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How John F Kennedy lost fight to end the Cold War

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The 55th anniversary of Kennedy’s ‘Peace Speech’, delivered in the form a commencement address to students and faculty at the American University in Washington on June 10, 1963, is a time to lament the loss of a leader who, by the time of his assassination, was on a journey towards ending the Cold War in conjunction with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

Both men had emerged from the Thirteen Days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 chastened by the knowledge of how close the world had come to nuclear war. Moreover, they emerged determined to ensure that the world would never come close to anything like it again, having faced down hardliners within their respective governments and militaries who were itching for conflict.

In his book on the period, ‘To Move The World’, Jeffrey D Sachs describes how “The world had never before peered into the abyss as it did in those days. And the two leaders who steered the world away from it, Kennedy and Khrushchev, were now joined by this near-death experience, each feeling a responsibility that only the other could understand.”

Upon assuming office in January 1961, JFK not only entered the stage of history at just 43 years of age as the 35th President of the United States, he did so at the height of the Cold War between East and West, a cold war in which Vietnam had morphed into a hot war in the context of an enduring Vietnamese anti-colonial and national liberation struggle in which, yet again, Washington was on the wrong side of justice.

Similarly, just ninety miles off the coast of Florida, a young, fiercely committed revolutionary by the name of Fidel Castro had dared defy Washington and moved Cuba into the Soviet camp, resulting in a CIA campaign to overturn the Cuban revolution with the objective of returning a US client to power in Havana. This CIA campaign – comprising acts sabotage,........

© RT.com