This section of the History Matters Archive presents important reports and
documents on Vietnam policy during the Kennedy administration and the early Johnson
administration. The Foreign Relations of the United States volumes were published
in 1991. The other documents presented here were all declassified during the 1990s.
These records add detail to the long-obscured withdrawal plan which was put together
in the spring of 1963, and implementation of which began just weeks before the assassination
of President Kennedy. A close reading also adds weight to the argument, put forth in the
most detail by Dr. John Newman in his book JFK and Vietnam, that Kennedy was well aware
of the problems with the war effort, and had decided to withdraw anyway. This view is at
odds with the more conventional historical thesis that both Kennedy and his military
advisors were unduly optimistic about the war effort, and American involvement deepened once
it was realized that this rosy view was false (in the aftermath of the November Diem
coup and into 1964).