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Perils of DominanceImbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam$
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Gareth Porter

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520239487

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520239487.001.0001

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Kennedy’s Struggle with the National Security Bureaucracy

Kennedy’s Struggle with the National Security Bureaucracy

(p.141) 5 Kennedy’s Struggle with the National Security Bureaucracy
Perils of Dominance

Gareth Porter

University of California Press

This chapter describes the sharp conflict between Kennedy and the national security bureaucracy over U.S. policy toward Vietnam and Laos. It presents Kennedy's determination to reverse his approval of the U.S. counterinsurgency war role in November 1963 by opening a channel for peace negotiations and by pushing behind the scenes for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 1985. Kennedy secretly tried to initiate diplomatic contacts with the North Vietnamese to begin peace talks. His decision to withdraw U.S. troops was apparently prompted by new pressure from the military to deploy combat forces to South Vietnam if necessary to avoid defeat. Kennedy probably would not have attempted to perform the withdrawal plan for which he had obtained NSC approval in late 1963, but he almost certainly would have resumed the effort to establish a diplomatic channel for peace negotiations on Vietnam that he had begun in 1962.

Keywords:   Kennedy, national security bureaucracy, U.S. policy, Vietnam, Laos, U.S. troops, peace negotiations

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