Jul 082023

This year marks the 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s “Peace Speech” which was given on June 10th, 1963 as the commencement address at American University.

It was a speech quickly forgotten by the press, perhaps because it spoke of peace rather than of war. As Kennedy himself remarked at the time, “I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war—and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.”

Kennedy’s remarkable oration was given just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis and at a time when the world was readying itself for a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. It is all the more urgent that we revisit Kennedy’s momentous words as we are today teetering on the brink of a nuclear war with Russia. This time, however, the belligerent parties are not the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact they are the United States and NATO.

On June 7th, Salim Mansur, professor emeritus at the University of Western Ontario published an article on Substack called “Blessed are the peacemakers: Recalling JFK.” In it, he brings into context our current predicament with Russia and likens it to those dramatic events of 60 years ago.

In this conversation Salim and Robert Vaughan review Kennedy’s presentation in the hope that some might remember that no matter what issue of the day has political favor they all pale in comparison to the very real threat of a World War between powers who both possess nuclear weapons and that there are wise words from the past which offer up a solution to such madness.

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