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Archive for noviembre 2013

 
El pais  29 de noviembre de 2013
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Raquel Marín

Recientemente, el secretario de Estado de Estados Unidos, John Kerry, proclamó lo que en los hechos ya resultaba evidente a mediados de la década pasada: el ocaso de la doctrina Monroe.Un conjunto de factores estructurales de diversa índole, de tendencias globales y regionales y de transformaciones de envergadura en muchos países del continente —incluido, por supuesto, EE UU— fueron confirmando los límites y los costes de la diplomacia coercitiva, de la capacidad de Washington de intervenir unilateralmente en los asuntos internos de América Latina y de lograr, sin consultar a nadie, la satisfacción de sus principales objetivos en el área.

Quizás de modo un tanto ingenuo, algunos observadores en la región detectaron en las palabras de Kerry una nueva vocación de aislacionismo de Estados Unidos respecto a Latinoamérica. Con escasa base empírica, hubo otros que percibieron que el gesto de Kerry era la constatación de que Estados Unidos ya se había “ido” de América Latina. La consecuencia natural de esas dos lecturas fue enseguida una sola: bye bye Monroe, adiós Estados Unidos.

Probablemente resulte más preciso reconocer que el fin de la doctrina Monroe no implica el “retiro” o el “olvido” de Estados Unidos con relación a América Latina. Es posible que resulte útil comenzar a hablar de la doctrina Troilo como una suerte de sustituto simbólico a propósito de las relaciones interamericanas. Aníbal Troilo no fue un político latinoamericano, sino uno de los más grandes bandoneonistas argentinos. Nocturno a mi barrio fue una composición suya especial: no solo la escribió en 1968, sino que fue la única que interpretó en 1972. Su letra viene al caso. En aquel soberbio tango, Troilo decía: “Alguien dijo una vez que yo me fui de mi barrio. ¿Cuándo? ¿Pero cuándo? Si siempre estoy llegando”. La letra tanguera se puede usar para discernir cómo, a pesar de las apariencias y de algunos diagnósticos altisonantes que han ido surgiendo en la propia América Latina, los datos concretos más recientes muestran que Estados Unidos nunca se “fue” de la región: hello Troilo.

Según un estudio, en 2012 la inversión fue cinco veces mayor que en los cinco años anteriores

Por ejemplo, es cierto que el Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas (ALCA) se desvaneció en 2005 en la Cumbre de las Américas de Mar del Plata. Pero Estados Unidos ya suscribió y ratificó el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte con México y Canadá, el Tratado de Libre Comercio con Centroamérica y República Dominicana y los tratados de comercio bilaterales con Chile, Colombia, Perú y Panamá. Mientras Mercosur no ha definido una mirada medianamente consistente hacia el Atlántico ni tiene una perspectiva consensuada con relación al otro océano que baña las costas de América Latina, la Alianza del Pacífico (Chile, Colombia, Perú y México) se suma, por interés propio, a la denominada pivot strategy mediante la cual Estados Unidos busca afirmar su proyección de poder en Asia, acompañada por aliados regionales, y rodear a Beijing para limitar la influencia china en la cuenca del Pacífico. Paralelamente, Estados Unidos continúa siendo, a pesar del avance de China en América Latina, el principal inversor en México y la cuenca del Caribe según el último informe de la Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL) en la materia. Además de acuerdo a la misma fuente, y a pesar de la persistente crisis económica interna, “en 2012 las empresas transnacionales de Estados Unidos fueron responsables del 24%” de la inversión extranjera directa en América Latina; “un porcentaje mayor que el de los cinco años anteriores”.

En cuanto a políticas contra el narcotráfico, y al margen de que se cuestione en la región la llamada “guerra contra las drogas”, Washington ha llevado a cabo el Plan Colombia, la Iniciativa Andina, el Plan Mérida, la Iniciativa de Seguridad de la Cuenca del Caribe y la Iniciativa de Seguridad Regional para Centroamérica. La creación en 2009 del Consejo Sudamericano de Defensa fue trascendental, pero se produjo después de que Estados Unidos volviera a restablecer en 2008 la IV Flota que había sido disuelta en 1950 y que ahora tiene como misión principal combatir el crimen organizado transnacional. Es cierto que en diciembre de 2000 se cerró la infausta Escuela de las Américas, donde se adiestraron tantos dictadores de la región, pero el total de latinoamericanos entrenados en Estados Unidos entre 1999 y 2011 fue, según el sitio web Just the Facts (www.justf.org) de 195.807 —superior a algunas de las décadas de mayor contacto intramilitar en el continente—. A ello hay que sumar la consolidación de bases en Centroamérica y el Caribe y la ampliación de facilidades militares, como el despliegue de radares y el aumento de operaciones contra las drogas, en esa zona próxima que Washington considera su “tercera frontera”.

Por más diversificación de la asistencia que han buscado los Estados latinoamericanos, la ayuda total a la región de Estados Unidos sigue destacándose sobre el resto de países: 17.317 millones de dólares para el periodo 2009-2014. La asistencia militar y policial de Estados Unidos a América Latina, 6.821 millones de dólares entre 2009-2014, supera la cantidad brindada por cualquier otra nación extrarregional. Si bien la región apuntó a tener fuentes distintas en cuanto a la provisión de armamentos, el total de ventas de armas de EE UU a Latinoamérica fue de 11.191 millones de dólares entre 2006 y 2011. Aunque Estados Unidos se replegó de Ecuador al finiquitarse su uso de la base de Manta y no logró que fuese constitucional el acuerdo con Colombia para usar siete bases militares de ese país, Washington logró sellar dos compromisos con Brasilia —el acuerdo de cooperación en defensa de abril de 2010 y el acuerdo de seguridad en información militar de noviembre de ese mismo año— e iniciar la readecuación de un acuerdo de cooperación en defensa con Perú de 1952. Corresponde aclarar asimismo que según el Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, EE UU es el segundo proveedor de armamentos de Brasil después de Francia y antes de Alemania y Suecia.

En todo momento del año hay hasta 4.000 efectivos militares desplegados a lo largo y ancho de la región

En buena parte de la opinión pública y política persiste la idea de que la cuestión de los drones (vehículos aéreos no tripulados) y de las fuerzas de operaciones especiales se manifiesta fuera de la región; en especial, en Asia Central, Próximo Oriente y el norte de África. Sin embargo, los drones operan en los límites entre Estados Unidos y México y ya hay ensayos con dichos vehículos para interceptar cargamentos de drogas en el Caribe, al mismo tiempo que, según una nota del The Washington Post de julio de este año, los militares estadounidenses han empleado drones, los llamados ScanEagles, en Colombia. Por su parte, las Special Operations Command South, en el marco del Comando Sur con sede en Miami, vienen desarrollando ejercicios con varias fuerzas armadas de la región y el Air Force Special Operations Command ha estado activo en América Central desde 2009. Cabe destacar que en el último año ha surgido un interés de las firmas constructoras de drones en Estados Unidos para desplazar a Israel como principal proveedor de los mismos, mientras que el almirante William McRaven, al frente del Special Operations Command, indicó en 2012 la voluntad del Pentágono de expandir el rol de las fuerzas de operaciones especiales en América Latina, a pesar de no ser esta un área desde donde se ponga en jaque la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos. Las afirmaciones de McRaven coinciden con lo expresado a principios de este año por el general Sean Mulholland del US Special Command South. Hay que añadir que, según una nota de comienzo de 2013 de Associated Press, en todo momento del año hay hasta 4.000 efectivos militares de Estados Unidos desplegados a lo largo y ancho de América Latina.

En síntesis, Estados Unidos no ha sido pasivo ni irrelevante en materia de relaciones interamericanas, ya sea en lo económico, en lo político, en lo asistencial y en lo militar. Nunca se “fue” de la región: está ahí. La doctrina Monroe perdió vigencia, pero eso no significa que Estados Unidos se haya retirado de América Latina. En realidad, Washington siempre está “llegando” a la región: bye bye Monroe, hello Troilo.

El gran desafío para la región es saber cómo manejar esas relaciones y cómo avanzar en la autonomía internacional de América Latina, salvaguardando los intereses nacionales de cada país. La región se equivoca si confunde el reconocimiento de parte de Estados Unidos de nuevas realidades mundiales y continentales con inactividad por parte de Washington respecto a la región. El error podría ser mayúsculo si no se entiende que es imperativo para Latinoamérica desagregar temas y discernir coyunturas en sus relaciones con Estados Unidos: al final del día ese país es, simultáneamente, proveedor de orden y desorden en el continente.

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian es director del Departamento de Ciencia Política y Estudios Internacionales de UTDT.

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David Brooks
La Jornada   ❘  25 de noviembre de 2013

imagesLa soledad en Nueva York es tal vez más intensa que en cualquier otro lugar. En medio de un mar de olas incesantes de gente y vehículos, la ciudad que nunca duerme puede ser el peor lugar para el insomnio, el cual, combinado con la soledad, es síntoma de una ruptura de la siempre frágil solidaridad en tiempos como estos.

Pero a veces, tal vez dependiendo del día, o de la luz de la luna en combate con la iluminación de los rascacielos, si uno mantiene silencio, si uno se fija bien, de repente aparecen multitud de ángeles de la guarda que están en cada esquina y que vienen de los todos los tiempos de esta metrópolis.

Caminando por la zona de la oficina de La Jornada, por el Greenwich Village, el East Village, Soho, y más, uno se topa con ellos en cada cuadra.

Pasando por Greenwich Avenue, ahí va corriendo John Reed a una reunión con los editores de The Masses (donde publica los reportajes de sus aventuras con Pancho Villa que se convertirían en México Insurgente); en el metro hacia Coney Island ahí está Woody Guthrie con su guitarra que dice esta máquina mata fascistas.

En Washington Square se puede escuchar otra guitarra tocada por Jimi Hendrix, y del otro lado la de Bob Dylan. ¡Ah! en su departamento por Washington Square está Eleanor Roosevelt (y su amante lesbiana) sirviendo té a un grupo de mujeres que le plantean un tipo de brigada de acción rápida para organizar a trabajadores en las tiendas departamentamentales.

Por el East Village están unos poetas locos, entre ellos Allen Ginsberg. A unas cuadras está el Nuyorican Poets Café, cuna de la poesía hablada (spoken word) para que un par de décadas más tarde nutra hasta hoy día lo mejor del hip hop, nacido en el punto más pobre de este país, el South Bronx.

images

En la esquina de Washington Place y Greene está un edificio y, si uno pone atención, hay una placa que conmemora un acto que transformó al país. De los pisos 8, 9 y 10, unas 146 trabajadoras inmigrantes, en su mayoría judías, se tiraron a la muerte para escapar de las llamas que consumían el Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (los dueños habían cerrado con llave las salidas de emergencia), lo que era la maquiladora más grande de confección en 1911. De esa tragedia surgió un movimiento para cambiar las condiciones infrahumanas de las maquiladoras, en un nuevo esfuerzo por sindicalizar el sector.

