‘Blessed Are the Peacemakers: in Memory of President John F. Kennedy’By Harley Schlanger
‘Blessed Are the Peacemakers: in Memory of President John F. Kennedy’
This is a transcription of Harley Schlanger's Daily Video Update, which is posted five days per week on the LaRouche Organization website. It was posted on Nov. 22, as part of the commemoration of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated sixty years ago on that day.
At a moment of building tensions through the world, with wars ongoing and starvation and deaths from disease taking too many lives, and leaders unwilling to stand up against the private interests of the oligarchs who are operating in the shadows, I recommend we pause for a moment to remember the life of a great American—former President John F. Kennedy, who was taken from us 60 years ago today in Dallas, Texas, in an assassination still covered up by the people who were responsible for organizing both his death and the cover-up of the likely authors of his murder.
Kennedy was a man of great courage. Most famous perhaps for his willingness to stand up against the shadow government of his time, which was pushing him to go to war with the Soviet Union. Particularly during the 1961 failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, which was largely the work of Allen Dulles and the CIA; and then again in October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. John F. Kennedy famously said that he preferred negotiations to war, even as his advisors were advocating attacks on Cuba, threats to invade or attack the Soviet Union, the deployment of missiles surrounding the Soviet Union and so on.
Kennedy made the statement in his Inaugural Address, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” That was on January 20, 1961. Three days earlier, President Eisenhower gave his Farewell Address in which he made the following comments. Talking about how the private defense industry had become a permanent part of the economy after World War II, Eisenhower said, “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence, economic, political, even spiritual, is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the Federal government. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” He concluded by calling on an “alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to protect against abuses by this power.
It was against this military-industrial complex that we can see John F. Kennedy moving in the last months of his life. I want to give you some examples of that. Let’s start with his famous June 10, 1963 peace speech at American University, where he announced the moves towards a nuclear test ban treaty, and included an appeal to the Soviet Union at the end of the speech. Here’s what he said:
So, let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.
Therefore, we must act on the basis of this common link. There are examples galore of what he did in these last months, but I’m going to take the time to go through three of them. On June 4, 1963, a week before the American University speech, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110, which issued U.S. notes through the Treasury rather than Federal Reserve notes. There’s some debate as to whether he intended to go further. I think the evidence is clear that he intended to remove the power of the central bank. The private banks, by the way, control the central bank of the United States, the Federal Reserve. Kennedy was in a fight to ensure that there would be credit available for producers. It was in that context that he issued this Executive Order.
On June 11th, the day after the American University speech, he gave a national televised address on civil rights. He was announcing a package of legislation he was sending to Congress to carry through a whole direction of civil rights legislation that would change the country from the period of segregation and discrimination into a new future. Here’s what he said: “[E]very American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated.” Again, what you see is the appeal to the benefit of the other; that we each have responsibility for the common good of our fellow citizens, as well as for our fellow human beings in other countries. This was central to what Kennedy was doing in the last months of his life. His civil rights legislation was not passed until after his death.
From June until his assassination, he was working on a broad project of rapprochement, of détente with the Soviet Union through communication with Nikita Khrushchev, the head of the Soviet Union. He had authorized a back-channel discussion with Castro. He was involved in a fight with his military and intelligence community to pull troops out of Vietnam; to end the struggle to enforce colonialism against the Global South. Kennedy made several speeches on this as a Senator in 1954 on Vietnam, and in 1957 on Algeria. Kennedy came from that Franklin Roosevelt tradition that said that the United States has a tradition of anti-colonial revolution and must not stand on the side of the colonial oppressors against the sovereign interest of states in the Global South. In that sense, Kennedy was pursuing the kinds of policies that we see coming together today in the emergence of the BRICS and other kinds of alliances.
Each of these statements that I just read challenged the power of the military-industrial complex. This is absolutely clear if you do a deeper dive into this, and I would recommend that people read the book by James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, where he goes through in detail the opposition to him from the CIA, from the FBI, from the intelligence community, from the networks of the Dulles brothers. The irony of course is that after his assassination, who was the person coordinating the Warren Commission investigation into his death? It was Allen Dulles; no wonder there was a cover-up.
What was the fear in London and New York? It was that with a second term, and the possibility of a Robert F. Kennedy Presidency succeeding him, their power would be reduced if not eliminated. There are reports that after the Bay of Pigs crisis, he said he wished to “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.” Given what we know today, the danger that these forces represent—back and then and still today—let us invoke the spirit of John F. Kennedy to finish the job that he was prevented from completing. That’s the mission of the Schiller Institute. That was the mission that Kennedy’s fellow World War II veteran, Lyndon LaRouche, took forward in his life. The idea that the United States must continue to represent the tradition of an anti-colonial revolutionary power with a Constitution that rests power in the hands of the people, not in the hands of private special interests such as the corporate cartels that control the banking system, the healthcare system, the food delivery system, and so on.
Kennedy made one other speech that I want to bring to your attention, which again is relevant for today and is a powerful indication of his thinking. This was a speech to American newspaper publishers on April 27, 1961 against secrecy. Here’s what he said:
The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings…. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.
Think about that after 9/11 and the revelations of Edward Snowden (of what we know of the Censorship-Industrial Complex). He went on to say:
I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers—I welcome it….
Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed—and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy.
Those words say so much to those of us today who are trying to organize to put an end to the power of this military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about, and that took the life of John F. Kennedy. It’s in that sense that I would invoke his spirit for those of you to engage in discussion around the Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and to bring to life this American tradition which is in danger of being snuffed out by those who wish to have their power to run a unipolar order unchallenged. As Kennedy said, to paraphrase him, we must not only challenge it, but we must welcome the challenge to bring our country back to its traditions.