When the wise men failed

By: Jonathan Kirshner,  New York Times
October 31, 2017

Government Professor Jonathan Kirshner reflects on a Nov. 2, 1967 meeting between President Lyndon B. Johnson and some of his most trusted foreign policy advisers, in this New York Times opinion piece, part of the Times' Vietnam '67 series, in which historians, veterans and journalists recall 1967 in Vietnam, a year that changed the war and changed America.

During this time in 1967, public support for the war was waning, the antiwar movement was gaining credibility and military leaders were demanding more troops, which would necessitate calling on the reserves, writes Kirshner, the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Professor of International Political Economy.

The advisers who met with Johnson included former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, one of the principal architects of the post-World War II international order; Douglas Dillon, a former investment banker, ambassador and secretary of the Treasury; Clark Clifford, Harry Truman’s White House counsel; and Henry Cabot Lodge, a former senator from Massachusetts, Kirshner writes in the column.

"The president needed reassurance," Kirshner writes. "He had called upon the “Wise Men” previously, in the summer of 1965, when final plans were nearing completion to go all-in with ground troops. They urged him then to take decisive action. Faced with another crossroads, Johnson called on the Wise Men once again."

Read the full New York Times piece here.

Photo from the LBJ Presidential Library

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