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IB Essay: JFK's Foreign Policy & the Assassination


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I am an IB student, in yr 12 and for my examination I am to write an essay of 4000 words on a topic of my choice - I have chosen JFK's assassination.  The essay has to make use of sources for historical analysis and interpretation (preferably reasonably recently released historical documents or perhaps interviewing an eyewitness or expert?) and the topic should focus on a fairly narrow area of the assassination so that I can focus, and keep to the word limit.  My problem is, I dont know what aspect of JFK's assassination I should focus on, so I was hoping that someone could give me some ideas??  I would greatly appreciate any help anyone could give me.

I'd firstly like to thank you all for the help you have given me so far.  Although I have not firmly decided on a topic, I am considering the question: “What evidence is there that JFK secretly changed his foreign policy after the Cuban Missile Crisis?”

I would greatly appreciate it if any of you had any information that you think would be relevant, if you could possibly suggest books, or links or other, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I'd also be interested if any of you had any information about how this linked to his death.

Simone, I am sure our members will help you with this essay. I personally believe that there is a strong link between JFK change of foreign policy following the Cuban Missile Crisis.

President Kennedy's first reaction to the information about the missiles in Cuba was to call a meeting to discuss what should be done. Robert S McNamara, Secretary of State for Defence, suggested the formation of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council. Fourteen men attended the meeting and included military leaders, experts on Latin America, representatives of the CIA, cabinet ministers and personal friends whose advice Kennedy valued. Over the next few days they were to meet several times. During their discussions they considered several different strategies for dealing with the crisis. They included the following:

(1) Do nothing. The United States should ignore the missiles in Cuba. The United States had military bases in 127 different countries including Cuba. The United States also had nuclear missiles in several countries close to the Soviet Union. It was therefore only right that the Soviet Union should be allowed to place missiles in Cuba.

(2) Negotiate. The United States should offer the Soviet Union a deal. In return for the Soviet Union dismantling her missiles in Cuba, the United States would withdraw her nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy.

(3) Invasion. Send United States troops to Cuba to overthrow Castro's government. The missiles could then be put out of action and the Soviet Union could no longer use Cuba as a military base.

(4) Blockade of Cuba. Use the United States Navy to stop military equipment reaching Cuba from the Soviet Union.

(5) Bomb Missile Bases. Carry out conventional air-strikes against missiles and other military targets in Cuba.

(6) Nuclear Weapons. Use nuclear weapons against Cuba and/or the Soviet Union.

When discussing these strategies. President Kennedy and his advisers had to take into consideration how the Soviet Union and Cuba would react to decisions made by the United States.

At the first meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, the CIA and other military advisers explained the situation. After hearing what they had to say, the general feeling of the meeting was for an air-attack on the missile sites. Remembering the poor advice the CIA had provided before the Bay of Pigs invasion, Kennedy decided to wait and instead called for another meeting to take place that evening. By this time several of the men were having doubts about the wisdom of a bombing raid, fearing that it would lead to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The committee was now so divided that a firm decision could not be made.

The Executive Committee of the National Security Council argued amongst themselves for the next two days. The CIA and the military were still in favour of a bombing raid and/or an invasion. However, the majority of the committee gradually began to favour a naval blockade of Cuba.

As well as imposing a naval blockade, Kennedy also told the air-force to prepare for attacks on Cuba and the Soviet Union. The army positioned 125,000 men in Florida and was told to wait for orders to invade Cuba. If the Soviet ships carrying weapons for Cuba did not turn back or refused to be searched, a war was likely to begin. Kennedy also promised his military advisers that if one of the U-2 spy planes were fired upon he would give orders for an attack on the Cuban SAM missile sites.

The world waited anxiously. A public opinion poll in the United States revealed that three out of five people expected fighting to break out between the two sides. There were angry demonstrations outside the American Embassy in London as people protested about the possibility of nuclear war. Demonstrations also took place in other cities in Europe. However, in the United States, polls suggested that the vast majority supported Kennedy's action.

On October 24, President Kennedy was informed that Soviet ships had stopped just before they reached the United States ships blockading Cuba. That evening Nikita Khrushchev sent an angry note to Kennedy accusing him of creating a crisis to help the Democratic Party win the forthcoming election.

On October 26, Khrushchev sent Kennedy another letter. In this he proposed that the Soviet Union would be willing to remove the missiles in Cuba in exchange for a promise by the United States that they would not invade Cuba. The next day a second letter from Khrushchev arrived demanding that the United States remove their nuclear bases in Turkey.

