Whenever I see U.S. national-security state officials and their acolytes in the mainstream press castigate anyone who favors a favorable relationship with Russia, I can’t help but get that déjà vu feeling. That’s exactly how they felt toward President Kennedy, only multiplied a thousand-fold. The adverse reaction whenever that sentiment is expressed today pales to insignificance compared to the deep anger, hatred, and sense of betrayal generated within the Pentagon and CIA when Kennedy reached out to the Soviet Union and the communist world in friendship, accommodation, and peaceful coexistence.
Keep in mind that in 1963, there was no talk about Islam, Muslims, and terrorists, which are considered to be America’s official enemies today. Ever since its inception at the end of World War II, the national-security establishment had made it clear: America’s official enemy was the Soviet Union, which had been America’s partner and ally in World War II. The Soviets, the Pentagon and the CIA steadfastly maintained, were spearheading an international communist conspiracy that was hell-bent on conquering the United States.
In response to that so-called international communist threat, not only had the federal government been converted to a national-security state after World War II, the entire nation had also been mobilized to be on the alert for communists, communist intruders, and Fifth Columnists. Communists were suspected to be in the State Department, the Congress, Hollywood, and even the Army. People were even exhorted to look under their beds for Reds before they went to sleep at night.
By 1960, an enormous military industry within the U.S. federal governmental structure had come into existence, which was providing sustenance and largess to thousands of people. Soldiers. Weapons suppliers. Contractors. Construction firms. The Cold War, and hot wars in places like Korea and Vietnam, were big business and certain to grow exponentially during the next several decades.
Regime change was the order of the day, all with the intent of stopping the international communist conspiracy before it arrived in America. Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Congo, and Cuba come to mind.
This was also the beginning of America’s formal assassination program, which remains a central element of the U.S. government today. The idea was that it was necessary to take out any threats to national security before they materialized in an invasion of the United States. That’s what the CIA-Mafia assassination partnership was all about — to murder Cuba’s communist President Fidel Castro to prevent him and his communist forces from invading Florida and moving up the Eastern Seaboard to Washington.
And then JFK decided that he was going to put an end to it all. He decided to reach out to the communists in friendship and peaceful coexistence. He decided that he was going to end the Cold War, which thereby threatened the existence of the most powerful internal governmental force in history, one that was determined to continue putting money into the pockets of ever-growing number of people who were getting rich off of the military largess that the Cold War was bringing them.
JFK’s predecessor, President Eisenhower, who had served as Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, referred to this burgeoning empire in his Farewell Address just before Kennedy was sworn into office. He first pointed out the obvious — that the conversion of the federal government into a national security state — or, as he called it, a “military-industrial complex” — fundamentally altered America’s governmental structure. Second, he pointed out that this complex posed a very real threat to America’s liberties and democratic processes.
Like most other Americans, Ike had bought into the Pentagon’s and CIA’s notion that an international communist conspiracy based in Moscow was determined to take over America. That’s why he had approved the CIA’s regime-change operations in Iran and Guatemala. It’s why he felt that it was necessary to convert the federal government into a national-security state, a type of governmental apparatus that characterized communist and other totalitarian regimes.
For that matter, Kennedy had bought into the same Cold War scenario. He came into office with pretty much the same Cold War mindset that the national-security establishment had inculcated into the American people.
That’s why Kennedy approved the CIA’s invasion of Cuba as soon as he assumed the presidency. He trusted the CIA’s judgment. If the CIA said that Cuba posed a grave threat to “national security,” who was John Kennedy to doubt them or challenge them? Never mind that Cuba had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. The fact that a communist was running the Cuban government was conclusive proof that America and “national security” were in grave danger.
The fiasco of that invasion was what started planting a seed of doubt within Kennedy’s mind. Realizing that the CIA had set him up and double-crossed him by falsely assuring him that U.S. air support would not be necessary, Kennedy fired Allen Dulles, the much-revered director of the CIA (who, in one of the biggest conflicts of interest in history, would later be appointed to serve on the official commission charged with determining who killed Kennedy). Kennedy also vowed to tear the CIA into a thousand pieces, which did not sit well in an agency that considered itself to be a barrier to a communist takeover of the United States.
Another seed of doubt occurred when the Pentagon began recommending that the United States initiate an all-out surprise attack on the Soviet Union, much as Japan had done at Pearl Harbor, only this time with an all-out nuclear bombing attack on Russian cities. Their rationale? Since it was certain that Russia and the United States were going to war against each other at some point in the future, the U.S. might as well get it over with sooner, especially given that America at that time had many more nuclear weapons.
Kennedy’s reaction to the Pentagon’s plan was privately expressed to an aide,” And we call ourselves the human race.”
Another seed of doubt was when the Pentagon presented JFK with Operation Northwoods, a plan that entailed terrorist attacks and plane hijackings that would be carried out by U.S. agents posing as Cuban communist terrorists, thereby providing a pretext for invading Cuba and effecting regime change. That plan implicitly called on Kennedy to be the nation’s liar in chief, something that the CIA had induced President Eisenhower to become after the CIA’s U-2 pilot Gary Powers was shot down while illegally spying on Russia.
The final straw for Kennedy though occurred during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when U.S. national-security state officials were demanding that he invade and bomb Cuba, which would have brought on the all-out nuclear war that Pentagon officials wanted. Instead, Kennedy struck a deal with the communists in which he promised that the U.S. would not invade Cuba again.
One member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Curtis LeMay, compared Kennedy’s actions to Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler at Munich and called his resolution of the crisis the worst defeat in American history. In LeMay’s eyes, it was only a matter of time before the communists would prevail over America.
That wasn’t the end of it. Kennedy went to American University to deliver a speech on foreign policy, one in which he called for an end of the Cold War and for friendly and peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union and the communist world. Not only did he not consult with the national-security branch of the government over the contents of the speech, he didn’t even forewarn them what he intended to say.
He then entered into the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets. He also ordered a withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.
By this time, many in the military and in the American right wing considered Kennedy a traitor at worst and, at best, a naïve waif who was leading America to defeat at the hands of the communists. To get a very real sense of how the U.S. national-security establishment viewed Kennedy, read this poster that was distributed prior to Kennedy’s assassination. Although it was published by a conservative group, it perfectly reflected the depth of the anger, hatred, and sense of betrayal that the Pentagon and the CIA had toward Kennedy.
And then Kennedy went one fateful step further. He engaged in secret personal negotiations with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, negotiations that the CIA was almost certainly aware of. In fact, at the very moment he was assassinated, JFK had an emissary personally meeting with Castro about ending the Cold War and reestablishing normal relations between Cuba and the United States.
Interestingly, every president and every major party presidential candidate since Kennedy has paid the required deference and obsequiousness to the national-security establishment, acknowledging the overwhelming power and influence that the military-industrial-intelligence establishment plays in America’s federal governmental structure and American society. Heaven help any public figure or public official who calls for a relationship of friendship and peaceful existence with Russia today.
For more information, see the following ebooks published by The Future of Freedom Foundation:
JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne
The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger
Regime Change: The Kennedy Assassination by Jacob Hornberger
The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State by Jacob Hornberger
CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files by Jefferson Morley