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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid