Donald Trump the Fascist – Part I

Donald Trump the Fascist – Part I

by

Howard Adelman

On Friday night at dinner, my friend complained that a crossword puzzle with the clue “mission” required the answer, “errand.” He thought that was unfair. I defended the answer to the clue because an errand – sending someone to fetch something – was one kind of mission, an activity directed intensely towards a single goal. My companion conceded the point and then asked what about the word “stupid”? The answer in the puzzle was “crass”. In this case, I tended to agree with my friend who was incensed at the injustice of the query.

However, my concurrence bothered me. For I knew I was often ignorant of some of the meanings of terms. Though I thought “stupid” conveyed primarily “lacking intelligence,” and “crass” conveyed “boorishness,” perhaps the two terms did, in some of the uses of each, enjoy a family resemblance. I looked “stupid” up in the thesaurus and found this additional equivalence:

crass

Crass behaviour is stupid and does not show consideration for other people.

They have behaved with crass insensitivity.

In this meaning, “crass” is not so much defined by the words and deeds of the character said to be crass, but by the crass individual’s ignorance about the effects of his (or her) behaviour. A crass individual is stupid in his or her insensitivity to others.

I begin with this very small anecdote because of puzzlement about Donald Trump who seems both crass and stupid. But how can someone so stupid, so ignorant about so much, know such a great deal about those who follow him? More significantly, how can he keep not only his own populist followers, but also so many conservatives and Republicans (the latter two are not identical) in line if he is both stupid as well as crass? Simply put, my answer comes in explaining Donald Trump as a fascist.

However, before we explore that response, it is well to understand another very different reason why we may be avoiding pinning the tail of fascism on the ass of Donald Trump. We use him and need him as either an object of ridicule or as a measure of madness. I focus on the latter.

Instead of calling DT a fascist, we say that he is mad, daft, crazy, an insane narcissist. Senator Jack Reed (D- R.I.) said, “I think — I think he’s crazy. I mean, I don’t say that lightly and [mean that] as a kind of a goofy guy.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who voted against the Republican efforts at “repeal and replace” of Obamacare, seemed to express her concurrence. This was on top of his ignorance. “I don’t think he knows there is a [Budget Control Act] or anything,” added Collins.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and celebrity on “The Shark Tank,” dubbed DT “bats” and David Brooks of The New York Times described DT as suffering from “multiple personality disorder.” However, if DT is mad, he has certainly developed a mastery of celebrity politics, more than sufficient to wipe the floor with his 16 opponents on the campaign trail for the nomination and then to go on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the Electoral College.

One problem is that if Trump is mad-as-a-hatter, we should not normally ridicule him. Blaming a madman for his erratic behaviour simply undercuts the judicial principles developed over the last century whereby the mentally disturbed are not laughed at, but rather treated for their illness. If DT is mentally ill, some might criticize him but not laugh at him. For most cases of mental illness, we extend sympathy and empathy to the troubled individual. However, some diagnoses empirically do not generally elicit sympathy. Offering sympathy or empathy in some cases takes place only at considerable risk to the one who proffers it to a severe narcissist/sociopath/psychopath. For the latter will only use that empathy to disadvantage the person who is attempting to offer it, always in order to get the upper hand. DT is a master at doing just that. Further, if he claims personal experience trumps reality supported by evidence, we can end up only treating the individual as a deliberate liar rather than delusional.

Most important, we fail to get at the source of his erratic behaviour that runs so counter to his own interests. Just last week, these irrational patterns included:

  • Continuing the efforts at humiliating his only critical ally in the legislature when he was campaigning and who was so important in linking him up with the conservative core of the Republican Party, his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions;
  • Embarrassing an organization such as the Boy Scouts by treating youth as a staging ground for his rallies with his railing against the Washington swamp, and getting those boys to cheer for him rather than his applauding them for upholding the universal virtues that the movement tries to instill in its youthful members;
  • Doing far better than central casting, appointing Scarry Moochy, Anthony Scaramucci, as his Communications Director [for only trn days] who even upped DT himself in his profanity and use of humiliation to drive his rival, White House Chief of Staff and a pillar of the Republican establishment, Reince Priebus, from office by accusing him of being a criminal and crazy at one and the same time; the Mooch called Priebus a leaker (a felony) and a paranoid schizophrenic;
  • Contrary to his campaign pledge to guard their back, DT announced that he was not only denying transgender military personnel access to state-supported funds for medical procedures to which they were entitled as members of the armed forces, a denial policy pushed by many conservatives, he went further and tweeted that he was kicking them out of the armed forces altogether, claiming the decision followed consultation with “his” generals when, in short order, it became apparent that they had been blindsided and were unwilling to implement an order contained in a tweet.

