As Noam Chomsky once remarked, if the Nuremberg Principles applied today, then every US president since 1945 would have been hanged. Kennedy, he says, “was one of the worst”.
Kennedy was the first American president to authorize chemical warfare and napalm, launching Operation Ranch Hand against South Vietnam in 1962. This Operation damaged or destroyed some 4 million acres of forest and 500,000 acres of food crops with Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants and herbicides, destroying/poisoning the food supply of countless civilian families. Millions were directly sprayed with Agent Orange, inflicting subsequent generations with horrific deformities.
This Operation was modeled on Britain’s ‘strategic hamlets’ in 1950s Kenya, when the Mau Mau revolt against British colonial rule was savagely suppressed. As revealed in 2011 with the release of declassified files from Britain’s Foreign Office, British troops stabbed/shot, tortured, raped and mutilated up to 1 million Kenyan detainees. Read Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Elkins’ comprehensive account, ‘Britain’s Gulag’.
Like Britain’s Malay Emergency, Kennedy’s Ranch Hand was also a counter-insurgency operation: the Saigon regime, “a Latin American-style terror state” (Chomsky) installed by Washington in the 1950s, had killed 20,000 people. American money and guns, however, were proving insufficient in sustaining the despised regime. To keep its client regime propped up, Washington had to intervene. LBJ sent in the troops following the (fake) Gulf of Tonkin incident, but it was JFK who initiated the war’s most devastating dimension: air raids.
Then there’s Cuba. Kennedy implemented his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower’s plans to oust the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, whose courageous guerillas had toppled the murderous junta of Gen. Batista, a CIA stooge who had ruthlessly guarded Wall Street’s interests in the de facto corporate colony.
The President’s brother, Robert Kennedy, masterminded the most vicious crimes against Cuba: Operation Mongoose, a CIA terrorist/sabotage campaign, was designed (in his words) to “raise the terrors of the earth” against Havana.
He almost succeeded: Mongoose, perhaps the biggest campaign of international terrorism until that of Al Qaeda, involved attempted bombings of oil/sugar refineries. For decades, the US allowed terrorists to launch tourist shootings and hotel bombings from their base in Miami. Cue Bush II: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbour them!”.
Malcolm X got stick for greeting JFK’s assassination with the phrase “chickens have come home to roost”, with Kennedy’s actions abroad partly in mind. RFK would be next, having promised to send 50 Phantom jets to Israel (Six Day War) if elected president. “I can explain it well”, his assassin Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian Christian, explained upon arrest: “I did it for my country”.