Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace. The Berlin Wall had just been built. The Soviet Union had tested the most powerful weapons ever developed. China was on the verge of acquiring the nuclear bomb. Less than 20 years after the end of World War II, the prospect of nuclear war was all too real.If Barack Obama had been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, war would have been far more likely.
With all of the threats that we face today, it is hard to appreciate how much more dangerous the world was at that time. In light of these mounting threats, a number of strategists here in the United States argued we had to take military action against the Soviets, to hasten what they saw as inevitable confrontation. But the young president offered a different vision.
OBAMA: Strength, in his view, included powerful armed forces and a willingness to stand up for our values around the world. But he rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign-policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing.
Instead, he promised strong, principled American leadership on behalf of what he called a practical and attainable peace, a peace based not on a sudden revolution in human nature, but on a gradual evolution in human institutions, on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements.
Such wisdom would help guide our ship of state through some of the most perilous moments in human history. With Kennedy at the helm, the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully.
Kennedy saw that the Soviets had lied about what they were doing in Cuba and he made clear that the US was prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the missiles would be removed. Obama found out about secret Iranian nuclear facilities - and did nothing.
Kennedy made sure that the enemy knew that war was a very real possibility, although one that he did not take lightly. Obama made it clear that attacking Iran was never on the table and he assured Iran that he would not only never go to war, but he would actively prevent any other nation from attacking Iran as well.
If Obama had negotiated with the Soviets the way he negotiated with Iran, he would have caved to every single Soviet demand. He would have concluded that it would be unrealistic to expect the Soviets to remove the missiles as long as the Us had missiles in Europe. He would have ended up defending every aspect of the Soviet aggression, and minimized the Soviets' lies about the nature of the missiles in Cuba.
Kennedy was able to preserve peace because he was willing to enforce American red lines with military strength. Obama has allowed Iran to cross many red lines, making it clear to Iran and US allies that he had no willingness to back up his statements with any kind of stick.
The only real concession that Kennedy made to the Soviets, to secretly dismantle the Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy, was no concession at all - because the US was planning to scrap them anyway.
By any yardstick, Kennedy forced the Soviets to back down. Obama backed down to Iran on numerous points.
Obama wants to compare himself to Kennedy? No, Mr. President, you're no Jack Kennedy.