A popular misconception is that President John F. Kennedy's assassination was an isolated event perpetrated by one man. This could not be farther from the truth. Instead, it was the result of a complex combination of domestic and foreign events. When President Kennedy was in office, he had to deal with many issues, ranging from business and finance to crime-fighting and war issues. Perhaps it is not as important to decide who it was that killed him, but why. President Kennedy's decisions and courses of action were not popular with everybody, and thus it is not surprising that his assassination was inevitable.
The people who might have wanted John F. Kennedy dead can be classified into the following groups: Russians, Cubans, Mobsters (Organized Crime/Mafia), Special Agents (CIA), G-men (J. Edgar Hoover's FBI), Rednecks and Oilmen (Right-wing Extremists), and the MIC (Military Industrial Complex). Each group had its own motives for killing John F. Kennedy. Many of these groups that wanted JFK dead are very closely intertwined, so in order to understand each group, they will each be analyzed seperately.
In order to better understand the relationship between JFK, the Cubans and Russians, several important events must be mentioned and discussed. Two of the most important foreign affairs in Kennedy's presidency were the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
During Eisenhower's administration, Cuba was torn apart by revolution. The Cuban dictator, Batista, was an extremely corrupt man. While he was enjoying a luxurious life, the people of Cuba were in poverty. Thus it was not surprising when a rebellion, led by a man named Fidel Castro, took place. Batista, knowing that the majority of Cuba wanted him out, chose to flea rather than be caught and face execution. Once Batista was out of the way, Cuba was Castro's for the taking.
One of the first actions Castro took while in charge of Cuba was to close down all casinos. The people running them were either imprisoned or deported. Exploitation of Cuban workers by American was unacceptable to Castro, and he took immediate action against this. He believed American capitalists were taking advantage of the Cubans. Angered by this aggressive attitude toward American "interests", the United States government established a trade embargo, hoping the Cuban people would overthrow Castro and reinstate a more "American friendly" leader.
With a starving population on one side, and a broken economy on the other, Castro turned to Russia for help. Since Russia did not own any land or power in the US/Cuban region, Castro offered the Russians a chance to extend their sphere of influence. An opportunity which was not refused. Of course, the American government did not accept this situation readily. A plan to train and arm Cuban exiles who would return to Cuba to overthrow Castro was contrived. This secret operation was viewed as far less dangerous than a direct invasion by American troops.
As the election of 1960 approached, the CIA had already made plans to overthrow Castro with the Cuban exiles. However, to the surprise of just about everyone, a young John F. Kennedy defeated favorite Richard Nixon by the slimmest of margins.
Nonetheless, the invasion had to go on. The plan was to bomb Cuba's airfields to prevent the Cuban military from killing the invading exiles. However, two things went wrong in the invasion. First, the CIA underestimated the Cuban army, and second, the airstrips were not all taken out, allowing the Cuban airforce to retaliate. Upon hearing news of this, the CIA told Kennedy that in order to succeed the US must provide air coverage for the exiles. Kennedy refused however, believing it would be foolish to provoke a crisis with the Soviets just in order to aid the exiles. Due to this, the exiles were given no chance and were quickly demolished, and the invasion had failed.
Now that Castro knew the United States' intentions, he knew he was in immediate danger. Once again, he turned to Russia for aid. Castro realized the only way to assert his safety was to defend himself, and what he did was a very strategic move. He asked Russia to send nuclear missiles to Cuba, saying to the US that any more attempted invasions of Cuba would exact their price. For years now, the US was sending nuclear missiles to friendly countries around Russia in order to halt any Russian expansionism, and the Russians were more than eager to return the favor. This led to what is now known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
On October 16, 1962 Kennedy called his closest advisors to the White House. The CIA had verified that nuclear missiles were indeed present in Cuba, Kennedy had to react fast. He eventually decided to launch a naval blockade to prevent any further missiles from entering Cuba. Though threatened by Russian Prime-Minister Nikita Khruschev Kennedy would not let this disturb him, and he did not stop the naval blockade. The Russian ships eventually returned home, with nuclear war being narrowly averted.
