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