How to figure out who killed JFK

Here’s some advice from James K. Galbraith, professor at the University of Texas and son of John Kenneth Galbraith, an adviser to JFK, on how to figure out the causes of JFK’s assassination: do it yourself.

Writing in the Austin American-Statesman, Galbraith says:

“Fifty years later, it’s not so very difficult to get a good grip on the basic facts. It’s possible to separate the honest inquiry from the inept. Many people have already done this. But it does require work, in the form of careful, critical reading, aided by discussion in private groups. You have to study, take notes, argue, and figure it out on your own, for yourself and along with people you trust. Democratically.”

13 thoughts on “How to figure out who killed JFK”

  1. Forgive me if I misquote from memory. I know I’ve seen a TV clip of JFK saying something close to “in the final analysis, it is their war”. To my simple mind a somewhat telling statement of his personal opinion on the situation.

      1. C’mon, Photon. Even Warren Commission supporters like Chris Matthews (and William Manchester in one of the later updates of his book) agree that JFK was trying to get out of Vietnam. This is not a conspiracy theory.

  2. Thank you, Jeff Morley, for pointing out this article by James Galbraith, and for your efforts toward true transparency regarding the assassination.

  3. The problem with this revisionist interpretation is the same thing that makes all similar theories suspect. The supposed decisions to scale down were made in early October 1963.
    The Diem coup occurred nearly a month later, a coup encouraged and financed by the JFK administration. Everybody associated knew that removing Diem meant long-term American support and by necessity increasing American financial and military aid to the resulting junta. That act alone made any prior plans to scale back the American presence inoperative. Actions speak louder than words
    The fact is that Diem and Nhu were attempting backhand negotiations with the Communists, probably as a prelude to proclaiming a neutralist South Vietnam Nam, ala the Laos experiment. This would by necessity lead to an end to U.S. involvement; Diem thought that he could deal with the Communists and come to some type of power-sharing agreement. Of course, the Communists in the North would have gone along with the deal, knowing that it would result in ultimate victory. The southern Communists never would have trusted Diem but would have gone along with the plan as ordered.
    And when U.S. interests got wind of the plan Diem and more specifically his brother Nhu had to go. JFK himself agreed to the plan as the only alternative to a Communist and united Vietnam Nam.
    Prof. Galbraith should stick to economics; his grasp of history is limited if he can’t accept events that contradict his hypothesis.

    1. I don’t think Kennedy was gung ho for full scale US involvement in Vietnam, although he seems to have let the coup happen that toppled Diem. He voiced concern afterwards, on tape, and wasn’t happy with the results, saying that he hoped the generals could work together in South Vietnam to hold the fragile nation together. Again, he’s working in 1963, one year before his reelection campaign, so he’s not going to completely withdraw all advisors and US support in that year. He told his closest aids (confirmed by Ted Sorensen) that he planned to pull out completely by the end of 1965. He started minimal withdrawals and committed to them for the end of 1963 even after the coup occurred. This was following NSAM 263. This was only overturned when Lyndon Johnson became president, btw. The escalation, based on weak evidence of a strike on our naval forces in the Tonkin Gulf, in August of 1964, was entirely Johnson’s fault, and not Kennedy’s. Robert McNamara, who kept to LBJ’s escalation policies until 1968, wrote years later that he believed that Kennedy was committed to withdrawal from Vietnam by the end of 1965. The record, as you say about actions speaking louder than words, supports Kennedy’s more passive approach: He did not invade Cuba, he made a deal never to invade Cuba after the missile crisis, he did not send tanks to confront the communists in Berlin when the wall went up, and he began pulling advisors from Vietnam. He also did not broaden the US commitment to Cambodia as some in the military wanted.

      So, looking at Kennedy’s record, you can see a pattern of actions that show a pulling back from military confrontation and a willingness to seek more peaceful solutions. This isn’t “revisionist history”—-it’s fact.

    2. JFK’s Vietnam policy was being subverted by Henry Cabot Lodge, Averell Harriman, the CIA and others. By 1963, according to William Corson, Harriman was running “Vietnam without consulting the president or the attorney general.” Michael Forrestal said that Diem’s assassination “shook [Kennedy] personally … bothered him as a moral and religious matter. It shook his confidence, I think, in the kind of advice he was getting about South Vietnam.”

      JFK told Sen. Mansfield in Kenny O’Donnell’s presence that he wanted to completely withdraw from Vietnam but “I can’t do it until 1965–after I’m reelected.” When Mansfield left the office, Kennedy said to O’Donnell: “In 1965, I’ll become one of the most unpopular presidents in history. I’ll be damned everywhere as a Communist appeaser. But now I don’t care. If I tried to pull out completely now from Vietnam, we would have another Joe McCarthy red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I’m reelected. So we had better make damn sure that I am reelected.” When O’Donnell asked JFK how he planned to withdraw from Vietnam, he answered, “Easy. Put a government in there that will ask us to leave.”

        1. Diem had not yet asked the US to leave, but the problem with Diem from JFK’s perspective was his violent persecution of dissidents, the problem of a Catholic regime ruling over Buddhists, and how unpopular and inept his government was. Kennedy was never enthusiastic about the coup, but maybe he hoped to get a more popular and effective government out of it. That didn’t happen, of course.

          Hawks in the US government saw it from a totally different angle: Diem might be about to go neutralist and tell the US to leave. Kennedy would seize that opportunity. So both men stood in the way of those who wanted to escalate in Vietnam.

          1. All of what you claim had been going on for years. It was only the threat of Diem and Nhu seeking a negotiated agreement with the Communists that prompted JFK to agree to the coup.

  4. Excellent advice for new students to the case, as well as those of us who have been at it for a while.

    It would nice to hear the professor’s own views, but I catch his drift. Wonderful piece.

    1. Ditto. I realized, after first being a tad disappointed, that he intelligently and elegantly had joined the chorus of those saying – aloud – that the Emperor has no clothes.

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