The list could go on. These were only the most outstanding expressions of what is easily dubbed as madness. These were not simply breeches of democratic norms and standards of decorum expected of a president, but symptoms of a very deep illness.

There is another view. His nuttiness is merely his unique brand of cutthroat cleverness. As the campaign was heating up, Konrad Yakabuski in The Globe and Mail eighteen months ago wrote that, “While the historians debate whether Mr. Trump is a bona fide fascist or just an opportunistic rabble-rouser, the pundits have already decided that he is crazy – like a fox. His endless disregard for the boundaries of acceptable political discourse only serves to ensure that he dominates the news cycle – to the detriment of rivals struggling to gain basic name recognition – and to consolidate his support among a slice of the electorate that is hopping mad and sick of slick career politicians.”

Craziness had been converted into political craftiness based on absolute amorality. The main object is to continually hijack the debate, to hijack debate altogether, in favour of one outlandish claim after another, each more extreme than his previous record. Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post, six months after Yakabuski penned his op-ed, opined that he had once thought that DT was just “being crazy like a fox. Now I am increasingly convinced that he’s just plain crazy.”

Crazy or crazily calculating? However, if DT is that sick, should we laugh at him or ridicule his behaviour? Rather, should we not try to analyze the source of his dysfunction and urge treatment? Instead, DT has served as a boondoggle to liberal satirists. And he is such an easy target given his inability to complete a sentence unless he has his eyes literally tied to a monitor. With his compulsion to repeat phrases, his open-hands used to wave away criticism like a set of bothersome flies while he communicates that he is totally open to the audience as his limbs move in unison to draw in identification with himself as the abiding authority.

Like primates, wolves and dogs, Trump snarls.  Dogs snarl as a defensive, protective gesture and to provide a warning signal. DT does it to communicate threatening disdain as he shrugs to deflect criticism. His distinctive eye roll relays his contempt while his smirk discounts the other as a fool and his finger pointing identifies his enemies. He purses his lips to scowl at his opponents as childish miscreants and turns his torso towards them as an expression of domination. Finally, his swept blonde hairdo signals that he is not afraid to convey any of these characteristics, but wallows in the attention these gestures bring.  He is not only a celebrity who is energized by the spotlight, but a black star that uses all its energy to absorb the light from everything around.

Many in America are reluctant to use the term “fascist” and apply it to Donald Trump lest they be regarded as “off the wall” and exaggerating. They would, thereby, undercut the opposition to Donald Trump. However, non-Americans need not be so timid. My friend, Michael Marrus, wrote an op-ed in the Globe and Mail on 7 July entitled, “The new face of fascism, American-style.” (https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/a-whiff-of-fascism-drifts-across-america/article35556412/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&) Michael is a European historian and for years was the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.

Other than prudence, Michael offered many other reasons why the term fascist had been avoided. The following elements seemed to be missing:

  • a cult of militarization and war
  • a celebration of youth
  • an idealization of sacrifice and death
  • an incubator of economic depression
  • seething ethnic quarrels.

My inclination is to suggest that all of these are lurking in the shadows. However, Michael suggested another reason for avoiding the use of the term fascist. Citing George Mosse, he wrote that, fascism is a “scavenger ideology,” “less a coherent body of thought and policy than a mood articulated by talented demagogues who patched together, from the popular culture, strident calls to action in the service of ill-defined myths of a nation’s greatness.” Michael urged us to resist the temptation and the many reasons on offer for avoiding the link between Trump’s overt behaviour and the label “fascist”. Rhetorically, he asked whether Trump’s contempt for a free press and his cruel insinuations and use of stigmas indicated a fascist personality. DT’s behaviour was not merely crass and stupid. Nor could his remarks simply be dismissed as just “inappropriate” and “disappointing”.

Michael cited Robert Kagan of the Brooking Institute, one of the few Americans unafraid to link DT with fascism in print. For fascism has come to America, “not with jackboots and salutes … but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac ‘tapping into’ popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party – out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear – falling into line behind him.”

The result has been:

  • an emphasis on fealty rather than loyalty
  • a professed disdain for elites as Trump surrounds himself with obeisant generals and billionaires as well as sycophants
  • embracing rather than rejecting the principle of contradiction
  • contempt for convention, comity and civility.

In People Magazine in 1981, Trump described humans (actually “men”) as “the most vicious of all animals.” He went further than Thomas Hobbes in insisting that this military viciousness was not even controlled or controllable by political institutions, but meant that life was just “a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” You were either a killer or a sucker. He was not a believer in the doctrine that the end justifies the means, but an idolater who believed that the only end worthy of effort was victory űber alles, including especially army generals whom he relished being made into his subordinates. The world is divided into alpha males and the “rest.”

As Trump boasted, “I was elected president.” Neither his supine nor his clever and intelligent opponents were able to defeat him. And in a memorable effort to confine Donald Trump within the constitution and some scraps of morality, Khizr Khan, father of a decorated deceased Muslim war hero whom Roger Stone, one of DT’s mentors, had labeled a “Muslim Brotherhood agent,” this “agent” waved the pamphlet containing the constitution, offering it to DT as reading material for DT seemed so ignorant of its contents, Trump was easily able to brush an attack launched from a pinnacle of virtue into the swamp created by the dam he has so assiduously built in the valley below.

As David Givens, Director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington, noted during the primary campaign referring to Donald Trump, “Nobody has done it this well since John F. Kennedy. Or Mussolini.” It is to Mussolini and his philosophical partner, Giovanni Gentile, that I want to move. However, I will first elaborate on the debate over whether DT is a fascist. My position is clear. Whether a clown or crazy, Donald Trump’s behaviour does not simply bear a superficial resemblance to that of fascists. Donald Trump deeply identifies with the philosophical tenets of fascism.

With the help of Alex Zisman – and others.

Obama in the Shadow of John F. Kennedy

Corporeality XI: Obama in the Shadow of John F. Kennedy

by

Howard Adelman

In 1957 when I was in my first year of medical school studying anatomy and histology, physiology and biochemistry at the University of Toronto, I tried to spend as much time as I could reading book after book in the Hart House Reading Room. (I had a lot of catching up to do.) I also attended, but did not participate in, Hart House debates. The last time I looked, on the wall of the Hart House Debates Room, a photograph still hangs there of one of the most memorable events in Hart House’s long and illustrious record as a forum for debating. In the picture, everyone in the audience had on a shirt, tie and jacket – except one. That figure stood out because he was wearing a white shirt, but no sport or suit jacket. That was me. I did not own a dress jacket at the time.

The other outstanding characteristic of the picture is that there were no women in the audience. Outside Hart House just below the Debates Room on the second floor, the chanting of a small gaggle of female students could be heard led by Linda Silver, Judy Graner and Margaret Brewin, the daughter of that old CCF/NDP stalwart, defender of the Japanese Canadians mistreated by the Canadian government and author of the 1965 volume on Canada’s new role in international affairs as professional peacekeepers, Stand on Guard: The Search for a Canadian Defence Policy, The three female students had asked to be able to attend but had been rebuffed by Warden Joseph McCully. In this small way, the feminist movement had begun at the University of Toronto.

The demand to attend was enormous because the guest speaker on that 14th of November was a young handsome charismatic American Senator rumoured to be on the campaign trail to become the Democratic candidate for President of the United States of America. The debate topic was worded as a negative: “The United States had not failed in its role as a world leader.” Senator John F. Kennedy defended the proposition. Steve Lewis led the opposing side. Kennedy’s side won, but barely. The only thing I remember from that debate itself, if I remember anything at all, was that Kennedy both defended the American role and performance as leader of the democratic world at the same time as he insisted that the U.S. had to step up to the plate and do much more and do it better.

