Showing posts with label De Gaulle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label De Gaulle. Show all posts

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Trouble Brewing : Sikorski & De Gaulle

General Władysław Sikorski [Killed by the British], General Andrew McNaughton, Winston Churchill [Killer of the British] and Charles de Gaulle [Almost killed by the British]

"Never the Anglo-Saxons really treated us as real allies. They never consulted us, government to government, on any of their provisions. For political purpose or by convenience, they sought to use the French forces for their own goals, as if these forces belonged to them, alleging that they had provided weapons to them [...] I considered that I had to play the French game, since the others were playing theirs ... I deliberately adopted a stiffened and hardened attitude ...".

- General Charles De Gaulle

"He felt it was essential to his position before the French people that he should maintain a proud and haughty demeanour towards "perfidious Albion", although in exile, dependent upon our protection and dwelling in our midst. He had to be rude to the British to prove to French eyes that he was not a British puppet. He certainly carried out this policy with perseverance".

- Winston Spencer Churchill

I quote The Enemy :

"On April 21, 1943, de Gaulle was scheduled to fly in a Wellington bomber to Scotland to inspect the Free French navy. On take-off, the bomber's tail dropped, and the plane nearly crashed into the airfield's embankment. Only the skill of the pilot saved them. 

On inspection, it was found that aeroplane's separator rod had been sabotaged, using acid.

Britain's MI6 investigated the incident, but no one was ever apprehended. De Gaulle blamed the Western Allies, and later told colleagues that he no longer had confidence in them."

From Shirer : 

JULY 20, 1944

Shortly after 6 o’clock on the warm, sunny summer morning of July 20, 1944, Colonel Stauffenberg, accompanied by his adjutant, Lieutenant Werner von Haeften, drove out past the bombed-out buildings of Berlin to the airport at Rangsdorf. In his bulging briefcase were papers concerning the new Volks- grenadier divisions on which at 1 p.m. he was to report to Hitler at the ”Wolf’s Lair” at Rastenburg in East Prussia. In between the papers, wrapped in a shirt, was a time bomb.

It was identical to the one which Tresckow and Schlabrendorff had planted in the Fuehrer’s airplane the year before and which had failed to explode. Of English make, as we have seen, it was set off by breaking a glass capsule, whose acid then ate away a small wire, which released the firing pin against the percussion cap. The thickness of the wire governed the time required to set off the explosion. On this morning the bomb was fitted with the thinnest possible wire. It would dissolve in a bare ten minutes.

At the airport Stauffenberg met General Stieff, who had produced the bomb the night before. There they found a plane waiting, the personal craft of General Eduard Wagner, the First Quartermaster General of the Army and a ringleader in the plot, who had arranged to put it at their disposal for this all-important flight. By 7 o’clock the plane was off, landing at Rastenburg shortly after 10 a.m. Haeften instructed the pilot to be ready to take off for the return trip at any time after twelve noon."

From Irving :

"On May 11, 1967, a letter in the Daily Telegraph disclosed that sabotage was discovered in a British plane carrying General de Gaulle, shortly before it took off.51 As the British Government’s support for de Gaulle at that time, the spring of 1943, was causing as much dissension with Washington as its support for General Sikorski was causing with Moscow, it seems appropriate to investigate the de Gaulle incident in closer detail than the writer of the letter, who had been a passenger in the aircraft, could relate.

It is a matter of record that Mr Churchill’s memoranda of early 1943 rang with veiled threats to General de Gaulle, urging him to offer closer co-operation to his western Allies and to be more accommodating to other French leaders, particularly General Giraudwith whom a bitter clash had been precipitated by the assassination of Admiral Darlan towards the end of 1942; the assassination had left French North Africa politically leaderless, and the dispute between Giraud and de Gaulle was souring the whole Western Alli- ance. In January 1943, Churchill had advised de Gaulle that the British could get on very well without him, and he asked Eden to “knock him about pretty hard” for his own sake. In a personal interview with the French leader, Churchill warned de Gaulle that if he continued to be an obstacle to Allied planning, the British would not hesitate to break with him finally.

De Gaulle had remained obdurate, and Churchill was concerned to see that President Roosevelt was plying him with an increasing number of accusations against the General furnished by the State Department and American Secret Service; it seemed increasingly clear that British support of de Gaulle might lead to an estrangement between the British and American governments. Towards the end of May, he even cabled London from Washington asking them to consider urgently whether it would not be best to eliminate de Gaulle altogether as a political figure.

When the newspaper item was raised with the Ministry of Defence, they replied that there was no record of any unusual incident occurring on the General’s flight concerned, on April 21, 1943.

This author has however traced the pilot, and a most unusual story has emerged: on that date General de Gaulle was due to fly to Glasgow to distribute decorations to sailors of the Free French Navy; in his party were the Commander-in-Chief of the Free French Navy, Admiral Auboyneau; a British liaison officer, Lieutenant Commander E. D. P. Pinks, RNVR; Captain François Charles-Roux, de Gaulle’s aide de camp; and Lieutenant William Bonaparte-Wyse, the Admiral’s Flag Lieutenant. Normally de Gaulle did not fly anywhere, but on this occasion Glasgow was so far that the Air Ministry had suggested about three days before that he should fly.

