Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The disarmament speech that sealed JFK's fate



President JFK’s Murder Is Graphic Proof of Entrenched Cold War Ideology and Why Peace Eludes U.S.-Russia Relations 


Finian Cunningham: As the author yourself of a ground-breaking book on the assassination of President John F Kennedy, you argue that he was murdered by powerful U.S. state elements precisely because Kennedy was beginning to seriously challenge Cold War policies. Can you elaborate on some of the peace initiatives that he was embarking on with his Soviet counterparts?

Martin Schotz: Kennedy went through a gradual and ultimately radical transformation over the three years of his presidency. He initially as a senator had made a speech against colonialism that had raised some eyebrows, but during the campaign for the presidency, he seemed to be attacking Nixon from the right. Eisenhower as he was leaving office had warned of the growing influence of the military-industrial complex, and once Kennedy was in office it didn’t take long before he began to tangle with the CIA and the military. His refusal to allow U.S. forces to rescue the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961 was the first example. He tried to fire Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA, over Dulles’ deceit in the incident. But as David Talbot’s book on Dulles, The Devil’s Chessboard, demonstrates in great detail Dulles in fact continued to meet with his associates even though Kennedy had officially removed him as director of the agency. Then you had a little-known agreement signed between a representative of Kennedy and a representative of then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev known as the McCloy-Zorin Agreement. This outlined a plan for complete worldwide disarmament in stages. It was brought to the UN and unanimously endorsed by the UN General Assembly. At the time, I am not sure how seriously Kennedy took this agreement. But you also have at this time the private correspondence that Kennedy and Khrushchev were conducting, which allowed them to get a better understanding of each other out of public view. Then you have the Cuban Missile Crisis during October 1962. The pressure on Kennedy to launch a war against Cuba and possibly a first strike on the Soviet Union was enormous. But he resisted, showing great independence, and was able to resolve the crisis by negotiating with Khrushchev. That crisis was a real turning point. Kennedy saw how callous his military advisors were to the possibility of millions of deaths in a war. The turning point was quite radical. At this stage, I think the McCloy-Zorin Agreement really started to mean something. Kennedy was reportedly pressing his aides for plans for general disarmament in stages. Then in June 1963, you have the American University speech. This speech was a profound attempt on the part of the president to start educating the American people on the subject of world peace. To me it is perhaps the greatest speech by an American president and the principles articulated in that speech are universal and eternal. Those principles of mutual peace and coexistence, disarmament and an end to militarism, are as relevant today as ever.

Finian Cunningham: You have pointed to the bold declaration of peace by Kennedy in the American University speech in Washington DC on June 10, 1963, as a watershed moment. In that 27-minute address, President Kennedy talked about the pursuit of peace and an end to futile Cold War animosity. Do you think that was the moment he signed his own death warrant in the eyes of U.S. political enemies?

Martin Schotz: After the speech was delivered, Khrushchev was so impressed by it that he had it reprinted throughout the Soviet Union, so virtually every Soviet citizen knew about it. That is something that needs to happen in the United States today. Amongst other things, Kennedy announced in the speech a moratorium on nuclear testing in the atmosphere and followed it by negotiating a test ban treaty. Though the U.S. public opinion was initially solidly against the treaty, Kennedy’s organizing and speeches won people over and the treaty was approved by the Senate. So you have here a leader, the president of the United States who is really part of the establishment and has someone like John McCloy working on the one hand and he has Norman Cousins working with him on the other hand. McCloy was as establishment as you can get, and Cousins was one of the founders of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. Cousins was Kennedy’s personal emissary between himself, Pope John XXIII and Khrushchev. Cousins’ book, The Improbable Triumvirate, is an important record of what was going on in 1963. Cousins was a co-author of the American University speech. Well, you can see what a radical turn was being taken against the Cold War. And the CIA and the Military establishment were not about to have it. You know if Kennedy had been given more time and the American people had really gotten more of a taste for peace, a certain momentum might have developed.

Finian Cunningham: The JFK assassination is a profoundly shocking revelation of U.S. state power; that an elected American president was murdered by agents of the state on the grounds that he wanted to normalize bilateral relations with the Soviet Union and genuinely end the Cold War. Does that shocking, brutal elimination of a U.S. president by his own state explain why bilateral relations have remained dominated and distorted ever since by Cold War dogma?

Martin Schotz: Well, we not only have the president murdered by his own national security state, but we have the government issue an obviously fraudulent report, the Warren Report. We also have the established institutions of society, the media, the universities, and so on, they all turn away and ignore the fact that this has happened. The President is murdered and the government issues an obviously fraudulent report that is accepted. What does that say about our society? John McCloy one of the Warren Commission members was quoted as saying: “The primary purpose of the Warren Commission was to prove that the United States was not a banana republic, where a government could be changed by conspiracy.” 

See the full interview here


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