SAN DIEGO, May 29, 2012 – The first president born after 1900, John F. Kennedy, was born on May 29, 1917. This was the year Woodrow Wilson committed American troops to The Great War and when Kennedy’s time came, we were in World War II. Kennedy served as a PT Boat captain, earning fame for his courageous actions, saving his crew.
Kennedy was staunchly anti-communist and his image as a Cold War warrior was certainly enhanced by his decorated military service. He came out squarely against Castro’s Cuba at the time he approved of the plan that turned into the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
He stood strong against Krushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And, despite the efforts of some to place distance between Kennedy and Vietnam, he dared to thwart the advance of the North Vietnamese communists into South Vietnam.
When Americans who were alive during Kennedy’s presidency think back to those days, it is hard not to remember the international turbulence present during the two years and ten months of his administration. However, had Kennedy had not taken a strong stand against communism in the 1960s, it may not have been so rocky or frightening to those who were worried about the threat of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
It seems that in the 1960’s John Kennedy was keenly aware of the lines of division between the Free World and the world under the control of international Communism. With a genuine interest in foreign affairs, in 1949 he was a member of the U.S House of Representatives when our ally Nationalist China fell under the control of Mao Zedong and his communist People’s Army.
The following year Kennedy witnessed North Korea, under the direction of the Kremlin’s puppet, Kim IL Sung, invade South Korea attempting to “re-unify” Korea under a communist utopia. Kennedy was also witness to Ho Chi Minh setting in motion the machinery of communist revolution in Vietnam.
Kennedy was fairly astute with regard to international affairs and understood that Communism stood for the exact opposite of genuine freedom and liberty.
During the McCarthyism of the 1950s, people in the U.S. were genuinely afraid of the threat from the “Reds,” but what many Americans have forgotten is that Senator Joseph McCarthy was a friend of the Kennedy family. Joe Kennedy, Sr. was a strong supporter of McCarthy, while Robert Kennedy was a worker for McCarthy’s subcommittee.
From his inaugural address in January of 1961, to his confrontation with Krushchev over the missiles in Cuba, Kennedy’s foreign policy was dominated by his confrontations with Communism across the globe.
Running with an initiative that had been left on the table from the Eisenhower administration, in April of 1961 Kennedy approved the CIA backed plan to support Cuban refugees in their efforts to take their country back from Fidel Castro. It was a mission that failed miserably, yet instead of blaming anyone else, Kennedy came out on national television and accepted responsibility for the fiasco.
In June of 1961, he travelled to Vienna for a summit with Nikita Krushchev with the intent to deal with the Soviet demands that the West abandon Germany and leave Berlin to the Soviets to re-unify Germany under communist ideology. In this meeting, it was reported that Krushchev found Kennedy to be somewhat weak.
Kennedy made it clear that a treaty between Moscow and East Berlin would abrogate third-party access to any sector of the city.
This move would be regarded as an act of war and he prepared for a physical confrontation.
Not long after the Vienna summit, more than 20,000 East Berliners fled to the western sector and eventually the Berlin Wall went up. That wall stood like a prison wall to the East Berliners until late in 1987 when President Reagan uttered his famous ““Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”.
Transcripts of a telephone conversation between Krushchev and the head of post-World War II East Germany, Walter Ulbric, indicate that Krushchev pushed for the wall to be erected sensing that Kennedy and the West would not do anything.
Krushchev further pushed Kennedy when the Soviets were initiating the installation of nuclear missile silos in Cuba. The ensuing Cuban Missile Crisis almost propelled the two nations into World War III. It was a defining moment in contemporary world affairs.
The incredibly tension filled October in 1962 that ended once Krushchev finally announced over Radio Moscow that he had agreed to remove the missiles.
In May of 1961, prior to meeting with Nikita Krushchev in Vienna, President Kennedy increased the number of military advisors that Eisenhower had to help train the South Vietnamese soldiers in order to protect the nation from the communist insurgency.
Near the end of 1963, that number of advisors had grown from 900 to 16,000. In February of 1962, President Kennedy created the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam for all U.S. military forces operating in Vietnam to coordinate troop activity.
The nation will never know how J.F.K. would have proceeded to conduct the war against the communist forces of North Vietnam as he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in November of 1963.
The nation may never know who really killed J.F.K., but one fact is certain, his strong stand against Communism across the globe earned him some very powerful enemies.
With all the theories surrounding his death, it is curious that so many of them point back at people within our own country, where this man was as much an enemy to Communism as Lincoln was to slavery.
Today some historians are still scrambling to put distance between J.F.K. and Vietnam, as the Democratic Party of 2012 is not the Democratic Party of 1960.
In the larger picture, John F. Kennedy is remembered fondly by many of Americans because he lost his life while standing up for what he truly believed in.
It seems quite clear that he understood that Communism was just another form of slavery.
It is fitting that Americans should remember something deeper and more valuable about our 35th President: John F. Kennedy – that he was not just taking a stand against Communism; he was taking a stand for Liberty
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