History 4698

Kennedy and Southeast Asia

March 14, 2002


I. The Background

1. Senate career (Kennedy and internationalism; experience of war and class of 1946; Vietnam, Guillon, and new ideas; limited dissent and criticism of Dulles; Algeria and NATO; African policy and civil rights movement)

2. International situation (Eisenhower and Third World: limits of covert action—Indonesia; limits of support for dictators—Venezuela; limits of trade, not aid—Kubitschek; failures: Vietnam and NLF; Cuba and Castro; broader changes—emergence of PRC; Bandung and neutralism; decolonization)

II. The Agenda

1. An ideological Cold War (Peace Corps and new conception of American world mission; Africa and search for allies—Ghana, Guinea, South Africa, Portuguese colonies; Alliance for Progress; basic goal: containing Castro or promoting democracy—or both?; Rostow and theories of development; Betancourt and left anti-communism)

2. Counterinsurgency (Bay of Pigs and vestiges from DDE years; Southeast Asia as testing ground; intellectual foundations—Taylor, Uncertain Trumpet; Laos and flexibility; Vietnam and wars for hearts and minds; role of Lansdale; why focus on SVN?)

III. Nuclear Weapons and JFK Foreign Policy

1. Alliance Politics (Gaddis and flexible response; legacy of Suez; Britain and Skybolt crisis; France, De Gaulle, and independent nuclear force; Vietnam; non-proliferation, France, and the PRC)

2. Cuban Missile Crisis (background; USSR/PRC rivalry; JFK and Khrushchev; 62 elections and Keating; discovery of missiles; structure of response—ExComm; membership and prejudices; options: lessons of part, problems of air strikes, limits of deterrence, Italian and Turkish missiles)

3. Resolution (decision for quarantine; Stevenson, Zorin, and UN—appeal to international public opinion; question of compromise—international and political effects; Trolloppe Ploy and end of crisis)

4. Effects (transformation Kennedy; reassessment arms race—American University speech; SANE and grassroots groups; significance of Limited Test-Ban Treaty; fate of Khrushchev; intensification USSR/PRC rivalry; decline of Castro)

  • Reminder: we have no class on Tuesday, March 26. Have a good (extended) spring break.

Elizabeth Cobbs, The Peace Corps

Diane Kunz, Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade

Ernest May and Philip Zelikow, The Kennedy Tapes

Timothy Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble

John Newman, JFK and Vietnam

Robert Schulzinger, A Time for War