01/23/13 - The Reporter - Is Obama making JFKstyle mistakes?
You bump into an article in The Atlantic magazine. It's about John F.
Kennedy, an American hero writ large - except that he wasn't. It tells of
how he put the world at risk for the sake of politics during the Cuban
missile crisis, though finally coming to his senses, and you think about
another charismatic American president, Barack Obama. Will he come to his
As of the inauguration, it didn't look like it, but let's start with
Kennedy. I was a teen when he was elected, and I idolized him. He was
smart, witty, athletic, good-looking, articulate, idealistic, full of
energy and more. What wasn't to like? Of course, it was much later that we
learned about the character failings, that a lot of that energy, for
instance, owed something to amphetamines. They were one of many drugs used
to address terrible health issues he never confessed to the nation.
He wasn't bad on all policies, to be sure, but then there was his backing
of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and his reckless deepening
of our involvement in Vietnam. The worst of his fumbling was taking us to
within inches of nuclear war. It is detailed in a new book, "The Cuban
Missile Crisis in American Memory," by Sheldon Stern, head of the John F.
Kennedy Library for more than two decades.
In a review of the work in the January /February issue of The Atlantic,
Benjamin Schwarz points out that much of this information has been known
for years, even though a far more positive version seems to prevail in the
public imagination, fostered there by Kennedy colleagues and an obliging
media. So know, first off, that the Soviet Union put the missiles in Cuba
because we had parked missiles in its backyard, namely Turkey, and because
the Kennedy administration had been trying every trick there is, including
assassination attempts, to depose Fidel Castro's communist government.
Kennedy's own taped words show he himself knew perfectly well that
missiles close to our shores posed no more danger than missiles that could
be launched from afar. The problem was politics and how it would look if
we didn't make a fuss and get the Soviet Union to back down. Kennedy and
gang therefore put on their tough-guy hats, initiated a Cuban blockade and
made it known that they would settle for nothing less than the other
side's unconditional retreat. It seemed the Soviet Union wouldn't budge.
All hell could easily have broken loose, and that is hell as in the most
devastating war humanity has ever known.
In the final analysis, the Kennedy who got us into the crisis got us out
of it through a deal to remove our missiles from Turkey if the Soviets
would remove theirs from Cuba. The best in him finally came out, although
the deal was kept secret and cohorts happily bashed the reputations of
those who publicly suggested the solution he adopted. Will Obama let the
best in him come out in a second term?
Like Kennedy, he is a charmer. He has a keen intellect. He is a great
speaker. And like Kennedy, he can be worse than amateurish, as in
"Obamacare" (debt-expanding, job-inhibiting and full of "gotcha"
mistakes), helping to give us the worst economic recovery since World War
II and enlarging the debt that could wreck us (refusing even the
compromise suggested by leaders of his own debt commission and negotiating
with Republicans as if nobility telling the peons to go hang).
Original Source / Fuente Original:
CUBA-L FAIR USE NOTICE
This server contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of Cuba's political, economic, human rights, international, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and historical issues, among others. We distribute the materials on the basis of a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. The material is distributed without profit. The material should be used for information, research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/ uscode/17/107.shtml.