JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable
by James W. Douglass
Our great prophecies are contingencies. The way our greatest U.S. prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., put our common future in the nuclear age was: “The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”
King’s prophecy applies to all of humankind as we decide whether to exterminate ourselves. His prophetic contingency, our turning collectively toward nonviolence or nonexistence, applies especially to the citizens of the planet’s most powerful country, the United States of America, and particularly to the citizen we elect to preside over our government: the president.
John F. Kennedy was in the same dire position every U.S. president has been in since World War II. As president, Kennedy was under the control of what his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, identified in his Farewell Address as the military-industrial complex. “[Its] total influence — economic, political, even spiritual,” Eisenhower said, “is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government.”
The military-industrial complex, more powerful today than ever, imprisons the president. A U.S. president is always accompanied by a military attaché bearing a nuclear code that can incinerate the earth. That gun to the world is a gun to the president. When he accepts the power to kill everyone, the president becomes a prisoner morally and politically to the demands of our national security state. Whether his name is Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, or Barack Obama, once he accepts nuclear power over the world, his permissible movement as president is confined to a very tight space — tighter than we as citizens might imagine.
How Kennedy Rebelled Against the Pentagon and CIA
President Kennedy rebelled against the “economic, political, even spiritual” influence that President Eisenhower described. During JFK’s two years and ten months in power, while that power pressured him relentlessly, he compromised with it to survive a few months but in the end stood his ground and took the bullets. In fact both he and his enemies saw the writing on the wall as early as the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in the first spring of his short presidency.
The CIA lied to Kennedy about the political and geographic conditions that premised his approval of the agency’s Cuban exile brigade landing at the Bay of Pigs. He realized afterward he had been set up — he had to either send U.S. combat troops into Cuba to supersede the CIA’s futile exile brigade (as he said in advance he would never do) or accept a huge defeat. After the revealing CIA documents were declassified, the way National Public Radio commentator Daniel Schorr put it was: “In effect, President Kennedy was the target of a CIA covert operation that collapsed when the invasion collapsed.” JFK swallowed defeat instead of committing U.S. troops; in recognition of the CIA’s trap, he said he wanted “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
Please read the full article, here: http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/november2010douglass