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JFK considered nuking China for India

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roddy

Where's it say he preferred the nuke option? All I can see about Kennedy is

It was not clear whether Kennedy was speaking of a nuclear strike or in more general terms

and there's another similar paragraph later on which I can't copy and paste due to the IHT's clever javascript set-up.

In the context of this article at least, it was hardly something they wanted to do - it would have been a response to a Chinese attack on India.

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wushijiao

Hmmmm...I don't think that's all that crazy. If China had attacked India with a full force of millions, I don't think it would have been unreasonable to consider nuclear weapons. I think the Kennedy advisors knew that that possibility was very, very small.

Also, at this point in time, I don't think anyone knew that they were being taped, besides JFK. If I'm not mistaken, JFK selectively taped certain conversations so that he could manipulate his role in history.

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beirne

Just like in any problem solving meeting, lots of ideas get bounced around. I wouldn't make too much of their discussion.

What I did find interesting was the last paragraph where the guy said that Eisenhower threatened China with the bomb to get them to agree to end the Korean War. I didn't realize that China wanted to keep going that much.

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bhchao

Both JFK and LBJ considered launching a preemptive strike on Chinese nuclear facilities to prevent China from gaining nuclear weapons. In 1964 LBJ and his cabinet considered several options for a possible strike, one of them being a conventional bomb attack and the other being a strike on Chinese nuclear facilities using nuclear weapons. A nuclear strike was the least likely course of action.

One reason why JFK and LBJ considered destroying China's nuclear weapons program was because of China's 1962 invasion of India and China's support of Vietcong and North Vietnamese forces in Vietnam.

I find this a striking parallel to the current day situation. China's 1962 invasion of India proved to JFK and LBJ that the "China Threat" really existed. The invasion convinced many in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that a nuclear-armed China will be even more dangerous and detrimental to its neighbors. That's why they considered dealing with China in such a way.

Kennedy may have considered using nuclear weapons. But given his rationality and prudent, cautious approach, I doubt he would have acted on such a consideration.

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Outofin
I find this a striking parallel to the current day situation.

What's the parallel? Iran and NK?

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bhchao
What's the parallel? Iran and NK?

sorry I should have been more clear. The parallel is with the current conservative/neo-conservative view in America that China is a looming threat. The 1962 invasion of India reaffirmed JFK and LBJ's view that China has the potential to act hostilely towards its neighbors.

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Ian_Lee

JFK might have very liberal leaning to nuke PRC on behalf of India. But his advisers would definitely deter him from doing so.

Why? Very simple.

In the Cold War days, albeit India was a democracy, it was viewed as an ally of USSR. In fact, India had always been the only democratic country that constantly found excuse for Moscow and condoned the hegemonism of USSR, i.e invasion into Afghanistan in 1980.

Maybe there was strong incentive for US to nuke PRC's infant nuclear arsenal in early 1960s. But by 1969, Washington already made a 180-degree turn of mind to stop Soviet when Brezhnev suggested to nuke PRC after the Chen Po Island Incident of 1969.

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Outofin

BTW, how did Taiwanese think about the Chinese nuclear power? There is a story widely told on web about a KMT teacher's response to the news that China obtained nuclear power. But I'm not sure whether it could be true.

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Ian_Lee

Taiwan could have developed a nuclear bomb in the early '70s if US hasn't stopped it.

In the early '70s, Taiwan -- South Africa -- Israel have formed a kind of tripartite de facto alliance which exported advanced military technology to each other.

Academic Sinica was in charge of developing the bomb. But news leaked and US intervened to stop further research.

Technology wise, Taiwan has way passed the capability of developing a bomb.

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Outofin

The story is this. A teacher, who was a KMT member, always called CCP as 共匪. 共匪 did this, 共匪 did that. The students knew how he hated CCP. When China obtained nuclear power, they were waiting for their teacher to condemn this. The teacher, with tears in his eyes, announced slowly, “Today, we Chinese, have nuclear power.”

I don’t know how true or false the story is. It touched me but perhaps it’s just a myth made up nationalists. Either way I could understand. Perhaps the teacher knew the power would never be used against Chinese and no one would ever dare to touch Chinese lands again. It seems to me that some South Koreans have this kind of feeling toward North Korea's nuclear power. Aren't they even delighted to know that Korean have the nuke now?

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Ian_Lee

Outofin:

I only recalled the saying of then Foreign Minister Chen Yi when PRC detonated the first bomb in 1964: "I would rather have a nuclear bomb even if I cannot keep my pants".

Now it seems the North Koreans got that kind of spirit too.

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bhchao
It seems to me that some South Koreans have this kind of feeling toward North Korea's nuclear power. Aren't they even delighted to know that Korean have the nuke now?

I think the South Koreans are ambivalent towards the North Koreans possessing a nuclear bomb. South Korean attitudes toward their 'northern kin' are much different than they were 30 years ago.

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