In a little over a year [2013-2014], I have spoken at four conferences. These were, in order: Cyril Wecht’s Passing the Torch conference in Pittsburgh in October of 2013; JFK Lancer’s 50th Anniversary conference on the death of JFK, in Dallas in November of 2013; Jim Lesar’s AARC conference in Washington on the 50th Anniversary of the Warren Commission in September of 2014; and Lancer’s Dallas conference on the 50th anniversary of the Commission in November of 2014.
At all four of these meetings, I decided to address an issue that was new and original. Yet, it should not have been so, not by a long shot. The subject I chose was President Kennedy’s foreign policy outside of Vietnam and Cuba. I noted that, up until now, most Kennedy assassination books treat Kennedy’s foreign policy as if it consisted of only discussions and reviews of Cuba and Vietnam. In fact, I myself was guilty of this in the first edition of Destiny Betrayed. My only plea is ignorance due to a then incomplete database of information. I have now come to conclude that this view of Kennedy is solipsistic. It is artificially foreshortened by the narrow viewpoint of those in the research community. And that is bad.
Why? Because this is not the way Kennedy himself viewed his foreign policy, at least judging by the time spent on various issues—and there were many different topics he addressed—or how important he considered diverse areas of the globe. Kennedy had initiated significant and revolutionary policy forays in disparate parts of the world from 1961 to 1963. It’s just that we have not discovered them.
Note that I have written “from 1961 to 1963”. Like many others, I have long admired Jim Douglass’ book JFK and the Unspeakable. But in the paperback edition of the book, it features as its selling tag, “A Cold Warrior Turns.” Today, I also think that this is a myth. John Kennedy’s unorthodox and pioneering foreign policy was pretty much formed before he entered the White House. And it goes back to Saigon in 1951 and his meeting with State Department official Edmund Gullion. Incredibly, no author in the JFK assassination field ever mentioned Gullion’s name until Douglass did. Yet, after viewing these presentations, the reader will see that perhaps no other single person had the influence Gullion did on Kennedy’s foreign policy. In a very real sense, one can argue today that it was the impact of Gullion’s ideas on young Kennedy that ultimately caused his assassination.
These presentations are both empirically based. That is, they are not tainted or colored by hero worship or nostalgia. They are grounded in new facts that have been covered up for much too long. In fact, after doing this research, I came to the conclusion that there were two cover-ups enacted upon Kennedy’s death. The first was about the circumstances of his murder. That one, as Vince Salandria noted, was designed to fall apart, leaving us with a phony debate played out between the Establishment and a small, informed minority. The second cover-up was about who Kennedy actually was. This cover-up was supposed to hold forever. And, as it happens, it held for about fifty years. But recent research by authors like Robert Rakove and Philip Muehlenbeck, taking their cue from Richard Mahoney’s landmark book, JFK: Ordeal in Africa, have shown that Kennedy was not a moderate liberal in the world of foreign policy. Far from it. When studied in its context—that is, what preceded it and what followed it—Kennedy’s foreign policy was clearly the most farsighted, visionary, and progressive since Franklin Roosevelt. And in the seventy years since FDR’s death, there is no one even in a close second place.
This is why the cover-up in this area had to be so tightly held, to the point it was institutionalized. So history became nothing but politics. Authors like Robert Dallek, Richard Reeves, and Herbert Parmet, among others, were doing the bidding of the Establishment. Which is why their deliberately censored versions of Kennedy were promoted in the press and why they got interviewed on TV. It also explains why the whole School of Scandal industry, led by people like David Heymann, prospered. It was all deliberate camouflage. As the generals, in that fine film Z, said about the liberal leader they had just murdered, Let us knock the halo off his head.
But there had to be a reason for such a monstrous exercise to take hold. And indeed there was. I try to present here the reasons behind its almost maniacal practice. An area I have singled out for special attention was the Middle East. Many liberal bystanders ask: Why is the JFK case relevant today? Well, because the mess in the Middle East now dominates both our foreign policy and the headlines, much as the Cold War did several decades ago. And the roots of the current situation lie in Kennedy’s death, whereupon President Johnson began the long process which reversed his predecessor’s policy there. I demonstrate how and why this was done, and why it was kept such a secret.
It is a literal shame this story is only coming to light today. John Kennedy was not just a good president. Nor was he just a promising president. He had all the perceptions and instincts to be a truly great president.
That is why, in my view, he was murdered. And why the dual cover-ups ensued. There is little doubt, considering all this new evidence, that the world would be a much different and better place today had he lived. Moreover, by only chasing Vietnam and Cuba, to the neglect of everything else, we have missed the bigger picture. For Kennedy’s approach in those two areas of conflict is only an extension of a larger gestalt view of the world, one that had been formed many years prior to his becoming president.
That we all missed so much for so long shows just how thoroughly and deliberately it had been concealed.
Version given at November in Dallas, November 18, 2016
Revision, presented on March 3, 2018, in San Francisco