JFK, LBJ, and the American Empire
Because he had established himself as an opponent of the American empire, JFK was assassinated. And his assassination was, in all likelihood, the result of action that was part of what the military called “Operation Northwoods,” whereby a spectacular event would be created that made it look like Castro had attacked the United States, when in fact the attack was a “false flag” operation. The assassination of JFK was such an event and was to be linked to Castro through Oswald, who was to be framed as a Castro-motivated assassin.
LBJ knew that JFK’s assassination was the result of an Operation Northwoods action, as did J. Edgar Hoover. And both acted to short-circuit the intended invasion of Cuba that was to happen in the aftermath of the assassination. To do this, LBJ and Hoover declared, almost immediately, that Oswald was “a long gunman,” having no ties to Castro or Cuba. Both knew that such a claim was shaky and would not withstand scrutiny, so they also acted to create what became known as the Warren Commission which would undertake an “investigation” of the assassination that would point away from Castro as an assassin. Also, the controversy that such a commission finding would generate would prove useful in distracting attention from Castro and any possible invasion of Cuba. Oswald was, as he claimed before he was murdered, “a patsy,” but he may not have known that he was being made a patsy by LBJ and Hoover.
Lying behind the Kennedy assassination were those who were committed to creating an American empire, to making the United States the world’s hegemonic superpower, even if that meant risking war with the Soviet Union via Cuba. JFK’s politics threatened these plans and so had to “neutralized” before he could be re-elected in 1964. LBJ and Hoover, while committed American patriots, were not part of those who sought American hegemony, both knowing from long experience that such a hegemony would require sacrificing traditional American values, e.g., civilian supremacy, as well as creating or fortifying an oligarchy in the United States. Although both LBJ and Hoover were anti-Communists, they did not embrace an anti-Communist crusade world-wide.
Why then did LBJ to “whole hog” in Vietnam? Johnson always claimed that war was never a war he wanted to wage, so it was one he “gave” to the military, while keeping it “limited” and, therefore, a “quagmire.” Johnson is reputed to have said to the generals: “Get me elected in ’64 and then you can have your war.” And that war, because it was an Asian war, was intended to distract attention away from Castro and Cuba, which of course it did, in spades, as it were. Johnson miscalculated his ability to control the military in Vietnam and miscalculated the effects of the war on domestic politics, leading to his resignation before the 1968 presidential election. But he had achieved one purpose: To distract attention from Castro and his alleged ties to the Kennedy assassination. And Johnson even tried to deal with the USSR while the war in Vietnam went on.
Moreover, it’s conceivable that LBJ’s “Great Society” was part of his attempt to sidetrack and stop the forces in the United States seeking US hegemony in the world, via what Eisenhower had called “the military-industrial complex.” The Great Society would focus attention on domestic politics and political programs within the United States, thereby encouraging the country to turn inward, toward building within the United States a reformed, even transformed political and social order. Of course, Johnson’s plans were undermined by the controversy created by the Vietnam War, unrest that was not unwelcome by those seeking US hegemony. What better way to reinvigorate the military-industrial complex short-circuited by Johnson’s Great Society than with “a stab in the back” explanation of the US military failure in Vietnam? And the civil unrest that characterized US society generally in the 60’s and 70’s also served to undermine the Great Society, much to the pleasure of even those liberals who jumped on the anti-war bandwagon.
Both left and right attacked Johnson, attacks that allowed those seeking US hegemony in the world to regain power, leading eventually to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, when Reagan could reclaim the Vietnam War as “a noble effort,” an effort that should and would be repeated throughout the world. And these forces helped to take down Nixon because, like JFK ad LBJ, Nixon questioned whether it was desirable for America to become the world’s hegemonic superpower. And, like LBJ, Nixon’s attempts at seeking détente with the USSR and China were undermined by both liberals and conservatives.
As an interesting aside, in the presidencies of Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and Nixon, there’s evidence of presidential resistance to the creation of an American empire, to making the United States the world’s hegemonic superpower. Was it because they saw that the death and destruction required to achieve such a goal would be overwhelming, would require what is now labeled “endless wars?” Perhaps. In any case, in opposition to these presidencies, the forces seeking such a hegemony became visible and, of course, are not only visible today but predominant. Today, no president or aspiring president may question America’s “exceptionalism,” its allegedly indispensability to what is claimed to be a progressive political and economic order. Whatever death and destruction occur now is justified as progressive, as making or keeping America “great,” the first empire in human history not driven by greed and managed by savagery. The flags wave, the jets fly and bomb, the drones incinerate, all for the good of the world and the glory of “America the Beautiful.” Even the assassination of JFK fades to black as our Christian soldiers go marching, killing, and dying to, allegedly, make men holy, to make men free. “My eyes have seen the coming of the Lord….” Or maybe not.