James Woolsey‘s Operation Dragon & the Triumph of ”Crackpot Realism” in U.S. Foreign Policy w/ Jim DiEugenio
On this edition of Parallax Views, earlier this year a curious new book was published dealing with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Co-written by R. James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995, and Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former Romanian spy and a noted, high-ranking Eastern Bloc defect during the Cold War, Operation Dragon: Inside the Kremlin's Secret War Against America argues that the JFK assassination was the result of a plot involving the Soviet Union's Nikita Khrushchev and Cuba's Fidel Castro. Lee Harvey Oswald, the book claims, was instructed by Khrushchev to kill President Kennedy. According to Woolsey and Pacepa, Khrushchev actually called off the plot for fear that it might be discovered and lead right back to him as one of the perpetrators. What Khrushchev did not count on, say Woolsey and Pacepa, is that Oswald would go rogue and carry out the assassination plot in spite of orders to the contrary. In other words, Operation Dragon alleges that President Kennedy's assassination was the result of nefarious Soviet treachery.
Is Operation Dragon just another entry in dizzying array of theories positing an alternative to the Warren Commission Report's oft-contested findings concerning the fatal shooting of a sitting President of the United States in Dallas, TX on November 22nd, 1963? Perhaps. Then again, most books that challenge, in varying degrees, the official line on the Kennedy assassination aren't written by ex-CIA Directors.
But the curiosity of the book's co-author, the aforementioned James Woolsey, penning a book dealing with the Kennedy assassination doesn't end with his status as the former highest-ranking official in the CIA. In addition to his tenure as DCIA, Woolsey served as U.S. Under Secretary of the Navy in the late 1970s and was involved in negotiations with the Soviet Union in the 1980s. In other words, he was in the thick of it, so to speak, during the Cold War.
Most curiously of all, however, when it comes to Woolsey is his connections to the neoconservative foreign policy movement and his penchant for promoting various conspiratorial fears about foreign countries even prior to the publication of Operation Dragon. A member of the notoriously hawkish neocon think tank The Project for a New American Century (PNAC) before its dissolution in 2006, Woolsey has stoked fears that North Korea could use electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons against the United States and was also a notable proponent of the theory that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq were involved in the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Since the publication of Operation Dragon, Woolsey has appeared on the right-wing outlet Newsmax to promote his theory about the Kennedy assassination. This, combined with his neoconservative inclinations and conspiratorial musings that align quite well with the bolstering of a hawkish, pro-war agenda, raises the question of Woolsey's political motivations in promoting what The Daily Beast has referred to as a "QAnon-style spin" on the Kennedy assassination.
Joining us to pushback against Woolsey's JFK assassination theory and place it within the context of his hawkish neocon history is returning guest James DiEugenio, the leading figure behind the website Kennedys and King, writer for the upcoming Oliver Stone documentary JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, and author of such books as Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case, Reclaiming Parkland: Tom Hanks, Vincent Bugliosi, and the JFK Assassination in the New Hollywood, and The JFK Assassination. DiEugenio argues that not only is Woolsey's Kennedy assassination theory wrong, but that it is representative of a certain brand of foreign policy thinking in Washington, D.C. that sociologist C. Wright Mills would refer to as "crackpot realism".
Before delving into Operation Dragon, however, Jim fills us in on the latest news concerning the fight to declassify and release the last of the JFK records. We discuss how President Trump, despite at times signaling to the contrary, helped keep the records declassified during his Presidency. Now said records and their review for declassification lay in the hands of President Joe Biden.
Then we shift our attention to Operation Dragon and discuss the problems with the book's claims that theoretical physicist and "Father of the Atomic Bomb" J. Robert Oppenheimer and British Prime Minister Clement Attlee were secretly Soviet spies, the relationship between Woolsey's theories on the Kremlin and the paranoid "Monster Plot" of the CIA's James Jesus Angleton, a brief history of neoconservatism, Woolsey's neocon credentials, the relationship between the narrative of the Cold War promoted by Woolsey and the ideas of the far right-wing John Birch Society, James Angleton and the origins of the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was a KGB agent or asset,, Operation Dragon as a retread of the narrative put forth in Edward Jay Epstein's 1992 book Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald, Norman Cousins and the quest for détente with Khrushchev's Soviet Union, French journalist Jean Daniel's meeting with Fidel Castro in Havana on the day of Kennedy's assassination , Kennedy and rapprochement negotiations with Cuba, Khrushchev and Castro's reactions to the assassination, why neither the Soviet Union or Cuba benefitted from Kennedy's assassination, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze's Cold War ideology and the rise of neoconservatism, neoconservatism as an ideology that has now slipped into both the Republican and Democratic Parties, "crackpot realism" in the killing of Gaddafi in Libya and the U.S. intervention in Assad's Syria, Barack Obama and the CIA's classified weapons supply and training program in Syria known as "Timber Sycamore", the Project for American Century's agenda, George HW Bush's comments calling the neocons "the crazies in the basement" of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the notion that Henry Kissinger and Henry Kissinger were "soft" on Communism during the Cold War, neocons as constantly seeking pretexts for war, the late Russian studies scholar Stephen F. Cohen vs. Richard Pipes on the Soviet Union, Nixon and Kissinger as being to the right of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher on Mikhail Gorbachev, neocons and the Australia nuclear submarines deal as part of a geopolitical strategy against China, "Noble Lies" and the selling of wars, NATO's expansion and the lack of historical context provided by crackpot realism in foreign policy, Woolsey's book as a psyop, PNAC member Robert Kagan and his wife Victoria Nuland's involvement in U.S. foreign policy related to Ukraine, the neocon agenda as bankrupting the U.S. and destroying social programs vis-à-vis war spending, and, much, much more.