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IN RETROSPECT:
THE TRAGEDY AND LESSONS OF VIETNAM

ROBERT S. MCNAMARA WITH BRIAN VANDEMARK


3. The Fateful Fall of 1963:
August 24-November 22, 1963

(selection from p. 86)

President Kennedy's last public comments on Vietnam came at a news conference on November 14, when he asked rhetorically, "Are we going to give up in South Vietnam?" He answered his own question by saying, "The most important program, of course, is our national security, but I don't want the United States to have to put troops there."

Earlier, at the same press conference, in answer to the question "Would you give us your appraisal of the situation in South Vietnam now, since the coup, and the purposes for the Honolulu conference?" he replied: "The purpose of the meeting at Honolulu...is to attempt to assess the situation: what American policy should be, and what our aid policy should be, how we can intensify the struggle, how we can bring Americans out of there. Now, that is our object, to bring Americans home, permit South Vietnamese to maintain themselves as a free and independent country [emphasis added].


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