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President John F. Kennedy's "Peace Speech"

Jun 01, 2021
President Anderson members of the Board of Trustees of the Faculty distinguished guests my former colleague Senator Bob Byrd earned his degree through many years of attending night law school while I am getting mine in the next 30 minutes distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen it is with great pride that I participate in this ceremony of the American University sponsored by the Methodist Church founded by Bishop John Fletcher Hurst and first opened by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This is a young and growing university, but it has already fulfilled bishop herse's enlightened hope for the study of history. and public affairs in a city dedicated to the making of history and the conduct of public affairs by reflecting on this institution of higher learning for all who wish to learn, whatever their color or creed, the Methodists of this area and of the nation deserve the recognition of the nation. thank you and congratulations to all those graduating today Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man leaving a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time and I trust that the men and women who have the honor of graduating from this institution they will continue to give of their lives their talents a high measure of public service and public support there are some earthly things more beautiful than a university John Masefield wrote in his tribute to English universities and his words are equally true today in days he did not mean towers or campus he admired the splendid beauty of a university because he said it was a place where those who hate ignorance can strive to know where those who perceive the truth can strive to make others see.
president john f kennedy s peace speech
Therefore, I have chosen this place to discuss a subject in which ignorance abounds too often and the truth too. rarely perceived and that is the most important issue on earth

peace

what kind of

peace

do I mean and what kind of peace do we seek not a Pax Americana imposed on the world by American weapons of war not the peace of the grave or the safety of the slave i'm talking about genuine peace the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living have the kind that allows many nations to grow and a hope and build a better life for their children not milley peace for americans but peace for all men and women not only peace in our time peace in all times i speak of peace because of the new face of war total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refusing to surrender without recourse to those forces is meaningless in an era when a single nuclear weapon contains nearly ten times the explosive force delivered by all Alien air forces. in World War II makes no sense in an era when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind, water, soil and seed to the farthest corners of the globe and generations not yet born today in Today spending billions of dollars each year on procured weapons to ensure we never need them is essential to maintaining a Pia, but surely acquiring those dormant stocks that can only destroy and never create is not the only let alone the most efficient means to ensure peace I speak of peace therefore as the necessary rational end of rational man I realize that the search for peace is not as dramatic as the search for war and frequently the words of the persecutors fall on deaf ears but we have no more urgent task some say that it is useless to talk about peace or world law or world disarmament and that it will be useless until the leaders is from the Soviet Union take a more enlightened attitude I hope they will I think we can help them do it but I also believe we need to re-examine our own attitudes as individuals and as a nation as our attitude is as essential as theirs and every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring about peace must begin by looking ward by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace toward the Soviet Union toward the course of the Cold War and toward freedom and peace here at home first examine our attitude towards peace itself too many of us think it is impossible too many think it is unreal but it is a dangerous defeatist belief.
president john f kennedy s peace speech

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president john f kennedy s peace speech...

