“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”~John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1963
Imperialism – The Enemy of Freedom July 2, 1957 Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, the most powerful single force in the world today is neither communism nor capitalism, neither the H-bomb nor the guided missile it is man’s eternal desire to be free and independent. The great enemy of that tremendous force of freedom is called, for want of a more precise term, imperialism – and today that means Soviet imperialism and, whether we like it or not, and though they are not to be equated, Western imperialism.
Thus the single most important test of American foreign policy today is how we meet the challenge of imperialism, what we do to further man’s desire to be free. On this test more than any other, this Nation shall be critically judged by the uncommitted millions in Asia and Africa, and anxiously watched by the still hopeful lovers of freedom behind the Iron Curtain. If we fail to meet the challenge of either Soviet or Western imperialism, then no amount of foreign aid, no aggrandizement of armaments, no new pacts or doctrines or high-level conferences can prevent further setbacks to our course and to our security.
I am concerned today that we are failing to meet the challenge of imperialism – on both counts – and thus failing in our responsibilities to the free world. I propose, therefore, as the Senate and the Nation prepare to commemorate the 181st anniversary of man’s noblest expression against political repression, to begin a two-part series of speeches, examining America’s role in the continuing struggles for independence that strain today against the forces of imperialism within both the Soviet and Western worlds. My intention is to talk not of general principles, but of specific cases – to propose not partisan criticisms but what I hope will be constructive solutions.
There are many cases of the clash between independence and imperialism in the Soviet world that demand our attention. One, above all the rest, is critically outstanding today – Poland.
The Secretary of State, in his morning news conference, speaking on this subject, suggested that, if people want to do something about the examples of colonialism, they should consider such examples as Soviet-ruled Lithuania and the satellite countries of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and others.
I agree with him. For that reason, within 2 weeks I hope to speak upon an issue which I think stands above all the others; namely, the country of Poland.
There are many cases of the clash between independence and imperialism in the Western World that demand our attention. But again, one, above all the rest, is critically outstanding today – Algeria.
I shall speak this afternoon of our failures and of our future in Algeria and north Africa – and I shall speak of Poland in a later address to this body.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”~John F. Kennedy
“In Kennedy’s brief tenure in office he brought pragmatism, flexibility, proportionality, and a willingness to be challenged — and to challenge political orthodoxy — to his foreign policy decision-making. The man who urged Americans to pay any price and bear any burden in the fight against communism repeatedly adopted positions of restraint. In 1961, he resisted calls from his own military officials — and former President Eisenhower — for intervention in Laos to prevent that small land-locked nation from turning red. He reacted with public bluster but personal relief at the construction of the Berlin Wall, which defused one of the periodic showdowns between the United States and the Soviet Union over the fate of post-war Germany. Most decisively, he went against the opinion of virtually his entire foreign policy and national security team in responding to the placement of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba by agreeing to a diplomatic resolution to the most serious crisis of the nuclear era.
In the months after that crisis, he signaled a willingness to reduce Cold War tensions. In June 1963, he delivered the commencement address at American University, in which he endorsed steps toward nuclear disarmament and reminded his audience (and the Soviets) that “our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.” In October, he signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty with the USSR.
Finally, on Vietnam, Kennedy was a reluctant hawk who believed that the United States should try to prevent South Vietnam from falling to the communists but who also assiduously avoided deploying American combat troops — a pledge he made in 1961 and stuck to until the last day of his life. This is not to suggest that Kennedy was a dove. After all, he ran for president on the misleading notion that the United States faced a missile gap with the Soviets. But when it came to Vietnam there is an unmistakable sense that, while Kennedy wanted to preserve an independent South Vietnam, he viewed the idea of U.S. military engagement with great trepidation. It is “their war” he told Walter Cronkite only two months before his death, and “in the final analysis it is the people and the [South Vietnamese] government itself who have to win or lose the struggle. All we can do is help.”
“In the JFK administration I was a White House Fellow. In those days, it was a much larger program than the small insider program it later became. President Kennedy’s intention was to involve many young Americans in government in order to keep idealism alive as a counter to the material interests of lobby groups. I don’t know if the program still exists. If it does, the idealism that was its purpose is long gone.
President John F. Kennedy was a classy president. In my lifetime there has not been another like him. Indeed, today he would be impossible.
Conservatives and Republicans did not like him, because he was thoughtful. Their favorite weapon against him was their account of his love life, which according to them involved Mafia molls and Marilyn Monroe. They must have worked themselves into fits of envy over Marilyn Monroe, the hottest woman of her time.
Unlike most presidents, Kennedy was able to break with the conventional thinking of the time.
From his experience with the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Joint Chiefs’ “Operaton Northwoods,” Kennedy concluded that CIA Director Allen Dulles and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lemnitzer were both crazed by anti-communism and were a danger to Americans and the world.
Kennedy removed Dulles as CIA director, and he removed Lemnitzer as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, thus setting in motion his own assassination. The CIA, the Joint Chiefs, and the Secret Service concluded that JFK was “soft on communism.” So did the Bill Buckley conservatives.
JFK was assassinated because of anti-communist hysteria in the military and security agencies.
The Warren Commission was well aware of this. The coverup was necessary because America was locked into a Cold War with the Soviet Union. To put US military, CIA, and Secret Service personnel on trial for murdering the President of the United States would have shaken the confidence of the American people in their own government.
Oswald had nothing whatsoever to do with JFK’s assassination. That is why Oswald was himself assassinated inside the Dallas jail before he could be questioned.
For those of you too young to have experienced John Kennedy and those of you who have forgot his greatness, do yourselves a favor and listen to this 5 minute, 23 second speech. Try to imagine anyone among the current dolts giving a speech like this. Look how much is said so well in less than 5 and one-half minutes.
Kennedy intended to pull the US out of Vietnam once he was reelected. He intended to break up the CIA “into one thousand pieces” and curtail the military-security complex that was exploiting the US budget.
And that is why he was murdered. The evil that resides in Washington does not only kill foreign leaders who try to do the right thing, but also its own.
Here is JFK’s speech: