Era Official Charles Maechling Jr. Reflects On Cold War Legacy
16, 1999 -- It was the early 1960s. John F. Kennedy
was president. The Cold War was being fought in developing countries
around the world. American policy makers thought it important to
secure sympathetic governments and train local police forces to
in their ignorance of the history, cultures and forces shaking countries
in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, Kennedy's best and
brightest laid the groundwork for state-sanctioned violence that
continues to this day, argues Charles Maechling Jr., a State Department
official during the Kennedy administration.
offers an inside view of foreign policy making in his essay, "Camelot,
Robert Kennedy and Counter-Insurgency: A Memoir," which appears
in the just-published Summer 1999 issue of the Virginia
the chief staff member of the Cabinet-level Special Group on Counter-Insurgency,
established by President Kennedy in 1962 at the height of the Cold
War, Maechling was well placed to watch policy being made. It was
not always a pretty sight.
group's mission was to develop an interdepartmental response to
subversive insurgency, in particular, wars of national liberation
considered to pose a threat to the United States. But time after
time, as programs were established to train and equip foreign police
forces, no mention was made of respecting human rights. Instead
of helping to spread the ideals of democracy, the result was to
improve the efficiency of repressive governments in the developing
his personal experiences in meetings with Bobby Kennedy as well
as top military brass destined to direct the American involvement
in the Vietnam War, Maechling sheds new light on a difficult time
in American foreign policy making.
comment on the article, call Charles Maechling, a retired lawyer
and diplomat living in Washington, at (506) 529-3341.
Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858.