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Stephen Kinzer Black Op #701a
  • I was surprised and disappointed by Len’s glowing interview with Stephen Kinzer’s on his latest book about the Dulles Brothers.   

    Len is grateful to Kinzer for providing bountiful facts/info/gossip and background about Sullivan & Cromwell, the CIA and the Dulles family because, Len rightly posits, these elements held high level opposition to Kennedy and the degree of power to carry out an assassination.   Unfortunately, the book has enormous shortcomings relating to the assassination and its meaning.   

    Kinzer would have us believe that after JFK fired Allen Dulles for the Bay of Pigs fiasco the CIA orchestrated, Dulles was just puttering around his Georgetown townhouse in slippers and bathrobe out of touch with the world, not knowing what to do with himself.  Excuse me, Dulles had a line of agents a mile long making their way to his house to get their orders.   And I feel safe to speculate that some of these orders undoubtedly related to JFK’s assassination.  

    Shockingly, Kinzer gives barely a page to the Warren Report and Dulles’ pivotal and dominating role in this watershed event.  We can presume Kinzer doesn’t regard the assassination or the Report as a watershed event because he never explains two seminal points about the Warren Commission:  (1) it obfuscated and just plain lied to the American public about the facts and forensic evidence of their president’s assassination and (2) its task was to hide that what happened was a coup d’etat by the military-industrial-intelligence complex (Eisenhower’s initial wording).     

    Yes, Kinzer talks at length about the nefarious actions at Sullivan Cromwell law firm in foreign regime change and the like, and the Dulles Brothers role there.   He even addresses their representation of Nazi Germany.  Yet, Kinzer makes no mention of the fascist coup attempt against Franklin Roosevelt which General Smedley Butler exposed and which most assuredly involved Sullivan Cromwell and/or its clientele, and hence the taint if not the actual involvement of the Dulles brothers themselves. The significance of this omission is that some argue the 1934 attempted coup prefigured the Kennedy assassination by the same powerful Wall Street forces.  

    Kinzer claims that in the end, he found Allen and John Foster to be “superficial” people.  Yet, at the end of the book Kinzer remarks  how Dulles Airport is named for John Foster Dulles and there is a statue to him that initially was in front of the airport but is now relegated in the hinterlands of some carousal area.   Unconsciously exposing his admiration, Kinzer actually proposes bringing the Dulles statue out of obscurity and putting it back in front of the airport.    Translation:    let’s rehabilitate this guy and honor his achievements.  Um, Stephen should an accompanying plaque mention his affections for Nazism?  

    Because Kinzer’s book is about the Dulles Brothers it is perforce also about the making of the CIA. He names names of the elites involved back then.   Yet, go to the Index and you will not once find the words "Skull & Bones."    

    Kinzer opens his interview – and you can find it at the end of his book – that the Dulles Brothers were mirrors of the common American man, of our state of consciousness during the Dulles era, those qualities being: That we know what’s good for the world, that we have a missionary instinct and “our foreign policy should be in line with what big corporations want” and these are “traditional American impulses.”   I swear, Kinzer actually said this in the interview and emphasizes it in the book’s conclusion.  He said we shouldn’t blame only the Dulles brothers because we also wanted these results.  Did he not know that the dominant public sentiment leading to World War II was isolationist?    Was he clueless about the CIA’s Project Mockingbird which shaped American “impulses”?    Given that the Dulles brothers were two primary architects of the cold war, does he not realize that the cold war was one big CIA/Wall Street concoction and that if Americans were bombarded with the message of peace as spearheaded by JFK in his American University speech, that we’d be singing that tune and most likely have put a joint Soviet-U.S. spaceship on the moon, as that visionary president proposed?   Kinzer’s book concludes with depressing psychobabble about how we get the leaders we  deserve, the leaders representing our visions, and other such cop-out, throw-the-scent-off analysis.  

    So many more examples of the book’s inadequacies, but I can conclude here by submitting that Kinzer gives the Dulles Brother a big ride in their instrumental role of subverting democracy in America and causing terror and mayhem abroad.   David Talbott is working on a book about the Dulles brothers and I have a feeling that it will far surpass Kinzer's tepid investigation. 

  • heinrichheinrich
    Posts: 208
    I'm in agreement - to some extent. While I don't necessarily require that a book hate what I hate in order for me to favor it, Kinzer and his book do represent that sort of mainstream "credible" historical tradition that passes for American history - even though his book is pretty critical of US shenanigans (his book "Overthrow" is more pointed). The points that Kinzer makes - even the way the guy talks during the interview is almost cookie-cutter American mainstream historian. Down to the 'this is why this is so important' and 'this is why I find this so fascinating' that every historian says about his/her pet subject.

    He came off as a bit pleading and pedantic and not exactly vibrating with genuineness and authenticity. It's no surprise to me that he'd toe the party line on the assassination.

    I'd suggest a correction on one point: Eisenhower's original wording was military-industrial-congressional complex.

