Jim Douglass: In His Own Bay of Pigs Moment, Obama Backed Down (Part 6)

The most important book for any American to read is JFK and the Unspeakable: Who Killed Him and Why it Matters by James D. Douglass.

Douglass’ investigation into the secret papers finally released during the Clinton era begin to uncover a deadly “family pattern” of behavior in the highest levels of political power. Now, Douglass has written an important article for Tikkun magazine that looks at how the pattern is being repeated again between President Obama, Gen. Petraeus, and Afghanistan.

Below is Part 6: In His Own Bay of Pigs Moment, Obama Backed Down

Just as John Kennedy did, Barack Obama had a Bay of Pigs early in his presidency. He became the target of a covert operation that trapped and compromised him as president. In Obama’s case, the challenge to his authority as commander-in-chief came not from the CIA but from the Army, and not in Cuba but in Afghanistan. As in Kennedy’s case, Obama’s response to the entrapment established the pattern of his presidency, but in a direction opposite to Kennedy’s. Obama has become an obedient servant to his national security state, and as a result, a source of despair to many of his supporters.

The critical background to President Obama’s June 2010 firing of General Stanley McChrystal for his outlandish Rolling Stone interview was McChrystal’s close relationship to the man Obama named to replace him. The president’s newly appointed Afghan commander, David H. Petraeus, was McChrystal’s boss and mentor. In September 2009, in a more significant subversion of Obama’s authority than the later interview, McChrystal had been Petraeus’s point man in a Pentagon threat of revolt unless the president escalated the Afghan War.

Heavily supported by Republican leaders, McChrystal pressured Obama publicly by a series of statements questioning the president’s initial resistance to the general’s recommendation of 40,000 more troops. Petraeus also went public, telling a columnist the United States would fail in the war unless the president gave them the troops they needed. Obama’s generals were conducting a media war to force him into a decision they had chosen for him. As Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former top aide, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, observed, “Petraeus and McChrystal have put Obama in a trick bag.”

As Bob Woodward reported in Obama’s Wars, the president was blocked at every turn by his war cabinet, as he sought alternative troop options and an exit plan from the war. However, the generals wanted their troop surge and an open-ended strategy. They provided no exit plan.

“You’re not really giving me any options,” Obama told them. “You agreed to go back and work those up.” Instead they kept pressuring him for the same troop increase, under different guises, in a war without end. “It’s unacceptable,” he said.

Obama told civilian advisers that the military heads were “really cooking the thing in the direction they wanted. They are not going to give me a choice.”

The president finally gave them 30,000 more troops, while setting a shaky, condition-based date of next July for a beginning withdrawal. The generals claimed victory. Petraeus was pleased. His counterinsurgency strategy was alive and well. As he let Woodward know, “If the president had told him at the beginning that it would come out with this strategy and 30,000 troops, Petraeus would have taken it in a second.”

Moreover, Petraeus said privately, he continued to see no end in sight in Afghanistan: “You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

When Obama replaced McChrystal half a year later by the more subtle, more controlling Petraeus, it was a further submission to the military authorities that the president was elected to command.

After JFK was set up by the CIA (with the Pentagon’s support) at the Bay of Pigs, that new, young president bucked his national security state by firing his main adversary, Cold-Warrior-in-Chief Allen Dulles. When Obama was set up by General Petraeus, General McChrystal, and their colleagues to escalate the war in Afghanistan, our new, young president, after (to his credit) months of deliberation, reluctantly went along. His later insertion of Petraeus as his new Afghan commander put the most likely GOP candidate for president in 2012, General David Petraeus, in an ideal running position. Because Bush’s “surge” of occupying troops in Iraq (under Petraeus) has somehow been judged a “win,” Obama will be scapegoated with the “loss” if a proxy government in Iraq fails after his troop withdrawal.

In August General Petraeus warned, “If the U.S. loses [in Afghanistan], there would likely be a bloody civil war followed by a takeover by extremists.” He added, “If the U.S. succeeds and Afghanistan stabilizes, the country could become the region’s new Silk Road with the potential to extract trillions of dollars worth of minerals.”

If Petraeus fails in his counterinsurgency war to pacify that new road to corporate profits, he can keep on saying he needed more troops and more time to “win” there — preparing the political ground for another Obama “loss.” Petraeus can then return home for a GOP draft to run for president. Obama, by surrendering to his generals, has been trapped in the same kind of plotting Kennedy had the insight and courage to resist.–James Douglass, from JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable

Jim Douglass: How Kennedy Took On the Steel Industry (Part 2)

The most important book for any American to read is JFK and the Unspeakable: Who Killed Him and Why it Matters by James D. Douglass.

Douglass’ investigation into the secret papers finally released during the Clinton era begin to uncover a deadly “family pattern” of behavior in the highest levels of political power. Now, Douglass has written an important article for Tikkun magazine that looks at how the pattern is being repeated again between President Obama, Gen. Petraeus, and Afghanistan.

Below is Part 2: How Kennedy Took On the Steel Industry

The steel crisis was JFK’s second step toward freedom.

On April 10, 1962, U.S. Steel chairman Roger Blough informed President Kennedy that Blough’s company was raising steel prices by 3.5 percent — breaking an agreement to control inflation that the president had just brokered between U.S. Steel and the United Steelworkers. U.S. Steel was joined publicly in the price hike by five other companies already in collusion with it. JFK was furious at being double-crossed. He said to his staff, in a sentence Wall Street would not forget: “My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it until now.”

