Sunday, December 11, 2005

John F. Kennedy and Vietnam and John Murtha

See letter-to-the-editor to the New York Times from Dial Parrott of Glastonbury, Conn. Published December 11, 2005:

In "What Would J.F.K. Have Done?" (Op-Ed, Dec. 4), Theodore C. Sorensen and
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. make the claim that before his assassination in November
1963, President John F. Kennedy had decided on a phased withdrawal of American
troops from Vietnam.

The facts do not bear them out. In 1960, the last year of the Eisenhower presidency, there were 875 American soldiers in Vietnam. That number grew to 3,164 in 1961, 11,326 in 1962 and 16,263 in 1963. These were the largest percentage increases in the entire conflict. The increase in 1964, the first full year of Johnson's presidency, was to 23,310, very much in line with the three-year Kennedy buildup. This is not surprising since Johnson was advised by men Kennedy had appointed.

Whatever President Kennedy might have hoped he could do, after weighing all the risks, this is what he actually did.

What would a JFK vs John Murtha debate be like?

Kennedy: "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Murtha: "My plan calls to immediately redeploy U.S. troops” “I say that the fight against Americans began with Abu Ghraib. It began with the invasion of Iraq. That's when terrorism started.”


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