A Wellington bomber, which had been converted to passenger transportation in No. 24 Squadron, Transport Command, was placed at his disposal, and Flight Lieutenant Peter Loat, D.F.C., was allo- cated to fly the party to the airfield nearest to Glasgow, which in those days was Abbotsinch. Loat checked the weather at about nine A.M., and half an hour later the security officers came to check the aircraft, a converted Wellington Mark IA; these carried three crew and ten passengers, normally. There were five such Wellingtons in Loat’s Flight at the time.

General de Gaulle’s party arrived about a quarter of an hour later. They were met by the Squadron Commander of No. 24 Squadron, and ten minutes later all of them boarded the aircraft after being properly fitted out with Mae Wests and parachute harness. Loat started the twin engines and taxied onto the runway, where he ran up his engines, and tested them and his flight controls in the pre- scribed manner. Everything was functioning normally, and at 10.05 A.M. he was granted permission to move onto the head of the runway and take off.The take-off procedure at Hendon airport was rather complicated for Wellington bombers in those days. It was a heavy aircraft, and the runway was short and there was a somewhat daunting railway embankment at its end. Loat’s custom was to turn his Wellington round at the very extreme end of the runway, then apply his parking brakes until both engines were racing at maximum power; then he would lift the tail off the ground by using his elevator controls, and with the aircraft in “flying position” would race down the runway at high speed, gaining enough momentum to lift over the embankment at its end.

On this occasion, his Wellington had no sooner lifted its tail off the ground than the elevator control column went loose in his hand, and the tail dropped back to the ground. Loat throttled back the engines at once, thankful that he had not begun his take-off run; he looked out of his side window, and operated his control column, but there was no movement from the elevators at all. Somewhere the controls had parted. He informed the control tower that the aircraft was unserviceable, and returned to the tarmac. A Wing Commander was waiting for him. Flight Lieutenant Loat told him what was wrong, and General de Gaulle and his party were asked to leave the plane. The pilot and his maintenance Flight Sergeant climbed into the aircraft’s tail, together with the Wing Commander, who was the airport security officer. Here they discovered that the controls had parted at the bolt line of the plate which connects the control rods to the elevator: from the nature of the fracture it was concluded that a powerful acid had been employed, and in this way the control system had passed muster during the routine maintenance inspection.

General de Gaulle and his party were transferred to another plane. The Wing Commander asked the pilot to select another one at ran- dom, which he thought least likely to have been sabotaged; he picked a training aircraft, a Hudson, and it was in this plane that the whole party took off at eleven o’clock for Glasgow. There was a highly secret investigation of the whole incident, to which the pilot submitted written evidence; samples of the fractured unit were sent to R.A.E. Farnborough for analysis, and it was subsequently confirmed to the pilot that there had been sabotage. He was given to believe that the Germans were responsible.55 It is not possible now to establish the conclusions of the security branch’s investigations, as they are by custom not revealed. General de Gaulle returned from Glasgow by train, and he never again flew by plane in Britain.

It cannot be denied that the possibility remains that some or even all of these incidents – the belly-landings, elevators jamming, controls breaking, camouflaged sabotage bombs and engine defects – have explanations which are anything but sinister. But when promi- nent and controversial statesmen were the passengers, it was not to be wondered if suspicion was generated in some circles by the secrecy that was cast around them by the British authorities."

"A group of Fascist French generals dedicated to keeping Algeria as a French colony were the middle group in the 1961 and 1962 assassination attempts on French General DeGaulle. A French colonel, Bastien Thiery, commanded the 1962 group of professional assassins who made the actual assassination attempt on DeGaulle. Colonel Thiery set his group of assassins up at an intersection in the suburbs of Paris in this final attempt in 1962 to kill DeGaulle. The gunmen fired more than one hundred rounds in the 1962 Colonel Thiery assassination attempt. But General DeGaulle, traveling in his bullet proof car, evaded being hit, although all of the tires were shot out. The driver increased his speed and the General was saved.

Colonel Bastien Thiery was arrested, tried and executed for the attempt on DeGaulle's life but he was the breaking point between the operating level of that assassination attempt and the people financing and planning it and he went to his death without revealing the connection. General DeGaulle's intelligence, however traced the financing of his attempted assassination into the FBI's Permindex in Switzerland and Centro Mondiale Comerciale in Rome, and he complained to both the governments of Switzerland and Italy causing Permindex to lose its charter and Centro Mondiale Comerciale to be forced to move to Johannesburg, South Africa.

General DeGaulle was furious at the assassination plots and attempted assassination upon himself. He called in his most trusted officers with the French Intelligence Agency and they advised him that they were already working on the investigation to ferret out who was behind DeGaulle's attempted assassination. The French Intelligence Agency in a very short while completely traced the assassination attempt through Permindex, the Swiss corporation, to the Solidarists, the Fascist White Russian emigre intelligence organization and Division Five, the espionage section of the FBI, into the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, Belgium. French intelligence thus determined that the attempts on General DeGaulle's life were being directed from NATO in Brussels through its various intelligence organizations and specifically, Permindex in Switzerland, basically a NATO intelligence front using the remnants of Adolph Hitler's intelligence units in West Germany and also, the intelligence unit of the Solidarists headquartered in Munich, Germany.

