Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

JFK approached Russians to find early solution in Vietnam, papers reveal
Sydney Morning Herald ^ | June 7, 2005

Posted on 06/06/2005 7:27:44 AM PDT by dead

Washington: Newly uncovered documents from both American and Polish archives show that the former US president John F. Kennedy and the Soviet Union secretly sought ways to find a diplomatic settlement to the war in Vietnam, starting three years before the United States sent combat troops.

Kennedy, relying on his ambassador to India, John Kenneth Galbraith, planned to reach out to the North Vietnamese in April 1962 through an Indian diplomat.

Backchannel discussions also were attempted in January 1963, this time through the Polish Government, which relayed the overture to Soviet leaders. New Polish records indicate Moscow was much more open than previously thought to using its influence with North Vietnam to cool a Cold War flashpoint.

The attempts to use India and Poland as go-betweens ultimately fizzled, partly because of North Vietnamese resistance and partly because Kennedy faced pressure from advisers to expand American military involvement.

Both India and Poland were members of the International Control Commission that monitored the 1954 agreement that divided North and South Vietnam.

The documents are seen by former Kennedy aides as new evidence of his true intentions in Vietnam.

The question of whether Kennedy would have escalated the war or sought some diplomatic exit has been heatedly debated by historians and officials who served under both Kennedy and his successor, Lyndon Johnson.

When Kennedy was killed in November 1963, there were 16,000 US military advisers in Vietnam. The number of troops grew to more than 500,000, and the war raged for another decade.

"I think the issue of how JFK would have acted differently than LBJ is something that will never be settled, but intrigues biographers," said Robert Dallek, author of biographies of Kennedy and Johnson. "Vietnam has become a point of contention in defending and criticising JFK."

But some Kennedy loyalists say the documents show he would have negotiated a settlement or withdrawn from Vietnam despite the objections of many top advisers, such as the defence secretary in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Robert McNamara, who opposed Mr Galbraith's diplomatic efforts at the time.

Mr McNamara said in an interview that he had "no recollection" of the Galbraith discussions, but "I have no doubt that Kennedy would have been interested in it. He reached out to divergent views."

The Boston Globe


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
Liberals are always desperate to whitewash the Kennedy connection to Vietnam. The fact that their golden boy was so responsible for creating their most scary (pre-Iraq) bugaboo has always caused them mental palpitations.

Of course JFK sought diplomatic solutions to the conflict other than war, just like every sane leader in world history. And, like in every conflict that ended in war, he failed to find one.

1 posted on 06/06/2005 7:27:45 AM PDT by dead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: dead

Something I remember reading about years ago stated that Ho Chi Minh sought US help in driving out the French from Vietnam. Although he was a Communist, he was mistreated by the Soviets during his years in Russia and he did not trust the Chinese, so he turned to the U.S. But this was during the McCarthy era, and because he was a Communist, he was of course turned down.

Knowing now what great allies the French have been to this country, I often wonder...had we helped Ho and pressed the French to leave, we might have avoided the tragedy of Vietnam altogether.


2 posted on 06/06/2005 7:34:41 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead

No matter how you look at it, Vietnam ws Johnson's war and many people believe that Johnson was personally involved in the assissination of JFK because Kennedy had ordered most of the troops out of Vietnam. Johnson and his political allies did NOT want that. One of the very first things Johnson did when he took office was to countermand that order. There were literally troops lined up at the airport in Saigon to come home who had to turn around ang go back to their bases.


3 posted on 06/06/2005 7:37:25 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead
North Vietnam's long-term goal was reunification of the country under their control, so the only diplomatic solution they would have accepted would have been one which speeded up that outcome.

Some Kennedy defenders claim he planned to pull out US troops from Vietnam after the 1964 election, being afraid it would hurt his re-election chances to do so earlier. In other words, it was O.K. to have Americans die in the meantime for his own political survival. Others think he would have continued the U.S. involvement in South Vietnam...there's no way to know for sure. He might not have made exactly the same mistakes LBJ made, but he was responsible for one of the biggest American mistakes, giving support to the coup that overthrew Diem.

4 posted on 06/06/2005 7:38:09 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy

Heck, if we had fought Vietnam to WIN, we could have won, instead of Johnson picking targets to bomb like a child with a game while prohibiting the mining of Hanoi harbor and the bombing of any target of REAL strategic value in North Vitenam.


5 posted on 06/06/2005 7:39:47 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Blood of Tyrants

But, but, but the MSM keeps mentioning it as Nixon's war.


6 posted on 06/06/2005 7:40:22 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy
I think the period when Ho thought he might get U.S. support for his effort to kick the French out was earlier, at the very end of WWII, several years before anyone outside of Wisconsin had heard of Joe McCarthy. He quoted from the U.S. Declaration of Independence in his own declaration of independence in 1945.

Possibly if FDR had still been alive at that point he might have gotten more attention from the U.S. (There was a school of thought already in the late 1940s, exemplified by Henry Wallace, that the Cold War was all Truman's fault and that if FDR had lived longer we would have kept good relations with the Soviets.)

Ho didn't want to be a puppet of the Red Chinese (who didn't control southern China until 1949) but he was also a fervent Communist so naturally hostile to U.S. interests.

7 posted on 06/06/2005 7:45:42 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Blood of Tyrants

Heck, if we had fought Vietnam to WIN, we could have won, instead of Johnson picking targets to bomb like a child with a game while prohibiting the mining of Hanoi harbor and the bombing of any target of REAL strategic value in North Vitenam.

***
Yup...that was the problem...we got ourselves into this war, but then we didn't provide the soldiers with any means to actually win it. This President, I think, does a better job of letting the military guys do the military things. And despite the efforts of some to do so, Congress doesn't get to withhold the monetary support as much as it did back in the Vietnam era.


8 posted on 06/06/2005 8:12:53 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

I didn't remember the exact year Ho asked for help from the U.S...I just remember that the fears from the McCarthy era was given as the reason. So perhaps my source was wrong, or I misunderstood.

But I still think that the U.S. has always been rather foolish when it comes to its allies. We have trusted France way too often...and to our detriment.


9 posted on 06/06/2005 8:16:15 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

Possibly if FDR had still been alive at that point he might have gotten more attention from the U.S. (There was a school of thought already in the late 1940s, exemplified by Henry Wallace, that the Cold War was all Truman's fault and that if FDR had lived longer we would have kept good relations with the Soviets.)
***
That we would have kept good relations with the Soviets, I'm not sure of. I believe FDR realized at least toawrd the end that Stalin was not to be trusted. However, I also believe that FDR was too much of a pushover. Truman was the tough guy...and that's what this country needed at that time.

***
Ho didn't want to be a puppet of the Red Chinese (who didn't control southern China until 1949) but he was also a fervent Communist so naturally hostile to U.S. interests.
***
Throughout Vietnam's history, China at one time or another occupied the land. Ho was aware of his country's history, and that is why he didn't trust the Chinese.


10 posted on 06/06/2005 8:21:48 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Blood of Tyrants
Conspiracy theories aside, the idea that JFK would have pulled out troops from Vietnam seems like revisionism to me, invented by a group that became disillusioned with America after his assasination. It's as if they're remaking his legacy to advocate to their present-day ideology.

I don't blame JFK for supporting the South Vietnam government, but let's face it, that government was corrupt and stifled freedoms like speech and religion. Remember the famous photograph of the monk who set himself on fire? Why didn't the young men and women of the New Frontier voice their opposition then? You don't read about it in history books. They certainly became more vocal after Dallas.

One of the biggest supporters of the war during Kennedy's presidency was his own brother, RFK. Later, RFK would run as president himself, as an anti-war candidate.

Say what you want about the Democratic Party, but when it came to defending America, Truman and JFK were from a different time and school of thought than the two Democrats who followed them in the White House. Can you imagine Jimmy Carter sending troops to defend South Korea? We already know where young Bill Clinton stood on Vietnam.

I think the JFK assasination might be one of the reasons America is so divided today. It created a lot of cynics. Thank God I'm not one of them.
11 posted on 06/06/2005 8:22:32 AM PDT by GeorgiaMike
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy
My admittedly scant readings on the subject of Ho Chi Minh left me feeling that Ho masterfully played Russia and China off against each other to further his own agenda. Also, Churchill lobbied Roosevelt, who favored UN control of IndoChina, into returning IndoChina to France to add legitimacy to the restoration pre-WWII British colonies.
12 posted on 06/06/2005 8:37:02 AM PDT by Milhous
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy

Not correct. Ho sought American help in 1945, right at the end of the war. At that time the US were in a far better position to exert influence in Vietnam than the French, as the Japanese had taken over VN [an interesting note, I met a Vietnamese-Chinese refugee lady whose family came from Cho Lon. I asked her whether her family spoke Cantonese or Ta Chiew, the two most likely dialects for a Chinese from Vietnam. She told me they spoke Taiwanese at home, because her father had been brought to Saigon during WWII by the Japanese]

By "the McCarthy era" the French were back in VN in force, using American equipment. Also, the "patriot who just happened to be a Communist" Ho had instituted Communist-style land reform, even though land was not particularly inequitably distributed. There was no real "landlord" class, or "Kulak" class, but Communist doctrine required that they exist, and be overthrown, so Ho invented them, embarking on a campaign of liquidation [murder] of any non-Communist community leaders, by labeling them the "landlord" class, so that the Viet Minh had the only viable organization structure. This was in the North only, as that was where the Vien Minh had power. Ho was a Communist for real, and acted like a Communist.

When the French threw in the towel after Dien Bien Phu, in 1954, and the country was partitioned, one million refugees, mosly Catholic, fled from the North to the South. Some also fled to Thailand, where there is still a large colony at Udon, where, among other things, they run Vietnamese restaurants.


13 posted on 06/06/2005 8:47:04 AM PDT by Flash Bazbeaux ("I'll have the moo goo gai pan without the pan, and some pans.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy
After the reunification of Vietnam there was a crisis between China and Vietnam when they were shooting at each other briefly. Ho was in a position to play off one Communist superpower against the other.

I recently looked at General Victor Krulak's book on the U.S. Marine Corps, First to Fight. He is pretty negative towards Truman over the reorganization of the armed forces after WWII--Truman would make up his mind without necessarily understanding the pros and cons of a decision, and it was nearly fatal for the survival of the Marine Corps.

Krulak also talks about the Marines' role in the Vietnam War and how they successfully pacified an area near the DMZ that they were responsible for...he is very critical of Westmoreland and others for their approach to fighting the war.

14 posted on 06/06/2005 8:47:13 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: dead

Pressure from advisers????? Who was in charge????? JFK??? The buck stopped there. He faced down his advisers over Cuba.


15 posted on 06/06/2005 8:53:14 AM PDT by cynicom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Flash Bazbeaux

Thank you for the correction.

It's interesting to learn stuff about the war that didn't make it to the MSN.


16 posted on 06/06/2005 9:01:53 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: dead
And history proved that you can not deal with Communist countries. The lie, cheat, and steal while they look in your face.
17 posted on 06/06/2005 9:05:51 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Washington DC RINO Hunting Guide)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy
In 1945, before wars end, Ho traveled to southern China and met with US/Chinese officials in effort to get US help in recognizing his movement.

Then again, it was Ho, via his March,1946 order that authorized French troops back in northern Vietnam.

Ho had actually help organize the Communist Party in France, as well as Vietnam. Doubtful any US Administration would have assisted him at that point...

18 posted on 06/06/2005 9:48:26 AM PDT by donozark (Restraining orders are just another way of saying I love you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: dead

JFK was just a rich little (F--k Up) just like the whole kennedy clan, one big (POS). Liberals would say satan was a hero. NSNR


19 posted on 06/06/2005 9:52:06 AM PDT by No Surrender No Retreat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead


.


1st Days of the Vietnam War-1965:


RONNIE GUYER PHOTO COLLECTION
Set #1
Set #2
Set #3

http://www.lzxray.com/guyer_collection.htm



For...

'We Were Soldiers Once ..& Young'

http://www.WeWereSoldiers.com


.


20 posted on 06/06/2005 10:43:56 AM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: donozark

Then again, it was Ho, via his March,1946 order that authorized French troops back in northern Vietnam.

***

Not that I'm doubting you, but knowing that he presumably hated the French, why would he do that?


21 posted on 06/06/2005 12:30:15 PM PDT by fatnotlazy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: fatnotlazy
To wipe out the "reactionaries." Or nationalists. Much of the Viet Minh had yet to be "sanitized" of non-communists. The French actually armed Ho's forces. He in turn used French forces as well as his own to crush/eliminate the nationalists. Approx. 25K total killed. Thus sanitized, he then turned on the French...

Pentagon Papers and Nixon's book-No More Vietnams, cover this pretty well.

22 posted on 06/06/2005 1:26:26 PM PDT by donozark (Restraining orders are just another way of saying I love you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: dead; No Surrender No Retreat; donozark; fatnotlazy; cynicom; Verginius Rufus; Flash Bazbeaux; ...


.


2 Lifesaving Heroes of the 1st Major Battle of the Vietnam War-1965...


HAL G. MOORE: The Legacy and Lessons of an American Warrior

http://www.strategyzoneonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14752


RICK RESCORLA: Help honor 911 Lifesaving Hero

http://www.strategyzoneonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24361

.


23 posted on 06/06/2005 3:22:38 PM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ALOHA RONNIE

Amen to that Ronnie. NSNR


24 posted on 06/06/2005 9:09:33 PM PDT by No Surrender No Retreat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson