On June 10th, we marked the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s Peace Speech at American University, a moment that revealed his courageous stance against the prevailing national-security state. Kennedy’s vision for a limited-government republic and peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union was tragically cut short by the forces within the military-intelligence establishment. Today, as we reflect on the missed opportunities and enduring consequences of his untimely demise, it becomes evident that America took a wrong turn, drifting away from openness, transparency, and global harmony.
Prior to World War II, the United States operated as a limited-government republic, characterized by restraint, transparency, and a small military presence. However, the aftermath of the war saw the emergence of a national-security state, transforming the American government into a behemoth with expansive powers and a penchant for secrecy. This shift marked a profound departure from the principles that once defined the nation.
With the rise of the national-security state, secrecy became the norm, overshadowing the ideals of transparency and accountability. The military-industrial complex and its army of defense contractors flourished, perpetuating a never-ending cycle of warfare for profit. The Cold War, initially justified by a fear of a communist conspiracy, served as a cash cow for the national-security apparatus, while ordinary Americans paid the price.
President Kennedy’s Peace Speech at American University demonstrated his resolve to challenge the national-security establishment. He advocated for peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union, rejecting the extreme anti-Russia hostility that had been instilled in the American people. Kennedy even praised the Soviet Union, symbolizing his commitment to ending the Cold War racket.
Kennedy followed his words with actions, much to the dismay of the Pentagon and the CIA. He negotiated the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviets and ordered a troop withdrawal from Vietnam. He proposed joint cooperation with the Russians, including sharing rocket technology and even initiated efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. These steps challenged the entrenched interests of the national-security establishment.
Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, brought an abrupt end to his vision for a peaceful America. The military-intelligence establishment, which considered Kennedy a threat to national security, achieved a pyrrhic victory. The consequences of their actions continue to reverberate through American society, with militarism, perpetual wars, conflicts, crises, and erosion of civil liberties becoming regular features of our lives.
President Kennedy’s assassination was a tragedy for America, robbing the nation of a leader who dared to challenge the national-security state and envision a different future. Kennedy’s commitment to peaceful coexistence and his efforts to dismantle the military-industrial complex and restore a limited-government republic remain unrealized dreams. As we look back at his legacy, it is essential to reflect on the lost opportunities and strive to reclaim the values of transparency, accountability, and peaceful engagement in our pursuit of a better America.