En la calle McDougal había un restaurante, Polly’s, donde en los 1910 se congregaban anarquistas (la dueña era una de ellos), poetas, escritores y más. Arriba estaba el Club Liberal, donde mujeres hacían cosas prohibidas, como fumar, hablar de cómo conquistar el derecho al voto y platicar del amor libre. A poca distancia sobre la misma calle estaba el Provincetown Playhouse, donde se estrenó la primera obra de Eugene O’Neill, pero donde también participaban John Reed, Edna St. Vincent Millay y Max Eastman (editor de The Masses).

Por estas calles se escuchan aún las voces de dirigentes del gran movimiento anarcosindicalista IWW, como Elizabeth Gurley Flynn y Big Bill Haywood.

En la Calle 13 vivía Emma Goldman entre 1903 y 1913, una de las rebeldes más extraordinarias y valientes, arrestada por atreverse hablar de control de natalidad, de oposición a la Primera Guerra Mundial, y finalmente deportada a la Unión Soviética por ser una anarquista demasiado peligrosa para Estados Unidos.

Una cárcel para mujeres ocupaba un espacio en la esquina de Greenwich Avenue y la Sexta Avenida, famosa durante décadas debido a sus internas: desde la esposa del puertorriqueño nacionalista Torresola, después de que su marido murió en un intento de asesinato del presidente Truman, hasta Ethel Rosenberg, arrestada un par de veces, quien cantaba maravillosamente para animar a las prisioneras; Dorothy Day, la líder del movimiento católico radical Catholic Worker, así como manifestantes contra la guerra en Vietnam en los 60, y Angela Davis en 1970.

En Sheridan Square estaba el famoso Café Society, que en los 1920 era el lugar para encontrarse con todos los rebeldes, desde anarquistas, comunistas y socialistas, hasta poetas, artistas visuales y más, todo al ritmo de jazz.

Union Square, donde culminaban las grandes marchas radicales del Primero de Mayo, fue sede de la primera marcha laboral oficial del país en 1882. Fue ahí donde se concentró una multitud para denunciar la ejecución de Sacco y Vanzetti –donde habló el gran Carlo Tresca–, a pesar de las ametralladoras colocadas en las azoteas de los edificios alrededor de la plaza por las autoridades en 1927. Union Square ha sido punto de encuentro de nuevos movimientos y expresiones del siglo XXI, como el de los inmigrantes que resucitaron el Primero de Mayo en este país, o los de Ocupa Wall Street, entre otros.

En el East Village, donde se expresó el punk en Nueva York con su eje en el antro CBGB, con voces como la de Patti Smith a los Talking Heads y más, hay una historia mucho más profunda. Una de las iglesias, St. Marks in the Bowery, donde continúan obras de teatro de vanguardia y otros actos, también era sede de reuniones de las Panteras Negras y los Young Lords en los 60. Ahí también bailó Isadora Duncan.

Iglesia de St. Marks

Iglesia de St. Marks

En la calle de St Marks había un periódico ruso disidente donde trabajó un tiempo León Trotsky, en 1917. Unas cuadras más al este, y medio siglo después, Abbie Hoffman vivió al lado de Thompkins Square Park, y fue ahí donde se bautizó el nuevo movimiento que encabezó: los Yippies.

Éstos son sólo algunos de los ángeles de la guarda que se aparecen por esta parte de la ciudad; miles más esperan en casi todos los demás barrios de esta metrópolis. Lo que comparten no son sus posturas ideológicas, sino su repudio a lo convencional y al veneno del así es que suele infectar hasta los proyectos y movimientos que se dicen progresistas. Por ello, jamás se subordinaban a lo mediocre ni a las órdenes de los que ejercen de manera arbitraria el poder. Y sobre todo se unen para ofrecer y luchar por lo mejor para todos, porque todos merecen lo mejor.

Así, al caminar en estas calles angeladas, uno ya no se siente tan solo.

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H-Diplo-LOGO
The Assassination of Kennedy Fifty Years Later: The Cuban Question Mark 1
An Essay by Charles Cogan, Affiliate, Harvard Kennedy School

November 22, 2013

The assassination of John F. Kennedy was intimately linked, if only in a subliminal fashion, to American actions against Cuba at the beginning of the 1960’s, which in turn formed part of an aggressive and interventionist policy that marked the early phase of
the Cold War.

The assassination itself was carried out by a sole killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, out of his admiration for Fidel Castro and his animosity toward the American Government and its President.

The question that remains open after fifty years gone by is whether Castro, who was perfectly aware of the Kennedy brothers’ plots against him – thanks to a Cuban double agent who had proposed to the CIA that he assassinate Castro – had ordered his intelligence services to collaborate with Oswald in his action. Until now, nothing solid has emerged to support this thesis.

In December 2006, The Atlantic, the prestigious magazine founded in Boston in 1857, published a list of the 100 most influential Americans in the history of the country. The list included, besides presidents, also writers and others, including…baseball players. But the list did not contain the name of John F. Kennedy. This was certainly not due to inadvertence. It was a slap, the motive behind which was unclear…unless it was a relic of the religious wars – Kennedy having been the first Catholic president of the United States.

I was astounded when I heard about the article in The Atlantic. Because, in spite of the meager legislative accomplishments of John Kennedy’s Administration and the brevity of his tenure – the ‘thousand days’ – cut short by the horrible attack at Dallas on November 22, 1963, it was he, and virtually he alone, who extricated the United States from one of the worst dangers in history –the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

At the end of the afternoon of October 27, 1962, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara paused on the steps of the Pentagon to look at the sunset, thinking at that moment that he might never see a sunset again2 – because on that day the Missile Cisis had reached its paroxysm: earlier in the day a U-2 observation aircraft had been shot down and its pilot killed. The attack had been carried out by Russian troops on orders of Fidel Castro.

I cite this anecdote of Robert McNamara to show that the margin between a political solution to the crisis and a nuclear holocaust was extremely thin throughout the thirteen days of the crisis – during which time the President warded off the insistent appeals by most of his senior military officers for an immediate attack on Cuba. In particular, Curtis LeMay, the head of the Air Force and the most hawkish of these officers, was disrespectful toward the ‘young’ President in person and railed against him during the latter’s occasional absences from the Situation Room.

The famous thirteen days comprised the period between the discovery of the missiles by the American U-2 airplane on October 15, 1962 and the move toward a political solution when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced on October 27 that he was removing the missiles from the island since Kennedy had agreed not to invade Cuba. During these thirteen days, the Soviet missiles had not become operational, giving President Kennedy a window of sufficient time to ponder a prudential solution to the crisis while avoiding the risk of a nuclear war with the USSR.

Another, and not negligible accomplishment of the Kennedy brothers at the dénouement of the crisis was their success in convincing the Soviets not to mention publicly that the solution that was found was more of a give and take than a humiliating retreat by the USSR: it was the withdrawal of the Jupiter missiles in Turkey against the departure of the Soviet missiles from Cuba. Attorney General Robert Kennedy succeeded in convincing the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, Anatoli Dobrynin, that, because of the U.S. legislative elections that were coming up in the following month, the Turkish side of the agreement had to remain secret – otherwise President Kennedy would look weak before American voters. The Soviets stuck to their word, respecting the agreement made by the two interlocutors. But because of this fact, and from the point of view of public relations, the Soviet Union came off as the loser in the missile crisis.

The danger had been so great during the missile crisis that President Kennedy made an effort to ensure that such a situation should never arise again. A hot line was established between the White House and the Kremlin. In addition, the first agreement on nuclear disarmament – the Limited Test Ban Treaty – was signed in the summer of 1963.

A year after the missile crisis, on Friday, 22 November 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated at Dallas. The back story to this act still remains mysterious, from the fact that the killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself shot dead before then end of the weekend. Fifty years later, the shadow over this incident persists. One can certainly situate the motivation of the assassin, Oswald. He was a great admirer of Fidel Castro. He had participated earlier that autumn in a rally in New Orleans in support of the Cuban regime. Subsequently, he sought to get a visa for Cuba at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City. It was granted but only after the fateful weekend of 22-24 November.

What remains unknown is the question of contacts Oswald might have had with agents of the powerful Cuban intelligence service, the Directorate General of Intelligence (DGI), in Mexico City or elsewhere. And in the final analysis, the question remains open as to whether Fidel Castro himself might have been implicated in the assassination of the young American President. With fifty years having gone by, nothing concrete has emerged as to the involvement of the Cuban government or Cuban intelligence in the assassination; which leads to the conclusion — provisionally – that Oswald acted on his own, out of his admiration for Castro. Perhaps after the death of Castro more will be learned about the role of the Cubans.

Nevertheless Castro, because of his reckless temperament, and because of the information he possessed concerning the plots of the Kennedy brothers against his person, would make a perfectly credible sponsor of an operation to assassinate the President.

At the moment of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro seemed to want to bring on a nuclear holocaust which, though it would destroy the island of Cuba, would in his mind open the way to a communization of the world. The French newspaper Le Monde published on 23 November 1990 a series of letters exchanged between Castro and Nikita Khrushchev, in which the Cuban leader asked Khrushchev to initiate a nuclear war in the event that American forces attacked Cuba. (Subsequently the letters were published elsewhere, notably in The Armageddon Letters.3)

In sum, Fidel Castro was prepared to sacrifice his country for the benefit of a future world of communism. In a message to Khrushchev on 26 October 1962, Castro wrote, inter alia, the following:

If…the imperialists invade Cuba with the goal of occupying it, the danger that this aggressive policy poses for humanity is so great that following that event the Soviet Union must never allow the circumstances in which the imperialists could launch the first nuclear strike against it.4

The message was clear, although implicit: if the Americans invaded Cuba, the Soviet Union should launch a nuclear attack against the United States.
In a message of 27 October, Khrushchev informed Castro that a solution was in sight, as President Kennedy had promised not to invade Cuba. Khrushchev advised Castro not to be carried away by his emotions and not to respond to provocations, such as the attack he ordered against an American U-2 airplane on 27 October, which claimed the life of the pilot. “Yesterday you shot down one of these [planes] while earlier you didn’t shoot them down when they overflew your territory. The aggressors will take advantage of such a step for their own purposes.”5 (At this point, Khrushchev may have thought that Castro had gotten completely out of hand and that he had better, as a result, find some sort of solution with President Kennedy. It was on the same date as the shootdown, 27 October, that Khrushchev accepted the public compromise proposed by his American counterpart – that is, the withdrawal of the missiles in return for a commitment by the United States not to invade Cuba).
Castro replied the next day, 28 October. The following is an extract:

Earlier isolated violations were committed without a determined military purpose or without a real danger stemming from those flights. This time, that wasn’t the case. There was the danger of a surprise attack on certain military installations. We decided not to sit back and wait for a surprise attack…6
In a following message of 30 October Khrushchev made it clear he was perfectly aware of the implications of Castro’s reckless proposal:
In your [message]…you proposed that we be the first to launch a nuclear attack on the territory of the enemy. Obviously you are aware of what could follow. Rather than a single strike, it would have been the beginning of a thermonuclear war.7

Castro replied on 31 October to Khrushchev’s letter of the 30th. Here is an extract:

We knew, and one must not think otherwise, that we would be annihilated, as you indicated in your letter, if there was a nuclear war. But that didn’t lead us to ask you to withdraw the missiles. That did not lead us to yield.8

James Blight and janet9 Lang in The New York Times on October 26, 2012 recounted Khrushchev’s unvarnished reaction to Castro’s letter of October 26:
According to his son and biographer, Sergei Khrushchev, the Soviet premier received that letter in the midst of a tense leadership meeting and shouted, ‘This is insane! Fidel wants to drag us into the grave with him’! Khrushchev hadn’t understood that Mr.

