President John F. Kennedy (1961-63) tried to set a new path for American foreign policy, navigating the treacherous waters of world diplomacy in the middle zone between appeasement and constant war. For his good practical judgment, the Deep State considered him a radical.
On this anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination — November 22 — we pause to pay respect to the man who gave Americans a renewed sense of optimism and purpose. In his absence, the country fell into a chaotic darkness. But the American Republic sustains.
President Kennedy gave this speech at the University of Washington on November 16, 1961. Here is a video clip, followed by the audio of the entire speech below:
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Here is the text of the full speech (excerpted below):
There are two groups of these frustrated citizens, far apart in their views yet very much alike in their approach. On the one hand are those who urge upon us what I regard to be the pathway of surrender–appeasing our enemies, compromising our commitments, purchasing peace at any price, disavowing our arms, our friends, our obligations. If their view had prevailed, the world of free choice would be smaller today.
On the other hand are those who urge upon us what I regard to be the pathway of war: equating negotiations with appeasement and substituting rigidity for firmness. If their view had prevailed, we would be at war today, and in more than one place.
It is a curious fact that each of these extreme opposites resembles the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead. Each side sees only “hard” and “soft” nations, hard and soft policies hard and soft men. Each believes that any departure from its own course inevitably leads to the other: one group believes that any peaceful solution means appeasement; the other believes that any arms buildup means war. One group regards everyone else as warmongers, the other regards everyone else as appeasers. Neither side admits that its path will lead to disaster–but neither can tell us how or where to draw the line once we descend the slippery slopes of appeasement or constant intervention.
In short, while both extremes profess to be the true realists of our time, neither could be more unrealistic. While both aim to be doing the nation a service, they could do it no greater disservice. This kind of talk of easy solutions to difficult problems, if believed, could inspire a lack of confidence among our people when they must all–above all else–be united in recognizing the long and difficult days that lie ahead. It could inspire uncertainty among our allies when above all else they must be confident in us. And even more dangerously it could, if believed, inspire doubt among our adversaries when they must above all else be convinced that we will defend our vital interests.
The essential fact that both of these groups fail to grasp is that diplomacy and defense are not substitutes for one another. Either alone would fail. A willingness to resist force, unaccompanied by a willingness to talk, could provoke belligerence–while a willingness to talk, unaccompanied by a willingness to resist force, could invite disaster…
In short, we are neither “warmongers” nor “appeasers,” neither “hard” nor “soft.” We are Americans, determined to defend the frontiers of freedom, by an honorable peace if peace is possible, but by arms if arms are used against us. . . .