If Oswald Had Missed
What if Oswald had missed? The world would be very different.
Anyone who was at least 5 years old in November 1963 remembers where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. But if that tragic event had not occurred, how would our lives be different?
Remember the parting words of President Eisenhower: “Beware of the military industrial complex.”
Not long after LBJ was sworn in, he ordered the escalation of the Vietnam War — 58,000 US soldiers died. Over 1.3 million Vietnamese lost their lives. The military industrial complex flourished. M-16s, B-52s, tanks, SA-7 Grail missiles, and Agent Orange were in the shopping carts of the US, Russians, and anyone else who wanted to participate. We dropped more US bombs in a small province in Vietnam than all the bombs dropped anywhere in WWII.
JFK was a military veteran, but he was a president who heeded the warning of General Eisenhower. He was opposed to escalation. If, instead, President Kennedy had pulled out of Vietnam, how would our lives have been different?
First, there would have been far fewer American and Vietnamese deaths. Second, the military industrial complex would not have had the opportunity to grow exponentially. Third, the connection of arms to oil, that many said was under protection in and around the South China Sea, would not have grown.
I believe we would have had a far different world. By de‑emphasizing bullets and bayonets and re‑emphasizing discord and diplomacy, families would not have been destroyed by war. We wouldn’t understand the term PTSD so well. Protests against the war would have become rallies for human rights.
Instead, we have become more and more militaristic — 31% of all global exports of weapons were from the US in 2015. America could have become the shining beacon of the way people should be treated. Instead, we have the for sale sign up that says: “Buy your weapons here. Open 24/7.”
How has our culture evolved? Too much of our society is beholden to bigger guns, more sophisticated weapons, and a zeal for blood. We see it on our nightly news. We see it in our television shows and video games. We call it “entertainment.”
So what would have happened if Oswald – or somebody – had missed? We know it didn’t happen that way.
But now we have an opportunity to make a difference. Let’s listen to President Eisenhower’s words of January 17, 1961 – beware of the military industrial complex. It should not be what our country is famous for.