However, one must consider what kind of relationship Kennedy had with both Castro and the Russians after the crisis. Could the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile crisis made the Russians and or Cubans mad enough to kill Kennedy?
As was mentioned before, many of the groups that might have wanted JFK dead are closely related. The CIA, the Military Industrial Complex, and maybe even the FBI were all involved in the situation in Cuba, and might of had their own reasons for wanting Kennedy dead.
"I will smash the CIA into a thousand pieces", said Kennedy after the disaster at the Bay of Pigs. The President soon commissioned a report to see why the Cuban invasion had failed. The results of the report were quite disturbing. It turned out that the CIA had intentionally lied to Kennedy even though they were fully aware the invasion was predestined to fail. However, they did not tell him this so he could be pressured into providing air cover at the last minute. Kennedy later learned that the CIA had a secret plot to kill Castro, a plot which he would have vehemently opposed.
Kennedy realized how powerful the CIA could be, that they could lie to him as they please, and could plot assassinations, while he remained completely ignorant. Kennedy was not going to take this lightly. He fired the Director of the CIA, Allen Dulles.
Kennedy saw the CIA not only as corrupt, but as a threat to the freedom of America, and to democracy everywhere. A threat too powerful to exist in a democracy such as the United States'. One of Kennedy's first courses of action to restrain the CIA was to sign the NASM 55 (National Security Action Memorandum), which would relieve the CIA of it's role as presidential advisor, and NSAM 57, which said any proposed paramilitary operation in its early staged must be presented in front of the Strategic Resources Group for initial consideration, and than approval by the president, if necessary. Then, the SRG will give out the responsibilities for planning, coordination, execution of the Task Force, the department or individual best qualified to carry forward the operation, and will choose supporting responsibilities. Any large paramilitary operation which needs a vast number of military personnel, military equipment, or a high level of military experience is the primary responsibility of the Department of Defense with the CIA in a supporting role. With these two documents, Kennedy had effectively restricted the CIA.
Would it be a surprise then, if the CIA, in an effort to get rid of Kennedy and replace him with a more favorable president, assassinated him?
Another group that quite possible wanted JFK dead was the Military Industrial Complex. Just exactly what is the MIC? It is the supplier of every plane, gun, bullet and uniform. Just about every organization that supplies or is hired by the government to build weapons. The relationship between the government and the MIC is a very important one, and this relationship is important in understanding if the MIC wanted Kennedy dead or not.
When it comes to the economy within the MIC, war is the equivalent of winning the lottery. An aggressive president who does not hesitate to go into war is the ideal choice for the MIC. The MIC thrives on war, seeing it as "business", every time a weapon has to be replaced the MIC gets richer, and the taxpayer gets poorer. The MIC couldn't care less about Americans dying in war as long as the cash is flowing.
Military troops can be sent anywhere at anytime in the event of war. In order to foresee a coming war, every inch on earth is now being monitored by satellites, submarines, and radar. This machinery needs regular maintenance, repair, and replacement. Every time this happens, the money goes into the MIC's pockets. World War II was a great example of how war boosts the economy, and how quickly the US can get out of a depression. Similarly, the ongoing situation in Vietnam was a great opportunity for the MIC to fatten its wallets.
When Kennedy took the presidency, the situation in Vietnam had not yet escalated into an all out war. It was Kennedy's firm belief that Vietnam should not the United States' concern, and troops should be recalled back immediately. Kennedy did not see Vietnam is a danger to democracy in America. He did not share the notion that Vietnam was a "holy crusade" against the "evil empire." He therefore made preparations to withdraw troops, and end the conflict. To hurry up the process, Kennedy sent trainers to South Vietnam to train the Vietnamese so they could protect themselves after the US had left. By signing NSAM 263, Kennedy asserted he wanted one thousand troops out of Vietnam by Christmas of 1963, and wanted the conflict ended by 1965.
