Fifty-five years ago this weekend—on June 10, 1963—President John F. Kennedy delivered a commencement address at American University that, in fewer than 30 minutes, turned traditional national security policy on its head. Kennedy proclaimed that world peace is “the most important topic on earth….not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”
Good article. When you view JFK’s words and compare them to the Pentagons posturing, the differences are staggering. Add to those words the other things JFK wanted to achieve, abolishing the Fed and the CIA, and it’s not hard to understand why the powers-that-be wanted him dead.
Johnny, we hardly knew ye, yet you were a man who really could have changed history.
Johnny “did” change history. If it hadn’t been for him and Bobby, the Cuban Missile Crisis could have been the End.
Kennedy’s greatest speech—and the one that helped seal his fate, imho. I am not generally a “conspiracy theorist” in the common usage of that term. I am not stupid either! When so many
suspicious events pile up on top of each other, all pointing a certain way, I have a deep suspicion of convenient “coincidences”
The best book on the Kennedy assassination yet written is JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. It does not try to tell “whodunit”, but rather how and why Kennedy had to be assassinated and who were the major protagonists that facilitated it. The book is written like a novel with the over 100 pages of footnotes documenting its conclusions. The book was over 12 years in its compilation for those reasons.
Listen and marvel:
The Fed nonsense again, really? The executive order this conspiracy was based on had zero to do with the Fed. It’s truly one of the dumbest of the bunch, a pure demonstration of relying on ignorance and the very human trait of looking for patterns everywhere to explain everything. Here’s a great rundown of the EO this theory originated from:
Also, this speech was great, but Kennedy was no softy. The willingness of liberals/progressives to project onto him things he was not years after his death still amazes me, especially since historians have covered his administration exhaustively. Rather, like most administrations, his exhibits a mixed record, fighting off the Joint Chiefs crazier ideas, but expanding the fight against communism, which he engaged in with his brother domestically and externally.
Don’t have an opinion on the Fed part. As to your 2nd paragraph, I agree up to a point.
This great speech was made late in his Presidency, and clearly indicates a turning point in his
thinking. It was a message of reassurance to the Soviets, saying “We can co-exist. We can choose not to remain locked forever in a life-or-death struggle.” I think that Khrushchev took
it as such, gladly. The politics of that time, as I remember them, made this rapprochement
very difficult-even dangerous-for both men, as they had to contend with extreme hard-liners.
Unfortunately, we can only speculate what Kennedy’s second term would have looked like.
I just think that the JFK of June 10,1963 had changed quite a bit and learned a great deal
more. I will always believe that he would have been a great President. Ditto for Bobby, BTW, who was much more mature by 1968.
“What kind of peace do we seek…?” Not one “enforced on the world by American weapons of war…I am talking about…the kind of peace…that enables people…to hope and to build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women.”
JFK was quite the hypocrite as he was prepping the U.S. to take over as colonial overlord of Vietnam.
I agree. The best thing about John and Bobby Kennedy was that they demonstrated the ability to change their positions based on a thoughtful reading of the facts. For example, the Bobby Kennedy who worked with McCarthy in the 50’s wasn’t at all the same man who marched with and became close friends with Cesar Chavez in the 60’s.
I suggest you read this link, and then read the book, JFK and Vietnam. I think you will learn that JFK was not the hypocrite you believe he was, and that, had he lived, the history of Vietnam, and of the world since that time, would be very different.
I suggest you read Seymour Hersh’s book and learn that there were 16,000 military ‘advisers’ in Vietnam when JFK was assassinated, with plans to add more. The perception of his reluctance to engage in Vietnam coupled with his oratory skills belie the facts. The infrastructure for war was already in place when LBJ pulled the trigger following the Gulf of Tonkin charade.
Gore Vidal also confirms JFK’s commitment to empire.
Here is another person to agree with you and nighthawk in that both JFK and RFK would have continued to be grow in their role as statesmen. Both were able to change as they were able to listen and learn. One of my favorite examples is the education that they received from MLK. No one born and raised wealthy can perceive what it means to live in poverty and no one raised in their exclusive club can perceive what it means to be poor and black. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed by LBJ, was initiated by JFK. Although politically unpopular he was pressured by the street protests of the black activists to compromise. Diplomacy is a sign of a strong personality.