Two years later, by the Fall of 1959, I and another student, who would have been classified as a mature student a few years later, went to Christie Pitts to speak about the threat of nuclear testing. I copped out, but Mac Makarchuk (later a two-term provincial MPP representing Brantford) got on a soapbox and spoke before an audience of about six that had collected in front of us. (I may be exaggerating the numbers.) Our soapbox career ended when a member of the Toronto’s finest approached us on horseback. I had a reason to be wary; he came from the police station at the south-west corner of Markham and London Streets, notorious for beating up those arrested – I had lived a block away on the south-west corner of Palmerston Ave. and London St. and often enough heard the shrieks of prisoners, though no one I knew then seemed to think it was unusual for police to beat up prisoners or were disturbed by such events. It turned out, however, that the police constable was very polite. He inquired whether we had a permit to speak. We confessed that we did not even know that we needed one. He said next time get one; in the meanwhile, wind up your speech as soon as you can.

The next morning in The Varsity, the University of Toronto student newspaper then edited by Sam Ajzenstat (who would go on to become a professor of philosophy at McMaster University), had as the front page major story, “Police Break Up Student Protesters.” Alan Walker wrote the story. In The Varsity story, he recounted the alleged events. Police on horseback charged down the hill breaking up the talk and scattering the audience. When I went to the Varsity office to confront Walker – I was the drama critic for the paper. I asked where he got his story since I had not even seen him there. He replied, “I made it up from a few details I had heard.” I was dumbfounded. He merely said coolly, “You will thank me for it. I have made you and Makarchuk heroes for your fellow students.”

The irony was that there was some truth in his prophecy. Many students contacted us and we organized the Toronto branch of the Combined Universities Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CUCND). We went on to hold large rallies and marches protesting in general against nuclear testing and against the strategy underlying the proliferation of nuclear weapons, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) to assure mutual deterrence between the Soviet Union and the West to prevent either side from initiating a nuclear war. We argued then that nuclear weapons were only useful if they were never used, and, if ever used, would prove useless because mutual deterrence had failed and we would all be dead. Our specific target was the nuclear warheads on the missiles to be installed at Sudbury.

In the battle over the Bomarc ground-to-air missiles, designed exclusively to carry nuclear warheads, Minister of Defence George Peakes and his successor, Douglas Harkness, pushed an integrated nuclear defence strategy in partnership with the United States under the NORAD mutual defence treaty signed in 1957. The agreement entailed installing Bomarcs in Sudbury. The NORAD agreement in general had been approved by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in early 1957. Diefenbaker acted then like an American Commander-in-Chief making the decision without a discussion with or the approval of either his Cabinet or the Defence Committee.

Because of dithering over paying transportation costs, safety in storage and the need for Canadian consent for their authorized use, we protesters had plenty of time to launch a powerful campaign. We soon gained an ally in the Diefenbaker cabinet, Howard Green, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was a proponent of diplomacy and peacekeeping and opposed putting nuclear-armed missiles on Canadian soil as incompatible with our international anti-proliferation stance. A few months after his inauguration in office, in May 1961, Kennedy arrived in Ottawa to meet with Diefenbaker to use his enormous persuasive powers and charm to resolve the dispute. However, the only result of this additional pressure was deepening the rift in the cabinet. In the end, the Diefenbaker cabinet broke up over these differences and Diefenbaker lost a vote of confidence in the House of Commons.

This was but a relatively minor setback for Kennedy compared to others he suffered in his first year in office. We (CUCND) had already been in direct conflict with John F. Kennedy when he was running to be elected as U.S. president in the November elections. For he ran on a platform of American military weakness in the face of the Soviet growing juggernaut – what he had dubbed in 1958 as “the missile gap,” the claim that President Eisenhower had been weak on defence and allowed the Soviet Union to leap ahead in advanced military technology. It was a fabrication. We knew it. Kennedy probably knew it and merely wanted to show he had “iron balls,” more even than the general, then President, who had led the allied fighting forces in Europe to win WWII in the European theatre.