Many researchers believe this was the final straw for the MIC, if he were to now withdraw from Vietnam, their profits would be damaged substantially. It is important to note the actual amount of money the MIC had to gain if troops did stay in Vietnam. Estimated figures ranged in billions, even trillions of dollars. To have Kennedy re-elected in the election of 1964 would be disastrous the MIC.
Would it sound ludicrous at all if the MIC killed Kennedy if the gain was over a trillion dollars, and the possible loss equal to that?
Another government-related group that may have wanted JFK dead was the Federal Bureau of Investigations, led by J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI was a group so powerful, it put the Secret Service to shame. If by some misfortune Kennedy were to die, the president would become Lyndon B. Johnson, one of Hoover's best friends. If indeed he did die, the combined power of the president and the Director of the FBI would have been more than enough to fabricate an investigation into Kennedy's assassination.
While there is no definitive proof that the FBI conspired to kill Kennedy, it would have been real easy for them to get away with it if they did commit the crime. This, coupled with Hoover's and Johnson's well-known hate for the Kennedys, causes most researchers today to consider the FBI as prime suspects.
As if President Kennedy didn't have enough foreign enemies, or enemies from his own government, he also had many domestic enemies. Two of the biggest were the big businessmen and the "rednecks". Both of these groups were intimidated by the Kennedy administration. Kennedy tried to find a middle road between black and white radicals. His human-rights activities earned him the hatred of all racists.
And as for big business, he angered them by obliging steel manufacturers to reverse price increases, as well as introducing a tax-reform legislation that would end unfair tax practices and would abolish the profitable oil reduction allowance. International bankers were quite angered when, in the summer of 1963 Kennedy, had the Treasury Department print an excess of $4 billion in "United States Notes," thus bypassing the powerful Federal Reserve System. It may be noteworthy that Lyndon B. Johnson was a strong ally of Texas oilmen who despised Kennedy, and that it was rumored that Kennedy was about to drop Johnson from the 1964 election ticket. Could big businessmen along with Lyndon B. Johnson and friend J. Edgar Hoover, who also might have wanted Kennedy dead, plotted to kill Kennedy?
The last major group that would have wanted JFK out of the way was the notorious Mafia. Since its origin, it has had a heinous reputation in the United States. John F. Kennedy's brother, Robert, was working as Attorney General to prosecute the Mafia, thus earning him and his brother a unpleasant reputation with them.
Many crime bosses in the United States threatened the Kennedys at one point or another. The Mafia and US intelligence, as discovered by the Kennedy's, had a few connections dating back all the way to World War II. While the Federal Bureau of Investigations didn't really hunt down the Mafia, the CIA actually collaborated with the Mafia on more than one occasion. Certain sources even claim that there were contacts between JFK and Sam Giancana, a Mafia boss, during Kennedy's campaign for the presidency in 1960, which led to Kennedy to winning the presidency (though the veracity of these sources leaves something to be desired). However if this is true, the Mafia would definitely consider JFK and his brother going after them as a double-cross, and this would have been a more than strong enough motive for the them to kill Kennedy. It is important to note that the Mafia felt that no person was above them, that nobody is immune from their power. If the Mafia wanted Kennedy dead, and had a motive, is it that unlikely that they did it?
The events that would have happened if Kennedy was not to be assassinated were extremely vital. Kennedy was going to remove a thousand soldiers from Vietnam by 1963, and was committed to withdraw all troops by 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson took office, neither happened. He was going to smash the CIA into a thousand pieces, and replace J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the FBI, this didn't happen. He may have been going to drop Lyndon B. Johnson from the presidential ticket in 1964. Had he not been assassinated Johnson would have never become president. When Johnson took over, he signed NSAM 273, considered to be the opening of the Vietnam war. The commitment meant the MIC would continue to make money, and lots of it.