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New World Notes 140 - JFK in 1963: Disarmament Crusader

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30-minute weekly radio program for November 9, 2010. First of 2 parts.

In the early 1960s almost the whole of the U.S. "national security state" (Pentagon, spy agencies, National Security Council) very much wanted war with the Soviet Union. We would win this (nuclear) war, they reasoned, losing only 40 million lives, while the Soviet Union would lose perhaps 200 million and be destroyed. The U.S. would emerge as the world's sole superpower.

In October 1962, the CIA discovered a Russian-controlled nuclear-capable missile base in Cuba. The war-hawks immediately began braying that we must bomb the base. "Taking out" the base, they "reasoned," would have the additional good effect of starting the war with the Soviet Union that they so much wanted.

Only one American of any influence opposed the war-hawks: President John F. Kennedy. As he was on the brink of failing to prevent World War III, he begged for help from his nominal adversary--and secret pen-pal--Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev. Khrushchev very publically dismantled the Soviet bases in Cuba.

In a speech of June 10, 1963, Kennedy announced a bold reversal of U.S. policy. He announced military disarmament as desirable, attainable, and henceforth a policy goal of the U.S. Government. And he announced several steps in that direction, to be undertaken immediately, including the negotiation of a Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

Few Americans have ever heard this amazing story.

This installment and the next alternate between JIM DOUGLASS' fascinating telling of the story and the June 10 speech itself--Kennedy's commencement address at American University.

PS: Within a year of Kennedy's great speech, the Powers That Be deposed Khrushchev and killed Kennedy.