Subsequent scholarship had absolutely verified that the claim of a missile gap was based on the exaggerated and erroneous estimates of the Gaither Committee. Our nuclear disarmament movement in Toronto had been launched by a fiction and a fabulist. Kennedy had enhanced his own presidential career prospects on a much more profound fiction. All this is background for assessing John F. Kennedy’s role as Commander-in-Chief when he won the presidency by the slimmest of margins against Richard Milhous Nixon.

While the Diefenbaker government was being torn apart over nuclear missiles, Kennedy was suffering one setback after another, even though Democrats controlled both houses of Congress with substantial majorities. The columnist George Wills dubbed it the most incompetent first year of any American presidency. When Jack Kennedy, the 35th president of the United State, was completing his first year in office, when he appeared once again on the cover of Time magazine on 5 January 1962 as Time’s man of the year, he was just beginning to recover from the depression that he had been thrust into because of a number of setbacks – from the war in the Congo, where the U.S. financed and led the UN “peacekeeping” operation, to Laos, to Berlin, but mainly in Cuba. 1961 was the year of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. It was a wonder that his approval rating at the beginning of 1962 stood at 78%.

John F. Kennedy had authorized the invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles. The original plan had called for American air support. Kennedy took that option away and made clear to the exiles that they would not be getting that air support. The Cuban exiles agreed to go ahead with their plans anyway. The CIA had prepared a report stating that there was no chance of success without American air support but it is unclear whether Kennedy ever saw it. The General Chiefs of Staff, who had been gung ho over the plan, knew the Cuban invaders would get in trouble without air support, calculated (mis-calculated as it turned out) that Kennedy would be forced to back down and would send in air support for the invaders. Kennedy did not. Castro’s intelligence service knew where the invaders were landing, when and in what strength. The Cuban military were waiting. When the exiles landed, 100 were killed and 1,200 were taken captive. The United States, and President Kennedy in particular, were covered in mud.

We in CUCND were having our own crisis at about the same time. The USSR had resumed testing now at an even more furious pace. In October 1961, they conducted a series of tests in the atmosphere, one utilizing a 50 megaton hydrogen nuclear weapon 2500 times more powerful than the one used on Hiroshima. Danny Goldstick, the President of the Communist Party on campus, was part of our comprehensive political executive. I demanded he resign unless he denounced the Soviet renewal of testing. He would not, so I resigned asking the membership to rescind his appointment to the executive as inconsistent with his support of Soviet testing.

If I was angry at Danny, think of how furious Kennedy was with the Joint Chiefs of Staff for keeping him in the dark, allowing the invasion to go awry knowing it would, and trying to trap Kennedy into making a political decision he did not want to make. He was then determined to reign in his Chiefs of Staff. The issue was command and control. 62-year-old General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, barely kept his contempt hidden for the 42-year-old President who had only ever commanded a PT Boat. Like Admiral Arleigh Burke, Air Force Generals Curtis LeMay and Austin Power, and NATO Commander General Louis Norstad, all were anti-communist hawks. All seemed willing to risk MAD by using nuclear weapons to force enemies to retreat or back down. All jealously protected their authority to use nuclear weapons as part of strategic decision-making. Admiral Burke even went on a public speaking tour to address the issue of an overall strong response to America’s enemies by really threatening to use nuclear weapons.

General Maxwell Taylor, Kennedy’s military advisor in the White House, had preceded Lemnitzer as Chief of Staff of the Army and would succeed him as Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had published a book called The Uncertain Trumpet in 1959 that had advocated the carefully calibrated use of nuclear weapons in a military theatre. Given the then existing right of senior officers to decide to use nuclear weapons, this would mean delegating to field commanders the responsibility for making decisions to use nuclear weapons. Kennedy acted. He insisted that senior military officers clear all speeches with the White House and took back exclusive authority to employ nuclear weapons to the Office of the President.

The Joint Chiefs were convinced that Kennedy could not be trusted to confront the communist enemy. They had even kept from the President their Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan that envisioned dropping 170 atomic and hydrogen bombs on Moscow alone. McGeorge Bundy had to order the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide Kennedy with a copy. The ground had been set for the conflict between the White House and the Joint Chiefs during the Cuban missile crisis in light of Kennedy’s first year of experience in dealing with the Joint Chiefs and especially their role in the Bay of Pigs disaster, but also their advice on Laos that followed.

