>REACT: Columnist Greeley can’t cannonize Jack Kennedy

>Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Rev. Andrew Greeley, is a successful novelist. It is unfortunate he applies his knack for fiction to his editorial writings. He is a man who knows no limit to his rich imagination, whether writing fiction or supposed fact-based commentary.

His latest lapse into creative wishful thinking centers on his July 6 column offering a Catholic influenced revisionist look at President John Kennedy. He uses an off-handed remark by the Kennedy, “All war is stupid,” to suggest that the late President was restrained in his use of the sword of war.

Contrary to Greeley’s wish and opinion, Kennedy was a warrior president of the first magnitude. Rather than shrink from the expansion of American Democracy into the authoritarian world of the day, Kennedy committed the United States to “go anywhere and pay any price” to advance freedom. His Inaugural address was, from beginning to end, a warning of the United States willingness to use military means to defeat the enemies beyond our borders. Like Roosevelt before him, and Bush after him, Kennedy believed that it was better to fight overseas before the enemy arrived on the U.S. shoreline.

Rather than show restraint in the Cuban Missile Crisis, as Greeley proffers, Kennedy was prepared to face nuclear war rather than to appease the advancement of the Communist Kremlin into the Western Hemisphere. He showed a firm willingness to back up the Monroe Doctrine (no Eastern Hemisphere influence in the Western Hemisphere) is military action. It was his resolve, not his restraint, which caused the Soviets to step down. More recent revelations show that Kennedy manipulated events and information to prepare for war as much as Roosevelt and Bush.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco was the result of a president willing to provide American encouragement and resources to a paramilitary invasion of Cuba. Unlike Bush, who sought the approval of Congress, obtained United Nations’ resolutions of authority, and assemble a significant coalition of other nations before invading Iraq, Kennedy authorized the invasion of a sovereign nation without so much as advising Congress in advance.

Kennedy also demonstrated a willingness to play footsie with organized crime to assassinate Fidel Castro. He approved the coup plan that led to the overthrow and assassination of Vietnam’s first president, Ngo Dinh Diem, by a bullet to the head. Speculation that Diem’s murder would place the Kennedy White House in jeopardy ended just days later, when Kennedy, himself, was assassinated by a bullet to the head.

Of course, the most notable example of Kennedy’s militarism was the enormous escalation of the Vietnam conflict. Upon leaving the presidency, Dwight Eisenhower warned against committing American troops to a ground war in Vietnam. Ignoring that warning, Kennedy went head long into the U.S. escalation — shifting America’s participation from a military advisory role to a full combat engagement.

Most egregious, however, is Greeley’s fraudulent contention that it was Kennedy’s mythological military restraint that brought down the Soviet Union and not “President Reagan’s grandstanding at the Brandenburg Gate” nearly thirty years later. In this, Greeley’s visceral animosity for Reagan appears to exceed his knowledge or his professional integrity – perhaps both.

There is a saying that so aptly applies to Greeley. As a columnist, he “is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts.”

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