Why JFK was hated: his embrace of Third World nationalists

The story about the CIA role in the arrest of Nelson Mandela in 1962 highlights a bigger and often overlooked feature of President Kennedy’s time in office: his embrace of Third World nationalists.

As recounted by independent scholar Jim DiEugenio in Robert Parry’s Consortium News, JFK supported Third World independence movements that the Pentagon and the CIA usually sought to thwart or destroy.

Two examples stand out in DiEugenio’s detailed article:

in 1957 JFK favored Algerian independence when most in the U.S. foreign policy elite favored French colonial control of that North African country.

In Congo, Ambassador Edmund Gullion, a kind of diplomatic mentor to Kennedy, favored U.S. support for Patrice Lumumba, the country’s first post-colonial prime minister, who sought to keep the country’s mineral riches from foreign control. Lumumba was feared, mistrusted and targeted for assassination by the CIA.

JFK was prescient in strategic judgment about the end of colonialism and empathetic in political assessment of anti-colonial leaders.



  1. Alan Rogers says:

    There is evidence in the record that JFK’s intentions toward central and South America in the form of the Alliance For Progress was to dethrone the dictators of_these countries and introduce more democratic regimes, a vision that appears to be not unlike what the Europeans later did with their effort at alliance. With his death, one Latin American pundit quipped that his call for the Alliance became an Alliance For Progress of American business. To this day, we as a power in the world never revived that vision of an American Union to rival the European Union to our great disadvantage.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Kennedy visited Viet Nam as a congressman in the early 1950s, during the French Indochina war. He came away believing the Viet Minh (later the Viet Cong) were nationalists at heart, fighting for independence from France, not as part of some monolithic communistic enterprise.

    In my judgment, he was correct.

    According to what I’ve read, Kennedy was attuned to nationalistic movements and wars of national liberation as a result of his early 1950s experience in Viet Nam.

    Other U.S. leaders were not. They saw all communists (e.g., Fidel Castro) as being of one stripe. They saw all wars of national liberation as communist-influenced (probably true) and therefore adverse to the interests of the U.S. Patrice Lumumba was tagged a communist; so he had to go.

    Your diary here, Jeff, ties nicely with your recent post about Oliver Stone’s view of the Kennedy presidency.

  3. LMB says:

    United Nation Correspondent’s Association Presentation.

    Not your typical Mafia. Journalist born in Sicily, Stefano Vaccara teaches two courses in Mafia history at Herbert Lehman College, CUNY. I like his explanation at the 4:40 mark on how the Mafia operated and what is was in 1963.

  4. Tom says:

    Fantastic article. Thanks for the link.

  5. Bogman says:

    If there’s anyone who can understand the deleterious effects of colonialism, it’s an Irishman.

  6. Doug Zachary says:

    The people who ran the fundamentalist orphanage in Dallas, Texas that I was raised in hated Kennedy because he was literate. Only a deeply ingrained, willful and committed ignorance could sustain their twisted vision of the World. THEY WON!

  7. Kennedy63 says:

    To: Doug Zachary.
    “THEY” HAVE NOT WON! I was placed as a ward in a Philadelphia catholic orphanage in August, 1962. The nuns were very much enamored with Kennedy (The first Irish Catholic President; however, the were very much racist in their views toward African Americans in their charge. I remember them telling us we were better suited for trades, rather then go to college. Their ignorance was not uncommon, but it did not stop me from being enlightened. Today, I hold a Bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership, a Masters in Addiction Counseling, and working on my Master’s in Psychology. Ignorance is a condition anyone can overcome,, with effort, focus, and a commitment to learning.Regarding those who hated JFK, they did not win when Kennedy was assassinated. His progressive legacy lives on. Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Vietnam ended, space has been deeply explored and given rise to a technological revolution (born of the generation Kennedy inspired!), more nations are free of colonial rule today, than when Kennedy was President (JFK was pro-nationalist movements) and Social Security, Medicare, Heads tart, Public Housing, Education, and a greater participation in the American economy by everyone (those with skills in demand and a willingness to work). Given all these positive and progressive advances, I’d say those who are ignorant and anti-progressive have not, will not and can not EVER WIN!

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