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The Confederate Lawyer
June 30, 2010

The Cold War
Part III: Kennedy’s Twilight Zone

by Charles G. Mills
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GLEN COVE, NY — John Kennedy was elected President as an anti-communist, but his administration invented the term “twilight struggle” to describe the Cold War. As L. Brent Bozell pointed out, twilight is followed by night.

The alleged anti-communism of the Kennedy election campaign was built around a “missile gap” that never existed. More important than the fictitious missile gap is the premise underlying the idea of a missile gap — an immoral, unworkable, and counter-productive idea called “mutually assured destruction (MAD).” According to MAD, we could avoid nuclear war if both the United States and the Soviet Union had enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other completely.

President Reagan later won the Cold War, in part by creating a possible defense to our destruction by the Soviet Union. Those nostalgic for the Kennedy foreign policy denounced Reagan for upsetting MAD.

Even MAD was not enough for the far Left that began to flourish under Kennedy. The Kennedy years were also the period in which the United States was bombarded with propaganda about the destruction of humanity by nuclear weapons. American communists, through various front groups, demanded unilateral nuclear disarmament by the United States, Great Britain, and France, which would leave the Soviet Union as the sole great nuclear power.

Other elements of the Kennedy foreign policy were also based on fantasy. The most conspicuous example was the strange belief that sending Peace Corps volunteers around the world was going to make Americans popular. This fantasy is perhaps understandable since Robert Kennedy seemed to believe that sending busloads of New England college students to Alabama to burn Confederate flags was the way to achieve integration. Maybe it ran in the family.

Kennedy’s first foreign policy test was a disaster. He sent heroic Cuban freedom fighters to the Bay of Pigs, and then he denied them air cover. The result was a humiliating defeat for him and tremendous personal tragedy for the freedom fighters and their loved ones.

This disaster was followed by the Cuban missile crisis. The Soviets’ movement of short-range missiles into Cuba threatened the United States. Kennedy is often credited for successfully negotiating a solution to this crisis and avoiding the outbreak of World War III. The truth is that he negotiated a two-for-one swap, to our disadvantage. The Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba, and we withdrew our missiles from two European countries.

Just as the Soviets humiliated Eisenhower in Paris, they humiliated Kennedy by means of the Berlin Wall. This wall that separated the two parts of the city remained until Reagan won the Cold War. Kennedy, long on rhetoric about Berlin, allowed the wall to stand.

Another fantasy of the Kennedy administration was that the Cold War was going to be won through guerilla wars. History never gave the slightest vindication to this idea. Training doctrine in the United States Army began to reflect this fantasy. Kennedy kept pouring more military “advisors” into Vietnam in the belief that we could win that war without doing any of the fighting.

The Cold War had one positive development, but it had nothing to do with Kennedy. The American people became increasingly angry about our losses. About two months before Kennedy was elected, Young Americans for Freedom called for victory over, rather than coexistence with, communism. The Kennedy years saw tremendous growth in the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade and the publication of Senator Barry Goldwater’s second book, Why Not Victory?

Kennedy’s election campaign tried unsuccessfully to take advantage of the growing disquiet over the way we were losing the Cold War. What really happened was the creation of an American movement that had no use for the defeatism of either Eisenhower or Kennedy. In 1962, Brent Bozell told a Madison Square Garden packed with cheering teenagers and college students that we should tear down the Berlin Wall and liberate Cuba.

Those young people would form the cadre of the victory in the Cold War, but that would not come about for a full generation.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2010 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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