  • Hmmm, that's a new one military-industrial-congressional complex.  I had never heard that before.  But i just now looked on wikipedia and it's listed there.  They however also list an author as saying it was originally military-industrial-scientific complex.    I can't remember where i got the intelligence part but i seem to recall it was a credible source,  

    I was taken aback when Len asked Kinzer about Allen's womanizing.  Not sure why he was interested in that.  But I did appreciate Kinzer taking the question and running with it to illustrate a huge contrast in the public and private personas of the two brothers with John Foster being so straitlaced,  

    I guess i should have emphasized how Kinzer's book really does bring together a lot of facts about the Dulles, CIA, Sullivan Cromwell.  I suspect he knew -- as any ambitious journalist does -- that you don't write about the assassination if you want your book to sell and get reviewed.   I suspect for marketing purposes that is why Kinzer just barely puts his toe in those murky waters that are nonetheless so critical to contemporary history.   

  • heinrichheinrich
    Posts: 208
    In the documentary "Why We Fight", I believe it shows Eisenhower's draft of the speech. In the original he wrote "military-industrial-congressional" then crossed out "congressional".

    As for the other part, you're right. It's hilarious in a way that you can write a book about the US overthrowing countless governments, causing civil wars, generating conflicts that kill millions - literally, millions. But it's still somehow off-limits to think that there are people in government capable of taking out a president with a few shots to the head.
  • MinMMinM
    Posts: 444
    Thanks for the reviews. After hearing an interview of Kinzer on NPR a year ago I didn't bother listening to this one. Glad I didn't waste my time or precious data on it.

  • Well, here's the thing MinM --- Kinzer did a lot of research and knows alot about the topic.  So he does have some use.  

    Len made the point that we need to focus on the CIA, Sullivan & Cromwell as proxy for their clients, and Allen Dulles -- forces that had the power, motive and means to carry out the assassination.  He'll be doing more shows in that direction.  

    These days the "LBJ did it" canard has heated up, as Lisa Pease mentions with her prescient ABC, Anybody But the CIA.   

    On one Black Op show after Pittsburg last year, Len said out that just about every speaker there was pointing to the CIA.  

    So having Kinzer on Black Op is a step in the right direction even though he is a flawed thinker.  
  • heinrichheinrich
    Posts: 208
    I think it's a coup for BlackOp to get Kinzer on - and to be sure, we can't say absolutely that he's against 'conspiracy theories' of the assassination. He might be open to it given his recognition of (and dislike of) American imperialist adventures. No telling short of asking him - and even if he's knee-jerk as far as lone nutter goes, people's thinking can evolve.
  • I agree that Kinzer has his use for our community.   

    Word has it that he he believes the Oswald did it alone theory.   Probably explains why he didn't go deep into the Warren Commission in his book.  
  • heinrichheinrich
    Posts: 208
    I thought the latest show #702 was a good show. Nice to hear Len on his own for a change. Also specifically, giving his reasons for having Blakey, Kinzer, and others on - which has a bearing on this thread.

    I don't see any major disagreement here. I think we agree (those who have posted here) that believing in the magic bullet theory in this day and age is appalling. Not only because it papers over a human tragedy (the murder of John F. Kennedy) with all the same awfulness that one might laugh off scornfully a rape whose perpetrators then go unpunished - but also because, apart from the simple immorality of it - it shows an intellectual cowardice and a capacity for groupthink. When Len mentions his interview with Robert Stone in the latest interview, you see that clearly. Stone actually asks for 'one' piece of evidence showing the Warren Commission was wrong - which is like standing at the edge of the Amazon rainforest and demanding to be shown a single leaf.

    It just goes to show you the old adage: it takes all types to make a world. Someone like Kinzer can do great research showing the superficial greed and emptiness motivating a hundred years of U.S. government crimes abroad - everything from the 1890s on, slaughtering civilians in the Philippines, stealing Hawaii, overthrowing government after government in Latin America, causing civil wars that last decades and political disruptions that last generations - always with countless thousands of lives lost or affected - and yet despite the utter heinousness of those crimes, and the lack of humanity which surely explains them, a Kinzer thinks a single killing (JFK) impossible. Why? Because everyone is so blindly loyal and enamored by the office of President? Because a Dulles or a LeMay would never think of harming their tribal leader because they were such great citizens/humanitarians?

    It's classic cognitive dissonance. There's no other way to account for it. You *believe* (e.g. the magic bullet theory) because you know you *must*. If you have any stake in American society as an author, professor, news pundit, etc., you know where the real lines are drawn and you know them instinctively. Just as any member of any tribe knows instinctively that tribe's taboos. You don't come out and say Kennedy was obviously shot from multiple directions and the government cover-up is itself de facto proof that it was a kind of coup. Instead, you aggressively and with real zeal insist that the official fable is true.
  • On Black Op #702 Len explains why he didn't hit  Blakey and Kinzer with hard questions.   I agree with Len's strategy.  For Blakey, Len just wanted the man to speak his position.  Hopefully down the road he'll ask him hardball questions.  

    As for Kinzer, Len admitted that after a second and third read of the book, he could see the faults and deficits of the book.   Apart from that Len wants to focus on the CIA (good direction to go) and Kinzer's book is chock full of facts.  
    OK -- just read Kinzer like you would Wikipedia, for basic facts, not essays "where parties may have an interest," as it is phrased on this CTKA link describing Wikipedia's take-down of  Prouty