5. Military-industrial complex
In a story recounted in Joseph McBride’s Into the Nightmare, Democratic Sen. Ralph Yarborough, who was riding in Vice President Johnson’s car in the Kennedy motorcade, believed “too many people wanted Kennedy dead.” The list included right-wing extremists in Texas, wealthy oil men, and others opposed to the president’s economic and civil rights policies, as well as hawks eager for a widening of the war in Vietnam.
Those individuals would benefit from what Kennedy’s predecessor, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, called the military-industrial complex. “I believe the assassination was a military coup carried out with the help of intelligence agencies and the Dallas police and the Secret Service, among others,” Yarborough told McBride. ”This was a complex plot whose composition revealed the degrees of violent antagonism Kennedy’s policies had engendered as he tried to end the war in Vietnam and deescalate the Cold War.”
A few of these conspiracy theories appear stretched and difficult to swallow. After all, as Vincent Bugliousi, the famed prosecutor who put Charles Manson behind bars, said, one must follow the evidence, not construct a motive narrative. Yet “People cannot believe someone as inconsequential as Oswald could kill someone as consequential as an American president,” historian Robert Dallek, the author of An Unfinished Life, a 2003 JFK biography, told the Dallas Morning News.
The fact that Kennedy’s assassination remains an important event in the nation’s collective consciousness 50 years later is evidence of the scar his death left on the country. The event keeps Americans looking at the evidence and wanting to know whether any further truth lies beyond the official record. JFK’s death coincided with a great change in America. He was the man that told Americans to ask what they could do for their country, but after the assassination, great social upheaval followed, including the assassination of Robert Kennedy and the escalation of the Vietnam war.
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