Castro believed that Cuba was doomed, that war was inevitable, and that the Soviets should transform Cuba from a mere victim into a martyr.
Shortly after this exchange of letters, Khrushchev sent the seasoned diplomat, Anastas Mikoyan, to Havana to continue the discussions with the Cuban leaders. The following is an extract of an exchange between Mikoyan and Che Guevara on November 5, 1962:

Guevara: Even in the context of all our respect for the Soviet Union, we believe that the decisions made by the Soviet Union were a mistake. ..Mikoyan: But we thought that you would be satisfied by our act. We did everything so that Cuba would not be destroyed. We see your readiness to die beautifully but we believe that it isn’t worth dying beautifully.10

Fidel Castro, at a later time, had a different story to tell. In a report of an interview with Castro at Havana, published in The Atlantic on October 16, 2012, Jeffrey Goldberg recalled that he had had the following exchange with Castro a couple of years earlier:

Does what you recommended [that the Soviets launch a nuclear attack against the U.S.] still seem logical now? Castro answered, ‘After what I’ve seen, and knowing what I know, it wasn’t worth it all’.

As to the knowledge Castro had of American intentions against Cuba and against Castro himself, the Cuban leader was amply informed. After he had seized power, Castro became aware of the hostility of the United States towards his regime.

Even before he became President, John Kennedy had been alerted by his advisers of the danger that the new revolutionary regime in Cuba represented, and the possibility that Fidel Castro might invite the Soviets to establish forces on the island. A Soviet base 150 kilometers from American territory could not be permitted in the midst of the Cold War.

There followed the disaster of the Bay of Pigs, an operation inherited from the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, and during which Kennedy refused coverage of the landing beach by the U.S. Air Force, thereby clinching the failure of the operation.

The humiliation of the Bay of Pigs fiasco only doubled the determination of the Kennedy brothers to remove Castro. In October 1961, a covert operation, codenamed Mongoose, was launched against the Cuban regime, with at its head Robert Kennedy, then the Attorney- General. A so-called Augmented Special Group was created in the White House and set about planning lethal attacks on Castro himself and conducting sabotage operations on the island. Virtually all of these activities either failed or did not see the light of day.

But the essential point here is that Castro was well aware of the lethal intentions of the Kennedy brothers, and this could have incited him to retaliate against the American President, using his own Cuban intelligence service, the DGI. In fact, the DGI did use a “dangle” to learn about American intentions towards Castro and the Cuban Government.11

In 1961, a DGI agent, Rolando Cubela, let it be known through an intermediary that he was against Castro and was seeking a contact with the Americans.12 Later, in July 1962, Cubela met with a CIA officer during the World Youth Festival at Helsinki. The contact was dropped shortly afterwards, when Cubela refused to take a polygraph test.

In 1963, when the tempo of plots against Castro intensified, and as a result of a decision at CIA, a Spanish-speaking American operations officer, Nestor Sanchez, met with Cubela at Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Thirty years later the fact that from the outset Cubela had been a double agent was confirmed by a Cuban agent of the CIA.13 Thus it was that very early on Castro became aware that the Kennedy brothers were trying to have him killed.

The venue suggested for meetings between Sanchez and Cubela was Paris. Presumably this was at Cuban instigation, as Cuba had an embassy there and thus had agents available for counter-surveillance. By an irony of fate, a meeting was scheduled for 22 November 1963. By that point the CIA was preparing to have delivered to Cubela in Cuba a rifle with telescopic sights – ironically the same type of weapon that Oswald used against Kennedy. The assassination of the American President the same day cut off further attempts to assassinate Castro, although the CIA contact with Cubela was maintained until December 1964.

In sum, because of Castro’s temperament – his apocalyptic wish for the nuclear obliteration of Cuba followed by the communization of the world, plus the fact of the information from Cubela of the Kennedy brothers’ plans to assassinate him, Castro may well have decided to strike at Kennedy before he himself was attacked. It is worth noting in this regard that on September 7, 1963 at Havana, Castro gave an interview to an American journalist, Daniel Harker, in which he warned the Americans not to try to assassinate Cuban leaders, as otherwise “they themselves will not be safe.”14

The Castro regime, whether or not it was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, had every pretext to do so. In this regard, it is well to keep in mind the role of the CIA in the early

days of the Cold War and its interventions overseas, which today can appear excessive. Moreover, the ease with which the CIA overthrew the regime of Jacobo Guzman in Guatemala and that of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran created an atmosphere of invincibility around the CIA and gave rise to the idea that covert action was an effective tool of its own, between war and diplomacy. This led to the botched operation of the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. But this failure only redoubled the efforts of the Kennedy brothers to do away with Castro.

During the entire period of the Cold War the CIA seems to have underestimated the capabilities of Cuban Intelligence. In this regard, it is interesting to recall that, during the 1980’s, several dozen Cubans, supposedly agents of the CIA, had been in reality double agents run by the Cuban DGI.15 They had even been trained by the DGI in how to overcome the polygraph. One could speculate that, because of the high degree of professionalism of the DGI, that organization has been able to conceal all these years an involvement with Oswald. The mystery remains.

1 A slightly different version of this essay appeared in French on October 9, 2013 in Questions internationales (No. 64, November-December 2013, 110-114), a publication of “La Docmentation française.”

2 Sheldon Stern, The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis (Palo Alto: Stanford UP, 2005), p. 186.

3 James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang, The Armageddon Letters, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham MD, 2012.

4 BlightandLang,117.

5 Blight and Lang, 122.

6 Blight and Lang, 151-52.

7 Blight and Lang, 156.

8. Blight and Lang,162.

9 This lack of capitalization of Janet Lang’s first name accords with her preference.

Dr. Charles G. Cogan is an Affiliate vice Associate at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. A graduate of Harvard, then a journalist, and then a military officer, he spent thirty-seven years in the Central Intelligence Agency, twenty-three of them on assignments overseas. From August 1979-August 1984 he was chief of the Near East South Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations. From September 1984-September 1989 he was CIA Chief in Paris. After leaving the CIA, he earned a doctorate in public administration at Harvard, in June 1992. He lectures and writes in English and French.

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La América de John F. Kennedy

Por: Julián Casanova

El país  | 21 de noviembre de 2013

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John F. Kennedy y su esposa, Jackie, en Dallas momentos antes del magnicidio. / ken features

Lo escribió Martin Luther King en su autobiografía: “Aunque la pregunta “¿Quién mató al presidente Kennedy?” es importante, la pregunta “¿Qué lo mató”? es más importante”.

En realidad, 1963 fue un año de numerosos asesinatos políticos en Estados Unidos, la mayoría de dirigentes negros. Y en esa década fue asesinado Malcolm X, en Harlem, Nueva York, el 21 de febrero de 1965, por uno de sus antiguos seguidores, en un momento en el que estaba rompiendo con los líderes más radicales de su movimiento. El 4 de abril de 1968, en el balcón de su habitación del hotel Loraine, en Memphis, Tennessee, un solo disparo acabó con la vida de Martin Luther King. Dos meses más tarde, el 6 de junio, tras un discurso triunfante en California en su campaña para ganar la candidatura por el Partido Demócrata, otro asesino se llevó la del senador Robert F. Kennedy. “No votaré”, declaró un negro neoyorquino en una encuesta: “Matan a todos los hombres buenos que tenemos”.

Todo ocurrió de forma muy rápida, en una década de protestas masivas y de desobediencia civil que precedió al asesinato de JFK. Estados Unidos era entonces la primera potencia militar y económica del mundo, en la que, sin embargo, prevalecía todavía el racismo, una herencia de la esclavitud que esa sociedad tan rica y democrática no había sabido eliminar. Millones de norteamericanos de otras razas diferentes a la blanca se topaban en la vida cotidiana con una aguda discriminación en el trabajo, en la educación, en la política y en la concesión de los derechos legales.

Montgomery, Alabama, la antigua capital de la Confederación durante la guerra civil de los años sesenta del siglo XIX, a donde se trasladó Luther King en octubre de 1954 para ocupar su primer trabajo como pastor y predicador de la iglesia baptista, constituía un excelente ejemplo de cómo la vida de los negros estaba gobernada por los arbitrarios caprichos y voluntades del poder blanco. La mayoría de sus 50.000 habitantes negros trabajaban como criados al servicio de la comunidad blanca, compuesta por 70.000 habitantes, y apenas 2.000 de ellos podían ejercer el derecho al voto en las elecciones. Allí, en Montgomery, en esa pequeña ciudad del sur profundo, donde nada parecía moverse, comenzaron a cambiar las cosas el 1 de diciembre de 1955.

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Rosa Parks, en un autubús de Montgomery. / AP

Ese día por la tarde, Rosa Parks, una costurera de 42 años, cogió el autobús desde el trabajo a casa, se sentó en los asientos reservados por la ley a los blancos y cuando el conductor le ordenó levantarse para cedérselo a un hombre blanco que estaba de pie, se negó. Dijo no porque, tal y como lo recordaba después Martin Luther King, no aguantaba más humillaciones y eso es lo que le pedía “su sentido de dignidad y autoestima”. Rosa Parks fue detenida y comenzó un boicot espontáneo a ese sistema segregacionista que regía en los autobuses de la ciudad. Uno de sus promotores, E.D. Nixon, pidió al joven pastor baptista, casi nuevo en la ciudad, que se uniera a la protesta. Y ese fue el bautismo de Martin Luther King como líder del movimiento de los derechos civiles. Unos días después, en una iglesia abarrotada de gente, King avanzó hacia el púlpito y comenzó “el discurso más decisivo” de su vida. Y les dijo que estaban allí porque eran ciudadanos norteamericanos y amaban la democracia, que la raza negra estaba ya harta “de ser pisoteada por el pie de hierro de la opresión”, que estaban dispuestos a luchar y combatir “hasta que la justicia corra como el agua”.

