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Military forces to escalate a crisis or conflict, what does he do? Call this composite decisionmaker virtual JFK. ) 27 28 Chapter One • Third, consider in as much detail as the evidence will allow what the actual JFK decided with regard to Vietnam. Focus on what he did, not on what his supporters and detractors report JFK told them he was going to do. ) • Fourth, ‘‘simulate’’ what virtual JFK would have done regarding Vietnam, had he lived and been reelected. Would JFK have gotten in, gotten out, or something in between?
Mersion in the forward movement of the historical events (this happened), to the retrospective analytical interpretation of those events (this is the meaning of what happened). For readers, the transcript in chapters 3–6 provides a second-order time-machine experience. S. role and commitment in Vietnam. Chapter 6, on the other hand, is focused mainly on the meaning of the evidence discussed in the first three chapters—what would have happened in Vietnam if Kennedy had lived. As the participants in the critical oral history process periodically relive some of the events of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, framed by their personal experiences and/ or reference to key documents or tape recordings, readers are offered a figurative seat at the table as data and interpretations are put forward, criticized, and defended.
For Vietnam if Kennedy had lived must be seen against the background of what actually happened in Vietnam after Kennedy died. The JFK who emerges from the transcript is familiar to us. But what does this tell us about Vietnam and about LBJ? S. combat troops to Vietnam to prevent the Saigon government’s collapse? And in addition, is it possible to derive, again in miniature, a little foretaste of Lyndon Johnson as commander in chief, who would by early 1965 decide, also under considerable pressure from his advisers—almost exactly the same advisers who counseled Kennedy—to Americanize the war in Vietnam?
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