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FTR #1031 Interview #1 with Jim DiEugenio about “Destiny Betrayed”

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

 

Introduction: The first of a planned long series of interviews with Jim DiEugenio about his triumphal analysis of President Kennedy’s assassination and New Orleans Jim Garrison’s heroic investigation of the killing, this program begins with discussion of President Kennedy’s precocious political vision. Possessed of a deep understanding of how the struggle for, and desire for, national independence by colonial possessions of America’s World War II allies undercut the casting of these nations’ affairs in a stark “East vs. West” Cold War context, Kennedy put his political vision into play in many instances. It was his attempts at realizing his political vision through concrete policy that precipitated his murder.

(Listeners can order Destiny Betrayed and Jim’s other books, as well as supplementing those volumes with articles about this country’s political assassinations at his website Kennedys and KingJim is also a regular guest and expert commentator on Black Op Radio.)

When the United States reneged on its commitment to pursue independence for the colonial territories of its European allies at the end of the Second World War, the stage was set for those nations’ desire for freedom to be cast as incipient Marxists/Communists. This development was the foundation for epic bloodshed and calamity.

Jim details then Congressman John F. Kennedy’s 1951 fact-finding trip to Saigon to gain an understanding of the French war to retain their colony of Indochina. (Vietnam was part of that colony.)

In speaking with career diplomat Edmund Gullion, Kennedy came to the realization that not only would the French lose the war, but that Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh guerrillas enjoyed great popular support among the Vietnamese people.

This awareness guided JFK’s Vietnam policy, in which he not only resisted tremendous pressure to commit U.S. combat troops to Vietnam, but planned a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam. (We have covered this in numerous programs over the decades, including–most recently–FTR #978.)

National Security Memorandum 263

In future discussion, we will analyze at greater length and in greater detail how Lyndon Baines Johnson reversed JFK’s Vietnam policy and authorized the enduring carnage that was to follow.

The fledgling nation of Laos was also part of French Indochina, and Jim notes how outgoing President Eisenhower coached President-Elect Kennedy on the necessity of committing  U.S. combat forces to Laos.

The CIA was already backing the Hmong tribesmen and financing their guerrilla warfare by assisting in the marketing of their primary revenue-earning crop–opium. (We discussed this at considerable length in AFA #24, among other programs.)

Again, Kennedy refused to commit U.S. ground forces and engineered a policy of neutrality for Laos.

 Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; p. 54.

 . . . . At his first press conference, Kennedy said that he hoped to  establish Laos as a “peaceful country–an independent country not dominated by either side.’ He appointed a task force to study the problem, was in regular communication with it and the Laotian ambassador, and decided by February that Laos must have a coalition government, the likes of which Eisenhower had rejected out of hand. Kennedy also had little interest in a military solution. He could not understand sending American troops to fight for a country whose people did not care to fight for themselves. . . . He therefore worked to get the Russians to push the Pathet Lao into a cease-fire agreement. This included a maneuver on Kennedy’s part to indicate military pressure if the Russians did not intervene strongly enough with the Pathet Lao. The maneuver worked, and in May of 1961, a truce was called. A few days later, a conference convened in Geneva to hammer out conditions for a neutral Laos. By July of 1962, a new government, which included the Pathet Lao, had been hammered out. . . . 

A former Dutch colony, Indonesia was another emerging nation at the epicenter of the tug of war between East and West. Sukarno sought to remain a neutral, or non-aligned country, along with other leaders of what we call the Third World, such as India’s Nehru. Not seeking to align with the Soviet Union nor the West, Sukarno remained on good terms with the PKI, the large Indonesian communist party.

In 1955, Sukarno hosted a conference of non-aligned nations that formalized and concretized a “Third Way” between East and West. This, along with Sukarno’s nationalism of some Dutch industrial properties, led the U.S. to try and overthrow Sukharno, which was attempted in 1958.

Kennedy understood Sukarno’s point of view, and had planned a trip to Indonesia in 1964 to forge a more constructive relationship with Sukharno. Obviously, his murder in 1964 precluded the trip.

In 1965, Sukarno was deposed in a bloody, CIA-aided coup in which as many as a million people were killed.

Yet another area in which JFK’s policy outlook ran afoul of the prevailing wisdom of the Cold War was with regard to the Congo. A Belgian colony which was the victim of genocidal policies of King Leopold (estimates of the dead run as high as 8 million), the diamond and mineral-rich Congo gained a fragile independence.

In Africa, as well, Kennedy understood the struggle of emerging nations seeking freedom from colonial domination as falling outside of and transcending stereotyped Cold War dynamics.