Los trece meses que duró el boicot alumbraron un nuevo movimiento social. Aunque sus dirigentes fueron predicadores negros y después estudiantes universitarios, su auténtica fuerza surgió de la capacidad de movilizar a decenas de miles de trabajadores negros. Una minoría racial, dominada y casi invisible, lideró un amplio repertorio de protestas –boicots, marchas a las cárceles, ocupaciones pacíficas de edificios…- que puso al descubierto la hipocresía del segregacionismo y abrió el camino a una cultura cívica más democrática. La conquista del voto por los negros sería, según percibió desde el principio Martin Luther King, “la llave para la solución completa del problema del sur”.

Pero la libertad y la dignidad para millones de negros no podía ganarse sin un desafío fundamental a la distribución existente del poder. La estrategia de desobediencia civil no violenta, predicada y puesta en práctica por Martin Luther King hasta su muerte, encontró muchos obstáculos.

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Luther King se dirige a los asistentes a la Marcha de Washington el 28 de agosto de 1963. / france press

A John Fitzgerald Kennedy, ganador de las elecciones presidenciales de noviembre de 1960, el reconocimiento de los derechos civiles le creó numerosos problemas con los congresistas blancos del sur y trató por todos los medios de evitar que se convirtiera en el tema dominante de la política nacional. No lo consiguió, porque antes de que fuera asesinado en Dallas, Texas, el 22 de noviembre de 1963, el movimiento se había extendido a las ciudades más importantes del norte del país y había protagonizado una multitudinaria marcha a Washington en agosto de ese año, la manifestación política más importante de la historia de Estados Unidos.

No fue todo un camino de rosas. La batalla contra el racismo se llenó de rencores y odios, dejando cientos de muertos y miles de heridos. La violencia racial no era una fenómeno nuevo en la sociedad norteamericana. Pero hasta el final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, esa violencia había sido protagonizada por grupos de blancos armados que atacaban a los negros y por el Ku Klux Klan, la organización terrorista establecida en el sur precisamente para impedir la concesión de derechos legales a los ciudadanos negros. En los disturbios de los años sesenta, por el contrario, muchos negros respondieron a la discriminación y a la represión policial con asaltos a las propiedades de los blancos, incendios y saqueos. Las versiones oficiales y muchos periódicos culparon de la violencia y de los derramamientos de sangre a pequeños grupos de agitadores radicales, aunque posteriores investigaciones revelaron que la mayoría de las víctimas fueron negros que murieron por los disparos de las fuerzas gubernamentales.

Con tanta violencia, la estrategia pacífica de Martin Luther King parecía tambalearse. Y frente a ella surgieron nuevos dirigentes negros con visiones alternativas. El más carismático fue un hombre llamado Malcolm X, que había visto de niño cómo el Ku Klux Klan incendiaba su casa y mataba a su padre, un predicador baptista, y que se había convertido al islamismo después de una larga estancia en prisión. Criticó el movimiento a favor de los derechos civiles, despreció la estrategia de la no violencia y sostuvo una agria disputa con Martin Luther King, al que llamó “traidor al pueblo negro”. King deploró su “oratoria demagógica” y dijo estar convencido de que era ese racismo tan enfermo y profundo el que alimentaba figuras como Malcolm X. Cuando éste fue asesinado, King recordó de nuevo que “la violencia y el odio sólo engendran violencia y odio”.

Los negros sabían muy bien qué eran los asesinatos políticos. Cuando subió al poder, John F. Kennedy no conocía a muchos negros. Pero tuvo que abordar el problema, el más acuciante de la sociedad estadounidense. Hubo dos Kennedys, como también recordó Luther King. El presionado y acuciado, durante sus dos primeros años de mandato, por la incertidumbre causada por la dura campaña electoral y su escaso margen de victoria sobre Richard Nixon en 1960; y el que tuvo el coraje, desde 1963, de convertirse en un defensor de los derechos civiles.

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Marines cruzando un río en Vietnam el 30 de octubre de 1968. / agencia keystone

Pero si todos esos conflictos sobre los derechos civiles revelaban algunas de las enfermedades de aquella sociedad, la política exterior, desde la crisis de los misiles en Cuba hasta la guerra de Vietnam, sacó a la superficie las tensiones inherentes a los esfuerzos de Kennedy por manejar el imperio. Kennedy decidió demostrar al mundo el poder estadounidense y comenzó a convertir a Vietnam en el territorio idóneo para destruir al enemigo. Kennedy no lo vio, pero la guerra que siguió a su muerte fue el desastre más grande de la historia de Estados Unidos en el siglo XX.

“Hemos creado una atmósfera en la que la violencia y el odio se han convertido en pasatiempos populares”, escribió Luther King en el epitafio que le dedicó al presidente. El asesinato de Kennedy no sólo mató a un hombre, sino a un montón de “ilusiones”. Cuando se conoció su muerte, en muchos sitios, en medio del duelo general, se escuchó la Dance of the Blessed Spirits. Cuando asesinaron a Luther King, casi cinco años después, la rabia y la violencia se propagaron en forma de disturbios por más de un centenar de ciudades, el final amargo de una era de sueños y esperanzas. Lo dijo su padre, el predicador baptista que le había inculcado los valores de la dignidad y de la justicia: “Fue el odio en esta tierra el que me quitó a mi hijo”.

, catedrático de Historia Contemporánea de la Universidad de Zaragoza, defiende, como Eric J. Hobsbawm, que los historiadores son «los ‘recordadores’ profesionales de lo que los ciudadanos desean olvidar». Es autor de una veintena de libros sobre anarquismo, Guerra Civil y siglo XX.

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Why Lee Harvey Oswald Pulled the Trigger

by Steven M. Gillon
HNN   November 20, 2013

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Image via Wiki Commons.

It has been fifty years since that tragic day in Dallas, but Americans remain fascinated with both the details of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and its meaning. This year will see the publication of nearly a dozen new books, and a flood of reprints, as the assassination cottage industry shifts into high gear. A number of television networks have produced documentary specials devoted to the assassination.

The question that is appropriate to ask at this point is: Is there really anything new to learn? While writing my new book, Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live, I went back to the standard narrative of that day — the Warren Commission. How well does it hold up in light of five decades of attacks?

In September 1964, The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, popularly known as the Warren Commission, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, had fired three bullets from the sixth floor of the school book depository building.

The Warren Commission initially received a warm reception. Before the release of the report, a Gallup poll found that only 29 percent of Americans thought Oswald acted alone, while 52 percent believed in some kind of conspiracy. A few months after the release of the report, 87 percent of respondents believed Oswald shot the president.

Over the next few years however, critics turned public opinion against the report. In 1966, Mark Lane published his best-seller Rush to Judgment. Later that year, a New Orleans district attorney, Jim Garrison, launched a highly publicized, but deeply flawed, investigation of his own which purported to reveal a vast conspiracy. At the same time Life Magazine published color reproductions of the Zapruder film under the cover: «Did Oswald Act Alone? A Matter of Reasonable Doubt.» The editors questioned the Commission’s conclusions and called for a new investigation.

Most of these early skeptics used the Warren Commission’s own evidence against it. They focused on contradictions among some of the witnesses about the number of shots and from where they were fired. Some witnesses claim they heard gunfire from the grassy knoll, an elevated area to the front, right of the presidential limousine. A favorite topic was the so-called «magic bullet.» According to the Warren Commission, Oswald fired three shots in less than eight seconds: the first shot missed, the second shot struck Kennedy in the back, exited through his throat, and then hit Governor Connally, breaking a rib, shattering his wrist, and ending up in his thigh. Critics claimed the bullet, which remained largely intact, could not have been responsible for all of the damage. Also, if Connally and Kennedy were hit by different bullets in a fraction of a second, then it meant there had to be another shooter.

The most serious threat to the Commission’s credibility, however, came not from the army of investigative reporters and self-styled assassination experts, but from new government investigations.

In 1975 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence headed by Idaho’s Frank Church, revealed that American intelligence agencies had systematically hidden important evidence from the Warren Commission. Both the FBI and the CIA had lied by omission to the Warren Commission. One prominent senator told a television audience that «the [Warren] report… has collapsed like a house of cards.»

These revelations led to the creation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). In December 1978, after two years of work, the committee was prepared to issue a report that supported all the major conclusions of the Warren Commission. It found no evidence of a conspiracy. No second shooter. But in the final weeks the committee changed its opinion and concluded that although Oswald was the assassin, there was a conspiracy involving a second gunman.

The committee relied on the highly questionable, and now  discredited, acoustical analysis of a police dictabelt recording from Dallas police headquarters. It contained sounds from a police motorcycle in Dealey Plaza whose radio transmitting switch was stuck in the «on» position. Two acoustics experts said there was a 95 percent certainty that the recording revealed that four shots had been fired at the presidential motorcade. As a result the House Committee came to the bizarre conclusion that a second shooter fired at the president but missed.

Coming in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, the HSCA report added to public cynicism about the Warren Commission conclusions. At just the time that Americans were learning that the government lied to them about Vietnam and Watergate, they now discovered it had lied about aspects of the assassination of President Kennedy. If the CIA and the FBI had lied to the Commission, the reasoning went, then they clearly had something to hide.

There were now two conspiracies: The conspiracy to assassinate the President and, potentially, an even larger and more insidious plot among powerful figures in government and the media to cover it up.

In 1991, filmmaker Oliver Stone tapped into these doubts, and added his own paranoid twist, to create the wildly popular movie JFK. The film portrayed an elaborate web of conspiracy involving Vice President Johnson, the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon, the KGB, pro-Castro and anti-Castro forces, defense contractors, and assorted other officials and agencies. The movie makes it seem that First Lady Jackie Kennedy was the only person in Dealey Plaza that day who was not planning to murder the president.

The movie ended with a plea for audience members to ask Congress to open up all Kennedy assassination records. The plea worked. In 1992, Congress passed a sweeping law that placed all remaining government documents pertaining to the assassination in a special category and loosened the normal classification guidelines. The legislation led to the most ambitious declassification effort in American history — more than five million documents in total.