After Lemnitzer proposed putting American troops on the ground and initiating a bombing campaign to stop the communist advances in Laos, he also proposed using nuclear weapons against the Laotian communists who were marching towards Vientiane. He even wanted to bomb Hanoi for sponsoring the guerillas. He guaranteed victory if given the right to use nuclear weapons. The military leaders ran a covert campaign in the press to portray Kennedy as lacking the guts to confront the communists.

The most farcical proposal emanating from Lemnitzer himself was Operation Northwoods, a plan to set off terrorist bombs in Miami and Florida in general against Cuban exile targets and to blame the attacks on Castro. He also advocated faking an attack against Guantánamo to give the U.S. a pretext to attack the Cuban communist regime once and for all. Then came the October Cuban nuclear missile crisis. By then my wife and I had two children. We were in total fear of an all-out nuclear war. We had one closet filled with emergency supplies. After reviewing our options, we realized that fleeing north was useless as we would only face a nuclear winter. The nuclear clock was now set at one minute to midnight.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended a sustained all-out air attack on Cuba’s missiles followed by landing American military forces on the ground. Kennedy was already angry for the reluctance of the Joint Chiefs to follow orders promptly and send troops to the previously all-white segregated University of Mississippi when James Meredith, a Black civil rights worker and former U.S. air force pilot, went to enroll under orders that had gone all the way to the Supreme Court and Governor Ross Barnett had been found in contempt. The Joint Chiefs finally dispatched the National Guard and militia under Kennedy’s authority to “suppress any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” Kennedy then ignored, rather than directly rejecting, their advice on how to handle the Cuban missile crisis fearing counter attacks on Berlin and NATO installations in Turkey and then setting the cold war powers on a path of nuclear escalation. Shades of Vietnam to come, he also feared America getting bogged down in long term guerilla war in Cuba. Kennedy opted for a blockade, itself an act of war, in parallel with a diplomatic initiative.

Khrushchev backed down and ordered his ships carrying missiles to Cuba to turn around. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R not only agreed to dismantle the missiles already in Cuba, and balance that with the dismantling of obsolete allied missiles in Turkey, but also would eventually forge a comprehensive arms control agreement to reverse the nuclear arms race and ban atmospheric nuclear testing following his famous speech. It was my first feeling of exhilaration following the terror we all felt at the time of the imminence of an all-out nuclear war. Except for Maxwell Taylor, detailing the agreement in principle involved cutting out any of the senior military officers from even news of the advances in the negotiations being conducted by Averell Harriman.  However, at the Senate hearings, the generals attacked the treaty and the ban on atmospheric testing, but the Senate decisively approved the treaty.

In Andrew Cohen’s Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Changed History, he argues that the key turning point in Kennedy’s presidency came not with the Cuban missile crisis, but in the two speeches he made a half year before he was assassinated. The first was his commencement address at American University in Washington entitled, “A Strategy of Peace” on 10 June 1963. (The one the next day on American race relations can be ignored for the purposes of this topic.) Kennedy began by insisting that ignorance is too often abroad and that the truth is rarely perceived. He argued for defining peace not in terms of either “the peace of the grave” or “the security of the state.” The goal of peace had to include peace for all. For the first time I believe in public he declared what he had concluded eighteen months earlier, that the MAD doctrine and total war made no sense, though he did not repeat what he had said to Jackie in private, that he would prefer his children to be red rather than dead.

We peaceniks had won. The most powerful leader in the free world, the main publicist of the missile gap and the need to strengthen the American military, was mouthing our positions five years later. In the comprehensive test ban treaty that was reached, Kennedy had not only avoided a nuclear war, but he had 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. When the two sides agreed to a ban on nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space, the trajectory of the nuclear arms race had been reversed. There would be no more Strontium 90 added to the atmosphere with all its dangers as a carcinogen. Kennedy had proven that diplomacy could be superior to war.

Harry Truman had understood that the Commander-in-Chief had to assert his authority over the military when senior officers indulged in a propensity to overstep their political boundaries and engage in political activities JFK’s challenges with the military had been even greater. Barack Obama would inherit a powerful precedent.

 

With the help of Alex Zisman