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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
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.

AppleAndroid