What we have learned from the new government investigations and from the flood of declassified documents is that Warren Commission got it mostly right. There have been no shocking revelations to challenge the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Moreover, there has emerged no convincing alternative explanation of what took place in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Yet the new information does highlighted one major flaw with the Warren Commission: its failure to present a convincing explanation for why Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK. Much of the final commission report represented an indictment of Oswald. It failed to ascribe a single motive, but it made a strong case that Oswald was little more than a disaffected sociopath who was in desperate need of attention. It spent a great deal of effort showing how the events in his childhood – growing up without a father, feeling isolated, moving often, and dealing with an overbearing mother – turned him into an angry, embittered sociopath.

Many of the new documents and information, while fragmentary and often contradictory, reveal that Oswald was driven as much by ideology as he was by personal demons. None of the information reveals a conspiracy, or proves the involvement of any outside group, but it does reinforce a possible political motive to the assassination, highlighting that Oswald was driven by a desire to prove his fidelity to the Cuban Revolution, gain Castro’s respect, and possibly travel to Cuba as a conquering hero. In his fantasy world, Oswald probably assumed that he would be welcomed in Cuba as the man who killed the American devil, not appreciating that neither Castro nor the Soviets would wish to incur the wrath of the United States by harboring JFK’s assassin.

Why did the Warren Commission fail to highlight Oswald’s political motives? Cold War fears likely chilled the Commission’s desire to place too much emphasis on Oswald’s pro-Castro activities. The Commission knew a great deal about Oswald’s politics: his early embrace of Marxism, his defection to the Soviet Union, his involvement in pro-Castro groups in New Orleans, and his attempted assassination of right-wing retired general Edwin Walker a few months before he killed JFK. It pointed out that while he was being interrogated Oswald asked to be represented by a lawyer, John Apt, who represented many Communist party figures. It mentioned that Oswald had traveled to Mexico City where he shuttled back and forth between the Soviet embassy and the Cuban consulate in search of a visa. Yet it refused to connect the dots.

More importantly, the Commission lacked the proper context for evaluating Oswald’s motives because it was denied relevant intelligence information. Recently declassified document reveal that American intelligence agencies had kept close tabs on Oswald in the months before the shot JFK. The CIA took pictures of Oswald outside the Soviet embassy and even recorded his phone calls. But none of this evidence was turned over to the Commission, and all of it was later destroyed. The Commission, for example, never saw a memo prepared by J. Edgar Hoover that reported that Oswald had threaten to kill JFK during his trip to Mexico City just three weeks before the assassination.

In the most important omission, the CIA refused to provide the Commission with any of the information related to its activities in Cuba, including proposed assassination plots against Castro. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who oversaw the administration’s anti-Castro campaign, deliberately misled the Commission, denying that he was aware of any relevant information.

The final Commission report states, without any supporting evidence, that Oswald became disillusioned with Castro and Cuba after he was denied a visa to enter that country in late September. There is tantalizing evidence that just the opposite is true: As the Hoover memo suggests, it is more likely that Oswald killed Kennedy in order to convince Cuban authorities to accept his petition for a visa.

If the Commission had known about the administration’s covert campaign against Castro it would have seen Oswald’s pro-Castro actions in a new light, and could have investigated further some of his actions and associations.

The new more complicated portrait of Oswald does not change the fact that he pulled the trigger, but it does muddy the waters about why. Since he was killed before he confessed or was placed on trial we will never know for sure. Unfortunately, the Warren Commission’s incomplete portrait of Oswald and his motives has fed the conspiracy frenzy and served to undermine public faith in its lone-gunman theory.

Steven M. Gillon is the Scholar-in-Residence at The History Channel and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live.

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Otros punto de vista sobre JFK

Joseph Nye

El país, 20 de noviembre de 2013

El 22 de noviembre se cumplirán 50 años del asesinato del presidente John F. Kennedy. Fue uno de esos acontecimientos tan estremecedores, que las personas que lo vivieron se acuerdan dónde estaban cuando supieron la noticia. Yo estaba bajando del tren en Nairobi cuando vi el dramático encabezado. Kennedy tenía tan solo 46 años cuando Lee Harvey Oswald lo asesinó en Dallas. Oswald era un ex marino descontento que había desertado a la Unión Soviética. Aunque su vida estuvo llena de enfermedades, Kennedy proyectaba una imagen de juventud y vigor, que hicieron más dramática y patética su muerte.

El martirio de Kennedy hizo que muchos estadounidenses lo elevaran al nivel de grandes presidentes, como George Washington y Abraham Lincoln, pero los historiadores son más reservados en sus evaluaciones. Sus críticos hacen referencia a su conducta sexual a veces imprudente, a su escaso récord legislativo y a su incapacidad para ser congruente con sus palabras. Si bien Kennedy hablaba de derechos civiles, reducciones de los impuestos y de la pobreza; fue su sucesor, Lyndon Johnson, el que utilizó la condición de mártir de Kennedy –aunado a sus muy superiores habilidades políticas– para pasar leyes históricas sobre estos temas.

En una encuesta de 2009 de especialistas sobre 65 presidentes estadounidenses JKF es considerado el sexto más importante, mientras que en una encuesta reciente realizada por expertos británicos en política estadounidense, Kennedy obtiene el lugar quince. Estas clasificaciones son sobresalientes para un presidente que estuvo en el cargo menos de tres años. Sin embargo, ¿qué logró verdaderamente Kennedy y cuán diferente habría sido la historia si hubiera sobrevivido?

En mi libro, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, clasifico los presidentes en dos categorías: aquellos que fueron transformadores en la definición de sus objetivos, que actuaron con gran visión en cuanto a importantes cambios; y los líderes operativos, que se centran sobre todo en aspectos “prácticos”, para garantizar que todo marchaba sobre ruedas (y correctamente). Como era un activista y con grandes dones de comunicación con un estilo inspirador, Kennedy parecía ser un presidente transformador. Su campaña en 1960 se desarrolló bajo la promesa de “hacer que el país avance de nuevo».

En su discurso de toma de posesión, Kennedy llamó a hacer esfuerzos (“No hay que preguntarse qué puede hacer el país por mí, sino que puedo hacer yo por mi país”). Creó programas como el Cuerpo de Paz y la Alianza para el Progreso para América Latina; además, preparó a su país para enviar al hombre a la luna a finales de los años sesenta. Sin embargo, a pesar de su activismo y retórica, Kennedy tenía una personalidad más precavida que ideológica. Como señaló el historiador de presidentes, Fred Greenstein, “Kennedy tenía muy poca perspectiva global.”

En lugar de criticar a Kennedy por no cumplir lo que dijo, deberíamos agradecerle que en situaciones difíciles actuaba con prudencia y sentido práctico y no de forma ideológica y transformadora. Su logro más importante durante su breve mandato fue el manejo de la crisis de los misiles de Cuba en 1962, y apaciguamiento de lo que fue probablemente el episodio más peligroso desde el comienzo de la era nuclear.

Sin duda se puede culpar a Kennedy por el desastre de la invasión a Bahía de Cochinos en Cuba y la subsiguiente Operación Mangosta, el esfuerzo encubierto de la CIA contra el régimen de Castro, que hizo pensar a la Unión Soviética de que su aliado estaba bajo amenaza. Sin embargo, Kennedy aprendió de su derrota en Bahía de Cochinos y creó un procedimiento detallado para controlar la crisis que vino después de que la Unión Soviética emplazara misiles nucleares en Cuba.

Muchos de los asesores de Kennedy, así como líderes militares de los Estados Unidos, querían una invasión y un ataque aéreo, que ahora sabemos podrían haber hecho que los comandantes soviéticos en el terreno usaran sus armas nucleares tácticas. En cambio, Kennedy ganó tiempo y mantuvo abiertas sus opciones mientras negociaba una solución para la crisis con el líder soviético, Nikita Khrushchev. A juzgar por los duros comentarios del vicepresidente de la época, Lyndon Johnson, el resultado habría sido mucho peor si Kennedy no hubiera sido el presidente.

Además, Kennedy también aprendió de la crisis cubana de misiles: el 10 de junio de 1963 dio un discurso destinado a apaciguar las tensiones de la Guerra Fría. Señaló, “hablo de paz, por lo tanto, como el fin racional necesario del ser humano racional”. Si bien una visión presidencial de paz no era nueva, Kennedy le dio seguimiento mediante la negociación del primer acuerdo de control de armas nucleares, el Tratado de prohibición parcial de los ensayos nucleares.

La gran pregunta sin respuesta sobre la presidencia de Kennedy y cómo su asesinato afectó la política exterior estadounidense, es ¿qué habría hecho él en cuanto a la guerra en Vietnam? Cuando Kennedy llegó a la presidencia los Estados Unidos había algunos cientos de asesores en Vietnam del sur; pero ese número aumentó a 16.000. Johnson finalmente incrementó las tropas estadounidenses a más de 500.000.

Muchos partidarios de Kennedy sostienen que él nunca habría cometido ese error. Aunque respaldó un golpe para sustituir al presidente de Vietnam del sur, Ngo Dinh Diem, y dejó a Johnson una situación deteriorada y un grupo de asesores que recomendaban no retirarse. Algunos seguidores fervientes de Kennedy –por ejemplo, el historiador Arthur Schlesinger, y el asesor de discursos de Kennedy, Theodore Sorensen– han señalado que Kennedy planeaba retirarse de Vietnam después de ganar la reelección en 1964, y sostenían que había comentado su plan al senador, Mike Mansfield. No obstante, los escépticos mencionan que Kennedy siempre habló públicamente de la necesidad de permanecer en Vietnam. La pregunta sigue abierta.

En mi opinión, Kennedy fue un buen presidente pero no extraordinario. Lo que lo distinguía no era solo su habilidad para inspirar a otros, sino su cautela cuando se trataba de tomar decisiones complejas de política exterior. Tuvimos la suerte de que tuviera más sentido práctico que transformador en lo que se refiere a política exterior. Para nuestra mala suerte lo perdimos tras solo mil días.

Joseph S. Nye es profesor de la Universidad de Harvard y autor de Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.

Traducción de Kena Nequiz

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El señor Secretario de Estados de Estados Unidos, Mr. John Kerry, pronunció ayer, 18 de noviembre,  un discurso ante la Organización de Estados Americanos, declarando el fin de la Doctrina Monroe. Aunque claramente dirigidas a mejorar la imagen de Estados Unidos, afectada por el tema del espionaje, las declaraciones de Kerry no dejan de tener importancia, especialmente, ante el actual contexto internacional. Está por verse si las palabras de Kerry marcan el fin definitivo de  uno de los elementos más importantes en el desarrollo de las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y América Latina.