It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable. That humanity is doomed. That we are trapped by forces we cannot control. man can be as great as he is once no problem of human destiny is beyond human beings man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable and we believe they can do it again i am NOT referring to the infinite concept absolute of universal peace and goodwill that some fantasies and fanatics dream of. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams, but simply invite discouragement and disbelief by making that our only immediate goal. focusing instead on a more practical and achievable peace based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions into a series of concrete actions and effective agreements that are in the interest of all concerned will not there is a single simple key to this peace it is not some grand or magical formula to be adopted by one or two powers genuine peace must be the product of many nations the sum of many acts must be dynamic not static changing to meet the challenge of each new generation for peace is a process a way of solving problems with such peace disputes and conflicting interests will continue to exist as there are within families and nations world peace like community peace does not require each man to love his neighbor only requires that they live together in mutual tolerance submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement and history teaches us that empathy in between nations as between individuals do not last forever however fixed our likes and dislikes may seem the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in relations between nations and neighbours, so let us persevere, peace does not have to be impractical and war does not have to be inevitable by defining our goal more clearly by making it seem more manageable and less remote we can help all people to see it to draw hope from it and move irresistibly towards it and Second, let's re-examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union.
president john f kennedy s peace speech
It's disheartening to think that its leaders can actually believe what their propaganda is correct. It's disheartening to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on military strategy and find page after page of totally unfounded and unbelievable claims, such as the accusation that US imperialist circles are preparing to trigger different types of war that there is a very real threat of a preventive war. unleashed by the US imperialists against the Soviet Union and that the political goals and I quote of the US imperialists To economically and politically enslave the European and other capitalist countries and achieve world domination through aggressive warfare. of the chasm between us, but it is also a warning a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets of seeing only a distorted and hopeless view of the other side of seeing conflict as inevitable communication as nothing More than an exchange of threats, no government or social system is so evil that its people should be considered as devoid of virtue as Americans find communism deeply repugnant as a denial of freedom and personal dignity but we can still salute the Russian people for their many achievements in science and space in economic and industrial growth in culture in acts of bravery among the many treats the peoples of our tw or countries have in common none is stronger than our almost unique mutual loathing of war among the major world powers we have never been at war with each other and any nation in history of battle suffered more than the Soviet Union in World War II at least 20 million lost their lives untold millions of homes and families were burned or looted one third of the nation's territory including two thirds of its industrial base became a wasteland a loss equal to the destruction of this country east of chicago today should total war never break out again no matter how our two countries will be the prime target it is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two most in danger of devastation everything we have built everything we have worked for would be destroyed in the first 24 hours and even in the Cold War which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries including this nation's closest allies our two countries are the burden heavier s because we are both spending huge sums of money on weapons that could be better spent fighting ignorant poverty and disease.
president john f kennedy s peace speech
Unfortunately, we are both trapped in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons. In short, both the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies have an interest. deep mutual understanding in a just and genuine peace and in concluding arms race agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union, as well as ours and ours. Even the most hostile nations can be trusted to accept and uphold treaty obligations and only those treaty obligations that are in their own interest, so let us not be blind to our differences but also direct attention to our interests commons and the means by which those differences can be resolved and if we can't end our differences now, we can at least help make the world safe for diversity because ultimately our most basic common li nk is that we all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish the future of our children and we are all one third mortal, let us re-examine our attitude towards the Cold War, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate seeking to rack up debate points we are not here apportioning blame or pointing the finger of judgment we must deal with the world as it is and not as it might have been that the history of the last eighteen years would have been different therefore we must persevere in the search for peace in the We hope that constructive changes within the communist bloc can bring about solutions that now seem beyond our reach.
We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it is in the communist interest to agree to a genuine peace and, above all, while defending our own vital nuclear interests. powers must avoid confrontations that lead an adversary to choose between humiliating withdrawal or nuclear war to take that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evident only from the bankruptcy of our policy or from a collective death wish for the world to secure these ends America's weapons do not provoke carefully controlled provocations designed to deter and capable of selective use our military forces are committed to peace and are disciplined with self-control our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritation and purely rhetorical hostility, since we can seek relief of tensions without relaxing our God and, for our part, we do not need to use threats to show that we are determined.
We don't need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear. our faith will erode we are not willing to impose our system on anyone who does not want it, but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth as we seek strength in the united nations to help resolve their financial problems to achieve it. a more effective instrument for peace to develop it into a true world security system a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of the law of ensuring the safety of large and small and of creating conditions under which weapons they can finally be abolished, as we seek to maintain peace within the non-communist world where our many nations, all our friends, are divided over issues that concern us. can western unity invite communist intervention that threatened to break out in war our efforts in western new guinea in the congo in the middle east and the indian subcontinent have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides we have also tried to set an example for others trying to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in mexico and canada talking about other nations i want to make a point we are united with many by alliances these alliances exist because of our concern and there is substantial overlap in our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, remain intact because of the identity of our vital interests, the United States will do nothing to deal with theSoviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples not only because they are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge in contrast to each other, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom but in the search for the ways of peace it is our hope and the purpose of Allied policy to convince the Soviet Union that it, too, must allow each nation to choose its own future, as long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others.
Communists push to impose their political and economic system on others. is the main cause of the current world tension because there can be no doubt that if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, peace would be much more assured, this will require a new effort to achieve world law, a new context for world discussions will require greater understanding between us and the Soviets greater understanding will require greater contact and communication one A step in this direction is the proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and Washington to avoid on both sides dangerous delays, misunderstandings and misreadings of other actions that could occur at a time of crisis.
We have also been talking in Geneva about our first step. arms control measures designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and reduce the risk of accidental war, however our main long-term interest in Geneva is its general and complete disarmament designed to be done in stages that allow parallel political developments to build the new peace institutions that would take the place of arms the pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this government since the 1920s it has been urgently sought by the last three administrations and however bleak the prospects are today, we intend to continue this effort to continue it so that all countries, including our own, can better understand what are the problems and the possibilities of disarmament, the only important area of ‚Äč‚Äčthese negotiations where the end is in sight, without Where a fresh start is urgently needed, however, is in a treaty to ban nuclear tests.
The conclusion of such a treaty, so close yet so far, would halt the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas and put the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of its greatest dangers. facing man in 1963 the further spread of nuclear weapons would increase our security would decrease the prospects for war surely this goal is important enough to require our constant pursuit without giving in to the temptation to give up all effort or to the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards. Therefore, I take this opportunity.
To announce two important decisions in this regard, First President Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan and I have agreed that high-level discussions will begin shortly in Moscow with a view to reaching an early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. the caution of history, but with our hopes come second the hopes of all humanity in making clear our good faith and solemn convictions on this matter I now declare that the United States does not intend to conduct atmospheric nuclear tests while others States do it we won't we won't we won't be the first to resume such a declaration is not a substitute for a formal binding treaty but I hope it will help us achieve one or that such a treaty is a substitute for disarmament but I hope it will help us achieve it Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude toward peace and freedom here at home, the quality and spirit of our own society. we must justify and support our efforts abroad we must demonstrate it in the dedication of our own lives as many of you graduating today will have the opportunity to do by serving without pay in the Peace Corps overseas or the proposed National Service Corps here at home, but wherever we are, we must all live in our daily lives according to the ancient faith that peace and freedom walk together in many of our cities today, peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete It is the responsibility of the executive branch. at all levels of local, state and national government to provide and protect that freedom for all our citizens by all means within our authority is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels when reviewing authority is now inadequate to make it adequate and it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of others and to uphold the law of the land all of this all of this is not related to world peace when a the way of man to please the law scripture tells us they say he makes even his enemies at peace with him and it is not peace ultimately basically a matter of human rights the right to live our lives without fear of devastation the right to breathe air as nature provided him the right of future generations to a healthy existence while we proceed to safeguard our national interests safeguard let us also give human interests and the elimination of war and weapons is clearly in the interest of both no treaty, no matter how much it is for the advantage of everything, no matter how strict it is written, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion, but it can if it is effective enough in its application and it is sufficient. and in the interest of their signatories they offer much more security and much less risk than an unpredictable, uncontrolled, uncontrolled arms race, the United States, as the world knows, will never start a war, we don't want a war, now we don't expect a war, this generation of Americans have had more than enough of war, hate and oppression, we will be prepared if others wish, we will be vigilant to try to stop it, but we will also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just we are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success confident and fearless we must work not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace

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