I’m just back from several days in Dallas and as promised will offer some observations, however my first thoughts are rather personal and also rather unanticipated. It being Thanksgiving week here in the United States, they do seem appropriate to me, although they will be a great contrast to what you normally see me post.
These thoughts are based in several recent observations from significant figures, including Robert Kennedy Jr., Kathleen McCarthy (a cousin of JFK) and Secretary of State Kerry. Basically it appears that as of the anniversary (although both RFK Jr. and Kathleen McCarthy have commented on this earlier), it is now becoming more widely accepted that there were were some major issues with the Warren Commission inquiry and its report and that despite of Kennedy family comments of the time, even the family itself was of the view that there had likely been more to the assassination than was portrayed in the Warren Report. Even the most conservative remarks of the last week or so, from John Kerry, have offered the view that the assassination remains an open subject and deserves further attention. OK, that’s all good, what is not all good is that a number of other quotable media sources have acknowledged the same thing but essentially concluded that “we can never know” so we might as well drop it and go forward – a view reflected in the official ceremonial speeches in Dallas last Friday.
I’ll grant that may be an honest position, one that produces honest remarks. But it reminds me of a college class where a professor listened to me give an “acceptable” answer to his question and then remarked that it was indeed correct on one level but displayed very little thought on my part, was simply too simple for the question at hand and that he thought I could do much better if I really put some work into it rather than give him an answer that the question really demanded. After getting into a snit and trying to drop the class – which he would not sign off on – he proved to be without doubt my most significant mentor during over five years of university study and I came to understand his response that a superficially satisfactory answer is not necessarily an acceptable one.
I find the “well we can’t know now, lets accept that and look to the future rather than the past argument” unacceptable for a great many reasons, some objective and fact based and others much more subjective and personal. The objective and factual response are very much in play and with the 50th anniversary of the WC Report coming up next year are going to continue to receive my attention. The personal reason is much more immediate to me at the moment so I’m going to get it off my chest now…those of you who don’t like subjective thoughts or emotional positions should probably bail out about this point.
In Dallas, I was asked to give brief remarks at the conference banquet. Amazingly to some I was brief. The gist of the remarks was simply that as a matter of historical certainty, we now know that if President Kennedy had not exercised the leadership that he did during the Cuban missile confrontation, if he had chosen the tempting knee-jerk reaction of air strikes on missile sites, full scale engagement with Soviet submarines or troop landings in Cuba, it almost certainly would have triggered full scale combat, in Cuba including Soviet use of tactical atomic weapons and very probably launch of missiles from unidentified sites (the Generals thought they had all of them located, JFK was skeptical, JFK was correct – the Generals were not even aware of the half dozen short range tactical nukes that had been covertly moved directly to attack the American base at Guantanamo). In what would have followed I most likely would not be alive at this point nor would most of my generation. And very likely civilization as we know it today would be largely defunct – the American targeting plan for any nuclear engagement involved a full scale reaction against Russia, its allies and China.
When I read a number of the snide remarks which appeared last week stating that it was not really necessary to worry too much about the Kennedy anniversary because of his personal foibles and the fact that his Administration really was not Camelot, I wonder…have those people forgotten that in a single terrible week, against virtually all the pressure on him, President Kennedy almost certainly saved their lives? Have they never heard the concept of “debt of honor” – perhaps not, such things are terribly old fashioned today, very much out of style and certainly I heard little of that expressed even in the official anniversary remarks in Dallas. Perhaps it was too personal, perhaps it would be uncomfortable to acknowledge much less put into words. Well I admit I’m pretty old fashioned – not to mention pretty old – but I do remember it and I do feel it and in that regard alone I find the “we can’t ever know so lets get on with it” view totally unacceptable.
Now none of this is relevant or even of any concern to those who are fully satisfied with the official Warren Report view of the world, that’s fine, its not their issue. And it may simply make me look terribly emotional and rather ancient. But for some reason, at this particular moment, that really does not trouble me. On the other hand, unpaid debts always have.