Comparto con mis lectores el texto integro del mensaje de Kerry.

Remarks on U.S. Policy in the Western Hemisphere

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Organization of American States
Washington, DC
November 18, 2013

Mr. Secretary-General, thank you very, very much. Thank you for a wonderful welcome on this absolutely beautiful, luscious, seductive fall day, as pretty as it gets, and one that’s quickly prompting all of us to ask why we’re at work today. I’m privileged to be here. I want to thank the Inter-American Dialogue. Thank you, Michael Shifter, and thank you, Ambassador Deborah-Mae Lovell for the invitation to be here. I want to thank the Organization of American States for inviting me to speak here this morning. And it’s always wonderful to be in this remarkable, beautiful, historic building.A few minutes ago, we were down below in the atrium and Secretary-General Insulza took me over to see the peace tree that President Taft planted more than 100 years ago. It’s a remarkable tree, and it’s a testimony to the deep roots of the OAS, which is the quintessential multilateral entity of the Americas and has its origins obviously dating back to even before that peace tree was planted. The – I was tempted to tell a story about William Howard Taft who – and a famous introduction that he made – but I’m going to spare you that particular story – (laughter) – but it’s a very funny one, and worth at some point sharing with you. I’m delighted to be in the company of former Trade Representative Carla Hills. Great to be here with you. And I’m particularly proud to be here with our Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson, who does such an outstanding job with respect to all of the Western Hemisphere, has come – just come back from China on a dialogue in China regarding the Western Hemisphere and Latin America particularly.

Since I became Secretary of State, I’ve had the privilege of speaking in some beautiful rooms like this in about, what, 30 countries all over the world. But I cannot tell you how nice it is to speak in one where I get to drive for two minutes instead of fly 12 hours. It makes a difference.

The fact is that this is a very important moment for all of the American states. Fifty years ago, President Kennedy spoke about the promise of the Western Hemisphere, and in what would become, sadly, his final address on foreign policy. President Kennedy expressed his hope for a hemisphere of nations, each confident in the strength of its own independence, devoted to the liberty of its citizens. If he could only see where we are today. In the half century since he spoke, more and more countries are coming closer and closer to realizing his vision and all of our hopes.

When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.

Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. (Applause.) The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. (Applause.) The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.

As the old proverb says, La union hace la fuerza. The union – in unity, there is strength. Through our shared commitment to democracy, we collectively present a vivid example to the world that diversity is strength, that inclusion works, that justice can reject impunity, and that the rights of individuals must be protected against government overreach and abuse. We also prove that peace is possible. You don’t need force to have fuerza. The vision that we share for our countries is actually within our grasp, but we have to ask ourselves some tough and important questions in order to secure our goal.

First and foremost, will we together promote and protect the democracy, security, and peace that all the people of the Americas deserve? Second, will we seize the chance to advance prosperity throughout the Western Hemisphere and educate the young people who will drive the economies of the future? And third, will we together meet a responsibility that requires more strength, and thus more unity than ever before, and thereby effectively address the threat posed by climate change?

Now, how we answer these questions will determine whether or not we can actually become the hemisphere of nations that President Kennedy envisioned, each country existing side-by-side, confident, strong, and independent and free. The first question is actually answered by the broad protection of democratic values that have become the rule and not the exception within the Western Hemisphere. In a few short decades, democratic representation has, for the most part, displaced the repression of dictators. But the real challenge of the 21st century in the Americas will be how we use our democratic governments to deliver development, overcome poverty, and improve social inclusion.

Last summer, I traveled to Brasilia, and as I was leaving my meeting with the Foreign Minister, I was greeted by a group of protestors. Now, I don’t speak Portuguese – my wife does, I don’t – but I did understand the four-letter words that they yelled because they were in English. (Laughter.) And as jarring as it can be sometimes, that moment was actually the picture of a healthy democracy.

And today, it is our shared democratic values that have enabled us to weather challenges like the understandable concerns around the surveillance disclosures, concerns that prompt us all to figure out how we’re going to get through and build a stronger foundation for the future based on our common democratic values and beliefs.

Successful democracies depend on all citizens having a voice and on respecting those voices, and all governments having the courage and the capacity to listen to those voices. We can be immensely proud, I think, of this hemisphere’s democratic trajectory and of the institutions that we built in order to hold ourselves to the future and to be accountable. That is the difference, and to hold ourselves to the OAS Charter.

And we also express our concern when democratic institutions are weakened, as we’ve seen in Venezuela recently. In March of this year, the United States joined with many of you right here in this very room, as a matter of fact, to affirm the independence and the mandate of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

We have also joined together to support the OAS electoral observation missions throughout the hemisphere, including the one for the election in Honduras next week. All of us here have an opportunity to help assure that this election is transparent, inclusive, peaceful, and fair, and that the process is one that the Honduran people could actually rely on in order to express their will. We – all of us – must do everything that we can to support the OAS efforts to provide assistance and impartially observe the elections. There is no better expression of our strength and unity than following through on that effort.

We also know well that the critical ingredient of a successful democracy is how we provide for our security at home for all of our citizens. Safe streets, safe neighborhoods, safe communities, really do depend on upholding the rule of law.

In June, I went to Guatemala and I met with Attorney General Paz y Paz. She has made extraordinary progress in combating corruption and organized crime, protecting women from violence, and prosecuting human rights violations.

In August, I traveled to Bogota and I saw a remarkable demonstration of Colombia’s sacrifice and progress in the fight against illegal drugs and violence, a fight which has actually made it possible for President Santos’s courageous effort to achieve sustainable and just peace.

I think it is undeniable what our unity of purpose is. Step by step, making our democracies stronger and our people more secure – in Guatemala, in Colombia, and throughout the Americas. And for the most part, I think you’ll agree with me the Western Hemisphere is unified in its commitment to pursuing successful democracies in the way that I describe.

But one exception, of course, remains: Cuba. Since President Obama took office, the Administration has started to search for a new beginning with Cuba. As he said just last week, when it comes to our relationship with Cuba, we have to be creative, we have to be thoughtful, and we have to continue to update our policies.

Our governments are finding some cooperation on common interests at this point in time. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans visit Havana, and hundreds of millions of dollars in trade and remittances flow from the United States to Cuba. We are committed to this human interchange, and in the United States we believe that our people are actually our best ambassadors. They are ambassadors of our ideals, of our values, of our beliefs.

And while we also welcome some of the changes that are taking place in Cuba which allow more Cubans to be able to travel freely and work for themselves, these changes should absolutely not blind us to the authoritarian reality of life for ordinary Cubans. In a hemisphere where citizens everywhere have a right to be able to choose their leaders, Cubans uniquely do not. In a hemisphere where people can criticize their leaders without fear of arrest or violence, Cubans still cannot. And if more does not change soon, it is clear that the 21st century will continue, unfortunately, to leave the Cuban people behind.

We look forward to the day – and we hope it will come soon – when the Cuban Government embraces a broader political reform agenda that will enable its people to freely determine their own future. The entire hemisphere – all of us – share an interest in ensuring that Cubans enjoy the rights protected by our Inter-American Democratic Charter, and we expect to stand united in this aspiration. Because in every country, including the United States, each day that we don’t press forward on behalf of personal freedoms and representative government, we risk sliding backwards. And none of us can accept that.

Even as we celebrate the democratic values that have spread throughout Latin America, we must also acknowledge where those values are being challenged. After all, timely elections matter little if they are not really free and fair with all political parties competing on a level playing field. A separation of powers is of little comfort if independent institutions are not able to hold the powerful to account. And laws that guarantee freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion are of little consequence if they are not enforced. Democracy is not a final destination; it is an endless journey. And every day, all of us must renew our decision to actually move it forward. And we are no less immune to that reality here in the United States than anywhere else; in fact, in recent days, perhaps even more susceptible to it.

We’ve also – all of us – got important decisions to make about how we bring about shared economic prosperity – the prosperity to which we all aspire. To start with, educational opportunity, above all, must be a priority. It is only with widely available, high-quality education that our workforce, the workforce of the hemisphere, will be equipped for the jobs of the future. Education, as we all know, opens up other doors as well. As former Senator J. William Fulbright said: “Having people who understand your thought is much greater security than another submarine.” That’s the idea behind the State Department’s Fulbright exchanges. And it is the idea behind President Obama’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which is aimed at increasing the flow of exchange students in both directions here in the Western Hemisphere.

But my friends, education, as we know, is only the first step. We must also press even harder to help create jobs and economic opportunity for our young people for the day after graduation comes and goes. Our hemisphere is already, as the Secretary General mentioned in his introductory comments, a thriving market of nearly a billion people. Over the past decade, the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean grew at a rate of 4 percent a year. The United States is proud to play a role in this. Just last week, we announced more than $98 million in private financing for 4,000 small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the hemisphere in order to encourage this energy and create it and keep it moving.

And the kind of growth that the region is experiencing fueled by sound economic policies, innovative social programs, and increased international trade and investment – that growth has dramatically improved the lives of all of our citizens. In the past decade alone as trade has grown between the United States and Latin America – nearly tripled – more than 73 million people, as the Secretary General mentioned, have been lifted out of poverty. Think about that. That’s more people than live in Canada and Argentina combined. It’s an extraordinary story, and it’s a story of success. It’s a story of policies that are working but need to be grown, not moved away from. Imagine what is possible if we continue to open up trade and investment in our children’s futures.

When I was a senator, I was very proud and pleased to vote to ratify both the Colombia and the Panama Trade Promotion Agreements, which President Obama signed into law. And we’re already seeing the growth that these agreements made possible. During the first year of the U.S.-Colombia FTA, nearly 800 Colombian companies of all sizes entered the U.S. market for the very first time. These new exporters sold their goods and services in more than 20 different American states. And today, Vice President Biden is traveling to Panama to visit the canal expansion project that will continue to spark increased trade throughout the region.

Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ve also helped expand the region’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, taking it beyond Chile and Peru to include Canada and Mexico. And we have redoubled our commitment to NAFTA, the greatest single step toward shared prosperity in this hemisphere, which I am pleased to say also I voted for at a time when I think people remember it was very contentious and very difficult. But all of us know – can’t rest on those agreements alone. That’s not enough. We know we can do more. And if we do more, the Western Hemisphere will continue to be a leader in the global markets for decades to come.

One of the opportunities that is staring at us that I just mentioned a moment ago about these many opportunities – one of those opportunities is a $6 trillion market and has 4 billion users. I’m talking about the new energy market – biggest market in human history. The market that created such extraordinary wealth in the 1990s where in America, in the United States, every single quintile of American income earner, from the bottom right through to the top – everybody saw their incomes go up. And we all know it was a time when we balanced the budget three years in a row. It was a time of extraordinary growth.

