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JFK and the Cold War

JFK and the Cold War

Chris Anderson

on 16 May 2011

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Transcript of JFK and the Cold War

JFK and the Cold War Thesis: With his youthful attitude and ambitious view on life, President John F. Kennedy experimented with both extremes of the political sphere, first by enthusiastically advocating peaceful solutions to stop the spread of Communism abroad, and then by bringing the United States and Russia to the brink of nuclear annihaliation. "Ask not what your country can do for you,
ask what you can do for your country."

-John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961 Importance of Speech 1. Nationalistic pride throughout the nation 2. Young individuals wanting to spread American ideals. 3. Outlined "New Frontier" 4. "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Two Ideas that Developed from Kennedy's
Inaugural Address: 1. Peace Corps Objective: to send American volunteers abroad to promote good foreign relations and "world peace" by bringing urgently needed social and technical services to developing countries. 2. Alliance for Progress Objective: to bring about social, economic, and political reform in Latin America through an infusion of foreign aid. The Peace Corps was by far the
more effective of the two programs,
as the Alliance for Progress'
financial aid failed to make a
large impact in South American
countries. Both programs were important
in continuing the ideas embodied
in the Truman and Eisenhower
Doctrines: to stop the spread
of Communism. The Berlin Crisis Brought about by the creation
of the Berlin Wall, dividing
East and West Germany - 1961 The Berlin Wall became symbolic of the struggle between the United States and Soviet Russia. June, 1963 - "Ich bin ein Berliner" Speech 1. Showed US Support for West Berlin as an "Island of Freedom." Fidel Castro overthrows Fulgencio Batista in the Cuban Revolution (1959), and institutes a new government in Cuba. Failure! October 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis Bay of Pigs - April, 1961 Poverty
Aid from Russia
Ripe for Revolution Planning for Castro's overthrow started in the Eisenhower administration, but Eisenhower left before the plan came to fruition; the plan was then handed over to Kennedy when he took office. Kennedy gave the go-ahead for 1,400 CIA-trained Cuban exiles to remove Castro from power in a coup.

Within two days, the operation was in shambles. Kennedy was forced to admit
his administration's role in
the plot. Cuba became even
more estranged from the
United States. The failure at the Bay of Pigs
set the stage for the Cuban
Missile Crisis. American spy planes took
photographs showing active
nuclear missile sites in Cuba. Biggest Crisis of the Kennedy administration. One week after the pictures were taken,
Kennedy ordered a naval "quarantine" of
Cuba. Kennedy addressed the nation
to outline his plan. Khrushchev initially ignored
the "quarantine" and continued to allow Russian ships to travel to Cuba to supply arms. Two days after Kennedy's speech, he ordered the Russian ships to return before they broke the blockade. Kennedy and Khrushchev exchanged letters for one
week in an attempt to solve the problem at hand, as the world sat and wait. "Kennedy had wanted to bomb the Soviet Missile Sites;
Khrushchev contemplated the use of tactical nuclear
weapons against American troops. Either option could
easily have led to full-scale nuclear war."
- Michael Dobbs Eventually, an agreement was
reached. 1. Soviets agreed to dismantle
their weapons in Cuba. 2. The US promised not to
invade Cuba. 3. Kennedy eventually withdrew
nuclear weapons located in Turkey
that were aimed at Russia. So, how close did America and the USSR come to nuclear war? How did the US get to
the brink of nuclear war? 1. Miscommunication 2. Paranoia After the failed United States-backed overthrow
of Castro, Cuba was able to convince Russia that
a US invasion was imminent; the Kremlin remained on edge. 3. Egos Kennedy and Khrushchev let their egos and
failed expectations of one another take control.
Khrushchev believed that Kennedy would easily
roll over, as well as doubting his resolve. However,
that was not the case as Kennedy was adamant
in his negotiations with Khrushchev. Effects of the
Cuban Missile
Crisis 1. US-Soviet Hot Line Agreement Established a nearly 5,000 mile long cable connecting the White House directly with the Kremlin. Important step in avoiding
further miscommunication. 2. Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty Banned testing nuclear weapons
in the atmosphere, in space, or
underwater. The treaty was a positive step
forward in arms control. Important policies/ideas utilized in Kennedy's
Cold War foreign policy. 1. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) Idea held by both the US and the Soviet Union to ensure that each had sufficient nuclear weapons to impose destruction on the other in the event of nuclear attack so that neither would initiate a first strike. 2. "Flexible Response" Conventional military weapons
Nuclear weapons. Adapt! Nuclear weapons are not always the best
answer. 3. "No-Cities" Doctrine In the event of nuclear war, the US and Soviets would agree to attack only military targets, sparing the civilian population. Questions for Discussion 1. If you were given the choice, as JFK was, to
either blockade Cuba during the Cuban Missile
Crisis (an act of war) or launch an attack on the
Russian missile sites (also an act of war), which
position would you choose to take and why? 2. Do you think Kennedy was doing enough to stop the spread of Communist ideas with the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress, or could he have done more? If so, what? If not, why? "Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us."
-John F. Kennedy 2. Kennedy described the wall as
an offense against humanity and
a demonstation of the failures
of the Communist system. The threat was very real.
Full transcript