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The JFK Assassination and the Inconceivable Doctrine


Despite the large amount of circumstantial evidence pointing to the culpability of the U.S. national-security state in the assassination of President Kennedy, there are still some people who exclaim “Conspiracy theory!” whenever someone challenges the official finding of the Warren Commission that JFK was felled by a former Marine lone-nut communist using a junk Italian-made World War II rifle with a misaligned site who just happened to be working in a building along the president’s parade route in Dallas.

But let’s be fair: Some lone-nut proponents have made an extensive study of the evidence in the case and simply remain unpersuaded by it. Fair enough. People can look at circumstantial evidence in different ways and reach different conclusions, not only in interpreting the evidence but also with respect to the amount of evidence necessary to convince someone.

What fascinates me, however, are those people who have never reviewed the evidence and who nonetheless are steadfast supporters of the Warren Commission’s findings. Those are people who subscribe to what I call the “Inconceivable Doctrine,” a doctrine that holds that it is simply inconceivable that the U.S. national-security state would effect a regime-change operation within the United States.

Yet, when you confront such people with national-security state regime-change operations in other countries, including ones that the U.S. national-security state has orchestrated, their reaction is just the opposite: “Well, of course this type of thing takes place in foreign countries but it would never, ever take place here. America is different. America is exceptional.”

Consider, for example, Chile, one of the regime-change operations that I discuss in my new book Regime Change: The JFK Assassination.

In 1973, the national-security branch of the Chilean government effected a regime-change operation against the duly elected head of the executive branch of the government, Salvador Allende. It was a violent operation, one in which the military forces within the national-security branch were firing guns and missiles at Allende and other officials in the executive branch of the government in the attempt to kill them. Given that the executive branch lacked the manpower and firepower to defeat the national-security branch, the latter prevailed in the war and Chile became a full-fledged national-security state, headed by Army Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose goons proceeded to kidnap, torture, rape, execute, or simply “reeducate” some 40,000 people who were suspected of believing in communist and socialist ideas.

The adherents to the Inconceivable Doctrine would say, “Jacob, that was Chile, not the United States. It is inconceivable that the U.S. national-security branch of the federal government would effect a violent regime change operation here because the people in the U.S. military and the CIA are patriots.”

Well, make no mistake about it: Augusto Pinochet was a “patriot” too — or at least he considered himself to be one. Indeed, he considered himself to be the nation’s supreme patriot and, in fact, many Pinochet lovers today are convinced that he was a super patriot. The way Pinochet figured it was that Allende was taking the country down the road to communism and that the only way to save it was through a regime change operation instigated by the national-security branch of the government. And don’t forget: In Pinochet’s mind, he was cleansing the country of socialism and communism by rounding up all the people who were suspected of believing in those isms and incarcerating, torturing, raping, killing, or “reeducating” them into believing in “capitalism.”

What was Pinochet’s objection to Allende? Allende was a socialist and a communist — that is, a person who believed that it is the role of the state to take care of people, including through such programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, subsidies, minimum-wage laws, nationalization of businesses, and the like.

But that wasn’t all. Even more ominously in the eyes of Pinochet (and Pinochet supporters today), Allende was also reaching out to Cuba and the Soviet Union, attempting to establish good relations with those two socialist-communist countries. That was just unacceptable to Pinochet, who was vehemently anti-communist and “pro-capitalist,” as reflected by his bringing into his regime the so-called “Chicago Boys,” who were acolytes of free-market economist Milton Friedman.

Of course, adherents to the Inconceivable Doctrine would say, “Okay, but that’s the Chilean national-security state. It is inconceivable that anything like that would happen here in the United States.

Well, except for one big factor: It was the U.S. national-security state that was responsible for instigating the Pinochet coup in the first place! When Pinochet went on the attack on September 11, 1973, it was actually the culmination of three years of efforts by the U.S. military and the CIA to bring the Chilean military and intelligence forces around to finally producing a regime change through violence.

