By Joseph A. Palermo
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Extra resources for In his own right: the political odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy
The younger Kennedy’s subcommittee became an important voice in the Vietnam debate in subsequent years. Senator Fulbright, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, also held hearings from February 4th through the 18th which reached a wide television audience. 59 Robert Kennedy followed the televised hearings intensely in his Senate office, and occasionally strolled over to the hearing room when an important witness testified. Fulbright and other committee members posed vague questions that Kennedy did not like.
Moreover, Johnson appeared to have a reasonable prescription for success in Vietnam. 115 By the end of 1965, there were 185,000 American troops in South Vietnam, and more than a thousand had been killed in battle. At various times in 1965 and early 1966, Kennedy pressed for a negotiated settlement, and tried to hold the Administration to its word about its stated desire for peace. He opposed Johnson’s bombing of North Vietnam, saying it blocked any prospect for peace talks, swelled the ranks of the enemy, and threatened to bring China into the conflict.
Later that month, in a statement on the Senate floor, Kennedy commented on recent clashes between American and North Vietnamese fighter aircraft near the Chinese border. ” Kennedy noted that violating China’s air space could provoke the intervention of Chinese troops in Vietnam. He decried the Administration’s reckless behavior at a time when the volatility of China’s domestic life was revealing itself in the early rumblings of Mao Tse-tung’s Cultural Revolution. ”9 This stand was consistent with his earlier calls to avoid internationalizing the conflict, which formed the basis of Kennedy’s opposition to the bombing of North Vietnam.
In his own right: the political odyssey of Senator Robert F. Kennedy by Joseph A. Palermo