THE UNDELIVERED DALLAS SPEECH

 

 

On the day he was assassinated, President John F. Kennedy planned to present a speech in Dallas on the theme of moderation in foreign affairs.  He believed that Americans had to learn to live with the fact that it was unrealistic to exert unlimited control over world affairs.  The following is from the speech President Kennedy would have given that day, November 22, 1963.

 

"There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility.  Those voices are inevitable.  But today other voices are heard in the land--voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness.

At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden and our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security.  At a time when we are readily reducing the number of federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will Atalk sense to the American people.@  But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense.  And the notion that this nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is just plain nonsense . . . . .

I realize that this nation often tends to identify turning points in world affairs with major addresses which preceded them.  But it was not the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere--it was the strength of the British Fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean.  It was not General Marshall=s speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western Europe--it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and economic assistance.

In this administration also it has been necessary at times to issue specific warnings that we could not stand by and watch the Communists conquer Laos by force, or intervene in the Congo, or swallow West Berlin, or maintain offensive missiles on Cuba.

But while our goals were at least temporarily obtained in those and other instances, our successful defense of freedom was due not to words we used but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend. . . .

But American military might should not and need not stand alone against the ambitions of international communism.  Our security and strength, in the last analysis, directly depend on the security and strength of others--and that is why our military and economic assistance plays such a key role in enabling those who live on the periphery of the Communist world to maintain their independence of choice . . . .

Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad that she is at home.  Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future.  Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live.  And only an America which is growing and prospering economically can sustain the worldwide defense of freedom while demonstrating to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society."

 

President John F. Kennedy      November 22, 1963                   Dallas, Texas

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