It all started in 1970, when Allende won the presidential election. President Nixon, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, and the CIA all decided that this could not be permitted to stand. After all, Allende was a socialist and a communist! That would mean two countries — Cuba and Chile — that would be governed by socialists and communists—and, even worse, ones who were establishing friendly relations with the Soviet Union. Nixon gave the order to the CIA to make the Chilean economy “scream,” which meant that the CIA was to do whatever it could to bring economic crisis and chaos to Chile so that the Chilean people would be receptive to a military coup.

In fact, that’s one of the amusing parts of the entire coup story. Today, many Pinochet-lovers, who extol the economic achievements of the Chicago Boys, justify the coup by saying that Pinochet saved Chile from the economic chaos produced by Allende’s socialist policies. What’s amusing is that they never address a critical factor here: that it was the CIA that was contributing to the economic chaos — on purpose! That raises an interesting question: Which is worse: a duly elected socialist president whose misguided policies cause economic chaos or a duly elected interventionist president (i.e., Nixon) whose policies intentionally cause economic chaos for people?

In any event, inducing the Chilean military to effect a violent regime change operation was not an easy task. Chile had a long democratic tradition. The commander of the Chilean armed forces, Gen. Rene Schneider, stood squarely against the regime-change operation, arguing that it was the duty of the national-security branch of the government to follow the Constitution, which, like the U.S. Constitution, provided only two ways to remove a president from office: impeachment and election.

No problem. The CIA simply orchestrated a kidnapping of Schneider to remove him as an obstruction to their plans for a violent regime change. Not surprisingly, Gen. Schneider pulled out his sidearm during the kidnapping attempt to resist his kidnappers and was shot dead. It was later discovered that the CIA paid hush money to one of the kidnappers in the hope of keeping its role in the kidnapping-assassination of an innocent man (who had a wife and children) secret.

Moreover, at the U.S. military’s School of the Americas, where both military and CIA officials were training Chilean military officials, U.S. officials were teaching Chilean military officials that they had the moral duty to violate the country’s Constitution and saving the nation by ousting Allende from power violently.

Their rationale? “National security,” of course, the doctrine that would ultimately become the national religion of both the United States and Chile. Allende, U.S. officials argued, posed a threat to national security in Chile as well as to the national security of the United States. After all, what graver threat to national security than the adoption of socialist programs and, even more ominously, reaching out to the Soviet Union and Cuba in an attempt to establish friendly relations?

There is no reason to doubt that U.S. officials truly and genuinely believed what they were teaching their Chilean counterparts. For officials in the military and the CIA, national security is everything. In their minds, that’s their job — to protect national security at all costs, not only when it is threatened from without but also when it is threatened from within.

So, what how do the adherents to the Inconceivable Doctrine reconcile their mindsets of inconceivability with the role that the U.S. national-security establishment played in Chile? They don’t. They simply keep muttering their mantra, “Conspiracy theory!”

Did the U.S. national-security establishment conclude that Kennedy’s policies constituted a threat to national security, just as it concluded that Allende’s policies did? What we do know is that Kennedy’s policies, including his top-secret negotiations with the Soviet Union and Cuba to establish friendly relations and to end the Cold War were more far-reaching than Allende’s. We also know that there was much more bitterness and anger within the U.S. national-security establishment against Kennedy for his so-called betrayal at the Bay of Pigs and during the Cuban Missile Crisis than there was against Allende. In fact, some of them considered Kennedy to be a traitor. For a more detailed analysis, read JFK’s War Against the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board.

Also read my previous ebook, The Kennedy Autopsy, which, as you will see, contains no wild-eyed conspiracy theories. It is nothing more than a marshaling of the circumstantial evidence surrounding the military autopsy of Kennedy’s body, much of which was kept secret for the decades prior to the establishment of the ARRB in 1992. As you read that book, ask yourself how it is possible to arrive at any other conclusion but that the military conducted a false and fraudulent autopsy as part of an assassination cover-up. And once you arrive at that conclusion, ask yourself: Who would they be covering up for on the very night of the assassination?

Finally, read my newest book Regime Change: The JFK Assassination, which puts the autopsy, the Chilean coup, and the JFK assassination into context.

Inconceivable? Not on your life! Just one of the many negative things about the U.S. national-security state apparatus that was attached onto our original governmental system after World War II that some Americans still just don’t want to confront.


This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.