While the president and his advisers were analyzing Khrushchev's two letters, news came through that a U-2 plane had been shot down over Cuba. The leaders of the military, reminding Kennedy of the promise he had made, argued that he should now give orders for the bombing of Cuba. Kennedy refused and instead sent a letter to Khrushchev accepting his terms.

Khrushchev now gave orders for the missiles to be dismantled. Eight days later the elections for Congress took place. The Democrats increased their majority and it was estimated that Kennedy would now have an extra twelve supporters in Congress for his policies.

The public were not told about the full terms of the deal. For example, they did not know that JFK had agreed to remove all its nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy. Therefore, JFK was seen as the victor of the Cuban Missile Crisis. After the failed Bay of Pigs operation, JFK had been accused of being soft on communism. After the Cuban Missile Crisis JFK was seen as a successful Cold War warrior. Polls suggested that he would easily win the 1964 presidential election.

However, JFK had been shaken by the crisis. If he had accepted the views of some of his advisors, he would have started a nuclear war. This would probably have resulted in the world being destroyed. This reinforced his suspicions of the CIA who had been urging a bombing attack on Cuba. These were the same people who had tried to persuade him to invade Cuba in 1961.

It seems that the events of 1962 made JFK determined to bring an end to the Cold War.

(1) The two sides established a direct communications link that became known as the Hot Line. It was hoped that this would help prevent dangerous confrontations such as the Cuban Missile Crisis arising again.

(2) A Test Ban Treaty was signed between the two countries in August 1963. The treaty prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere.

(3) The 1,113 prisoners captured during the Bay of Pigs invasion were exchanged by Castro for $60 million in food, drugs, medicine and cash.

It did not end with these agreements. JFK also ordered the CIA to bring an end to Operation Mongoose. This was a covert operation to overthrow Fidel Castro. JFK also told some of his closest friends that he intended to withdraw from Vietnam. However, to maintain his image of a Cold War warrior, he would not do this until after he won the 1964 presidential election.

JFK also began secret negotiations with the Cuban government. This included keeping it secret from the CIA who he believed was following its own foreign policy that was very different from his own. This was true as it had ignored his instructions to call off Operation Mongoose and was still involved in attempts to assassinate Castro.

JFK arranged these negotiations through his close friend, William Attwood, who was based in the United Nations. Attwood recruited Lisa Howard and Jean Daniel to make contact with Castro. Daniel was with Castro when JFK was assassinated. I believe that there is a close connection between these negotiations and the assassination of JFK. I will explain this later.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKattwood.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKhowardL2.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKdanielJ.htm

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Simone,

I'd firstly like to thank you all for the help you have given me so far.  Although I have not firmly decided on a topic, I am considering the question: “What evidence is there that JFK secretly changed his foreign policy after the Cuban Missile Crisis?”

You might find it helpful to read the letters that John F. Kennedy exchanged with Nikita Kruschev.

You can read them here:

http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/histo.../exchanges.html

Steve Thomas

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.

Edited by John Dolva
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Hi Ms Scully

John Simkin kindly directed me to this thread in case I might have any thoughts that could be helpful to you in developing your project.

Frankly it seems to me that the topic you are thinking of pursuing, the possibility of a possible secret change of foreign policy by JFK after the Cuban Missile Crisis is a bit intangible and hard to know. Thus it would seem to me it does not make for a ready topic to tackle.

On the other hand, you may view your major proposed field of interest to be foreign policy and thus might be able to handle this topic ably, I don't know.

I mentioned in a recent post that what I, as a relative newcomer to JFK assassination studies, have been getting out of the Education Boards is an introduction to the field. I did tune into a statement by one researcher that seemed wrong about the photos taken in the book depository that the writer thought showed they were not taken in daylight. I actually looking at the photos think the situation is the opposite to what the writer thought, that the photos were taken in daylight although there is a question about them that I would like to discuss.

Ms Scully, you might focus on a similar topic within the field to determine if it is indeed true that evidence was tampered with. It would seem to me such a topic would be easier to handle and offer more ready information than a more intangible question. Just my thoughts on the matter. Meanwhile, I do wish you success with your project.