President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy launched an all-out domestic war to force the heads of the six colluding companies to cancel their price increase. The Justice Department raided Big Steel’s corporate offices. Robert Kennedy subpoenaed the steel executives’ personal and company records. The Kennedys were going for broke. Most ominously for Big Steel, the president ordered the Defense Department to market its steel business overseas, so as to take huge profits out of the hands of U.S. Steel and its cohorts, at the heart of the military-industrial complex. Faced by the fact that the Kennedys meant business — their business — the steel heads surrendered quickly, rescinding their price raise.

However, they accomplished a more sinister purpose. A Fortune magazine editorial stated with an insider’s knowledge that U.S. Steel’s decision to raise prices, made by a board of directors composed of the financial elite of the country, was designed to present the president with a dilemma: either accept the price hike and lose credibility or push back and unite the business world against him, as he did. Fortune publisher Henry Luce, the most powerful media magnate in the world, was behind the editorial. Drawing on Shakespeare’s prediction by the soothsayer of Julius Caesar’s assassination, “Beware the ides of March,” the Luce editorial’s title warned Kennedy of the fate he was tempting by his stand against imperial power: “Steel: The Ides of April.”

The powers that be had to be more than a little angry to be threatening the president so boldly. An American parable was in the making. As Kennedy turned heretically toward peace after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the parable of the president and the powers would be played out until it climaxed a year later on a sunny street in Dallas. Then it would be up to us to open our ears and hear.–James Douglass, from JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable

Jim Douglass: JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable (Part 1)

The most important book for any American to read is JFK and the Unspeakable: Who Killed Him and Why it Matters by James D. Douglass.

The term “the Unspeakable”comes from Thomas Merton, who describes it as “an evil whose depth and deceit seemed to go beyond the capacity of words to describe.” Regarding the assassination of President John Kennedy, the Unspeakable succeeded because American citizens denied of the horrifying truth of the event and because of the plausible deniability by the government agencies responsible for the murder.

The Kennedy “conspiracy theories” have kept Americans from seriously reckoning with our country’s first military coup. Douglass’ investigation into the secret papers finally released during the Clinton era begin to uncover a deadly “family pattern” of behavior in the highest levels of political power. Now, Douglass has written an important article for Tikkun magazine that looks at how the pattern is being repeated again between President Obama, Gen. Petraeus, and Afghanistan.

Below is Part I:

Our great prophecies are contingencies. The way our greatest U.S. prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., put our common future in the nuclear age was: “The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”

King’s prophecy applies to all of humankind as we decide whether to exterminate ourselves. His prophetic contingency, our turning collectively toward nonviolence or nonexistence, applies especially to the citizens of the planet’s most powerful country, the United States of America, and particularly to the citizen we elect to preside over our government: the president.

John F. Kennedy was in the same dire position every U.S. president has been in since World War II. As president, Kennedy was under the control of what his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, identified in his Farewell Address as the military-industrial complex. “[Its] total influence — economic, political, even spiritual,” Eisenhower said, “is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government.”

The military-industrial complex, more powerful today than ever, imprisons the president. A U.S. president is always accompanied by a military attaché bearing a nuclear code that can incinerate the earth. That gun to the world is a gun to the president. When he accepts the power to kill everyone, the president becomes a prisoner morally and politically to the demands of our national security state. Whether his name is Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, or Barack Obama, once he accepts nuclear power over the world, his permissible movement as president is confined to a very tight space — tighter than we as citizens might imagine.

How Kennedy Rebelled Against the Pentagon and CIA

President Kennedy rebelled against the “economic, political, even spiritual” influence that President Eisenhower described. During JFK’s two years and ten months in power, while that power pressured him relentlessly, he compromised with it to survive a few months but in the end stood his ground and took the bullets. In fact both he and his enemies saw the writing on the wall as early as the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in the first spring of his short presidency.

The CIA lied to Kennedy about the political and geographic conditions that premised his approval of the agency’s Cuban exile brigade landing at the Bay of Pigs. He realized afterward he had been set up — he had to either send U.S. combat troops into Cuba to supersede the CIA’s futile exile brigade (as he said in advance he would never do) or accept a huge defeat. After the revealing CIA documents were declassified, the way National Public Radio commentator Daniel Schorr put it was: “In effect, President Kennedy was the target of a CIA covert operation that collapsed when the invasion collapsed.” JFK swallowed defeat instead of committing U.S. troops; in recognition of the CIA’s trap, he said he wanted “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”

The Bay of Pigs enabled Kennedy to see the cloaked demands of the CIA and the Pentagon as a usurpation of his power as president. He began to break free from his military and intelligence commanders. Prisoners get shot for doing that. JFK’s decision to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles and his deputies in the wake of the Bay of Pigs was his first step toward freedom, meaning also death. He was asserting a presidential control that Eisenhower never did over Allen Dulles and his brother, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The Dulles brothers were career Wall Street lawyers who dominated Eisenhower and served the military-industrial interests that he warned against. It was a warning Ike gave only when it was too late for him to shake those interests off. He left that chore to the next president.

When JFK bowled over kingpin Allen Dulles (who would return to power as the most influential member of the “Warren” Commission), the upstart president was acting as if he — not his military and intelligence commanders — were in charge. Kennedy was shocked by the CIA’s scheming against him at the Bay of Pigs, and the CIA was shocked by Kennedy’s removal of Dulles. Who did he think he was?–James Douglass, from JFK, Obama, and the Unspeakable