Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited by Mark J White

By Mark J White

The surprising assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 propelled the reminiscence of the slain president to a respected prestige. obviously sufficient, the general public got here to phrases with the tragedy in Dallas by means of making an investment the executive executive's lifestyles with Lincolnesque significance--a ethical value transcending politics.

Traditionally, historians have accentuated both the optimistic "Camelot" or the adverse "counter-Camelot" view of JFK. Measured appreciation grew to become adulation and feedback advanced into vilification. Bringing jointly major Kennedy students with a gaggle of more youthful historians, Mark J. White demonstrates that either models of JFK are unsatisfying caricatures, missing subtlety and nuance. utilizing lately declassified records, Kennedy examines a few of the key matters surrounding the president's time within the White apartment: Vietnam, the Cuban missile quandary, the Berlin factor, the gap race, family with de Gaulle, and alternate coverage. Rejecting the idolatry and bitterness glaring in such a lot of prior works on JFK, the quantity offers a compelling reappraisal of the Kennedy presidency.

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Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited

The surprising assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 propelled the reminiscence of the slain president to a respected prestige. clearly adequate, the general public got here to phrases with the tragedy in Dallas by means of making an investment the executive executive's existence with Lincolnesque significance--a ethical significance transcending politics.

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Garry Wills has asked. "Any withdrawal would have been a confession that his overarching strategy ... ,,39 Long before coming to the White House, in fact, Kennedy had trumpeted Vietnam as a kind of test case in the global confrontation with Communism. As a senator in the 1950s, he spoke firmly about the need to defend South Vietnam and check Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. When Ngo Dinh Diem refused to follow through 38 Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited on the 1956 all-Vietnam elections called for in the 1954 Geneva Agreements, Kennedy applauded him.

Viable options existed for American policyrnakers, both before and after November 1963, options advocated contemporaneously by important voices at home and abroad. With the legitimacy, indeed imperativeness, of counterfactual theorizing asserted, let us commence our examination of John F. Kennedy's Vietnam policy and what he might have done had he lived. The hypothetical antecedent, that Kennedy was not murdered, has thus been established at the outset. The hypothetical consequents could be numerous, but two broad possibilities seem most important: that the Americanization of the conflict, involving the dispatch of major US ground forces, did occur, much as it did in the actual history under Lyndon Johnson; or that the Americanization did not take place.

It is hard to imagine him telling pro-negotiation British and French officials that the only alternatives to current policy were to "bomb the hell out of China" or to 46 Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited retreat to Hawaii and San Francisco, or telling them it was insulting to have foreign politicians "chasing over" to see him, or reading to them a letter from a supportive American soldier in Vietnam to his "Mom," all of which LBJ did. It is hard to imagine Kennedy doing what Johnson did and canceling imminent visits by important world leaders merely because they opposed the US bombing of North Vietnam, or telling a top aide that he would rather "get sick and leave town" than hear the peace proposals of United Nations Secretary General U Thant and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

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