I didn’t want to run the above title and ignore question of interest to most people: Who killed JFK? But now that I have discharged that responsibility with Part 1, I can focus on just what caught my attention in the first place and how it dovetails with some other things I’d come across.
RFK Jr’s words, from that first article:
“The Cuba Station was “angry at my uncle for not sending in air cover during the Bay of Pigs invasion”, he says. “After the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, my uncle developed this friendship with Khrushchev, and he shut down all the attacks on Cuba by Alpha 66 and other groups who were harassing Cuba and sinking Russian ships.”
He did? Became friends with Khrushchev? Can you imagine what would happen to any pol today who became friends with a Russian leader? These days such a charge is leveled at pols with the assurance it will be a career ender if it can be made to stick. Apparently, if RFK Jr’s charge is true, it was for JFK, too—literally.
And yet, it fits well with facts I discovered in writing ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses: Searching for the Why.’ Khrushchev arguably saved the world during the tense days of the Cuban Missile crisis with a frank letter that notably defused tensions. Kennedy, who was modest enough to admit (to advisors), ‘He kicked my butt!’ at their first meeting, doubtless would have looked at the Soviet leader with some appreciation.
The letter, which I included in the ‘Statesmen’ chapter of ‘Don’t Know Why,’ reads:
Dear Mr. President:
I have received your letter of October 25. From your letter, I got the feeling that you have some understanding of the situation which has developed and (some) sense of responsibility. I value this.
. . . Everyone needs peace: both capitalists, if they have not lost their reason, and, still more, Communists….War is our enemy and a calamity for all the peoples. . . . I have participated in two wars and know that war ends when it has rolled through cities and villages, everywhere sowing death and destruction.
. . . Mr. President, do you really seriously think that Cuba can attack the United States and that even we together with Cuba can attack you from the territory of Cuba? Can you really think that way? How is it possible? We do not understand this. . . . You can regard us with distrust, but, in any case, you can be calm in this regard, that we are of sound mind and understand perfectly well that if we attack you, you will respond the same way.
. . . We, however, want to live and do not at all want to destroy your country. We want something quite different: To compete with your country on a peaceful basis. We quarrel with you, we have differences on ideological questions. But our view of the world consists in this, that ideological questions, as well as economic problems, should be solved not by military means, they must be solved on the basis of peaceful competition,
If there is no intention to tighten that knot and thereby to doom the world to the catastrophe of thermonuclear war, then let us not only relax the forces pulling on the ends of the rope, let us take measures to untie that knot. We are ready for this. . . . There, Mr. President, are my thoughts, which, if you agreed with them, could put an end to that tense situation which is disturbing all peoples. These thoughts are dictated by a sincere desire to relieve the situation, to remove the threat of war.
The superpowers came close. Was it Khrushchev’s telegram that averted catastrophe? Both sides removed missiles and the U.S. promised not to invade Cuba again. We “lucked out,” wrote The Week magazine, commenting on the telegram. Pundits will squabble till the end of time as to who was the worst villain or the best hero. It is in the eye of the beholder. But I didn't want to write a Russia-bashing book. To do so might have been a temptation, since Russia now visits unhinged persecution on the religious community that I hold dear. "Russia’s religious persecution focuses almost exclusively on Jehovah’s Witnesses,” said Rachel Denber, Deputy Director Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, in a 2020 statement to christianpost.com.
But it's not even their 'fault,' really. It is a result of an anti-cult lunacy that sweeps in from the West, like communism itself did, and finds fertile soil on which to thrive. Thrive it does, but it is an invasive species--from France. There, FECRIS operates for the purpose of harassing 'cults' (virtually anything that deviates from mainstream thinking, especially if it incorporates authority that is not that of the mainstream). Russian national Alexander Dvorkin is the VP of that organization. He was a mastermind of the anti-Witness campaign in Russia under the guise of fighting 'cults.' Of course, we Witnesses, who follow such things barely at all, imagine it is all the machinations of the House Church, the Russian Orthodox. They're happy as pigs in mud, to be sure, but they did not originate the persecution, the case for which is made in 'Don't Know Why.'
So, not wanting to bash Russia unduly, I searched for noble things to write of, and found several. There are arguably three instances of a Russian 'saving the world,' if we count Khrushchev's letter as the first:
"In 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, in charge of the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system, saw that five missiles had been launched by the United States. The eyes of all his subordinates were upon him. Had he passed the information along to his superiors, it would have triggered an immediate Soviet counterstrike. He judged it was a malfunction and told underlings to forget about it. Of course, investigation later confirmed that he had been correct. Stanislav died during 2017, to relatively scant notice.2 He is one of the Ecclesiastes “princes who went on foot like slaves, while slaves rode on horseback.”
"Another was Vasili Arkhipov. He was the sole person of three senior officers on the nuclear-missile equipped submarine B-59 who refused to authorize their use—authorization had to be unanimous—during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Thomas Blanton, then director of the U.S. National Security Archives, credited him with “saving the world.” Third was Nikita Khrushchev, mentioned in the Statecraft chapter, sending the telegram that arguably defused the Cuban tension and ended the crisis."
And now here is RFK Jr, speaking of a "friendship" that developed between Kennedy and Khrushchev. Two of the three above events occurring on his watch, it's plausible. I'd had no idea, but it's plausible.
Another thing of which I had no idea was that Khrushchev was regarded a reformer in his day, one who worked to mitigate the extremes of Stalin. I remember him as the hothead who pounded the desk with his shoe at the UN and on another occasion boasted 'We will bury you!'--which the media spun in terms of threatening war, whereas he meant economic competition. He's pretty much forgotten today, an embarrassment to be ignored, as is Mikhail Gorbachev. Both accommodated Western values in the Soviet Union/Russia. The current mood is to get as far away from that as possible—ideally, forget that it ever happened.
(See: ‘In Putin’s Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia’s Eleven Time Zones,’ by Nina Khrushcheva [Khrushchev’s granddaughter] for the current ‘ranking’ of previous Russian leaders.)
****** The bookstore