The overall command of the DeGaulle assassination unit was directed by Division Five of the FBI. Upon learning that the intelligence groups controlled by the Division Five of the FBI in the headquarters of the NATO organization had planned all of the attempts of his life, DeGaulle was inflamed and ordered all NATO units off of French soils. Under the contract between France and NATO, General DeGaulle could not force them to move for a period of time somewhat exceeding one year; yet, he told NATO to get off the soil of France and put the machinery in operation to remove them within the treaty agreements with the organization. The Defense Intelligence Agency, the intelligence arm of all armed forces in the United States and Division Five, the counter- espionage agency for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were both found to have been the controlling agencies in NATO directing the assassination attempts on DeGaulle's life.

DIA and Division Five of the FBI were working hand in glove with the White Russian emigre intelligence arm, the Solidarists, and many of the Western European intelligence agencies were not aware of the assassination plan worked directly through NATO headquarters. Even the high echelons of the United States CIA were not aware of the DIA, FBI and Solidarist directed activities. Jerry Milton Brooks, a close associate of Maurice Brooks Gatlin, Sr., testified in New Orleans that Gatlin was a transporter for the CIA and Division Five of the FBI. Gatlin in 1962 left New Orleans of behalf of Permindex with $100,000.00 in cash of the FBI's money and delivered the cash on behalf of Division Five and Permindex to the group of Fascist French generals planning the assassination of General DeGaulle. Gatlin flew from New Orleans directly to Paris, France and made the delivery.

Gatlin was the general counsel to the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, and he worked directly under Guy Bannister. In 1964 Gatlin was thrown, pushed, or fell from the sixth floor of the El Panama Hotel in Panama during the middle of the night and was killed instantly. Guy Bannister had been in charge of the midwestern FBI Division Five operation with headquarters in Chicago up until 1955. At this time, J. Edgar Hoover shifted Bannister from an official basis with Division Five to a retainer and contractual basis with the espionage section of the agency and moved him to New Orleans where Bannister worked with the New Orleans police department and later from a private office at 544 Camp Street."

" On February 21 1966, Presidenr De Gaulle told a press conference that although he was not pulling out of NATO, he was going to end the French participation in the military aspects of the alliance. This meant that all French ground, air, and naval forces would be withdrawn from the NATO command. It also meant that NATO military headquarters, which had been in Paris for almost twenty years, would have to be moved, as would American bases in France.

Many people expected me to denounce the French leader's move and to resist his disruptive tactics, but I had long since decided that the only way to deal with De Gaulle's fervent nationalism was by restraint and patience. He would not remain in power forever, and I felt sure that the fundamental common interests and friendship of our two nations would survive. To have attacked De Gaulle would only have further enflamed French nationalism and offended French pride. It would also have created strains among the nations of the European Common Market and complicated their domestic politics.

As I told Bob McNamarra, when a man asks you to leave his house, you don't argue; you get your hat and go. McNamarra and our military leaders moved U.S. bases out of France with magnificent efficiency. While NATO headquarters was being shifted to Brussels, our other allies carried on their responsibilities with quiet determination.

What concerned me most about De Gaulle's decisions was that it threatened the unity of NATO, which had been so carefully developed over two decades. NATO was essential to the security of Europe and the United States. "

Who was the most senior member of the Military Industrial Intelligence complex to be fired by John Kennedy in the wake of the Bay of Pigs?

Give me your first answer, don't think about it.

Not even close.

Allen Dulles retired, was awarded a medal for his service by John Kennedy and remained a close friend of the family until at least 1964, probably right up until his death.

RFK requested he go down to Louisiana as the President's envoy during the Freedom Rider murders case because he was the only person with stature that they trusted.

It was Lemnitzer.

He was fired, demoted and sent to Portugal, where he repeatedly attempted to murder DeGaulle.

“Here was a president who had no military experience at all, sort of a patrol-boat skipper in World War II,” 

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Lyman Lemnitzer

He was demoted down from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs down to Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), the same job Haig held during the Carter years, before resigning to run against him.

There was almost a Revolution in France in 1968 - over nothing.

That was Lemnitzer (with the help of McGeorge Bundy).

This was GLADIO writ large.

Lemnitzer was the one who took GLADIO operational and applied Northwoods to Europe - he decided not to wait for the Soviets to arrive and in 1969, launched "The Hot Autumn" in Italy, commencing the infamous "Years of Lead".

That was Lemnitzer.

It's a fair bet that most Americans, both in 1967, or now, don't give a fuck what happens in Belgium.

In 1967, when Jim Garrison discovered PERMINDEX, he assumed that it was a CIA Operation, and that Clay Shaw was primarily an agent of the CIA - because what else would it be?

But PERMINDEX wasn't a CIA operation (primarily) - it was a NATO Intelligence Operation, and always was.

And this is where the Corsicans come from.

PERMINDEX was all Fascist money:

"A group of Fascist French generals dedicated to keeping Algeria as a French colony were the middle group in the 1961 and 1962 assassination attempts on French General DeGaulle. A French colonel, Bastien Thiery, commanded the 1962 group of professional assassins who made the actual assassination attempt on DeGaulle. Colonel Thiery set his group of assassins up at an intersection in the suburbs of Paris in this final attempt in 1962 to kill DeGaulle. The gunmen fired more than one hundred rounds in the 1962 Colonel Thiery assassination attempt. But General DeGaulle, traveling in his bullet proof car, evaded being hit, although all of the tires were shot out. The driver increased his speed and the General was saved.

