THE KENNEDY DOCTRINE by Louise FitzSimons

THE KENNEDY DOCTRINE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A fraternal twin to Richard Walton's Cold War and Counterrevolution (1971), this book assays the major crises of the Thousand Days and, like Walton, agrees that JFK's foreign policy was recklessly geared to confrontation rather than negotiation, indicts Kennedy's counterinsurgency enthusiasm, and underlines his erasure of the 1961 opportunity to stop the arms race. By comparison however, FitzSimons' accounts of the two Cuban crises, the Vienna summit, the Berlin showdown, and the Vietnam buildup tend to bog down in details. Whereas Walton ridicules the notion that the Bay of Pigs made the President ""grow,"" FitzSimons thinks it plausible; whereas Walton persuasively argues that Kennedy, not Khrushchev, forced the Berlin issue, she seems to view it as a matter of Soviet ultimatums; and unlike Walton she says the Cuban missile crisis, once it became a crisis, was ""handled well."" As opposed to Walton's silly emphasis on JFK's personality, FitzSimons' causal attributions are at least a step ahead, e.g., she stresses the arrogant pragmatism of both the President and his advisors. But like Walton she fails to examine the political and economic basis for the early '60's arms buildup,, chalking it off to bureaucratic inevitability. One specific emphasis here -- Washington's fear that the Cuban missiles could force them to talk with the Russians about European issues or encourage revolutionaries in Latin America -- is particularly interesting. As a narrative revaluation of the period, Walton's book makes a stronger impression, but both should become significant references.

Pub Date: March 14th, 1972
Publisher: Random House