President Kennedy's Address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 4/20/61 (TNC:197)
from Washington DC CBS News presents an
addressby John F
Presidentof the United States the
presidentwill speak to members of the
editorswho were holding their 39th annual convention that the Statler Hilton Hotel originally the chief executive was to have lunched with the
editorsbut early today he changed his plans presumably because of the international situation and because he wanted more time to devote to his
presidentmet with his cabinet during the morning the session had been scheduled some time ago but it's understood that the Cuban situation was discussed mr.
addressthis afternoon is expected to deal with both the Cuban and the ocean situations the arrangement suggests the speech of major importance introducing the
presidentwill be Turner Catledge managing editor of The New York Times and
presidentof the editor editor
Societynow here is mr. Catholic ladies and gentlemen the
Presidentof the United States College members of the
editorsladies and gentlemen the
presidentof a great democracy such as ours and the
newspapers such as yours Oh a common obligation to the people an obligation to present the facts to present them with candor and to present them in perspective it is without obligation in mind that I have decided in the last 24 hours to discuss briefly at this time the recent events in Cuba on that unhappy Island as in so many other arenas of...
the contest for freedom the news has grown worse instead of better I have emphasized before that this was a struggle of Cuban Patriots against a Cuban dictator while we could not be expected to hide our sympathies we made it repeatedly clear that the armed forces of this country would not intervene in any way any unilateral
Americanintervention in the absence of an external attack upon ourselves or an ally would have been contrary to our traditions and to our international obligations but let the record show that our restraint is not inexhaustible should it ever appear that the inter-
americandoctrine of non-interference merely conceals or excuses a policy of non action if the nations of this hemisphere should fail to meet their commitments against outside communist penetration then I want it clearly understood that this government will not hesitate in meeting its primary obligations which are the security of our nation should that time ever come we do not intend to be lectured on intervention by those whose character was stamped for all time on the bloody streets of Budapest nor would we expect or accept the same outcome which this small band of Galan Cuban refugees must have known that they were chancing determined as they were against heavy odds to pursue their courageous attempts to regain their islands freedom but Cuba is not an island unto itself and our concern is not ended by mere expressions of non-intervention or regret this is not the first time in either ancient...
or recent history that a small band of freedom fighters has engaged the armor of totalitarianism it is not the first time that communist tanks have rolled over gallant men and women fighting to redeem the independence of their homeland nor is it by any means the final episode in the eternal struggle of liberty against tyranny anywhere in the face of glow of the globe including Cuba itself mr. Castro has said that these were mercenaries according to press reports the final message to be relayed from the refugee forces on the beach came from the rebel commander when asked if he wished to be evacuated his answer was I will never leave this country that is not the reply of a mercenary he has gone now to join in the mountains countless other guerrilla fighters who are equally determined that the dedication of those who gave their lives shall not be forgotten and that Cuba must not be abandoned to the Communists and we do not intend to abet idle the Cuban people have not yet spoken their final piece and I have no doubt that they and the Revolutionary Council led by dr. kay Dona and members of the families of the revolutionary council I am informed by the doctor yesterday are involved themselves in the island will continue to speak up for a free and independent Cuba meanwhile we will not accept mr. Castro's attempts to blame this nation for the hatred which is one-time supporters now regard his repression but there are from this sobering episode useful lessons for us all to...
learn some may be still obscure and await further information somewhat clearer today first it is clear that the forces of communism are not to be underestimated in Cuba or anywhere else in the world the advantages of a police state its use of mass tariffs and arrest to prevent the spread of free dissent cannot be overlooked by those who expect the fall of every fanatic tyrant if the self-discipline of the free cannot match the ion discipline of the mailed fist in economic political scientific and all the other kinds of struggle as well as the military and the peril of freedom will continue to rise secondly it is clear that this nation in concert with all the free nations of this hemisphere must take an ever closer and more realistic look at the Menace of external communist intervention and domination in Cuba the
Americanpeople are not complacent about iron Turk curtain tanks and planes less than 90 miles from their Shore but a nation of Cuba size is less a threat to our survival than it is a base for subverting the survival of other free nations throughout the hemisphere it is not primarily our interest or our security but theirs which is now today in the great apparel it is for their sake as well as our own that we must show our will the evidence is clear and the hour is late we and our Latin friends will have to face the fact that we cannot postpone any longer the real issue of survival of freedom in this hemisphere itself on that issue unlike perhaps some others there can...
be no middle ground together we must build a hemisphere where freedom can flourish and where any free nation under outside attack of any kind can be assured that all of our resources stand ready to respond to any requests for assistance third and finally it is clearer than ever that we face a relentless struggle in every corner of the globe that goes far beyond the clash of armies or even nuclear armaments the armies are there and in large number the nuclear armaments are there but they serve primarily as the shield behind which subversion infiltration and a host of other tactics steadily advanced picking off vulnerable areas one by one in situations which do not permit our own armed intervention power is the hallmark of this offensive power and discipline and deceit the legitimate discontent of yearning people is exploited the legitimate trappings of self-determination are employed but once in power all talk of discontent is repressed all self-determination disappears and the promise of a revolution of hope is betrayed as in Cuba into a reign of terror those who want instruction staged automatic riots in the streets of free nations over the efforts of a small group of young children to regain their freedom should recall the long roll call of refugees who cannot now go back to Hungary to North Korea to North Vietnam to East Germany or Poland or to any of the other lands from which a steady stream of refugees pours forth in eloquent testimony for the cruel oppression now...
holding sway in their homeland we dare not fail to see the insidious nature of this new and deeper struggle we dare not fail to grasp the new concepts the new tools the new sense of urgency we will need to combat it whether in Cuba or South Vietnam and we do not fail to realize that this struggle is taking place every day without fanfare in thousands of villages and markets day and night and in classrooms all over the globe the message of Cuba layoffs of the rising din of communist voices in Asia and Latin America these messages are all the same the complacent the self-indulgent the soft societies are about to be swept away with the debris of history only the strong only the industrious only the determined only the courageous only the visionary who determined the real nature of our struggle can possibly survive no greater task faces this country or this administration no other challenge is more deserving of our every effort and energy too long we have fixed our eyes on traditional military needs on armies prepared to cross borders on missiles poised for flight now it should be clear that this is no longer now that our security may be lost east by piece country by country without the firing of a single missile or the crossing of a single border we intend to profit from this lesson we intend to re-examine and reorient our forces of all kinds our tactics and our institutions here in this community we intend to intensify our efforts for a struggle in many ways more difficult than...
war where disappointment will often accompany us or I am convinced that we in this country and in the free world possess the necessary resources and the skill and the added strength that comes from a belief in the freedom of man and I am equally convinced that history will record the fact that this bitter struggle reached its climax in the late 1950s and the early 1960s let me then make clear as the