While the decision to eliminate President Kennedy undoubtedly took place after his resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was without a doubt solidified when Kennedy ambushed his enemies within the U.S. national-security establishment with his Peace Speech at American University on June 10, 1963. With his Peace Speech, JFK was upsetting the Cold War apple cart that the Pentagon and the CIA were convinced would last forever.
What was so significant about that speech?
After the end of World War II, the U.S. government was converted from its founding system of a limited-government republic to a governmental structure called a national-security state. The justification for this radical change, which was accomplished without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment, was that the United States now faced an enemy that was said to be even more threatening than Nazi Germany. That new enemy was “godless communism” as well as a supposed international communist conspiracy to take over the United States and the rest of the world — a conspiracy that was supposedly based in Moscow, Russia — yes, that Russia!
With the conversion to a national-security state, the U.S. government acquired many of the same totalitarian powers that were being wielded by the totalitarian communist states, such as the Soviet Union and Red China — powers that had been prohibited when the government was a limited-government republic. Such powers included state-sponsored assassinations, torture, kidnapping, indefinite detention, and coups.
Equally important, the Cold War brought ever-increasing taxpayer-funded largess flowing into the coffers of the “defense” industry, along with the ever-increasing power and influence of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA within the overall federal structure. Over time, the national-security branch of the federal government would become the most powerful branch, the one to which the other three would inevitably defer.
After the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy achieved a breakthrough, one that threatened not only the ever-increasing power, money, and influence of the national-security branch, but also its very existence. Kennedy came to realize that the Cold War was just one great big racket — and a highly dangerous one at that.
That danger was manifested during the Cuban Missile Crisis. U.S. officials and their loyalists in the mainstream press have always maintained that the crisis was brought on by the Soviet Union and Cuba. Not so! It was brought on by the Pentagon and the CIA. It was those two entities that brought the world to within an inch of all-out nuclear war.
The Soviets and the Cubans knew that the Pentagon and the CIA wanted to invade Cuba and effect a regime-change operation there, one that would oust Cuban leader Fidel Castro from power and replace him with another pro-U.S. dictator, similar to Fulgencio Batista, the corrupt pro-U.S. brute that ruled Cuba before the revolutionaries ousted him in 1959.
That was why the Soviets installed those nuclear missiles in Cuba — to deter U.S. officials from attacking or, if deterrence failed, to enable Soviet and Cuban forces to defend themselves from a U.S. attack.
There is something important to note about the invasion that the Pentagon and the CIA wanted Kennedy to initiate against Cuba: It was illegaL The U.S. had no legal right to invade the island either before the crisis or during the crisis.
What was the justification for invading Cuba before the Cuban Missile Crisis? They said that because Cuba was befriending the Soviet Union, that constituted a grave threat to U.S. national security. But the fact is that under international law, Cuba had the right to befriend anyone it wanted. Its decision to befriend the Soviet Union did not constitute legal justification for invading the island and effecting regime change there.
What about during the crisis? Well, here is where the irony appears with respect to what it happening in Ukraine today. Throughout the crisis, the Pentagon and the CIA were pressuring Kennedy to bomb Cuba and follow up the bombing with a ground invasion. Their position was that America could not permit the Soviet Union to install nuclear missiles pointed at the United States from only 90 miles away.
But the fact is that Cuba was a sovereign and independent regime. Under international law, it had the authority to invite the Soviet Union to install whatever missiles it wanted on the island.
But from a practical standpoint, U.S. officials said no — that the United States would not permit Soviet nuclear missies to be installed so near to America’s borders. Obviously, it is a rather ironic position, given that that’s precisely why Russia today does not want Ukraine to be admitted into NATO, which would enable the Pentagon and the CIA to install their nuclear missiles pointed at Russia on Russia’s border.
Kennedy had a unique ability to put himself into the shoes of his opponent in order to figure out a satisfactory resolution to a crisis. He figured out that if he pledged that the U.S. would not invade Cuba, the Soviets would not need to keep their missiles in Cuba. Thus, after tense negotiations, that was the deal that he struck with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev — except for one thing.
