November 22, 1963

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been forty-five years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

There are some events which alter the course of history and this was one. I don’t intend to discuss any of the myriad conspiracy theories that constantly float about since most of them are implausible at best.

There has been much speculation about what would have happened if the President hadn’t been killed and had completed his first term. It’s likely he would have been re-elected in 1964, but that’s about as close to a sure thing as I think is likely. Would we have become as deeply involved in Vietnam as we did? Hard to say, although there were military advisers in country at the time of his death. Kennedy understood the threat of Communism and his prior actions indicated a willingness to confront them.

Would Richard Nixon have become President in 1968? Impossible to say, although I think it likely that he would have faced someone other than Hubert Humphrey for election.

What would have happened to the civil rights movement had he lived? He was treading a fine line because he feared backlash from the predominantly Democratic southern states if the agenda was pushed too far, too fast. Despite that he did move civil rights for African Americans forward in the south. Would that movement have been faster or slower had he lived?

Speaking of changing the course of history the Kennedy Administration supported the overthrow of the government of Iraq in 1963. The CIA assisted the Baathist party in Iraq in eliminating pro Communist Iraqis. Prominent among the Baathists that engaged in these activities was a young Colonel named Saddam Hussein. How would that have played out had Kennedy lived?

In a moment the death of one person changed the lives of millions of people around the world. We still feel the repercussions of that death and will for many years to come.

Events such as this are why it’s difficult if not impossible to predict the future. Which doesn’t stop pundits and experts from trying.