Why do historians argue about whether JFK would have withdrawn from Vietnam or not had he lived? Don't these quotes make the answer obvious?
"In my last conversation with him [President Kennedy], I'll always remember that he said, 'As soon as the election is over, I'm going to get the boys out of Vietnam.'" --Tip O'Neill, former House Speaker, interviewed in the documentary, Beyond "JFK": The Question of Conspiracy
"If I tried to pull out completely now from Vietnam, we would have another Joe McCarthy red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I’m reelected. So we had better make damned sure that I am reelected." --John F. Kennedy, quoted by his special assistant Kenneth O'Donnell, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy
"Kennedy had proved his manhood in the Solomon Islands and did not have to prove it again. He was a prudent executive, not inclined to heavy investments in lost causes. His whole Presidency was marked precisely by his capacity to refuse escalation -- as in Laos, the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, the missile crisis." --Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., President Kennedy's special adviser on Latin America, Robert Kennedy and His Times
"We were deeply concerned that Khrushchev would respond [to an attack on Cuba] with an attack on Berlin, where he had the geographic advantage, and with nuclear weapons, which would have transformed that local battle into a terrible global struggle." --Theodore Sorensen, Special Counsel to John F. Kennedy, interviewed on CNN.com/ColdWar, 29 November 1998
"President [Kennedy] heroically kept the country out of war -- against relentless pressure from hard-liners in the Pentagon, CIA and his own White House, who were determined to militarily engage the enemy in Berlin, Laos, Vietnam and especially Cuba. Kennedy knew that any such military confrontation could quickly escalate into a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. And he realized that a full-scale invasion of Cuba or Vietnam could become hopelessly bogged down, turning into a bloody and endless occupation.... The only reason Cuba didn't become the Iraq of its day was that Kennedy was too wise to be snookered by hard-liners into this trap. He had already been misled early in his administration by the CIA, which convinced him that its ragtag army of Cuban exiles could defeat Castro at the Bay of Pigs. JFK vowed that he would never again listen to these so-called national security experts...." --David Talbot, "The Kennedy Legacy vs. the Bush Legacy," Salon, 2 May 2007
"Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in his book 'Robert Kennedy and His Times,' documents other episodes showing President Kennedy's determination not to let Vietnam become an American war. One was when Gen. Douglas MacArthur told him it would be foolish to fight again in Asia and that the problem should be solved at the diplomatic table. Later General Taylor said that MacArthur's views made 'a hell of an impression on the President ... so that whenever he'd get this military advice from the Joint Chiefs or from me or anyone else, he'd say, 'Well, now, you gentlemen, you go back and convince General MacArthur, then I'll be convinced.'" --Roger Hilsman, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs under President Kennedy, letter to The New York Times, 20 January 1992
"In retrospect, the reason for the assassination is hardly a mystery. It is now abundantly clear ... why the C.I.A.'s covert operations element wanted John Kennedy out of the Oval Office and Lyndon Johnson in it. The new President elevated by rifle fire to control of our foreign policy had been one of the most enthusiastic American cold warriors.... Johnson had originally risen to power on the crest of the fulminating anti-communist crusade which marked American politics after World War II. Shortly after the end of that war, he declaimed that atomic power had become 'ours to use, either to Christianize the world or pulverize it' -- a Christian benediction if ever there was one. Johnson's demonstrated enthusiasm for American military intervention abroad ... earned him the sobriquet 'the senator from the Pentagon....'" --Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins
"[Richard] Schweiker told me in his opinion the CIA was responsible for the [JFK] assassination. That's a heck of a statement to come from a United States Senator and one who had even been Ronald Reagan's running mate in 1976...." --Robert Tanenbaum, former Deputy Counsel for the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations, "The Probe Interview: Bob Tanenbaum," Probe, July-August 1996 (Vol. 3 No. 5)
"When I mentioned about Adlai Stevenson, if he was vice-president there would never have been an assassination of our beloved President Kennedy." --Jack Ruby's comment to reporters while being transferred to his prison cell. When asked to explain what he meant, Ruby (Oswald's killer and a probable conspirator in the JFK assassination) replied, "Well the answer is the man in office now [Lyndon Johnson]." Note: Adlai Stevenson advocated a concilatory approach to international affairs in stark contrast to Democratic Party hawks like Lyndon Johnson. Johnson assumed the presidency following JFK's murder and escalated the Vietnam War exponentially. With his comment, it seems that Ruby was dropping a hint about the assassination -- that the JFK conspirators could not have achieved their goal of putting a hawk in the White House had Stevenson been Kennedy's vice-president instead of Johnson.
"Just let me get elected and then you can have your war." --Lyndon Johnson, quoted by Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History (Johnson made this comment to the joint chiefs of staff at a White House reception on Christmas Eve 1963, one month after the JFK assassination.)
"I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the President who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went." --Lyndon Johnson, quoted by Tom Wicker, J.F.K. and L.B.J. (This is what Johnson told Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in the Executive Office Building, on the Sunday afternoon following Kennedy's murder.)
"Well, what [Lyndon] Johnson did was, he did one thing before he expanded the war [in Vietnam] and that is he got rid of one way or another all the people [in the Kennedy administration] who had opposed making it an American war. Averill Harriman, he was Under Secretary of State, he made him roving ambassador for Africa so he'd have nothing to do with Vietnam.... He found out that I'd spent part of my childhood in the Philippines, and he tried to persuade me to become ambassador to the Philippines.... Johnson was a very clever man.... He knew who were the hawks and who were the doves. He systematically rid the top layers of the American government of the doves...." --Roger Hilsman, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs under President Kennedy, interviewed on CNN.com/ColdWar, 8 June 1996