t find McNamara’s statement which certainly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I’m hoping David will provide me some help on this matter. Then I’ll know how David’s message affects my argument.

          • “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”~John F. Kennedy
            \\][//

          • I can’t find McNamara’s statement which certainly doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I’m hoping David will provide me some help on this matter. Then I’ll know how David’s message affects my argument.”~Bill Clarke

            It is right here Bill, read the whole thing:
            http://bostonreview.net/BR28.5/galbraith.htm
            \\][//

          • David Regan says:

            Bill, here are some tidbits I am curious to get your thoughts on.

            May 8, 1962: Following President Kennedy’s instructions, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara orders General Paul Harkins at a Saigon conference “to devise a plan for turning full responsibility (for the war in Vietnam) over to South Vietnam and reducing the size of our military command, and to submit this plan at the next conference.”

            An early supporter of Ngo Dinh Diem, Mike Mansfield had a change of heart on the Vietnam issue after a visit to Vietnam in 1962. He reported to President Kennedy on December 2, 1962, that US money given to Diem’s government was being squandered and that the US should avoid further involvement in Vietnam. He was thus the first American official to comment adversely on the war’s progress.

            Report by the Senate Majority Leader – December 18, 1962 https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v02/d330

            Kennedy’s Planned Vietnam Pullout
            http://www.proudprimate.com/resources/jfk_124-7.htm

            I won’t bore you by rehashing the story of the spring 1963 Vietnam discussion between JFK and Mansfield with O’Donnell present.

            Roger Hilsman has also stated JFK would never had committed combat units and had ignored requests to do so by military advisors (JCS).

            McNamara offers his argument that President Kennedy would surely have withdrawn from Vietnam, had he not been assassinated:

            “He would have concluded that the South Vietnamese were incapable of defending themselves, and that Saigon’s grave political weaknesses made it unwise to try to offset the limitations of South Vietnamese forces by sending U.S. combat troops on a large scale. I think he would have come to that conclusion even if he reasoned, as I believe he would have, that South Vietnam and, ultimately, Southeast Asia would then be lost to Communism. He would have viewed that loss as more costly than we see it now. But he would have accepted that cost because he would have sensed that the conditions he had laid down — i.e., it was a South Vietnamese war, that it could only be won by them, and to win it they needed a sound political base — could not be met.” Robert S. McNamara, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam(96)

            Daniel Ellsberg interview with Robert F. Kennedy – October 1967
            http://www.kenrahn.com/Marsh/Jfk-conspiracy/ELLSBERG.TXT

            McNamara Recalls, and Regrets, Vietnam http://nyti.ms/1DhVrHV

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten
            March 29, 2015 at 5:23 pm

            Willy, I’ve read that article until I’m blue in the face. I don’t remember McNamara being quoted as saying JFK made the decision; “(1) to completely withdraw all U.S. forces from Vietnam by Dec. 31, 1965;”.

            Do you find it in this article?

          • A final military document is relevant here. Dated December 11, 1963, it is titled “Department of Defense Actions to Implement NSAM No. 273, 26 November 1963.” This document was prepared by Marine Lieutenant Colonel M. C. Dalby; it is from CINCPAC files and is labeled “Group 1—Excluded from Automatic Downgrading and Declassification.” The document begins coldly:

            “After reviewing the recent discussions of South Vietnam which occurred in Honolulu and after discussing the matter further with Ambassador Lodge, the President directed that certain guidance be issued to various Government Agencies. This was promulgated in the form of National Security Action Memorandum 273, 26 November 1963.”

            There is no reference to the change of commander in chief, which had occurred within the time frame indicated by the opening sentence. The particular importance of this document is its reference to paragraph 7 of NSAM 273.

            Planning for *>intensified action against North Vietnam was directed following the Honolulu Conference (JCS 3697, 26 Nov 1963) in the form of a 12-month program. . . . A deadline of 20 Dec 63 has been set for completion of the plan.”
            http://new.bostonreview.net/BR28.5/galbraith.html
            \\][//

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan
            March 29, 2015 at 7:36 pm

            May 8, 1962: Following President Kennedy’s instructions, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara orders General Paul Harkins at a Saigon conference “to devise a plan for turning full responsibility (for the war in Vietnam) over to South Vietnam and reducing the size of our military command, and to submit this plan at the next conference.”

            Bc. No problem here. That is exactly what NSM 263 orders done in October and it was a good plan but before it’s time. The problem comes when those that makes false claims, either by ignorance or dishonesty, about what NSAM 263 has to say. It does not say 1965 is a deadline for removing ALL or even the BULK of our troops. “JFK: Well, let’s say it anyway. Then ’65 if it doesn’t work out {unclear] we’ll get a new date.”. http://tapes.millercenter.virginia.edu/clips/1963_1002_vietnam_am/

            An early supporter of Ngo Dinh Diem, Mike Mansfield had a change of heart on the Vietnam issue after a visit to Vietnam in 1962. He reported to President Kennedy on December 2, 1962, that US money given to Diem’s government was being squandered and that the US should avoid further involvement in Vietnam. He was thus the first American official to comment adversely on the war’s progress.
            Report by the Senate Majority Leader – December 18, 1962 https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v02/d330

            Bc. Judging from the mess we made in Vietnam I would say that Mansfield was correct on both counts.

