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Kennedy Administration Says Vietnam War Could Be Won by 1965

Oct. 2, 1963 - The U.S said tonight that the war in South Vietnam might be won by the end of 1965 if the political crisis there did not “significantly” affect the military effort. A formal statement of U.S. policy, approved by President Kennedy after a National Security Council meeting at the White House, warned that while repressive actions by the Saigon regime had not yet “significantly affected” the war effort, “they could do so in the future.” It said that under the present conditions, most of the 15,000 U.S. military personnel could be withdrawn from Vietnam by the end of 1965 and that 1,000 men might be able to leave by the end of 1963. “The political situation in South Vietnam remains deeply serious,” the statement said. The statement was approved on the basis of recommendations from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (left), Gen. Maxwell Taylor (right), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Henry Cabot Lodge, Ambassador to South Vietnam. Mr. McNamara and General Taylor returned to Washington early today from a week-long fact-finding mission in South Vietnam on President Kennedy’s orders. Both men apparently found a grave political situation in the country, in which the Catholic regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, has stirred up deep hatred through its repression of Buddhists. President Kennedy has indicated previously that President Diem would do well to rid his Government of his brother and his brother’s wife, Madame Nhu, the two individuals most identified with hostile action against the Buddhists.

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