The market that drove that growth was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users – the high-tech computer, home computer model. That was the market – technology. The energy market is six times that market. And the 4 billion users today will grow to 6 billion, ultimately 9 billion between now and 2050. It will help us to answer the third and final question that I mentioned – whether or not we will leave to our children and grandchildren a planet that is healthy, clean, and sustainable. Actually, this is not so much a question as it really is a compelling challenge, the challenge of a generation, maybe even the challenge of a century, maybe even the challenge of life itself on the planet if you digest adequately all that science is telling us today.

More than two decades ago, I visited Brazil as part of the U.S. delegation to the Rio Summit. This was the first time that the global community came together united to try to address climate change. It was also the trip where I got to know an amazing Portuguese-speaking woman named Teresa, who three years later would become my wife. So I like Rio. It’s a good place. (Laughter.)

But Teresa and I still talk about a young 12-year-old girl from Vancouver named Severn Suzuki, who took the stage at that summit in order to, as she put it, quote, “fight for her future.” Twenty-one years later, I still remember what she said about climate change, as follows: “I’m only a child,” she told us, “yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.” Severn understood something that a lot of folks today need to grasp, something still missing from our political debate, like the saying goes that I said a moment ago, La union hace la fuerza – we need that more than ever now with respect to this challenge of climate change. Decades later, we have a lot to learn from that young woman.

The Americas have become the new center of our global energy map. Our hemisphere supplies now one-fourth of the world’s crude oil and nearly one-fourth of its coal. We support over a third of global electricity. And what that means is that we have the ability and the great responsibility to influence the way that the entire world is powered. To do this, it will require each of our nations to make some very fundamental policy choices. We need to embrace the energy future over the energy of the past.

And I am well aware – I’ve been through these battles in the United States Senate – I know how tough it is. I know how many different industries and how many powerful interests there are to push back. But we, people, all of us have a responsibility to push back against them. Climate change is real. It is happening. And if we don’t take significant action as partners, it will continue to threaten not only our environment and our communities, but as our friends from the Caribbean and other island nations know, it will threaten potentially our entire way of life, certainly theirs.

The challenge of climate change will cost us far more for its negative impact than the investment that we need to make today in order to meet the challenge. Every economic model shows that, and yet we shy away. Our economies have yet to factor in the monetary costs of doing nothing or doing too little. The devastating effects that droughts can have on farmers’ harvests; the hefty price tag that comes with rebuilding communities after every catastrophe, after every hurricane or tropical storm tears through them and leaves a trail of destruction in their wake; the extraordinary cost of fires that didn’t burn as ferociously and as frequently as they do today because of the increased dryness; the increasing signs of loss of water for the Himalayas as the glaciers shrink; and therefore, as the great rivers of China and other countries on one side and India on the other are threatened as billions of people see their food and food security affected.

These are real challenges, and they’re not somewhere in the future. We’re already seeing them now. For all of these reasons, combating climate change is an urgent priority for President Obama and myself, and we know that we are one of the largest contributors to the problem. There are about 20 nations that contribute over 90 percent of the problem. That’s why President Obama unveiled a new Climate Action Plan to drive more aggressive domestic policy on climate change than ever before. And the good news is the agenda that he’s put together is one specifically designed to be able to be done by administrative order so you don’t have to wait for Congress to act.

Many other nations in the Western Hemisphere are also working hard to do their part as well. And I’m proud to say that as part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, the United States has collaborated with more than two dozen countries, Latin America, and the Caribbean in order to support effective programs to address the reality of this grave threat. But if we take advantage, my friends, this is not a threat where there is not a solution. We have a solution, a number of them staring us in the face. We just don’t make the political decision because of these forces that push back.

We know what the alternatives are. We know the advantage of the enormous breakthroughs that are happening in clean energy. And if we share expertise and deploy new technologies throughout the region, if we connect the electrical grids throughout the Americas, then we can share and sell power to each other at different points of time in different ways with a more vibrant marketplace. If we harness the power of the wind in Mexico and the biomass in Brazil, the sunshine in Chile and Peru, the natural gas in the United States and Argentina, then the enormous benefits for local economies, public health, and of course climate change mitigation could reach every corner of the Americas and beyond.

This is what a new inter-American partnership is really all about. The Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, one of the most widely read authors in the world, wrote “When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change.” So the question for all of us is: Will we have the courage to make the tough choices and the willingness to change? Fifty years from today, on the hundredth anniversary of President Kennedy’s call to the region, will the hemisphere of nations that he dreamed about become a reality?

Many years ago, the United States dictated a policy that defined the hemisphere for many years after. We’ve moved past that era. And today, we must go even further. All of the things that we’ve talked about today – the future of our democracies, the strength of our democracies, the development of those democracies, the inclusion of all of our people in a system with accountability and without impunity for the defections, our shared prosperity and all that brings us, the education of our children, the future of our planet, our response to climate change – all of these things do not depend on the next administration or the next generation. They depend on us now.

And the question is: will we work as equal partners in order to achieve our goals? It will require courage and a willingness to change. But above all, it will require a higher and deeper level of cooperation between us, all of us together, as equal partners in this hemisphere. That is the way we will make the difference, and that is the way we will live up to our responsibility.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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Hoy conmemoramos el sesquicentenario de uno de los discursos más famosos de la historia de Estados Unidos. Pronunciadas en honor a los caidos en la batalla de Gettysburg, las 272 palabras dichas por Lincoln el 19 de noviembre de 1863, se convirterion en un pieza clave de la historia política y la ideología republicana estadounidense.  Ciento cuenta años después, y en medio de una crisis económica, política y social, vale preguntarse si la democracia norteamericana atual se ajusta a la definición de Lincoln: el gobierno del pueblo, por el pueblo y para el pueblo. ¿Alguna vez fue así?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

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Comparto con mis lectores una interesante selección de trabajos sobre el discurso de Lincoln publicadas por la History News Network.

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– See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153972#sthash.9a5VCJSD.dpuf

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by Ellen D. Wu

HNN November 18, 2013

Image via the Wing Luke Asian Museum.

These days, China is everywhere. From the MSNBC to Fox News and all media points in between, chances are that one will encounter some story about the People’s Republic in any given issue or broadcast. And much of it is rather alarmist as journalists and pundits worry about China’s autocratic practices, its skyrocketing economy, and its growing military might. Americans are undeniably worried about everything from the PRC’s intolerance of freedom of expression, the environmental devastation wrought by its industrialization, and Chinese students filling the ranks of American colleges and even high schools. In October, a six-year-old guest on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” infamously suggested that we should “kill everyone in China” to deal with China’s ownership of U.S. debt.

 

All of this feels like Yellow Peril redux, a revisitation of older Orientalist fears updated for the twenty-first century. As a historian of Asian Pacific America who also happens to be Chinese American, this is a disquieting situation. As my colleagues in the field well know, foreign relations have long mattered for domestic race relations. The example of early Chinese immigrants vividly illustrates this point. In the late nineteenth century, the weak Qing state unsuccessfully fended off incursions by the Western powers. For Chinese nationals who had migrated to the United States and other locales (Canada, Australia, various countries in Latin America) this meant that they were relatively powerless to stop the implementation of the stringent legal and social practices designed to block people from China from participating fully in their adopted homes. These measures included bars to entry into the United States, prohibition from naturalized citizenship, occupational discrimination, residential and school segregation, anti-miscegenation laws and customs, lynching, and terrorism. Akin to Jim Crow in the South, the Chinese Exclusion regime lasted from the 1850s through the 1940s. Popular representations of “Orientals” as rat-eating, opium-smoking, sexually depraved, untrustworthy sub-humans provided the racial logic that justified Exclusion.

The geopolitical demands of World War II finally broke the oppressive system. Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Acts in 1943 as a diplomatic maneuver to strengthen U.S.-China ties as the two fought against Japan. As a result, persons of Chinese ancestry were permitted a path to  naturalized U.S. citizenship, while the legal immigration of Chinese resumed in small numbers — a symbolic elevation to equality with European immigrants. Mobilization for total war pushed the state to emphasize widely racial tolerance and cultural diversity as a means to national unity. African Americans’ “Double V” campaign for victory over fascism abroad and racism at home especially helped to open to Chinese Americans previously restricted avenues for socio-economic advancement in industry and the armed forces.

Yet even with this radical change in U.S. attitudes, most whites never dissociated Chinese Americans from notions of foreignness. Chinese Americans remained tethered to China in the public’s imagination — shaky grounds for acceptance and full citizenship given the victory of the Mao Zedong’s Communist Party in China’s civil war. While Chinese Americans not break free of this linkage, the simultaneous existence of a “bad” China (the People’s Republic) and a “good” one (the Nationalists on Taiwan) after 1949 meant that they could position themselves as anti-communist disaporic Chinese committed to both Nationalist (“free”) China and United States.

The PRC’s entry into the Korean War in October 1950 heightened the stakes of this project, and Chinese across the United States scrambled to divorce themselves from Red China. Conservative Chinatown leaders in particular masterminded this strategy to protect the community from anticipated McCarthyist repression — many feared a mass incarceration analogous to the egregious racial profiling experienced by Japanese Americans during World War II. They launched a nationwide crusade against communism, establishing local “Anti-Communist Leagues” and planning demonstrations, parades, Korean War relief clothing drives, and other public spectacles to drive home the point that Chinese Americans were patriotic and loyal to the United States. These efforts were not entirely convincing. In 1956, federal authorities instigated a crackdown on unlawful Chinese immigration under the pretense that Communist Chinese spies were slipping into the country using false papers. The offensive — involving mass subpoenas and grand jury investigations of Chinatown organizations, prosecutions, and deportations — placed all Chinese in the United States (especially leftists) under suspicion.

But assumptions of foreignness had payoffs as well as constraints for Chinese America in the early Cold War years. Racial liberals — including savvy Chinese American spokespersons — convincingly turned the community’s association with the “good” China into social capital in the 1950s. Amidst the country’s panic over juvenile delinquency, scores of journalists, scholars, and policymakers lauded ethnic Chinese households for raising exceptionally well-behaved, studious children. Look magazine (1958) marveled that “troublemaking” among Chinatown youths was “so low that the police don’t even bother to keep figures on it,” while the New York Times Magazine (1956) exhorted the nation to “try keeping up with the Wongs, Lees, and Engs.” These narratives gained widespread traction in part because they did anti-communist ideological work by praising American Chinatowns for being one of the last bastions of “venerable” Confucian culture that prized discipline, orderliness, and strict gender roles within the family — a sensibility now ostensibly destroyed by Mao and his followers on the Chinese mainland. Depictions of ideal children and households helped to upend Exclusion-era “yellow peril” discourse, allowing Chinese in the United States heightened chances for national inclusion, social recognition, and day-to-day betterment.