It turned out that the Pentagon had U.S. nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey that were pointed at the Soviet Union. Yes, you read that right: The Pentagon’s position was that it was okay for the Pentagon to have U.S. nuclear missiles pointing at the Soviet Union in a country bordering the Soviet Union but it was not okay for the Soviet Union to have missiles pointing at the U.S. in a country 90 miles away from America’s borders.
Unlike President Biden, who would never think of bucking the Pentagon and the CIA, Kennedy saw the hypocrisy of that position. He secretly agreed with the Soviets that he would quietly withdraw the missiles from Turkey later on.
The crisis was over. The U.S. would not invade Cuba. The Soviets withdrew their missiles. Kennedy withdrew the U.S. missiles from Turkey six months later.
But the Pentagon and the CIA were livid. They considered Kennedy’s resolution of the crisis to be the “biggest defeat in U.S. history.” Those were the words of Gen. Curtis LeMay, chief of staff of the Air Force. During the crisis, LeMay compared Kennedy’s handling of it to Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich.
Why was the national-security establishment so filled with rage? Because Kennedy essentially agreed that Cuba would remain permanently under communist rule and, even worse, headed by a regime that would continue befriending the Soviet Union. In other words, in their eyes, with his agreement with the Soviets, Kennedy had ensured that Cuba would pose a permanent grave threat to U.S. national security.
By the time the missile crisis was over, however, Kennedy had achieved his breakthrough. Determined to bring an end to the national-security establishment’s Cold War, Kennedy went to American University and essentially declared an end to the Cold War racket. He announced that from that day forward, the United States would live in peaceful and friendly coexistence with the Soviet Union and the rest of the communist world. Reflecting his new vision for America, he entered into a nuclear test-ban treaty with the Soviets, ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, and proposed a joint trip to the moon with the Soviets. At the moment he was assassinated, he had an emissary meeting with Fidel Castro, while the CIA was conspiring to commit yet another assassination attempt against Castro without JFK’s knowledge or consent.
After JFK’s Peace Speech, the war between him and the U.S. national-security establishment over the future direction of the United States was on. There could be no compromise. There was going to be a winner and a loser. Kennedy’s enemies in the national-security establishment hated him for what he was doing. In their eyes, this neophyte, incompetent, naive, womanizing president was leading America to a communist takeover of the United States. In their eyes, what Kennedy was doing as president, after all, constituted a much graver threat to national security than President Arbenz in Guatemala, who the CIA had violently ousted in a coup in 1954 because Arbenz, like Kennedy, was befriending the Soviet Union and the communist world. (See FFF’s book JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne, who served on the Assassination Records Review Board in the 1990s.)
Take a look at this advertisement in the Dallas Morning News on the morning of JFK’s assassination. And then take a look at this flier that was being circulated in Dallas on the day of his assassination. The sentiments expressed in those two documents reflected the views of the U.S. national-security establishment. In their eyes, Kennedy was a cowardly traitor whose policies of appeasement were leading America to doom.
They knew that it was a virtual certainly that Kennedy would win the 1964 election. They also knew that he would never permit them to go into the Middle East and begin killing people, thereby producing terrorist blowback that would justify a perpetual “war on terrorism” to replace the “war on communism.”
They knew that if Kennedy’s vision were to prevail, the national-security establishment would have nothing to do. With no big official enemy, they would be left twiddling their thumbs. People would begin wondering about all that taxpayer-funded largess flowing into the “defense” industry. Even worse, the American people might begin demanding the restoration of their founding governmental system of a limited-government republic.
But as we all know, Kennedy’s vision did not prevail. He lost the war against his enemies within the military and the CIA when they killed him just 5 1/2 months after his Peace Speech. His assassination elevated to the presidency Lyndon Johnson, whose Cold War mindset matched that of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. The taxpayer-funded largess continued flowing into the coffers of the “defense” industry. The war on communism was ultimately replaced by the war on terrorism. And now, with its NATO machinations in Eastern Europe, the national-security establishment has succeeded in achieving Cold War II.
Who says the Kennedy assassination isn’t relevant today?