Dr. Jeffrey Sachs has once again written a generally sound piece of criticism on this issue. And once again, he is to be saluted for it. It is indeed encouraging that he gets such pieces into the new MSM, represented by The Huffington Post.
But even if this editorial is actually better than the first, it still seemed to me fitting to remind our readers of what I originally posted back in November, when "Hillary Clinton and the ISIS mess" appeared. So CTKA has decided to repost it.
Like his book on Kennedy’s sponsorship of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban, it does not go quite far enough. (See our review)
He is correct about the CIA beginning its sponsorship of the mujahedeen in 1979 to battle the Soviets in Afghanistan. But he fails to add that one of the Moslem volunteers who went to Afghanistan to fight the Russians was Osama Bin Laden. And most commentators trace the beginning of the Al Qaeda movement from Bin Laden’s experience there. (See the sterling documentary on this subject, The Power of Nightmares.)
But beyond that, 1979 was the year of the first explosion of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. It took place in Iran. It was fueled by the brutal regime the CIA and Allen Dulles installed there when they overthrew the nationalist leader Mossadegh. Every American president — save one — coddled up to the Shah of Iran. All the way until the Islamic Revolution.
The man who paved the way for Sharia Law to take hold in Iran was none other than Warren Commissioner John McCloy. As Kai Bird noes in his book, The Chairman, President Jimmy Carter resisted letting the Shah into the country for medical purposes. When he did, David Rockefeller started a lobbying campaign, which was spearheaded by attorney John McCloy. McCloy knew he could not convert Carter. So, one by one, he picked off his advisors. Until finally, Carter was alone and cornered. But before he caved, he turned and asked: I wonder what you guys are going to advise me to do if they invade our embassy and take our employees hostage?
Therefore, it was McCloy who directly caused the Islamic Revolution to begin in the Middle East. And it was he who greatly influenced the coming to power of Ronald Reagan.
As noted above, there was one president who did not toady up to the Shah. As James Bill chronicles in his book, The Eagle and the Lion, the Kennedy administration actually commissioned a State Department paper on the costs and liabilities of returning Mossadegh to power in Iran. The Shah took this seriously and started the White Revolution in order to make his administration more progressive and egalitarian. Once Kennedy died, this did not continue. President Johnson was quite friendly with the Rockefeller brothers, and Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser, owed his career to Nelson Rockefeller. Unlike these other presidents, Kennedy understood the dangers of an explosion of Islamic Fundamentalism. In fact, he had warned about it since 1957, and his famous speech encouraging the French to abandon their colonial empire in Algeria.
But there was one other element to this story of Carter changing his mind. During the revolution, before Carter allowed the Shah entry, he was in Los Angeles for a speaking engagement. Both the Secret Service and LAPD detected an assassination plot against him. One of the alleged plotters’ was named Raymond Lee Harvey. Raymond said an accomplice was named Osvaldo Espinoza Ortiz. No one as smart as Carter could have missed the significance of that. (See this Wikipedia article)
There is another point about the Sachs’ article and the Clinton agenda that needs to be elucidated. That is America’s growing coziness with Saudi Arabia. As scholar Philip Muehlenbeck noted, President Kennedy had little time or use for the monarchy of Saudi Arabia. He disdained its disregard of civil liberties, democracy and women’s rights. When King Saud flew to a Boston area hospital in 1961, Kennedy was urged to visit him by his State Department advisors. Not only did he not visit him, he avoided going to Boston and instead went to his vacation home in Palm Beach Florida. When the monarch was released and went to a convalescent home nearby, Kennedy finally relented. But on the way there, he muttered: Why am I seeing this guy? (Muehlenbeck, Betting on the Africans, p. 133)
Kennedy favored the country that DCI Allen Dulles and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, decided to abandon – Egypt – because its socialist leader, Nasser, would not toe the line on Red China during the Cold War. During the civil war in Yemen, where Saud backed the monarchy and Nasser backed the revolutionaries, Kennedy decided to back Nasser, at great political expense to himself — including the enmity of Israel’s foreign secretary Golda Meir. (See Muehlenbeck, pp. 132-37)
When John Kennedy was killed two things happened in the Middle East to create the mess that exists today. First, there was a tilt away from Egypt and pan Arabism; second, a bias toward Saudi Arabia and Israel began. As Stanford professor Robert Rakove notes in Kennedy, Johnson and the Nonaligned World, Nasser immediately understood what was happening. On November 23, 1963, Nasser declared a state of mourning. He then ordered Kennedy’s funeral to be shown on Egyptian television four times. One diplomat said Cairo was “overcome by a sense of universal tragedy.” Nasser eventually broke relations with the USA in 1967. (Rakove, pp. xvii ff)
Although Sachs’ article is good, the record of John Kennedy is even better. And, in fact, a piece like this one would probably not get past the moderators, especially in light of their decision to publish an utterly ignorant and repugnant article by Peter Dreier at around the same time. Arrogantly entitled “I Don’t Care who Killed JFK”, it did not mention one word about any of the history chronicled above. It did not mention any of the books I referenced. It did not refer to Nasser, the Iranian coup, John McCloy and the assassination attempt on Carter, or Kennedy’s disdain for Saudi Arabia. And since it did not mention any of those, it could not list the reversals that occurred in the Middle East afterwards.
Peter Dreier should stick to urban planning. His article on JFK proves that underneath arrogance there is always a whiff of stupidity.
(Originally posted November 23, 2015 Reposted February 15, 2016)