Sunday, November 19, 2023

JFK's Cowardice

JFK’s Cowardice

Peter Schultz


            In his excellent book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War, Stephen Kinzer reports that the following took place between Allen Dulles and the newly elected Kennedy. “Allen pointedly reminded Kennedy that cancelling the operation would give him a ‘disposal’ problem. Cuban exiles at the Guatemala camp would have to be discharged. Many would return to Miami. Their story would be: ‘We were about to overthrow Castro, but Kennedy lost his nerve and wouldn’t let us try.’ This narrative would become part of Kennedy’s permanent legacy.” [297]


            Here’s an interesting thing about this: What could the assertion that “Kennedy lost his nerve” mean other than that Kennedy had been cowardly? So, not invading was cowardly, while invading would have been courageous. Invading would have been morally virtuous, while not invading was morally reprehensible. Viewed politically, then, the morally virtuous thing to do was to invade Cuba, assassinate Castro, and overthrow his Communist government, while the morally reprehensible thing to do was not to invade, not to assassinate Castro, and not to overthrow his Communist government. Politically speaking, the morally virtuous displays itself in war and assassination.


            As Aristotle asserted in his Politics, we humans are political animals. Apparently, this means that as political animals we embrace war, even carnage and terrorism, as morally virtuous. Is it any wonder then that we humans view mass incarceration or involuntary servitude as morally virtuous? Or that we view the militarization of our police forces as morally virtuous? Is it any wonder that we think that humongous military budgets are morally virtuous? As Thomas Pangle wrote in his book on Montesquieu: “Contemplation of the outcome of virtue is deeply disquieting.” [88] Or as Plato is alleged to have said: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Or as Machiavelli put it: The distance between how humans actually live and how they think and say they live is hard to measure. Or as one wag put it recently: “More than a few Americans pray for peace but vote for war.”

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