JFK’s World Peace Speech and National Security State Takedowns of US Presidents  

President Kennedy’s World Peace speech on June 10, 1963,where he championed nuclear disarmament and lasting peace with the Soviet Union, is given renewed attention with a Kennedy now running for president and by the present war with Russia. JFK supposedly underwent a transformation after the near mutual nuclear annihilation with the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. It is claimed JFK had decided to withdraw from Vietnam, break up the CIA and the power of the Pentagon chiefs, and end the Cold War.

In his World Peace speech President Kennedy states,

I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament–and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude–as individuals and as a Nation–for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward–by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.

World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor–it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.

We [the US and Soviet Union] are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion on the other, and new weapons beget counterweapons.

So far so good. But then he adds:

To secure these ends, America’s weapons are nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter, and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint.

And again:

The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today.

In other words, the US that stands for peace, the Communist bloc instigates conflict. Not exactly putting into action his words, “every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward.” This has similarity to President Eisenhower’s farewell address warning us of the military-industrial complex after he spent eight years building it up.

Coming to his final words, Kennedy says, just six months after almost precipitating a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, “The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war.”

This World Peace speech is heralded by many progressive and libertarian people.

However, if “America’s weapons are nonprovocative…  designed to deter”; if “Our military forces are committed to peace”; if “The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war,” then Kennedy is saying US has been for peace and he is continuing that policy. His speech did not proclaim major policy change, but signaled a preservation of the present one.

We are told this speech, like the claim he planned to pull the troops out of Vietnam, posed a threat to the Pentagon chiefs. And we are told after the defeat at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba (April 1961), JFK vowed, “I will splinter the CIA up into a thousand pieces and scatter them into the wind.” This statement, said in private (contradicted by later Kennedy statements), is said to have made the CIA, like the Pentagon, seek revenge. This supposedly led, less than six months after his June 10 speech, to his murder on November 22.

Kennedy’s November 22, 1963 Speeches

His speeches he was to give that evening show the actual “peace” policy he was carrying out was really one of military escalation. From the first speech he was to give in Dallas:

In the past 3 years we have increased our defense budget by over 20 percent; increased the program for acquisition of Polaris submarines from 24 to 41; increased our Minuteman missile purchase program by more than 75 percent; doubled the number of strategic bombers and missiles on alert; doubled the number of nuclear weapons available in the strategic alert forces; increased the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe by 60 percent; added 5 combat ready divisions and 5 tactical fighter wings to our Armed Forces; increased our strategic airlift capabilities by 75 percent; and increased our special counter-insurgency forces by 600 percent.

From his second speech on November 22:

We have radically improved the readiness of our conventional forces – increased by 45 percent the number of combat ready Army divisions, increased by 100 percent the procurement of modern Army weapons and equipment, increased by 100 percent our ship construction, conversion, and modernization program, increased by 100 percent our procurement of tactical aircraft, increased by 30 percent the number of tactical air squadrons, and increased the strength of the Marines. As last month’s “Operation Big Lift” – which originated here in Texas – showed so clearly, this Nation is prepared as never before to move substantial numbers of men in surprisingly little time to advanced positions anywhere in the world. We have increased by 175 percent the procurement of airlift aircraft, and we have already achieved a 75 percent increase in our existing strategic airlift capability. Finally, moving beyond the traditional roles of our military forces, we have achieved an increase of nearly 600 percent in our special forces – those forces that are prepared to work with our allies and friends against the guerrillas, saboteurs, insurgents and assassins who threaten freedom in a less direct but equally dangerous manner.

Do these actions by JFK show the Soviet leaders his desire for “not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time”?

With good reason few believe the government’s story that Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald. Since thousands of documents the government still conceals from us, we are left with unanswered questions. Maybe it was the CIA and FBI and Mafia and anti-Castro Cubans, or a sub-grouping in them.

The National Security State Campaign to Remove Trump

But we do have evidence the CIA, FBI, NSA, and DIA and other secret national police agencies have targeted a president – in the unsubstantiated stories of Russian election interference and Trump collusion with Russian President Putin. This national security police state hoax is reminiscent of the Weapons of Mass Destruction lie they fed us to start a war on Iraq. They conjured up this Russia collusion story to sway a US presidential election and continued it during Trump’s presidency. And in 2020, they suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop case to sway a second election. They now attempt to imprison him for treason.

Regardless your opinion of Trump, this is a documented case of the US national security state seeking to neutralize a president. Those who assert a US police state operation against Kennedy do not attempt to bolster this with the proven operation against Trump. It would make sense for them to argue that while evidence of the CIA plot to kill Kennedy remains a state secret, in Trump’s case their plots are now out in the open.

Moreover, Trump, though a racist and sexist bully, did advocate for the issues that are said to make JFK a target: to bring US troops home, have peaceful relations with Russia, and reign in national security state agencies.

For instance, Trump said at a press conference (October 21, 2019):

I got elected on bringing our soldiers back home.  Now, it’s not very popular within the Beltway, because, you know, Lockheed doesn’t like it, and these great military companies don’t like it. It’s not very popular.

As we defend American lives, we are working to end American wars in the Middle East …. It is also not our function to serve other nations as law enforcement agencies. (February 28, 2019).

I want to bring our troops back from the endless war. They’ve been going on for 19 years in the area. But I’m going to bring them home from Syria. (Watch How Progressives Respond When Trump Isn’t Wrong) There is more here.

Concerning the security state police agencies, Trump condemned the collusion of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and FBI when asked if he would publicly criticize President Putin for Russia’s interference when they met. In response former CIA head John Brennan declared, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance [with President Putin] in Helsinki rises to and exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors. It was nothing short of treasonous.” This sounds the same as the CIA’s alleged attitude towards JFK.

President Trump wrote (Mar 15, 2019):

New evidence that the Obama era team of the FBI, DOJ & CIA were working together to spy on (and take out) President Trump, all the way back in 2015.

Unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself. (September 6, 2018).

This does not mean Trump was any more serious about “draining the swamp” than JFK in carrying out his World Peace speech – and in the end, the president is not in control of the national security state, but the reverse.

While President Trump did advocate US ruling class interests around the world and prioritized business interests above our welfare, the national security state did not forgive him for repudiating its endless war agenda. He wanted to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

He befriended DPRK leader Kim Jong Un, an anathema to Washington, later explaining, “We have a good relationship with North Korea, we’re not in a war. Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing.” (October 22, 2020).

Even worse, he said, “Some people hate the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this” (July 18, 2018). He was gotten out of office, and then they instigated a war.

Of course, liberals would never uphold Trump, like they did Kennedy, Obama (in 2007-2008), Bernie, Jesse Jackson (1984), among others, as a leader who could move the US towards the dream of being a model for the world and make the US government actually represent the people.

Kennedy embodied progressives’ hope that a genuinely progressive democrat could become president and redeem the country, fulfill the promise of its ennobling principles and supposed exceptional nature. To MAGA people, Trump personifies the conservative realization of this same chauvinist dream.

Trump brought about a redirection in the US no more than Kennedy.  But the popularity of both presidents in different sectors of the population does signify the common yearning of US people across the board for curtailing the immense power of the national security state. Now this national security state is using lawfare to intervene in the 2024 election process to disqualify and imprison Biden’s main challenger. That issue should be determined by the voters.

Stansfield Smith, ChicagoALBASolidarity.com, stansfieldsmith100@gmail.com. Stan has been involved in anti-war organizing for 45 years, and has written a number of articles about Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, as well as previous articles related to the subject here. They have appeared in Monthly Review online, Orinoco Tribune, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, Popular Resistance, and others. Read other articles by Stansfield.