“It’s possible. It could happen in this country, but the conditions would have to be just right. If, for example, the country had a young President, and he had a Bay of Pigs, there would be a certain uneasiness. Maybe the military would do a little criticizing behind his back, but this would be written off as the usual military dissatisfaction with civilian control.”
JFK went on:
“Then if there were another Bay of Pigs, the reaction of the country would be, ‘Is he too young and inexperienced?’ The military would almost feel that it was their patriotic obligation to stand ready to preserve the integrity of the nation, and only God knows just what segment of democracy they would be defending if they overthrew the elected establishment…. Then, if there were a third Bay of Pigs, it could happen…. But it won’t happen on my watch.”
— President John F. Kennedy, quoted in Red Fay’s “The Pleasure of His Company.”
2 thoughts on “JFK on a military coup: ‘It could happen in this country’”
Paul Fay was one of JFK’s best friends, served with him in the Navy in the South Pacific, both PT boat skippers who saw action. Although a Republican, JFK appointed him assistant Navy Sec, who later replaced Ft. Worth attorney Fred Korth as Navy Sec in early November 1963. Fay was a pall bearer at JFK’s funeral. I believe JFK told Fay about the possibility of a military coup while they were sailing. JFK also related his fears of a possible coup to journalist Joseph Alsop, since identified as a CIA asset. JFK also permitted the filming in the White House of the major motion picture Seven Days in May, based on the fictional account of an attempted military coup that JFK thought realistic.