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The real record of JFK

Parry Singh Mudhar

November 19, 2013

John Fitzgerald Kennedy's presidency was one of violence and destruction as he stumbled along his path from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, to the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the Vietnam War all the while refusing to meaningfully support the Civil Rights movement. As his and his family’s “pop icon” image has grown to atmospheric heights it conveniently covers up the nightmare of his presidency.
State terrorism
The Cuban revolution overthrew the hated Batista dictatorship that the US had supported, and though it erected a state capitalist regime in its place many in the region gained inspiration from the challenge to US imperialism.
Kennedy inherited the CIA's plan for an invasion of Fidel Castro’s Cuba when he took office and he approved the plot for a US coup. The 1962 Bay of Pigs Invasion not only served as a precursor to the Cuban Missile Crisis, it was a huge disaster for the Kennedy government. Initially 300 casualties were reported, and the US was forced to supply Cuba with $13.1 million in medicine and food for the remaining prisoners.
While the Kennedy government’s abysmal attempt to gain control over the former US protectorate failed, the US has never ended its coercive actions against the Cuban people.
Nuclear weapons
The combination of Kennedy’s terrorist plot to invade and capture Cuba and the positioning of nuclear warheads in Turkey and Italy aimed at the USSR nearly resulted in nuclear world war in 1962. The USSR, in its imperial rivalry with the US, tried to set up nuclear missiles in Cuba, its ally. Once the Kennedy government became aware of the USSR’s actions, a strict military blockade, or quarantine, was set around Cuba as the US demanded the USSR dismantle the newly delivered nuclear weapons. For 13 days, both governments were willing to go to war. Quite literally, the future of our civilization was a bargaining chip between the two imperial powers. Surprisingly, an agreement was made in which the US would disarm its nuclear warheads in Turkey and would cease its invasion attempts of Cuba in exchange for the USSR removing its nuclear missiles from Cuba. While the Kennedy government and the USSR played with millions of lives in their power struggles without a thought of concern, clumsy steps on both sides almost started a war.
One week before his death, JFK addressed the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) on the subject of “What we've done.” He opened his remarks as follows:
"With your help and support, with your concern, we have worked to try to improve the lot of the people of the United States. In the last three years abroad we have doubled the number of nuclear weapons in our strategic alert forces; in the last three years we've increased by 45 percent the number of combat-ready army divisions. We've increased by 600 percent the number of our counterinsurgency forces, increased by 175 percent our procurement of airlift aircraft and doubled our Polaris and Minuteman programs. The United States is stronger today than ever before in our history. And with that strength we work for peace.”
War crimes
Although the US presence in Vietnam predated Kennedy, Kennedy escalated the war including starting the horrendous chemical attacks on the civilian population. His administration began the use of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon that the Americans used against crops in the hopes that starvation would drive people out of the countryside and into the cities.
Nearly a quarter of South Vietnam was sprayed with chemical weapons, which resulted in the destruction of 5 million acres of forests, 500,000 acres of crops, and ongoing birth defects. The Vietnam War killed 2 million Vietnamese, with Agent Orange, napalm, cluster bombs and massacres like My Lai; 58,000 American soldiers died in combat, with a greater number killing themselves to escape the horror.
A barrier to civil rights
Martin Luther King’s words in 1967 capture the foreign and domestic policy of the Kennedy administration years before:  “We have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools.”
During the Kennedy years, the effectiveness of the Civil Rights movement was growing. Leaders such as Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. along with thousands of activists, were fighting for the right for an equal share of society’s wealth and were accomplishing what US society thought was impossible. With the goal of serving two terms, the Kennedy government’s action of maneuvering to gain votes in the south was evident. Although he talked of support of civil rights, direct actions of support to Civil Rights leaders and grassroots efforts were almost nonexistent. Liberal historians claim Kennedy began supporting civil rights legislation after seeing police brutality on television, as if he had no idea of the conditions under which African Americans lived. But any progress under his administration was from the mass movement that forced his hand-—like when 250,000 people came to his doorstep in the March on Washington demanding jobs and freedom. As head of a government with such aggressive ambitions to change governments around the world, there is no excuse for the lack of change at home Kennedy was able to deliver.
Although Kennedy failed to serve two terms he still accomplished quite a lot in terms of creating a dystopian future for those in his international crosshairs. His actions nearly led to a nuclear conflagration. His scorched earth tactics in Vietnam created widespread suffering and parts of the southern region are still, after four decades, a serious health risk to the civil population. American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a terrorist, war criminal and a barrier to civil rights; we should celebrate the historic movements against him and the presidents who followed him: the Vietnamese resistance, the anti-war movement including soldier revolts, the civil rights and black power movements, and other liberation movements.

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