I have not read Hersh’s book, but am aware of the number of ‘advisors’ in Vietnam from other sources. Am also aware of Gore Vidal’s impressions of JFK. However, there is more. There is the fact that, because it was known in the intel community that he was very skeptical about what was transpiring in Vietnam, he was being lied to about what was going on there, while LBJ was being told the truth. It is also a fact that he wanted to pull out all US assets from Vietnam, but felt that he couldn’t until after the '64 election, because he would face all the “weak on Communism, national security, etc” bs from the press and his opponents–and very likely lose the election. Hence, his plan was to pull out 1000 by the end of '63, and all by the end of '65. John Newman, whose book I noted, was in military intelligence for 20 years, and does his homework as far as digging into the available documentation, to back up what he writes.
The Douglass interview that someone else posted here is good too, as is his book.
“There is the fact that, because it was known in the intel community that he was very skeptical about what was transpiring in Vietnam, he was being lied to about what was going on there,”
Sounds like the Bush excuse re the Iraq invasion.
Here’s what Kennedy knew: Vietnam had suffered through decades of war and colonial invasion from China, Japan and France. The division of the country was a temporary fix until elections could be held, which the south refused to hold. With power the U.S. wielded post WWII, Kennedy could have insisted on letting the people of Vietnam decide their fate, but didn’t. And where were those ‘profiles in courage’ when, as you stated, he didn’t pull out because of what the press and his opponents might say prior to the election?
Don’t forget that Kennedy tried to manipulate the fate of another country during his short tenure. In the wake of his Bay of Pigs fiasco, Kennedy is the president who set the course for future relations with Cuba by placing an embargo on them. The U.S. has no problem with a corrupt dictator like Batista but tries to overthrow Castro? Was that false intelligence, too?
I don’t argue with all the good Kennedy did. Great on social issues and a friend of unions. but he was a one percenter who tried to cut the top tax rate by an astounding %25, as well as the corporate rate. My point is to take an impartial look at anyone’s record - nobody gets a free pass. I’m not accusing you of doing so, but there seems to be this need to preserve the Kennedy ‘Camelot’ mystique (of course we all know he was every bit the lech Clinton was).
Kennedy had about 3 years to halt the imminent catastrophe of Vietnam, but didn’t. That’s a fact, not conjecture.
I don’t want to get into an extended back and forth with you, so will just answer your points, and leave it at that. I just do hope that you will check out Newman’s book. I myself had doubts at first, not being a big fan of anything military, but he did his homework and everything is put down with diligence and in a dispassionate manner. The guy definitely does his research and lays it out well.
“Sounds like the Bush excuse re the Iraq invasion.” This gave me a laugh (seriously). I thought the Bush excuse was that the CIA gave him bad intel, but maybe there was the excuse you stated too.
As far as Cuba goes, JFK had a secret envoy who met with Castro, and with Che also (or made the attempt, while Che was someplace in South America–my memory is fuzzy on whether they actually met). In fact, in the interview with Douglass that someone posted here, he mentions that JFK’s envoy was with Fidel when the news of the assassination arrived, and Fidel, startled, said something like, “Well, this changes everything.” However, you are right that publicly his admin was anti-Castro, in order to placate the crazies in Florida. And yes, he did give the go-ahead to the Bay of Pigs that was planned by the Eisenhower admin. He did, however, tell the CIA that under no circumstances would he send in troops. Allen Dulles, who knew that troops would be needed, thought he would change his mind when things went south and would be forced to send in troops, but he stuck to his original stance, and, after taking responsibility himself for the fiasco, fired Allen Dulles in the aftermath of it all.
And yes, he did let the situation go on in Vietnam, wanting to save his presidency. If he had pulled out all US advisors immediately, his assassination would have occurred that much sooner, imo. However, he did prolong it, at the cost of so many lives. Not a profile in courage, as you stated, it was his way of preserving his time and effectiveness while in office.
No, I care not about the Camelot myth, but as you say, an impartial look at the history is in order. That was my reason for suggesting Newman’s book, as it contains info that has not previously been out there, to my knowledge.
Thanks for the thoughtful exchange.
Fair enough. I’ll check out Newman’s book and salute your civility.
Two roads diverged in a Pax or Pox wood.
JFK and Nakita took the one less traveled by----------
and Kennedy’s death, made cowards of the rest.
The road less traveled with JFK and Kruschev? The Soviets and Americans didn’t nuke each other--------- and that has made all the difference!
President coulda, shoulda, woulda-----didn’t------- although he did get a peace prize----but I think he droned it. : (
And so, here we sit with a war government . Can we just ostracize the loser generals------as I don’t think they want to have peace ----------------they continue in order to make lots of money on war company boards
The ancient Greeks ostracized the warring losers-------maybe we should too--------------there is that 3rd path America -----take it. .