JFK ‘crimes’ : speech re/ ending Cold War


Richard Moore

    We have also been talking in Geneva about other first-step
    measures of arms control, designed to limit the intensity
    of the arms race and to reduce the risks of accidental
    war. Our primary long-range interest in Geneva, however,
    is general and complete disarmament -- designed to take
    place by stages, permitting parallel political
    developments to build the new institutions of peace which
    would take the place of arms.

    Let us focus ... on a more practical, more attainable
    peace -- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature
    but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a
    series of concrete actions and effective agreements which
    are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single,
    simple key to this peace -- no grand or magic formula to
    be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the
    product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be
    dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of
    each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of
    solving problems.

This was an amazing speech, made 5 months prior to his
assassination. This peace initiative was an internal White
House project, known only to a few around the President. I
find JFK's vision inspiring, as I'm sure most of us do.
But from the perspective of behind-the-scenes elites, the
JFK crowd would be perceived as we perceive the neocons today:
a clique that has grabbed the reins of power to pursue its
own goals - in JFK's case, world peace.

World peace would have undermined the postwar blueprint,
which needed Cold War tensions  to justify U.S.
imperialist interventions in the third world. JFK was
flying too close to the Sun, challenging the power of the
gods. The wages of hubris are death.



The following is reproduced from "John Fitzgerald Kennedy
...As We Remember Him", an oversized book, published as a
Columbia Records Legacy Collection Book, Atheneum, New
York, 1965, pp.192-195.


    "President Kennedy began to feel in the spring of 1963
    that there was a possibility for some kind of new movement
    in our relations with the Soviet Union, and he began to
    look for an opportunity to make a `peace speech.' That was
    the way it was described, and this was a project which was
    kept extremely confidential in the White House. McGeorge
    Bundy began in a quiet way to get from two or three
    members of the White House staff ideas which might go into
    such a speech. Ted Sorensen worked on it. The President
    thought a great deal about it, talked with Sorensen and
    Bundy, made clear the point of view and the ideas he
    wanted. A draft presently emerged. It was shown to a small
    group in the White House. As I recall, the draft was not
    shown to the State Department or to the Defense Department
    until the Saturday before it was given. It was given on a
    Monday. You may remember the President went to Hawaii, and
    I think it was perhaps on Friday afternoon that the draft
    was circulated through State and Defense for their
    comments. Ted Sorensen then flew with the draft to
    Honolulu, and the President worked on the final draft on
    his way back and gave the speech Monday morning."
    --Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.


Commencement Address at American University in Washington,
June 10, 1963
[JFK at lectern]

President Anderson, members of the faculty, board of
trustees, distinguished guests, my old colleague Senator
Bob Byrd, who has earned his degree through many years of
attending night law school while I am earning mine in the
next thirty minutes, ladies and gentlemen:

It is with great pride that I participate in this ceremony
of the American University, sponsored by the Methodist
Church, founded by Bishop John Fletcher Hurst, and first
opened by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This is a
young and growing university, but it has already fulfilled
Bishop Hurst's enlightened hope for the study of history
and public affairs in a city devoted to the making of
history and to the conduct of the public's business. By
sponsoring this institution of higher learning for all who
wish to learn, whatever their color or their creed, the
Methodists of this area and the nation deserve the
nation's thanks, and I commend all those who are today

Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man sent out
from a university should be a man of his nation as well as
a man of his time, and I am confident that the men and
women who carry the honor of graduating from this
institution will continue to give from their lives, from
their talents, a high measure of public service and public

"There are few earthly things more beautiful than a
university," wrote John Masefield, in his tribute to
English universities -- and his words are equally true
today. He did not refer to spires and towers, to campus
greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty of
the university, he said, because it was "a place where
those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those
who perceive truth may strive to make others see."

I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to
discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and
the truth is too rarely perceived -- yet it is the most
important topic on earth: world peace.

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we
seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by
American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the
security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace,
the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living,
the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope
and to build a better life for their children -- not
merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women
-- not merely peace in our time but peace for all time. I
speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war
makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain
large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and
refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It
makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon
contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by
11 of the Allied air forces in the Second World War. It
makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced
by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water
and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to
generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on
weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never
need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But
surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles -- which
can only destroy and never create -- is not the only, much
less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end
of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is
not as dramatic as the pursuit of war -- and frequently
the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no
more urgent task.

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or
world law or world disarmament -- and that it will be
useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more
enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can
help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine
our own attitude -- as individuals and as a nation -- for
our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate
of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of
war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking
inward -- by examining his own attitude toward the
possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward
the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace
here at home.

First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself.
Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it
unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It
leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable -- that
mankind is doomed -- that we are gripped by forces we
cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade --
therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as
big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond
human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved
the seemingly unsolvable -- and we believe they can do it

I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of
universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and
fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and
dreams, but we merely invite discouragement and
incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable
peace -- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature
but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a
series of concrete actions and effective agreements which
are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single,
simple key to this peace -- no grand or magic formula to
be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the
product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be
dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of
each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of
solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and
conflicting interests, as there are within families and
nations. World peace, like community peace, does not
require that each man love his neighbor -- it requires
only that they live together in mutual tolerance,
submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful
settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between
nations, as between individuals, do not last forever.
However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of
time and events will often bring surprising changes in the
relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and
war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more
clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less
remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope
from it and to move irresistibly toward it.

Second: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet
Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may
actually believe what their propagandists write. It is
discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on
Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly
baseless and incredible claims -- such as the allegation
that "American imperialist circles are preparing to
unleash different types of wars . . . that there is a very
real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by
American imperialists against the Soviet Union . . . [and
that] the political aims of the American imperialists are
to enslave economically and politically the European and
other capitalist countries . . . [and] to achieve world
domination . . . by means of aggressive wars."

Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when
no man pursueth." Yet it is sad to read these Soviet
statements -- to realize the extent of the gulf between
us. But it is also a warning -- a warning to the American
people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not
to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other
side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as
impossible and communication as nothing more than an
exchange of threats.

No government or social system is so evil that its people
must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we
find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of
personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the
Russian people for their many achievements -- in science
and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture
and in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries
have in common, none is stronger than our mutual
abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world
powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no
nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than
the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second
World War. At least twenty million lost their lives.
Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or
sacked. A third of the nation's territory, including
nearly two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into
a wasteland -- a loss equivalent to the devastation of
this country east of Chicago.

Today, should total war ever break out again -- no matter
how -- our two countries would become the primary targets.
It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest
powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All
we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed
in the first twenty-four hours. And even in the cold war,
which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries,
including this nation's closest allies -- our two
countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both
devoting to weapons massive sums of money that could be
better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and
disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous
cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on
the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.

In short, both the United States and its allies, and the
Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest
in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race.
Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet
Union as well as ours -- and even the most hostile nations
can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty
obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are
in their own interest.

So, let us not be blind to our differences -- but let us
also direct attention to our common interests and to the
means by which those differences can be resolved. And if
we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help
make the world safe for diversity. 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.

Third: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war,
remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking
to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing
blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal
with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had
the history of the last eighteen years been different.

We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in
the hope that constructive changes within the Communist
bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem
beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that
it becomes in the Communists' interest to agree on a
genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital
interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations
which bring an adversary to a choice of either a
humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind
of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the
bankruptcy of our policy -- or of a collective death-wish
for the world.

To secure these ends, America's weapons are
nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter
and capable of selective use. Our military forces are
committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint. Our
diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants
and purely rhetorical hostility.

For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing
our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use
threats to prove that we are resolute. We do not need to
jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be
eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any
unwilling people -- but we are willing and able to engage
in peaceful competition with any people on earth.

Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to
help solve its financial problems, to make it a more
effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a
genuine world security system -- a system capable of
resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the
security of the large and the small and of creating
conditions under which arms can finally be abolished.

At the same time, we seek to keep peace inside the
non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our
friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western
unity, which invite Communist intervention or which
threaten to erupt into war. Our efforts in West New
Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East and in the Indian
subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite
criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an
example for others -- by seeking to adjust small but
significant differences with our own closest neighbors in
Mexico and in Canada.

Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear.
We are bound to many nations by alliances. Those alliances
exist because our concern and theirs substantially
overlap. Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West
Berlin, for example, stands undiminished because of the
identity of our vital interests. The United States will
make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other
nations and other peoples, not merely because they are our
partners, but also because their interests and ours

Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the
frontiers of freedom, but in pursuing the paths of peace.
It is our hope -- and the purpose of allied policies -- to
convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each
nation choose its own future, so long as that choice does
not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist
drive to impose their political and economic system on
others is the primary cause of world tension today. For
there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain
from interfering in the self-determination of others, the
peace would be much more assured.

This will require a new effort to achieve world law -- a
new context for world discussions. It will require
increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves.
And increased understanding will require increased contact
and communication. One step in this direction is the
proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and
Washington, to avoid on each side the dangerous delays,
misunderstandings and misreadings of the other's actions
which might occur at a time of crisis.

We have also been talking in Geneva about other first-step
measures of arms control, designed to limit the intensity
of the arms race and to reduce the risks of accidental
war. Our primary long-range interest in Geneva, however,
is general and complete disarmament -- designed to take
place by stages, permitting parallel political
developments to build the new institutions of peace which
would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament
has been an effort of this government since the 1920's. It
has been urgently sought by the past three
Administrations. And however dim the prospects may be
today, we intend to continue this effort -- to continue it
in order that all countries, including our own, can better
grasp what the problems and possibilities of disarmament

The one major area of these negotiations where the end is
in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a
treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a
treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling
arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would
place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more
effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man
faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It
would increase our security -- it would decrease the
prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently
important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither
to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the
temptation to give up our insistence on vital and
responsible safeguards.

I am taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two
important decisions in this regard.

First: Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan and I
have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin
in Moscow, looking toward early agreement on a
comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hopes must be tempered
with the caution of history -- but with our hopes go the
hopes of all mankind.

Second: To make clear our good faith and solemn
convictions on the matter, I now declare that the United
States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the
atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will
not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no
substitute for a formal binding treaty, but I hope it will
help us achieve one. Nor would such a treaty be a
substitute for disarmament, but I hope it will help us
achieve it.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude
toward peace and freedom here at home. The quality and
spirit of our own society must justify and support our
efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our
own lives -- as many of you who are graduating today will
have a unique opportunity to do, by serving without pay in
the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service
Corps here at home.

But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live
up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk
together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is
not secure because freedom is incomplete.

It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all
levels of government -- local, state and national -- to
provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens
by all means within their authority. It is the
responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels,
wherever that authority is not now adequate, to make it
adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in
all sections of this country to respect the rights of all
others and to respect the law of the land.

All this is not unrelated to world peace. "When a man's
ways please the Lord," the Scriptures tell us, "he maketh
even his enemies to be at peace with him." And is not
peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human
rights -- the right to live out our lives without fear of
devastation -- the right to breathe air as nature provided
it -- the right of future generations to a healthy

While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let
us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of
war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. No
treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all,
however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute
security against the risks of deception and evasion. But
it can -- if it is sufficiently effective in its
enforcement and if it is sufficiently in the interests of
its signers -- offer far more security and far fewer risks
than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a
war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war.
This generation of Americans has already had enough --
more than enough -- of war and hate and oppression. We
shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to
try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a
world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are
just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of
its success. Confident and unafraid, we labor on -- not
toward a strategy of annihilation but toward a strategy of


NOTE: The President spoke at the John M. Reeves Athletic
Field on the campus of American University after being
awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Law. In his
opening words he referred to Hurst R. Anderson, president
of the university and Robert C. Byrd, U.S. Senator from
West Virginia.


Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.--
"I think that was the kind of speech which only the
President could make. It shows the importance of having a
President who will not be passive in the sense of
accepting only proposals submitted to him from the
machinery of government, but who will have the courage to
have his own conception of what ought to be done and when
it ought to be done, and to impose that conception on the

Jerome Wiesner--
"The speech at American University made a profound
impression on the Soviet Union. Intelligence reports
indicated that Chairman Khrushchev had said it was the
best speech ever made by an American President. We were
hopeful that this would finally mean real progress on a
nuclear test ban treaty. Ever since the development of
nuclear bombs, we had been attempting to bring them under

Dean Rusk--
"It was a remarkable speech, and it had a remarkable
effect on world opinion. The President wanted to indicate
that we looked toward the future with hope. He wanted us
to believe in the possibility of peace. "The speech was
remarkable, I feel, because it had so much of President
Kennedy personally in it. Because it reflected his
magnanimity, his urbanity and the sense of the civilized
man that marked so much of his mood and his action, and
his style. And because it reflected his total commitment
to peace."




"Apocalypse Now and the Brave New World"

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