            Kennedy’s Planned Vietnam Pullout
            http://www.proudprimate.com/resources/jfk_124-7.htm

            Bc. “There is no doubt that he had shifted definitely and unequivocally on Vietnam but he never had the chance to put the plan into effect.” BS. He could have cut a deal with the communist the summer of 1963. He didn’t.

            I won’t bore you by rehashing the story of the spring 1963 Vietnam discussion between JFK and Mansfield with O’Donnell present.

            Bc. Thank you.

            Roger Hilsman has also stated JFK would never had committed combat units and had ignored requests to do so by military advisors (JCS).

            Bc. That is Hilsman’s opinion and is speculation. JFK never flat out told the generals he would never send combat units to Vietnam. The proposal was always “tabled for more study. JFK is sometimes faulted for this.

            McNamara offers his argument that President Kennedy would surely have withdrawn from Vietnam, had he not been assassinated:

            Bc. By now you know my opinion of what McNamara says. Unless I can confirm it by other documents or credible people I take his words with a very heavy dose of salt.

            Daniel Ellsberg interview with Robert F. Kennedy – October 1967
            http://www.kenrahn.com/Marsh/Jfk-conspiracy/ELLSBERG.TXT

            Bc. I believe we have discussed the difference in what Bobby said to Ellsberg and what he says in his oral interview on record at the JFK Library.

            McNamara Recalls, and Regrets, Vietnam http://nyti.ms/1DhVrHV

            Bc. More crap by McNamara.

          • Bill Clarke says:

            Willy Whitten
            March 30, 2015 at 9:22 am

            There is no reference to the change of commander in chief, which had occurred within the time frame indicated by the opening sentence.

            Good grief Willy. It is dated Dec 11. Don’t you think any change in command documents had gone out by then?

            The particular importance of this document is its reference to paragraph 7 of NSAM 273.

            “The two versions of NSAM 273 differ in no relevant way, apart from the weakening of paragraph 7 in the final version. Furthermore, the departure from NSAM 263 is slight, and readily explained in terms of changing assessments. Efforts to detect nuances and devious implications have no basis in fact, and if pursued, could easily be turned into a (meaningless) “proof” that LBJ toned down Kennedy aggressiveness.

            http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199209–.htm

          • David Regan says:

            Bill, have you come across anything in your studies about JFK leaking a story to the press that circumvented the Joint Chiefs calls for combat units? In October 1961, the planted story to the NY Times erroneously reported that the JCS were hesitant for sending combat troops to Southeast Asia. We know this was incorrect.

            The following memorandum of Nov 8, 1961 shows McNamara and Gilpatric supported sending in troops along with the JCS. “The introduction of a U.S. force of the magnitude of an initial 8,000 men in a flood relief context” and expanding to as many as six divisions of ground forces, “or about 205,000 men.”
            https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v01/d227

          • Bill Clarke says:

            David Regan
            March 30, 2015 at 8:52 pm

            Bill, have you come across anything in your studies about JFK leaking a story to the press that circumvented the Joint Chiefs calls for combat units? In October 1961, the planted story to the NY Times erroneously reported that the JCS were hesitant for sending combat troops to Southeast Asia. We know this was incorrect.

            No David, I can’t recall any leak of that nature. This might surprise you but our military wasn’t very keen about going into Laos. Sure, they gave JFK a troop force requirement number but most didn’t want to go, for various reason. Mostly because it was land locked and would have been impossible to resupply.

            The 8,000 men for flood relief was a Max Taylor deal. It didn’t wash with JFK.

          • David Regan says:

            Sorry Bill, are you referencing Laos by the Nov 8, 1961 memo or the leaked story to the NY Times? These were made in reference to Vietnam.

            But speaking of Laos, JFK seemed to take an approach with the neutral settlement that was not recommended to him by Eisenhower during a transitional briefing on January 19, 1961. When Kennedy raises the possibility of the U.S. supporting a coalition government in Laos that would include Communists, Eisenhower says it would be far better to intervene with U.S. troops

  11. Bogman says:

    JFK’s speech to the Irish Dáil was nothing to sneeze at either.

    • David Regan says:

      Agreed, some excellent speeches on that tour in the face of several assassination threats.

      I would note his Medicare speech at MSG in New York of May 1962. He had an incredible gift for public speaking off the cuff.

  12. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Let’s not leave out his inaugural speech which introduced him to the world. “Ask not…..” are some of the best known words in the World.
    It’s been a long while since I’ve read any of them but if I remember right the speech he was going to give at the Trade Mart held some prescient tidbits. He was not going to simply kiss the feet of the Dallas elite but address some of their views.

  13. David Regan says:

    Check out ‘JFK: BUILDING PEACE FOR ALL TIME | Updated’ on Vimeo

    ref=tw-share #Vimeo #americanuniversity #au #jfk #kennedy #peace #coldwar #speech

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