Tag Archives: John Kennedy

Closer to home … how about Cuba?

Shifting our attention closer to home for a moment or two …

A new poll shows that most Cuban-Americans agree with the U.S. policy shift toward that fearsome foe of freedom, Cuba.


President Obama this past year announced plans to restore full diplomatic relations with the Marxist government in Havana. The United States has lifted many travel restrictions already. Our governments are now talking directly to each other. Before too terribly long there likely will be an exchange of ambassadors and the nations will have embassies in each other’s capital cities.

This policy change should have occurred decades ago. That it’s occurring now is a sign of the changing times.

The U.S.-led embargo against Cuba has needed to be lifted. Indeed, any possible threat Cuba posed to this country evaporated in 1991 when the Soviet Union disappeared. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis provided a scary two-week standoff that well could have brought about nuclear annihilation, but it ended well when President Kennedy forced the Big Bad Bear to “blink,” and remove those offensive missiles from the island nation.

Yes, the nation has human rights issues it needs to resolve. Then again, so do many other nations with which the United States already has full diplomatic relations.

Cuban-Americans, who hold considerable political sway in this country, now appear to be climbing aboard the U.S.-Cuba relationship restoration vehicle.

Let us proceed to make that restoration a reality.


That slope is slippery, Mr. President

The Vietnam Generation remembers a time when U.S. military assistance overseas went from “advisory” to engaging in bloody combat. It didn’t take terribly long for our role to change in Vietnam.

It is that memory that’s been stirred in recent days as President Obama has announced the return of U.S. advisers to Iraq to aid the Iraqi military in its fight against Sunni insurgents seeking to take back the government Americans overthrew when it went to war there in March 2003.


The president has declared categorically that the United States will not send combat troops back into Iraq. I and no doubt million of other Americans will hold him to his word on that.

I just watched an interesting segment from CNN’s series “The Sixties” that dealt with the Vietnam War. President Kennedy was killed in November 1963 and by then our advisory role in ‘Nam had grown to several thousand troops. President Johnson fairly quickly granted military requests for more troops, ratcheting up our involvement to a level where Americans were shouldering the bulk of the combat operations against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army.

By the time I arrived at Marble Mountain, just south of Da Nang, South Vietnam, in March 1969, American troops strength was at its absolute peak: 543,000 of us were deployed there. But soon the drawdown began as President Nixon implemented his “Vietnamization” program of turning the combat responsibility over to those who had the most skin in the game.

Surely, the wise men and women at the White House and perhaps even at the Pentagon will remind the current president — who was not quite 8 years old when I arrived in ‘Nam way back when — of the folly of resuming a ground combat role in Iraq.

Listen to them, Mr. President. Please.

Handshake should be an ice breaker

The Obama-Castro handshake at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela has drawn plenty of chattering from the left and the right.

I’ve long thought the time had come for the United States to thaw its frozen relationship with a tiny island nation that no longer poses any serious threat to this country.

President Barack Obama shook the hand of Cuba’s President Raul Castro. It was a brief, spontaneous moment at the start of ceremonies honoring the life of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. That’s all it was.


Republican pols bristled at the moment. Democratic pols loved it.

For more than five decades, American presidents starting with Dwight Eisenhower have ignored Cuba, a country taken over in a revolution led by communist despot Fidel Castro, Raul’s older brother. The Castros overthrew an equally despicable tyrant and U.S. officials thought initially life would get better for Cubans. It didn’t.

Fidel Castro cozied up to the Soviet Union, allowing the Big Bear to introduce intercontinental ballistic missiles to the island. U.S. spy planes discovered them, President John Kennedy quarantined the island and threatened to blow the place to smithereens if the Cubans and Soviets didn’t take the missiles down; the other side blinked and the crisis was over.

Then the Soviet Union disintegrated. Cuban remains a communist dictatorship. But what precisely is the threat that Cuba presents to this country? None as far as I can see.

The United States maintains diplomatic relations with nations with equally dismal human rights records as Cuba. The People’s Republic of China comes to mind; Vietnam’s human rights record is pretty abysmal. We still have relations with Zimbabwe, yes?

A fleeting handshake between two leaders doesn’t amount to anything in the context of where the greeting occurred. Nelson Mandela fostered a feeling of forgiveness and compassion when he came out of prison in 1990. He had been held captive for 27 years because he fought for the rights of the black majority in his country.

I think it’s time for the United States — which has left some travel restrictions to Cuba — to finally open the door to full relations with a country that poses no threat to the world’s greatest military and economic power.

JFK murder myth will live forever

Myths never die.

They live forever. And ever.

Thus, the myth that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of some grand conspiracy to murder President John F. Kennedy will be with us as long as human beings populate the planet.

The nation is commemorating this coming week the 50th anniversary of the 35th president’s shocking death in Dallas. To no one’s surprise, much of the discussion will center on conspiracy theories.

Was there a second, or third gunman in Dealey Plaza that day? How did one bullet go through the president’s neck and hit Texas Gov. John Connally in the back? What about those “other gunshots” witnesses said they heard? Why did the president’s head snap backward if the shots came from behind his car?

Recent polls suggest fewer Americans today believe in these conspiracy theories than before. Still, most Americans still seem to buy into some of them … maybe all of them.

I’m not one of them.

This perhaps sounds naïve to the hard-core conspiracy crowd that keeps this myth alive, but I’ve accepted the Warren Commission report that it could find “no evidence” of a conspiracy.

Oswald was a loner and a loser who all by himself managed to fire three shots from an elevated window at a slow-moving limousine. Two of those shots hit the president, the final one being the fatal shot.

He had served in the Marine Corps and had scored reasonably well in marksmanship tests. He wasn’t a keen sharpshooter, but he was competent enough to have committed this crime.

That’s what I always have believed — and it’s what I will believe for the rest of my life.

The JFK murder conspiracy myth will outlive everyone.