Virtual JFK

Vietnam, if Kennedy had lived – a website about the film

Virtual JFK investigates one of the most debated “what if” scenarios in the history of U.S. foreign policy: What would President John F. Kennedy have done in Vietnam if he had not been assassinated in 1963, and had he been re-elected in 1964? The resulting film employs what Harvard historian Niall Ferguson calls “virtual history,” assessing the plausibility of counterfactuals – “what ifs” – and the outcomes they might have produced. The film makes use of an array of resources including recently declassified and never-before-seen archival footage, documents, and audio tapes, and testimony from a critical oral history conference including Kennedy and Johnson administration officials. The heart of the film deals with the question: Does it matter who is president on issues of war and peace? (See under Synopsis).

HomepageAll other pages have the same URL, to reach them click on the internal links, as: Synopsis, Director, Gallery, Bios, Book, Press, Theaters, Mailing List, buy the DVD, Contacts.


Koji Masutani is a Visiting Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies. He holds a BA from Brown University in International Relations and has screened previous films at the 2004 and 2005 Cannes Film Festivals. He received photography training from cinematographer Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love / 2046) in Hong Kong.


From one end of the globe to another, across one sector to another we face crisis. From the global economy to international menaces, the President must lead the U.S. through thickets that involve complex and difficult challenges.

In matters of international affairs, how do we extricate from the war in Iraq? How do we counter the North Korean nuclear weapon gambit? How do we prop up Afghanistan as it melts down, and how is the resurgent Taliban kept at bay?

VIRTUAL JFK is a relevant film that addresses these questions by looking at the way President Kennedy dealt with six deep foreign policy crises (Cuba to Vietnam) without going to war. Combining footage from numerous Kennedy press conferences, in-depth interviews and a close reading of the documentary record, the film argues that critical decisions about the use of restraint and coercive diplomacy often require greater acts of courage than the use of force, and that character matters greatly in Presidential leadership.

The film has resonated powerfully with audiences in this pre and post-election climates and provides a critical historical context for understanding the choice that is before Americans. It takes inspiration from Kennedy’s famous statement that “We must never negotiate out of fear, but we must never fear to negotiate,” and invites viewers to draw their own conclusions. – Koji Masutani.

Website found on: The National Security Archive, hosted by the George Washinton University, on September 4, 2009: Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived – The awarding documentary by Koji Masutani, will be available on DVD on September 5, 2009. Based on recently declassified archival materials, testimony from former U.S. officials, and analysis by Archive partner Professor James G. Blight, the film asks: Does it matter who is president on issues of war and peace?

Comments are closed.