Contrast today’s anti-intellectual peacelessness: John F. Kennedy’s “Peace Speech” in 1963

Contrast today’s anti-intellectual peacelessness: John F. Kennedy’s “Peace Speech” in 1963

Jan Oberg

February 4, 2021

At a time when the intellectual level of much politics has decreased dangerously, it may be useful to remember politicians who earlier on were leaders, visionaries, intellectually alert and able to communicate their message in ways that caught the attention of wide audiences.

The Transnational has many student visitors, and if you are 20-25 today you may not have had many chances to experience the mentioned qualities. So we bring you this speech to offer an opportunity to establish some comparative standard and for you to ponder the question: Why is it that politics has become so boring? Why do today’s young people not queue up to participate in their country’s political work?

And why are there so few, as it seems, who have the sense of duty that JFK expressed so eloquently in his inauguration speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!”

Our publishing of this particular peace speech can also be seen as a comment on today’s visionless and generally confrontational policies of the United States of America. No high-level politician in the US of today would be able to give such a speech – or dare do it if intellectually capable to.

It is interesting that American history has been full of peace initiatives on various levels – think President Eisenhower’s Farewell address in 1961 in which, prophetically, he warned the US and the world about the Military-Industrial Complex. Think the passionate and extremely eloquent anti-war and pro-peace speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. And think the anti-war, anti-nuclear and pro-peace movements that have, in various forms, shapes and intensity always been active throughout that country.

But no president since then, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, has shown anything but indifference or contempt for peace, peace thinking and peace policies.

None has, since then, started a speech by celebrating knowledge and truth instead of ignorance and stated that he is going to speak about “peace – the most important subject on Earth” only to plunge himself into a superb, surprising and world-encompassing definition of what that – difficult – subject means. And then back it up with political proposals.

JFK gave this speech on June 10, 1963. He knew it would be controversial. He was killed five months later, on November 22 in Dallas, Texas.

It’s impossible not to hypothesize a causal relationship between that speech and his assassination by the deep state and its Military-Industrial Complex. Had what he says in that speech become the policy of the United States, it would, in all likelihood, have undermined those elite interests and we would have had a very different, benign, cooperative and respected United States today that would not be in decline and about to fall.

Now listen to the whole speech and then compare with any other leading American, or Western, leader today. Pinpoint what you see as basic differences and then ask: What has happened when politicians like JFK and speeches like this don’t exist today?

June 10, 1963 at the American University

Should you think that reminders like this are useful and illuminating for you, please reward TFF here, thanks!

4 Responses to "Contrast today’s anti-intellectual peacelessness: John F. Kennedy’s “Peace Speech” in 1963"

  1. griewank   February 4, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    Kennedy had first hand experience in naval combat. All recent Western leaders are chicken hawks, never were in harms way, never even suffered hunger or other forms of deprivation. Trump and Biden dodged the draft, some like Clinton combined that with peace rhetoric, which turned out to be phony, once they got to power. Same here in Germany.

    Reply
    • JO   February 4, 2021 at 7:05 pm

      Many thanks, that is an illuminating observation! – Jan

      Reply
  2. Vibeke   February 4, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Good. And your right

    Reply
    • JO   February 4, 2021 at 7:05 pm

      Many thanks, dear Vibeke. Glad you liked it – and Kennedy was right too 😉

      Reply

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