Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture

Noam Chomsky, Et, Author South End Press $14 (172p) ISBN 978-0-89608-458-2
Veteran critic/activist Chomsky ( Deterring Democracy ) analyzes the issue most prominently posed in Oliver Stone's film JFK : was President Kennedy a secret dove whose assassination extinguished a chance to end the Vietnam War? Those willing to follow Chomsky's dry, prosecutorial style will find strong arguments against Kennedy mythologists. He provides context for the Vietnam War with a history of U.S. ``economic warfare'' against ``lesser breeds'' and the roots of world inequality. Then, he analyzes the record of planning the war from 1961 to 1964. He notes that studies of the Vietnamese countryside showed overwhelming sympathy for the Vietcong, leading the U.S. to choose escalated violence. One of Kennedy's trusted, dovish advisors described the president in September 1963 as supporting the war, and Chomsky calls the record on this issue consistent. Shortly after the assassination, Kennedy doves supported Johnson's Vietnam policies, but changed their stance--and their historical memory--after the 1968 Tet Offensive. Chomsky suggests that fascination with Camelot, like support for H. Ross Perot, indicates a desire to project heroism in a time of cultural malaise. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
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