Significantly, such stories served as the basis for emerging conceptions of Chinese Americans as a “model minority” in the 1960s: well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, exemplars of “traditional” family values, politically non-threatening — seemingly the very opposite of African Americans and other peoples of color. And while this was a problematic rendering — it obscured the many problems that Chinese Americans continued to face, just as it countered the calls for structural change by African American civil rights and black power activists — the “model minority” stereotype effectively decriminalized and “deghettoized” Chinatowns and their inhabitants in the national imagination. Chinese Americans effectively became definitively not-black in the nation’s racial order, an unheralded position that was the unintended outcome of the meeting ground between U.S. global ambitions, the black freedom movement, and the desires of Chinese Americans themselves to improve their life chances. The birth of the model minority, in other words, was as much a product of global as well as domestic forces.

Since the mid-twentieth century, foreign relations have continued to determine public perceptions of Chinese Americans. The storm of debate detonated by Yale law professor Amy Chua’s contentious memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011) tellingly revealed this dynamic. The account sketched her austere methods of child rearing (no sleepovers, playdates, or TV) to demonstrate “how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids” — never mind her dubious identification as a “Chinese mother” as someone born and raised in the United States. Despite Asian Americans’ reservations about Chua’s willingness to reproduce uncritically the model minority stereotype, the book shot up the best-seller list, spawning Internet parodies and earning her a spot among Time magazine’s “100 most influential people” that year. Tiger Mom became an overnight cultural sensation by yoking Americans’ class anxieties to the latest iteration of the Yellow Peril: the rise of the People’s Republic of China as the main contender poised to oust the United States from its perch as the world’s lone superpower and foremost economy. “Tiger Mom-gate,” in other words, spoke to a general uneasiness about Chinese and other Asians doing too well, whether at home (think of the attempts to limit Asian Americans admissions to elite college and universities since the 1980s) or abroad. Americans’ nervousness about status competition vis-à-vis Asians are inseparable from qualms about marketplace rivalries between the United States and the Pacific Rim economies. “With a stroke of her razor-sharp pen, Chua has set a whole nation of parents to wondering: Are we the losers she’s talking about?” asked Time. “Think of the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as a well-timed taunt aimed at our own complacent sense of superiority, our belief that America [read: whites] will always come out on top.”

Thus, the Yellow Peril has never completely gone away even as the “model minority” has become the dominant stereotype of Chinese and other Asian Americans; rather, they are two sides of the same coin. As historian Gary Okihiro has aptly noted, “The Asian work ethic, family values, self-help, culture and religiosity, and intermarriage — all elements of the model minority — can also be read as components of the yellow peril. ‘Models’ can be ‘perils,’ and ‘perils,’ ‘models’ despite their apparent incongruity.” What happens “over there” matters deeply for us “over here” — and what matters can quickly cross the line from the discursive to the material, from thinking to action. Students of Asian Pacific American history remember all too painfully the fatal beating of Vincent Chin by two white autoworkers on the streets of Detroit in 1982. Many observers and analysts concluded that the crime was racially motivated because the killers had “read” Chin as a stand-in for Japan and, by extension, threatening Japanese exports. (“It’s because of you motherfuckers that we’re out of work,” bystanders overheard them cursing.) And until Americans break away from the xenophobic notion that the “foreign” is always suspect and menacing, a proposal to “kill everyone in China” — even when tossed out flippantly by a child on a late night talk show — is no joke.

Ellen D. Wu is assistant professor of history at Indiana University Bloomington. She is the author of The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, published by Princeton University Press as part of its “Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America” series. The Color of Success is the first full-length historical study of the invention of the “model minority” stereotype between the 1930s and the 1960s. Follow her on Twitter @ellendwu.

– See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153958#sthash.0GUbhwrS.dpuf

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JFK Was an Unapologetic Liberal


His underrated career as ideological warrior

by David Greenberg

New Republic  | November 11, 2013

Imagen
In the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the hype—the movies and books and magazine covers, the roundups and reminiscences and retrospectives—is in overdrive. How can America resist another JFK love-in? The popular adoration of Kennedy, five decades on, puzzles pundits and historians, who note, correctly, that he neither led the nation through war nor racked up a legislative record on par with that of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, or Lyndon Johnson.

Some explanations for the discrepancy are obvious: His youth and good looks. His vigor, grace, and cool. The facility with which he projected this image through television, of which he was the first presidential master. And the assassination itself, which by taking Kennedy in his prime allowed Americans to spin fantasies of greatness unrealized.

Yet neither the Camelot mystique nor Kennedy’s premature death can fully explain his continuing appeal. There was no cult of Warren Harding in 1973, no William McKinley media blitz in 1951. I would submit that Kennedy’s hold on us stems also from the way he used the presidency, his commitment to exercising his power to address social needs, his belief that government could harness expert knowledge to solve problems—in short, from his liberalism.

To make that case requires first correcting some misperceptions. Wasn’t JFK a cold warrior who called on Americans to gird for a “long twilight struggle”? Didn’t he drag his heels on civil rights? Didn’t he give us tax cuts a generation before Ronald Reagan? While there’s some truth to those assertions, layers of revisionism and politicized misreadings of Kennedy have come to obscure his true beliefs. During the 1960 presidential campaign, when Republicans tried to make the term liberal anathema, Kennedy embraced it. A liberal, he said in one speech, “cares about the welfare of the people—their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties,” and under that definition, he said, “I’m proud to say I’m a ‘liberal.’”

In 1960, the United States was gripped by a quest for “national purpose,” a yearning to find a meaningful goal for America’s energies. This desire had several sources. The cold war was enervating. Material comfort gave rise to an existential uncertainty about what our riches were supposed to produce, a malaise captured in books such as John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society and David Riesman’s Abundance for What? Kennedy’s pledge to “get America moving again” should be understood as a part of this collective soul-searching. After the hands-off economic management of President Eisenhower’s free-marketeers, Kennedy promised an aggressive effort to spur growth and create jobs. After Eisenhower’s neglect of mounting urban problems, Kennedy promised a federal commitment to education and housing. After Sputnik and the U-2 affair, Kennedy promised a vigorous effort to win hearts and minds around the world.

As an activist, Kennedy called on Americans to trust government to address the nation’s problems; as a pragmatist, he bade them to believe that dedicated public servants could again muster, as they had during the New Deal, the requisite know-how. In word and in deed, JFK put the weight of his presidency behind a liberal program. He backed a demand-side—not supply-side—tax cut designed to put money in people’s hands to stimulate short-term economic activity. The War on Poverty (an idea he had rolled out during the campaign) sought to alleviate penury, especially among the elderly, by pushing for Medicare and expanded Social Security benefits. The President’s Commission on the Status of Women endorsed workplace equality, child care facilities for working women, paid maternity leave, better Social Security benefits for widows, and equal pay for comparable work. Federal employees got collective bargaining.

Even on civil rights, where Kennedy often gave into his fear of alienating the Southern bloc, he ultimately put the power of the federal government behind racial equality. He used federal troops to ensure the enrollment of black students at the universities of Mississippi and Alabama; his administration implemented the first “affirmative action” program for government employees and contractors. Some movement leaders seethed with frustration over his slow pace. But when the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick compiled post-assassination condolence letters to Jackie Kennedy for a 2010 book, she found affecting notes from African Americans who considered Kennedy, as one correspondent wrote, “a beacon—a light in the darkness who would indeed be a second Emancipator.” His picture graced walls and mantelpieces.

In foreign policy, too, Kennedy’s liberalism has been underappreciated. We hear nowadays that he ran to the right of Richard Nixon on national security in 1960—a claim supported chiefly by his invocation of the so-called missile gap. But that stance no more made Kennedy a hawk in 1960 than Barack Obama’s 2008 pledge to escalate in Afghanistan placed him to the right of John McCain. Overall, in 1960, it was Kennedy who expressed skepticism about the extension of military forces around the globe. He was, to be sure, a staunch anti-communist, and not averse to using hard power. But it was Nixon, not Kennedy, who was ready to go to war to defend Quemoy and Matsu, the tiny islands off China’s shore, while Kennedy questioned his rival’s ill-considered stance.

JFK’s 1961 inaugural address, too, is typically misread as saber-rattling. But his famous call to steel the nation for the cold war conflict was a prologue to the exposition of a more hopeful, conciliatory policy. In that speech, Kennedy endorsed the United Nations as “our last best hope,” warned against the stockpiling of nukes, urged arms-control negotiations, and held out the prospect of collaboration in science, medicine, and commerce. Press accounts treated it as a summons to work toward peace.

In office, Kennedy also preferred diplomacy to military intervention. His wariness of using force led him to deny the CIA-supported Cuban rebels the sufficient air cover they needed at the Bay of Pigs; 18 months later, it counseled him to buck his military chiefs and negotiate the withdrawal of Soviet missiles. He rejected initial calls to get involved in Laos, and his frequently voiced doubts about the effectiveness of U.S. military support for South Vietnam make it at least plausible to surmise that, had he lived, Kennedy wouldn’t have escalated as Johnson did (a speculative matter either way). Following the Cuban missile crisis, moreover, Kennedy redoubled efforts to pull back from the brink. He installed the “hot line” to Moscow and concluded a historic nuclear test-ban treaty. If by “cold warrior” we mean someone cognizant of the stakes of the superpower rivalry, JFK deserves the label. But his presidency was marked at least as much by efforts to defuse tensions as it was by the adventurism for which he has since become known.

Under Kennedy, popular support for government was near its peak. More than 70 percent of Americans said they trusted Washington most or all of the time. As the Vietnam war and the kulturkampf of the 1960s dragged on, that figure declined. Today, after decades of anti-government rhetoric and gridlock, debt and wage stagnation, it stands at about 20 percent. Promises of an activist government are met with cynicism, hostility, and questions about the price tag. The climate is inhospitable to those who would rally the public to higher purposes.

Layers of revisionism and politicized misreadings of Kennedy have come to obscure his true beliefs.

JFK is a reminder that this wasn’t always so. Retrospectives on him inevitably include the witty press conferences, the white-tie White House dinners with the likes of Pablo Casals, the photos of John Jr. playing under the Oval Office desk. But the warm feelings Americans have toward Kennedy may be something more than nostalgia for a glamorous presidency cut short. They reflect a wistfulness for the sense of common purpose and faith in a collective project that a proudly liberal president helped the nation achieve.

David Greenberg, a contributing editor at The New Republic, is a professor of history and of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//article/115522/jfk-was-unapologetic-liberal

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