Colonel Bastien Thiery was arrested, tried and executed for the attempt on DeGaulle's life but he was the breaking point between the operating level of that assassination attempt and the people financing and planning it and he went to his death without revealing the connection. General DeGaulle's intelligence, however traced the financing of his attempted assassination into the FBI's Permindex in Switzerland and Centro Mondiale Comerciale in Rome, and he complained to both the governments of Switzerland and Italy causing Permindex to lose its charter and Centro Mondiale Comerciale to be forced to move to Johannesburg, South Africa."

There were only three nuclear powers in NATO, and only one with a declared independent nuclear deterrent.

It's absolutely unthinkable that the anti-Gaullist Generals would even consider an attempt on the Head of State's life without the approval of NATO Command.

 (Remember, about a third of NATO has either been a fascist dictatorship (Spain and Portugal), or a military Junta (Greece and Turkey) during the lifetime of the Alliance)

I mean, what if the SACEUR concluded that the KGB did it and the French Nuclear Football was in play?

Of course, this was never even contemplated. 

Because NATO Command knew that it wasn't true, even before it occurred.

Why do Americans always ignore the fact that NATO exists?

Most American nuclear weapons are NOT on US soil, and never have been....

The SACEUR (Eisenhower, Lemnitzer, Alexander Haig and others) are in the perfect position to start World War III via an Able Archer '83 style exercise or GLADIO False Flag stunt any time they like....

"The NATO commander, General Lauris Norstad, and two Air Force generals, Curtis LeMay and Thomas Power, stubbornly opposed White House directives that reduced their authority to decide when to go nuclear. 

The 54-year-old Norstad confirmed his reputation as fiercely independent when two high-profile Kennedy emissaries, thought to be Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, visited NATO’s strategic military command in Belgium. 

They asked whether Norstad’s primary obligation was to the United States or to its European allies. 

“My first instinct was to hit” one of the Cabinet members for “challenging my loyalty,” he recalled later. Instead, he tried to smile and said, “‘Gentlemen, I think that ends this meeting.’ Whereupon I walked out and slammed the door.” 

Norstad was so clearly reluctant to concede his commander in chief’s ultimate authority that Bundy urged Kennedy to remind the general that the president “is boss.” "

In 1962, President Kennedy watches B-52 bombers in FLorida as their pilots show their readiness for war. General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force chief of staff and JFK's frequent antagonist, looks over his shoulder. (Associated Press)

Every enlisted man dreams of it: pulling rank on the military’s highest brass. The heroics of John F. Kennedy, lieutenant, junior grade, in the South Pacific after his PT‑109 was sunk in 1943 eased his way, 17 years later, to being elected the nation’s commander in chief. In the White House, he fought—and defeated—his most determined military foes, just across the Potomac: the members of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Here was a president who had no military experience at all, sort of a patrol-boat skipper in World War II,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer later said of Kennedy. Mutual respect, from the first, was in short supply.

In comparison, Nikita Khrushchev was a pushover, at least during the events that brought President Kennedy’s most-notable achievements. By persuading the Soviet leader to remove missiles from Fidel Castro’s Cuba and agree to a ban on nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space, Kennedy avoided a nuclear war and kept radioactive fallout from the air and the oceans, thereby earning the country’s enduring regard for his effectiveness as a crisis manager and negotiator. But less recognized is how much both of these agreements rested on Kennedy’s ability to rein in and sidestep his own military chiefs.

From the start of his presidency, Kennedy feared that the Pentagon brass would overreact to Soviet provocations and drive the country into a disastrous nuclear conflict. The Soviets might have been pleased—or understandably frightened—to know that Kennedy distrusted America’s military establishment almost as much as they did.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff reciprocated the new president’s doubts. Lemnitzer made no secret of his discomfort with a 43-year-old president who he felt could not measure up to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the former five-star general Kennedy had succeeded. Lemnitzer was a West Point graduate who had risen in the ranks of Eisenhower’s World War II staff and helped plan the successful invasions of North Africa and Sicily. The 61-year-old general, little known outside military circles, stood 6 feet tall and weighed 200 pounds, with a bearlike frame, booming voice, and deep, infectious laugh. Lemnitzer’s passion for golf and his ability to drive a ball 250 yards down a fairway endeared him to Eisenhower. More important, he shared his mentor’s talent for maneuvering through Army and Washington politics. Also like Ike, he wasn’t bookish or particularly drawn to grand strategy or big-picture thinking—he was a nuts-and-bolts sort of general who made his mark managing day-to-day problems.

To Kennedy, Lemnitzer embodied the military’s old thinking about nuclear weapons. The president thought a nuclear war would bring mutually assured destruction—MAD, in the shorthand of the day—while the Joint Chiefs believed the United States could fight such a conflict and win. Sensing Kennedy’s skepticism about nukes, Lemnitzer questioned the new president’s qualifications to manage the country’s defense. Since Eisenhower’s departure, he lamented in shorthand, no longer was “a Pres with mil exp available to guide JCS.” When the four-star general presented the ex-skipper with a detailed briefing on emergency procedures for responding to a foreign military threat, Kennedy seemed preoccupied with possibly having to make “a snap decision” about whether to launch a nuclear response to a Soviet first strike, by Lemnitzer’s account. This reinforced the general’s belief that Kennedy didn’t sufficiently understand the challenges before him.

Admiral Arleigh Burke, the 59-year-old chief of naval operations, shared Lemnitzer’s doubts. An Annapolis graduate with 37 years of service, Burke was an anti-Soviet hawk who believed that U.S. military officials needed to intimidate Moscow with threatening rhetoric. This presented an early problem for Kennedy, in that Burke “pushed his black-and-white views of international affairs with bluff naval persistence,” the Kennedy aide and historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. later wrote. Kennedy had barely settled into the Oval Office when Burke planned to publicly assail “the Soviet Union from hell to breakfast,” according to Arthur Sylvester, a Kennedy-appointed Pentagon press officer who brought the proposed speech text to the president’s attention. Kennedy ordered the admiral to back off and required all military officers on active duty to clear any public speeches with the White House. Kennedy did not want officers thinking they could speak or act however they wished.

Kennedy’s biggest worry about the military was not the personalities involved but rather the freedom of field commanders to launch nuclear weapons without explicit permission from the commander in chief. Ten days after becoming president, Kennedy learned from his national-security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, that “a subordinate commander faced with a substantial Russian military action could start the thermonuclear holocaust on his own initiative.” As Roswell L. Gilpatric, Kennedy’s deputy defense secretary, recalled, “We became increasingly horrified over how little positive control the president really had over the use of this great arsenal of nuclear weapons.” To counter the military’s willingness to use nuclear weapons against the Communists, Kennedy pushed the Pentagon to replace Eisenhower’s strategy of “massive retaliation” with what he called “flexible response”—a strategy of calibrated force that his White House military adviser, General Maxwell Taylor, had described in a 1959 book, The Uncertain Trumpet. But the brass resisted. The stalemate in the Korean War had frustrated military chiefs and left them inclined to use atomic bombs to ensure victory, as General Douglas MacArthur had proposed. They regarded Kennedy as reluctant to put the nation’s nuclear advantage to use and thus resisted ceding him exclusive control over decisions about a first strike.

The NATO commander, General Lauris Norstad, and two Air Force generals, Curtis LeMay and Thomas Power, stubbornly opposed White House directives that reduced their authority to decide when to go nuclear. The 54-year-old Norstad confirmed his reputation as fiercely independent when two high-profile Kennedy emissaries, thought to be Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, visited NATO’s strategic military command in Belgium. They asked whether Norstad’s primary obligation was to the United States or to its European allies. “My first instinct was to hit” one of the Cabinet members for “challenging my loyalty,” he recalled later. Instead, he tried to smile and said, “ ‘Gentlemen, I think that ends this meeting.’ Whereupon I walked out and slammed the door.” Norstad was so clearly reluctant to concede his commander in chief’s ultimate authority that Bundy urged Kennedy to remind the general that the president “is boss.”

General Power, too, was openly opposed to limiting the use of America’s ultimate weapons. “Why are you so concerned with saving their lives?” he asked the lead author of a Rand study that counseled against attacking Soviet cities at the outset of a war. “The whole idea is to kill the bastards … At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win.” Even Curtis LeMay, Power’s superior, described him as “not stable” and a “sadist.”

The 54-year-old LeMay, known as “Old Iron Pants,” wasn’t much different. He shared his subordinate’s faith in the untrammeled use of air power to defend the nation’s security. The burly, cigar-chomping caricature of a general believed the United States had no choice but to bomb its foes into submission. In World War II, LeMay had been the principal architect of the incendiary attacks by B‑29 heavy bombers that destroyed a large swath of Tokyo and killed about 100,000 Japanese—and, he was convinced, shortened the war. LeMay had no qualms about striking at enemy cities, where civilians would pay for their governments’ misjudgment in picking a fight with the United States.

During the Cold War, LeMay was prepared to launch a preemptive nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union. He dismissed civilian control of his decision making, complained of an American phobia about nuclear weapons, and wondered privately, “Would things be much worse if Khrushchev were secretary of defense?” Theodore Sorensen, Kennedy’s speechwriter and alter ego, called LeMay “my least favorite human being.”

The strains between the generals and their commander in chief showed up in exasperating ways. When Bundy asked the Joint Chiefs’ staff director for a copy of the blueprint for nuclear war, the general at the other end of the line said, “We never release that.” Bundy explained, “I don’t think you understand. I’m calling for the president and he wants to see [it].” The chiefs’ reluctance was understandable: their Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan foresaw the use of 170 atomic and hydrogen bombs in Moscow alone; the destruction of every major Soviet, Chinese, and Eastern European city; and hundreds of millions of deaths. Sickened by a formal briefing on the plan, Kennedy turned to a senior administration official and said, “And we call ourselves the human race.”


The tensions between Kennedy and the military chiefs were equally evident in his difficulties with Cuba. In 1961, having been warned by the CIA and the Pentagon about the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s determination to export communism to other Latin American countries, Kennedy accepted the need to act against Castro’s regime. But he doubted the wisdom of an overt U.S.-sponsored invasion by Cuban exiles, fearing it would undermine the Alliance for Progress, his administration’s effort to curry favor with Latin American republics by offering financial aid and economic cooperation.

Nuclear tensions, and the bumbling at the bay of pigs, convinced Kennedy that a primary task of his presidency was to bring the military under strict control.

The overriding question for Kennedy at the start of his term wasn’t whether to strike against Castro but how. The trick was to topple his regime without provoking accusations that the new administration in Washington was defending U.S. interests at the expense of Latin autonomy. Kennedy insisted on an attack by Cuban exiles that wouldn’t be seen as aided by the United States, a restriction to which the military chiefs ostensibly agreed. They were convinced, however, that if an invasion faltered and the new administration faced an embarrassing defeat, Kennedy would have no choice but to take direct military action. The military and the CIA “couldn’t believe that a new president like me wouldn’t panic and try to save his own face,” Kennedy later told his aide Dave Powers. “Well, they had me figured all wrong.” Meeting with his national-security advisers three weeks before the assault on Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, according to State Department records, Kennedy insisted that leaders of the Cuban exiles be told that “U.S. strike forces would not be allowed to participate in or support the invasion in any way” and that they be asked “whether they wished on that basis to proceed.”When the Cubans said they did, Kennedy gave the final order for the attack.

The operation was a miserable failure—more than 100 invaders killed and some 1,200 captured out of a force of about 1,400. Despite his determination to bar the military from taking a direct role in the invasion, Kennedy was unable to resist a last-minute appeal to use air power to support the exiles. Details about the deaths of four Alabama Air National Guard pilots, who engaged in combat with Kennedy’s permission as the invasion was collapsing, were long buried in a CIA history of the Bay of Pigs fiasco (unearthed after Peter Kornbluh of George Washington University’s National Security Archive filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2011). The document reveals that the White House and the CIA told the pilots to call themselves mercenaries if they were captured; the Pentagon took more than 15 years to recognize the airmen’s valor, in a medal ceremony their families were required to keep secret. Even more disturbing, this Bay of Pigs history includes CIA meeting notes—which Kennedy never saw—predicting failure unless the U.S. intervened directly.

Afterward, Kennedy accused himself of naïveté for trusting the military’s judgment that the Cuban operation was well thought-out and capable of success. “Those sons of bitches with all the fruit salad just sat there nodding, saying it would work,” Kennedy said of the chiefs. He repeatedly told his wife, “Oh my God, the bunch of advisers that we inherited!” Kennedy concluded that he was too little schooled in the Pentagon’s covert ways and that he had been overly deferential to the CIA and the military chiefs. He later told Schlesinger he had made the mistake of thinking that “the military and intelligence people have some secret skill not available to ordinary mortals.” His lesson: never rely on the experts. Or at least: be skeptical of the inside experts’ advice, and consult with outsiders who may hold a more detached view of the policy in question.

The consequence of the Bay of Pigs failure wasn’t an acceptance of Castro and his control of Cuba but, rather, a renewed determination to bring him down by stealth. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the president’s younger brother and closest confidant, echoed the thinking of the military chiefs when he warned about the danger of ignoring Cuba or refusing to consider armed U.S. action. McNamara directed the military to “develop a plan for the overthrow of the Castro government by the application of U.S. military force.”

The president, however, had no intention of rushing into anything. He was as keen as everyone else in the administration to be rid of Castro, but he kept hoping the American military needn’t be directly involved. The planning for an invasion was meant more as an exercise for quieting the hawks within the administration, the weight of evidence suggests, than as a commitment to adopt the Pentagon’s bellicosity. The disaster at the Bay of Pigs intensified Kennedy’s doubts about listening to advisers from the CIA, the Pentagon, or the State Department who had misled him or allowed him to accept lousy advice.


During the early weeks of his presidency, another source of tension between Kennedy and the military chiefs was a small landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Laos looked like a proving ground for Kennedy’s willingness to stand up to the Communists, but he worried that getting drawn into a war in remote jungles was a losing proposition. At the end of April 1961, while he was still reeling from the Bay of Pigs, the Joint Chiefs recommended that he blunt a North Vietnamese–sponsored Communist offensive in Laos by launching air strikes and moving U.S. troops into the country via its two small airports. Kennedy asked the military chiefs what they would propose if the Communists bombed the airports after the U.S. had flown in a few thousand men. “You [drop] a bomb on Hanoi,” Robert Kennedy remembered them replying, “and you start using atomic weapons!” In these and other discussions, about fighting in North Vietnam and China or intervening elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Lemnitzer promised, “If we are given the right to use nuclear weapons, we can guarantee victory.” By Schlesinger’s account, President Kennedy dismissed this sort of thinking as absurd: “Since [Lemnitzer] couldn’t think of any further escalation, he would have to promise us victory.”

The clash with Admiral Burke, tensions over nuclear-war planning, and the bumbling at the Bay of Pigs convinced Kennedy that a primary task of his presidency was to bring the military under strict control. Articles in Time andNewsweek that portrayed Kennedy as less aggressive than the Pentagon angered him. He told his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, “This shit has got to stop.”

Still, Kennedy couldn’t ignore the pressure to end Communist control of Cuba. He wasn’t ready to tolerate Castro’s government and its avowed objective of exporting socialism to other Western Hemisphere countries. He was willing to entertain suggestions for ending Castro’s rule as long as the Cuban regime demonstrably provoked a U.S. military response or as long as Washington’s role could remain concealed. To meet Kennedy’s criteria, the Joint Chiefs endorsed a madcap plan called Operation Northwoods. It proposed carrying out terrorist acts against Cuban exiles in Miami and blaming them on Castro, including physically attacking the exiles and possibly destroying a boat loaded with Cubans escaping their homeland. The plan also contemplated terrorist strikes elsewhere in Florida, in hopes of boosting support domestically and around the world for a U.S. invasion. Kennedy said no.