In the Congo, the brutally administered Belgian rule had spawned a vigorous independence movement crystallized around the charismatic Patrice Lumumba. Understanding of, and sympathetic to Lumumba and the ideology and political forces embodied in him, Kennedy opposed the reactionary status quo favored by both European allies like the United Kingdom and Belgium, as well as the Eisenhower/Dulles axis in the United States.

 Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 28-29.

. . . . By 1960, a native revolutionary leader named Patrice Lumumba had galvanized the nationalist feeling of the country. Belgium decided to pull out. But they did so rapidly, knowing that tumult would ensue and they could return to colonize the country again. After Lumumba was appointed prime minister, tumult did ensue. The Belgians and the British backed a rival who had Lumumba dismissed. They then urged the breaking away of the Katanga province because of its enormous mineral wealth. Lumumba looked to the United Nations for help, and also the USA. The former decided to help, . The United States did not. In fact, when Lumumba visited Washington July of 1960, Eisenhower deliberately fled to Rhode Island. Rebuffed by Eisenhower, Lumumba now turned to the Russians for help in expelling the Belgians from Katanga. This sealed his fate in the eyes of Eisenhower and Allen Dulles. The president now authorized a series of assassination plots by the CIA to kill Lumumba. These plots finally succeeded on January 17, 1961, three days before Kennedy was inaugurated. 

His first week in office, Kennedy requested a full review of the Eisenhower/Dulles policy in Congo. The American ambassador to that important African nation heard of this review and phoned Allen Dulles to alert him that President Kennedy was about to overturn previous policy there. Kennedy did overturn this policy on February 2, 1961. Unlike Eisenhower and Allen Dulles, Kennedy announced he would begin full cooperation with Secretary Dag Hammarskjold at the United Nations on this thorny issue in order to bring all the armies in that war-torn nation under control. He would also attempt top neutralize the country so there would be no East/West Cold War competition. Third, all political prisoners being held should be freed. Not knowing he was dead, this part was aimed at former prime minister Lumumba, who had been captured by his enemies. (There is evidence that, knowing Kennedy would favor Lumumba, Dulles had him killed before JFK was inaugurated.) Finally, Kennedy opposed the secession of mineral-rich Katanga province. . . . Thus began Kennedy’s nearly three year long struggle to see Congo not fall back under the claw of European imperialism. . . . “

Finally, the program concludes with analysis of Kennedy’s stance on Algeria. A French colony in North Africa, Algerian independence forces waged a fierce guerrilla war in an attempt at becoming free from France. Once again, Kennedy opposed the Western consensus on Algeria, which sought to retain that property as a French possession.

Destiny Betrayed by Jim DiEugenio; Skyhorse publishing [SC]; Copyright 1992, 2012 by Jim DiEugenio; ISBN 978-1-62087-056-3; pp. 25-26.

. . . . On July 2, 1957, Senator Kennedy rose to speak in the Senate chamber and delivered what the New York Times was to call the next day, “the most comprehensive and outspoken arraignment of Western policy toward Algeria yet presented by an American in public office.” As historian Alan Nevins later wrote, “No speech on foreign affairs by Mr. Kennedy attracted more attention at home and abroad.” It was the mature fruition of all the ideas that Kennedy had been collecting and refining since his  1951 trip into  the  nooks  and corners of Saigon,  It was passionate yet sophisticated, hard-hitting but controlled, idealistic yet, in a fresh and unique way, also pragmatic. Kennedy assailed the administration, especially John Foster Dulles and Nixon, for not urging France into negotiations, and therefore not being its true friend. He began the speech by saying  that the most powerful  force international  affairs at the time  was not the H-bomb, but the  desire  for  independence from imperialism. He then  said it was a test of  American foreign policy to meet the challenge of imperialism. If not, America would lose the trust of millions in Asia and Africa. . . . He later added that, “The time has come for the United States to face the harsh realities of the  situation  and to fulfill its responsibilities as leader of the free world . . . in shaping a course toward political independence for Algeria.” He concluded by saying that America could not win in the Third World by simply doling  out foreign aid  dollars, or selling free enterprise, or describing the evils of  communism, or limiting its  approach  to military pacts. . . .” 

The French people were divided over the Algerian struggle, and those divisions led to the fall of the Fourth Republic and the rise of Charles De Gaulle. De Gaulle granted Algeria its independence and then faced down the lethal opposition of the OAS, a group of military officers grounded in the fascist collaborationist politics of Vichy France. De Gaulle survived several assassination attempts against him and there are a number of evidentiary tributaries leading between those attempts and the forces that killed Kennedy.

Maurice Brooks Gatlin–one of Guy Banister’s investigators–boasted of having transferred a large sum of money from the CIA to the OAS officers plotting against De Gaulle. In addition, Rene Souetre–a French OAS-linked assassin was in the Dallas Fort Worth area on 11/22/1963.

 

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