Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dallek on JFK and LBJ: How Not to End Another President's War

How Not to End Another President’s War (L.B.J. Edition)
By Robert Dallek
On Nov. 24, 1963, two days after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson met with his principal national security advisers to consider the most volatile issue he had inherited: Vietnam. A coup at the beginning of November — approved by the Kennedy administration — had toppled Ngo Dinh Diem’s government and taken his life. Concerns about the ability of his untested successors to withstand Vietcong insurgents backed by Ho Chi Minh’s North Vietnamese Communist regime gave Johnson a sense of urgency about an issue that could threaten United States interests abroad and undermine his standing at home.
Johnson’s first concern was to assure that he was acting in concert with Kennedy’s plans. But no one could provide authoritative advice on J.F.K.’s intentions. By increasing the number of military advisers in Vietnam from 685 to 16,700, Kennedy had indicated his determination to preserve Saigon’s autonomy. His agreement to a change of government in hopes of finding a leader who could command greater popular support than Ngo Dinh Diem seemed to confirm Kennedy’s commitment to preventing a Communist victory.
Lyndon Johnson tried to give his nation guns and butter. In the end, he provided neither.
At the same time, however, Kennedy had signaled his intentions to reduce America’s military role in Vietnam by directing that 1,000 of the advisers be brought home by the end of 1963. He had also rejected requests from his military chiefs for the use of American ground forces in the fighting. In addition, he had told several advisers that he intended to withdraw American military personnel from Vietnam after the 1964 election.
See: http://100days.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/how-not-to-end-another-presidents-war-lbj-edition/

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home