John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War

An enduring counterfactual

By Dr Aurélie Basha i Novosejt, published 21st March 2024

Would US President John F. Kennedy have avoided the catastrophe that became the Vietnam War if Lee Harvey Oswald had not assassinated him in Dallas on that fateful day of 22 November 1963? This question – or a version of it – has animated discussions of the Vietnam War for decades. Where historians are often quick to dismiss the value of counterfactual reasoning by default, Dr Basha suggests that they are valuable investigative tools and often inherent to the work we do. Weaving together new scholarship and sources – including now open-source collections – she will shows how recent contributions to the Vietnam War literature are still revealing new secrets and have added credence to the view that Kennedy would not have escalated in the way that his successor did. 

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