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McChrystal/Obama and Kennedy/Lemnitzer


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Interesting article by Ray McGovern:

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2010/062210d.html

Obama is No Harry Truman

After publication of the Rolling Stone article, some pundits are predicting McChrystal will be fired — as he should have been last fall. [see, for instance, “Should Obama Fire Gen. McChrystal?”]

The general is now back in Washington to face the music. Reportedly, he has prepared a letter of resignation. But Obama might prefer a well-orchestrated minuet with the general rather than a requiem. Maybe McChrystal is even expecting a chorus of “he’s a jolly good fellow” from the “intimidated” President

That’s not how it’s always been. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur issued an unauthorized statement containing a veiled threat to expand the Korean War to China at a time when Truman was preparing to enter peace negotiations with North Korea and China, MacArthur was fired in place.

One strike and MacArthur was out — because Truman could take the heat. In contrast, Obama has shown himself to be an accommodating fellow on issue after issue. It seems far from certain he would fire the White House groundskeeper, even if caught urinating on the flowers in full view of summer tourists.

Little can account for Obama’s promotion of McChrystal to his current post, except for a strange blend of cowardice tinged with ignorance. McChrystal had been Vice President Dick Cheney’s right-hand man in running Special Forces hit-squad assassins and torturers in Iraq.

For these endeavors, McChrystal has accumulated a fearsome following of what might be called the “worst of the worst” among both the U.S. military and Blackwater-style mercenaries. Here is Hastings on McChrystal’s entourage:

“The general’s staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators, and outright maniacs. There’s a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. … they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority."

For good measure, Hastings adds a troubling vignette. Someone apparently called his attention to what Hastings calls “a piece of suspense fiction” written by McChrystal for the literary magazine at West Point while he was studying there. Hastings includes a description of the short story:

“The unnamed narrator appears to be trying to stop a plot to assassinate the President. It turns out, however, that the narrator himself is the assassin, and he’s able to infiltrate the White House: ‘The President strode in smiling. From the right coat pocket of the raincoat I carried, I slowly drew forth my 32-caliber pistol…I had succeeded.’”

To be on the safe side, though, Obama may wish to put on a bulletproof vest before he meets with McChrystal on Wednesday.

The Unspeakable

Obama might be forgiven for fearing for his own personal safety, particularly if he has read James Douglass’s book, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters.

Kennedy inherited a senior military that then-Under Secretary of State George Ball called a “sewer of deceit.” They lacked confidence in Kennedy’s steadfastness before the menace of Communism, and salivated over how to maneuver the young president into military confrontations. These included operations to provoke war with Cuba, the Soviet Union, China, North Vietnam — you name it.

The senior military and the CIA bitterly resented Kennedy’s adamant refusal to be mouse-trapped into ordering U.S. forces to rescue those Cuban counter-revolutionaries marooned on the beach of the Bay of Pigs and send in U.S. troops to get rid of Fidel Castro once and for all.

A lesser-known challenge to Kennedy came in early March 1962, when JCS Chairman Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer proposed a plan called “Operation Northwoods” to justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. Working from declassified documents for his book Body of Secrets, James Bamford gave the following concise description:

“Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere.

“People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.”

Kennedy rebuffed the JCS, creating still more bad blood that eventually would help seal his fate, in my opinion.

In his book, James Douglass lists some of the other grievances held against the young president by the super-patriot Joint Chiefs of Staff, who thought of themselves as self-appointed, authentic guardians of the United States against the Communist threat — not the Constitution they took an oath to defend, if it got in the way.

During the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, the top military were aghast at Kennedy’s unwillingness to risk war with the Soviet Union by invading Cuba. After Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev found a way to stop at the brink of nuclear catastrophe, both saw more clearly than ever a mutual interest in preventing another such occurrence.

This led to a sustained backchannel dialogue from which the Joint Chiefs were excluded, and of which they were highly distrustful.

The kiss of death — literally, I am persuaded — came when Kennedy ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from Vietnam by the end of 1963 and the bulk of the rest of them by 1965.

To the senior military that was proof positive that Kennedy was soft on Communism, which — if you can believe it — was an even more heinous offense in those days that being soft on terrorism is today.

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It may useful to compare events in this Esquire magazine story on disgraced former Congressman Eric Massa (a guy with some definite problems, but...)

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/eric-massa-esquire-052410

The Esquire story drops revelations on McChrystal's replacement, Gen. David Petraeus, and Dick Cheney. See the full text and the responses by Petraeus and a legal advisor.

Is it treason when a former VP of the opposition party confers with a commanding general behind a president's back, if the president is actually on the same covert team?

Edited by David Andrews
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