Best regards

Chris

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David posted:

And here is some info on Lisa Howard:

Let us not forget that in 1964 Ms Howard was willing to sacrifice her high profile job to form Democrats for Keating to oppose RFK's candidacy for the U.S. Senate because she had concluded that the Kennedys' talks of peace with Cuba were insincere since they continued to authorize sabotage against Cuba as well as plans for a second invasion led by Manuel Artime.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Let us not forget that in 1968 Ms Howard was willing to sacrifice her high profile job to form Democrats for Keating to oppose RFK's candidacy for the U.S. Senate because she had concluded that the Kennedys' talks of peace with Cuba were insincere since they continued to authorize sabotage against Cuba as well as plans for a second invasion led by Manuel Artime.

Lisa Howard died at East Hampton, Long Island, on 4th July, 1965. It was officially reported that she had committed suicide.

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Another point worth making in connection with Howard.

Supposedly she was depressed because she lost her job due to her anti-Kennedy political activity.

Is there any reason to consider her death suspicious? If so, and if we assume she was murdered, is it possible to draw any inferences from it or is it just another unsolved mystery?

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Simone,

this site may help:

http://www.jfklink.com/

As to your question re secret negotiations following the CMC and how it may be linked to the asssassination... I suggest you read the WC testimony of Lawrence Meyers -- a friend of Jack Ruby. His son was an army intelligence operative in Turkey when the missiles were withdrawn, and his daughter was a nuclear chemist for Argonne. This, together with his appearence in Dallas and his meeting with Ruby on the eve of the assassination may somehow tie in.

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Is there any reason to consider her death suspicious?  If so, and if we assume she was murdered, is it possible to draw any inferences from it or is it just another unsolved mystery?

Lisa Howard continued to try and obtain a negotiated agreement between Fidel Castro and the American government (without the approval of Lyndon B. Johnson). As a result she was fired by ABC because she had "chosen to participate publicly in partisan political activity contrary to long established ABC news policy."

Lisa Howard died at East Hampton, Long Island, on 4th July, 1965. Her death was very similar to Dorothy Kilgallen (died on 8th November, 1965). Apparently, she had taken one hundred phenobarbitols. It was claimed she was depressed as a result of losing her job and suffering a miscarriage.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKkilgallen.htm

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Simone, I think you have picked an excellant topic. There is a wealth of material on this in documents released through the JFK records act as well as in U.S. State Department documents. Unfortunately it seems to have received very little recognition within the realm of professional history..... it's a bit sad when the best article and most document references you find are in Cigar Afficianado (sp) Magazine (no kidding, really).

However in your research, I would also suggest that you look no only at the dialogs between Castro and Kennedy (dialogs initiated by Castro at the time of the BOP prisoner release) but at the issues relating to the settlement of the missile crisis. Much has been written about this settlement and Kennedy's non-invasion pledge. Much has not been written about the fact that a key element (on site inspection by the U.N.) of the settlement was totally rejected by Castro, in a move that put Castro at odds with the U.N., the Soviets and the U.S. It would be interesting to evaluate that action as a counter/caution to Castro's approach to Kennedy. All of which is going to focus you on a lot of internal Kennedy administration and State Department documents I suspect.

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Unfortunately it seems to have received very little recognition within the realm of professional history..... it's a bit sad when the best article and most document references you find are in Cigar Afficianado (sp) Magazine (no kidding, really).

See the Cigar Aficionado website:

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/Home/

One article of interest is this one:

http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Pr...2540,17,00.html

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Try to find the whole document of this hearing (this is only Cabell's testimony but has citation). There are other specific docs (Church Committee, etc) on web. History Matters site is excellent for abstracts of some hearings but depository libraries will have more. The College Park, MD archives is worth the trip.

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/us-cuba/cabell.htm

Read Turner/Hinckles Fish is Red, later Deadly Secrets and the books on Central American/US foreign policy of the time. Study things like the incident of the ship Maine (pretext for war) and Platt Ammendment. Study the support or non-support of regimes as part of US foreign policy, to get an overview. I've found this to be a good start, Simone, for questions asked later in relation to events in 1963 as some have illustrated here.

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I hate to be a wet blanket here, but I'm not completely sure that this is a good choice for an IB essay. I fear it's just too controversial. The IB will require a very balanced approach to the available material, taking into account historiographical issues. As some people have mentioned, a lot of this is based on "secret" material whose validity is not universally accepted. If you got a strict examiner, he could take issue with you acceptance of such material...

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