Kennedy’s strength overshadows Obama’s weakness

October 18, 2015

JKFCubaThe numbers are in, the pundits have spoken, the spin has been spun. The first Democrat debate of the 2016 election cycle is now history. To the glassy eyed base of today’s Democrat party it was nirvana; “free” everything and all of it paid for by “the rich”. Santa Claus was a chump compared to the goodies promised on that Las Vegas stage last Tuesday night.

Yet as the world approaches one of its most dangerous moments in decades, and on the very day that White House press secretary Josh Earnest had to respond to an Iranian ballistic missile test with “We have seen Iran almost serially violate the international community’s concerns about their ballistic missile program,” CNN didn’t even think it worth a mention.

Climate change, Wall Street, and the NRA, were the villains of the night while ISIS was ignored and Syria got less than a single 400 word exchange between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Adding to that embarrassment, the very next day Iran released video footage of dozens of ballistic missiles and launchers sitting safe and sound in a tunnel 500 meters below an Iranian mountainside.

Contrast that with the history of 53 years ago this very date when a young American President was secretly meeting with Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko regarding U2 reconnaissance photos showing Russian ballistic missile sites under construction in Cuba.

Four days later, October 22, 1962 President John F. Kennedy informed the nation of the specifics and their gravity.

He reminded us: “The 1930’s taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war.” and “Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small.”

He prepared us: “My fellow citizens, let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out…But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing.

He rallied us: “The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.”

He put the Russians and the world on notice: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union”.

And he told all that “Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right; not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and, we hope, around the world.”

When John Fitzgerald Kennedy issued his “red line” he was only 45 years old and viewed by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev as weak. Yet thorough that speech and the naval quarantine he used to back it up, the crisis ended with the Soviet Union backing down, the missiles removed and peace preserved.

A half century later, in August 2012, a 51 year old President Obama issued his “red line” in Syria, but did nothing to back it up. And this week we learn that there are Cuban troops of the very same Castro regime that Kennedy rebuked, and Obama now embraces, fighting alongside Russian troops in Syria against the American backed Free Syrian Army. Coincidence? Hardly.

Both Kennedy and Obama were initially seen as weak by their Russian counterparts, yet only one proved the Russians right. Unfortunately that’s the one we, and the world, must live with today.

PUBLISHER NOTE: A version of this column first appeared in the October, 18 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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