News / USA

JFK Foreign Policy Saluted 50 Years After His Death

JFK Foreign Policy Saluted 50 Years After His Deathi
X
November 19, 2013 9:31 PM
November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy. The anniversary has become a point of reflection for Kennedy’s time in office as part of a special VOA series on his legacy. VOA correspondent Jim Malone takes a look at JFK's foreign policy legacy.
November 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy.  The anniversary has become a point of reflection for Kennedy’s time in office as part of a special VOA series on his legacy.  The world was a vastly different place when Kennedy became president in 1961.  The United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Cold War where the front lines were Berlin, Cuba and Vietnam.  Kennedy came into office determined to counter Communism.  But an early foreign policy failure in Cuba got his administration off to a rocky start.

From the beginning of his presidency, John Kennedy made it clear he would not bend in the face of Cold War aggression from the Soviet Union.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty,” he said.

The administration suffered an early misstep by backing a CIA plan for the invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro exiles at the Bay of Pigs.  Author Robert Dallek said the ill-conceived invasion was a debacle and Kennedy learned a valuable lesson.

“It is an utter failure, so much so that Kennedy afterwards said repeatedly, “How could I have been so stupid?”  And he is mortified, deeply pained by this and it creates tremendous distrust for him in the military,” he said.

That early setback in Cuba combined with Kennedy’s youth and inexperience meant he had to earn respect from world leaders, including both allies and rivals, during an early trip to Europe.

“And so the very fact that Kennedy would be seen standing next to De Gaulle, being treated as an equal, is an enormous boost to Kennedy’s international standing.  But then he goes off to Vienna to meet with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet first secretary, and Khrushchev beats up on him unmercifully as this young man who does not know what he is doing, and the issue is Berlin...If there was one thing, one thing about foreign policy, that Kennedy was determined to do during his administration it was to avoid a nuclear conflict,” said Dallek.

President Kennedy faced his greatest foreign policy test in October of 1962 when U.S. spy planes discovered Soviet military activity in Cuba.

“Within the past week unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island," he said.

Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to stop the delivery of Soviet missiles.  The 13-day Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.  But Kennedy’s back-channel diplomacy combined with the threat of military action eventually helped to defuse the crisis, and the Soviets backed down.

The missile crisis convinced Kennedy to find ways to defuse Cold War tensions.  A few months before he died came one of his greatest achievements, the signing of a limited nuclear test ban treaty with the Soviet Union that set the stage for future arms agreements with Moscow.

In his final months in office, Kennedy also sent conflicting signals about the wisdom of continued U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam.

“I do not think he ever would have done what Lyndon Johnson did.  I do not think he ever would have put in the massive numbers of troops that Johnson committed.  Would he have gotten out?  I do not know.  But I just do not think he would have escalated that war the way Johnson did,” author Robert Dallek said.

John Kennedy’s time in office was brief, but his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis and efforts toward world peace remain enduring parts of his presidential legacy.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid