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Would JFK Have Left Vietnam?

In response to:

image from woodstockwhisperer.infoMac Bundy Said He Was 'All Wrong' from the June 10, 2010 issue

To the Editors:

In his essay “Mac Bundy Said He Was ‘All Wrong’” [NYR, June 10], William Pfaff claims that Gordon Goldstein’s book Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam “should settle for good the controversy over whether President Kennedy, had he not been assassinated, would have enlarged the war or would have withdrawn the still-limited number of American troops in Vietnam.” Pfaff writes that the “Bundy material” collected by Goldstein is “conclusive” and demonstrates that Kennedy had made a decision to disengage from Vietnam. I believe this to be facile in the extreme.

First, Pfaff reports that Goldstein’s book is largely drawn from McGeorge Bundy’s “notes, text fragments, draft memoir passages, and the like” collected by Goldstein, who was assisting Bundy on a memoir that was largely incomplete at the time of Bundy’s death in 1996. While Bundy’s notes written decades after the war are a welcome addition to the historical record, they are by definition not contemporaneous source material. As he did with Goldstein, Bundy told me in my interviews with him that he thought Kennedy would have acted differently than Lyndon Johnson, particularly after the 1964 presidential election. But this remains in the realm of opinion, not documentary evidence of a decision to withdraw from Vietnam.   Read the rest here>>>

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