Thursday, August 27, 2015
President John F. Kennedy's American University Speech, June 10, 1963
At the time of John F. Kennedy's American University Speech the cold war was right on the brink of turning hot. Both the democratic United States and communist Soviet Union, two of the worlds leading powers, had nuclear weapons. Both Nikita Khrushchev (the Soviet Premier) and President Kennedy knew that the unleashing of nuclear war would mean certain death for all life on earth. While both men were surrounded by advisors pushing them to the brink, they had secretly been communicating through letters to bring an end to the Cold War. Not to win or lose, but put aside their need of victory to bring peace. These men, who began as adversaries, earned great respect for their counterpart throughout the course of their exchanges. While their ideals had changed to bring peace, they were both concerned the matter had gotten too far out of their hands to reel the issue back in. This speech that Kennedy made, strategically at the same time the Soviet council would be meeting, was a clear and international declaration of peace. In response Khrushchev had the speech printed out and dispersed throughout Russia, so all citizens could read the worlds of the American President. Khrushchev and Kennedy would then both go on to sign the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty on August 5, 1963 which "prohibited the testing of nuclear weapons in outer space, underwater or in the atmosphere." This speech is a beautiful demonstration of diplomacy, and peaceful politics in action.
Five months later President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated. Though this huge step banning nuclear testing had been accomplished, the cold war would continue on for three more decades. Many historians have speculated that this would not have been the case, that the Cold War would not have continued on, if Kennedy had lived to serve his full term as President.