Policy toward Cuba remained a minefield of bad advice. By late August 1962, information was flooding in about a Soviet military buildup on the island. Robert Kennedy urged Rusk, McNamara, Bundy, and the Joint Chiefs to consider new “aggressive steps” that Washington could take, including, according to notes from one discussion, “provoking an attack against Guantanamo which would permit us to retaliate.” The military chiefs insisted that Castro could be toppled “without precipitating general war”; McNamara favored sabotage and guerrilla warfare. They suggested that manufactured acts of sabotage at Guantánamo as well as other provocations could justify U.S. intervention. But Bundy, speaking for the president, cautioned against action that could instigate a blockade of West Berlin or a Soviet strike against U.S. missile sites in Turkey and Italy.

The events that became the Cuban missile crisis triggered Americans’ fears of a nuclear war, and McNamara shared Kennedy’s concerns about the military’s casual willingness to rely on nuclear weapons. “The Pentagon is full of papers talking about the preservation of a ‘viable society’ after nuclear conflict,” McNamara told Schlesinger. “That ‘viable society’ phrase drives me mad … A credible deterrent cannot be based on an incredible act.”

The October 1962 missile crisis widened the divide between Kennedy and the military brass. The chiefs favored a full-scale, five-day air campaign against the Soviet missile sites and Castro’s air force, with an option to invade the island afterward if they thought necessary. The chiefs, responding to McNamara’s question about whether that might lead to nuclear war, doubted the likelihood of a Soviet nuclear response to any U.S. action. And conducting a surgical strike against the missile sites and nothing more, they advised, would leave Castro free to send his air force to Florida’s coastal cities—an unacceptable risk.

Kennedy rejected the chiefs’ call for a large-scale air attack, for fear it would create a “much more hazardous” crisis (as he was taped telling a group in his office) and increase the likelihood of “a much broader struggle,” with worldwide repercussions. Most U.S. allies thought the administration was “slightly demented” in seeing Cuba as a serious military threat, he reported, and would regard an air attack as “a mad act.” Kennedy was also skeptical about the wisdom of landing U.S. troops in Cuba: “Invasions are tough, hazardous,” a lesson he had learned at the Bay of Pigs. The biggest decision, he thought, was determining which action “lessens the chances of a nuclear exchange, which obviously is the final failure.”

Kennedy told his paramour something he could never have admitted in public: “I’d rather my children be red than dead.”

Kennedy decided to impose a blockade—what he described more diplomatically as a quarantine—of Cuba without consulting the military chiefs with any seriousness. He needed their tacit support in case the blockade failed and military steps were required. But he was careful to hold them at arm’s length. He simply did not trust their judgment; weeks earlier, the Army had been slow to respond when James Meredith’s attempt to integrate the University of Mississippi touched off riots. “They always give you their bullshit about their instant reaction and their split-second timing, but it never works out,” Kennedy had said. “No wonder it’s so hard to win a war.” Kennedy waited for three days after learning that a U-2 spy plane had confirmed the Cuban missiles’ presence before sitting down with the military chiefs to discuss how to respond—and then for only 45 minutes.

That meeting convinced Kennedy that he had been well advised to shun the chiefs’ counsel. As the session started, Maxwell Taylor—by then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—said the chiefs had agreed on a course of action: a surprise air strike followed by surveillance to detect further threats and a blockade to stop shipments of additional weapons. Kennedy replied that he saw no “satisfactory alternatives” but considered a blockade the least likely to bring a nuclear war. Curtis LeMay was forceful in opposing anything short of direct military action. The Air Force chief dismissed the president’s apprehension that the Soviets would respond to an attack on their Cuban missiles by seizing West Berlin. To the contrary, LeMay argued: bombing the missiles would deter Moscow, while leaving them intact would only encourage the Soviets to move against Berlin. “This blockade and political action … will lead right into war,” LeMay warned, and the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps chiefs agreed.

“This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich,” LeMay declared. “In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time.”

Kennedy took offense. “What did you say?”

“You’re in a pretty bad fix,” LeMay replied, refusing to back down.

The president masked his anger with a laugh. “You’re in there with me,” he said.

After Kennedy and his advisers left the room, a tape recorder caught the military brass blasting the commander in chief. “You pulled the rug right out from under him,” Marine Commandant David Shoup crowed to LeMay. “If somebody could keep them from doing the goddamn thing piecemeal—that’s our problem. You go in there and friggin’ around with the missiles, you’re screwed … Do it right and quit friggin’ around.”

Kennedy, too, was angry—“just choleric,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Gilpatric, who saw the president shortly afterward. “He was just beside himself, as close as he ever got.”

“These brass hats have one great advantage,” Kennedy told his longtime aide Kenny O’Donnell. “If we … do what they want us to do, none of us will be alive later to tell them that they were wrong.”


Jackie Kennedy told her husband that if the Cuban crisis ended in a nuclear war, she and their children wanted to die with him. But it was Mimi Beardsley, his 19-year-old intern turned paramour, who spent the night of October 27 in his bed. She witnessed his “grave” expression and “funereal tone,” she wrote in a 2012 memoir, and he told her something he could never have admitted in public: “I’d rather my children be red than dead.” Almost anything was better, he believed, than nuclear war.

Kennedy’s civilian advisers were elated when Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles. But the military chiefs refused to believe that the Soviet leader would actually do what he had promised. They sent the president a memo accusing Khrushchev of delaying the missiles’ departure “while preparing the ground for diplomatic blackmail.” Absent “irrefutable evidence” of Khrushchev’s compliance, they continued to recommend a full-scale air strike and an invasion.

Kennedy ignored their advice. Hours after the crisis ended, when he met with some of the military chiefs to thank them for their help, they made no secret of their disdain. LeMay portrayed the settlement as “the greatest defeat in our history” and said the only remedy was a prompt invasion. Admiral George Anderson, the Navy chief of staff, declared, “We have been had!” Kennedy was described as “absolutely shocked” by their remarks; he was left “stuttering in reply.” Soon afterward, Benjamin Bradlee, a journalist and friend, heard him erupt in “an explosion … about his forceful, positive lack of admiration for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Yet Kennedy could not simply disregard their advice. “We must operate on the presumption that the Russians may try again,” he told McNamara. When Castro refused to allow United Nations inspectors to look for nuclear missiles and continued to pose a subversive threat throughout Latin America, Kennedy continued planning to oust him from power. Not by an invasion, however. “We could end up bogged down,” Kennedy wrote to McNamara on November 5. “We should keep constantly in mind the British in Boer War, the Russians in the last war with the Finnish and our own experience with the North Koreans.” He also worried that violating the understanding he had with Khrushchev not to invade Cuba would invite condemnation from around the world.

Still, his administration’s goal in Cuba had not changed. “Our ultimate objective with respect to Cuba remains the overthrow of the Castro regime and its replacement by one sharing the aims of the Free World,” read a White House memo to Kennedy dated December 3, which suggested that “all feasible diplomatic economic, psychological and other pressures” be brought to bear. All, indeed. The Joint Chiefs described themselves as ready to use “nuclear weapons for limited war operations in the Cuban area,” professing that “collateral damage to nonmilitary facilities and population casualties will be held to a minimum consistent with military necessity”—an assertion they surely knew was nonsense. A 1962 report by the Department of Defense on “The Effects of Nuclear Weapons” acknowledged that exposure to radiation was likely to cause hemorrhaging, producing “anemia and death … If death does not take place in the first few days after a large dose of radiation, bacterial invasion of the blood stream usually occurs and the patient dies of infection.”

Kennedy did not formally veto the military chiefs’ plan for a nuclear attack on Cuba, but he had no intention of acting on it. He knew that the notion of curbing collateral damage was less a realistic possibility than a way for the brass to justify their multitudes of nuclear bombs. “What good are they?,” Kennedy asked McNamara and the military chiefs a few weeks after the Cuban crisis. “You can’t use them as a first weapon yourself. They are only good for deterring … I don’t see quite why we’re building as many as we’re building.”

In the wake of the missile crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev both reached the sober conclusion that they needed to rein in the nuclear arms race. Kennedy’s announced quest for an arms-control agreement with Moscow rekindled tensions with his military chiefs—specifically, over a ban on testing nuclear bombs anywhere but underground. In June 1963, the chiefs advised the White House that every proposal they had reviewed for such a ban had shortcomings “of major military significance.” A limited test ban, they warned, would erode U.S. strategic superiority; later, they said so publicly in congressional testimony.

The following month, as the veteran diplomat W. Averell Harriman prepared to leave for Moscow to negotiate a nuclear-test ban, the chiefs privately called such a step at odds with the national interest. Kennedy saw them as a treaty’s greatest domestic impediment. “If we don’t get the chiefs just right,” he told Mike Mansfield, the Senate majority leader, “we can … get blown.” To quiet their objections to Harriman’s mission, Kennedy promised them a chance to speak their minds in Senate hearings should a treaty emerge for ratification, even as he instructed them to consider more than military factors. Meanwhile, he made sure to exclude military officers from Harriman’s delegation, and decreed that the Department of Defense—except for Maxwell Taylor—receive none of the cables reporting developments in Moscow.

“The first thing I’m going to tell my successor,” Kennedy told guests at the White House, “is to watch the generals, and to avoid feeling that just because they were military men, their opinions on military matters were worth a damn.”

Persuading the military chiefs to refrain from attacking the test-ban treaty in public required intense pressure from the White House and the drafting of treaty language permitting the United States to resume testing if it were deemed essential to national safety. LeMay, however, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, could not resist planting doubts: Kennedy and McNamara had promised to keep testing nuclear weaponry underground and to continue research and development in case circumstances changed, he said, but they had not discussed “whether what [the chiefs] consider an adequate safeguard program coincides with their idea on the subject.” The Senate decisively approved the treaty nonetheless.

This gave Kennedy yet another triumph over a cadre of enemies more relentless than the ones he faced in Moscow. The president and his generals suffered a clash of worldviews, of generations—of ideologies, more or less—and every time they met in battle, JFK’s fresher way of fighting prevailed.

Robert Dallek is the author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963. This article is adapted from his new book, Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House.