What-If JFK Doc

One of the most tenacious “what-ifs” of the Vietnam War is what John F. Kennedy would have done as far as prosecuting the war had he lived. For years, Kennedy partisans have been postulating that he would have pulled out the 16, 000 or so American “advisers” that he sent there and would not have escalated the war as Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1965.

For evidence, they point primarily to speeches and press conferences that JFK made in which he said things that could be interpreted that he was leaning toward withdrawing.

On the other hand, there are those who point out that JFK was an ardent cold warrior who made speeches throughout his public career on the necessity to stop the spread of communism with force if necessary. Plus, he greatly increased the number of American “advisers” from around a thousand when he took office in January 1961 to that 16, 000 figure when he was assassinated in November 1963. And, besides, no one knows what JFK would have done if he had been faced with the circumstances that LBJ encountered in 1964 and 1965, including the stepped-up VC attacks on American troops in Vietnam.

The latest artistic endeavor to make the pro-JFK case is a documentary film called Virtual JFK – Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived This is the work primarily of James Blight, a Brown University research professor and a crony and literary collaborator of Robert S. McNamara. That should tell you oceans about Blight’s view of the situation.


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