JFK’s Warning and His Vision of a World Without Nuclear Weapons

On September 20, 1961, in the city of Belgrade, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the McCloy-Zorin Accords. This remarkable agreement, which calls for “War No Longer”, set guidelines for not only nuclear disarmament, but complete and general disarmament of all nations of the world. Should the political will be found to achieve it, the ideas contained in these Accords can still be used to reach this goal.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, gave a speech to the United Nations five days after the McCloy-Zorin Accords were signed. During his speech, he made these statements:

Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.

Men no longer debate whether armaments are a symptom or a cause of tension. The mere existence of modern weapons–ten million times more powerful than any that the world has ever seen, and only minutes away from any target on earth–is a source of horror, and discord and distrust. Men no longer maintain that disarmament must await the settlement of all disputes–for disarmament must be a part of any permanent settlement. And men may no longer pretend that the quest for disarmament is a sign of weakness–for in a spiraling arms race, a nation’s security may well be shrinking even as its arms increase.

For fifteen years this organization [the United Nations] has sought the reduction and destruction of arms. Now that goal is no longer a dream–it is a practical matter of life or death. The risks inherent in disarmament pale in comparison to the risks inherent in an unlimited arms race.

It is in this spirit that the recent Belgrade Conference–recognizing that this is no longer a Soviet problem or an American problem, but a human problem–endorsed a program of “general, complete and strictly an internationally controlled disarmament.” [the McCloy-Zorin Accords] It is in this same spirit that we in the United States have labored this year, with a new urgency, and with a new, now statutory agency fully endorsed by the Congress, to find an approach to disarmament which would be so far-reaching, yet realistic, so mutually balanced and beneficial, that it could be accepted by every nation. And it is in this spirit that we have presented with the agreement of the Soviet Union–under the label both nations now accept of “general and complete disarmament”–a new statement of newly-agreed principles for negotiation.

But we are well aware that all issues of principle are not settled, and that principles alone are not enough. It is therefore our intention to challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race- –to advance together step by step, stage by stage, until general and complete disarmament has been achieved. We invite them now to go beyond agreement in principle to reach agreement on actual plans.

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Many things have changed since Kennedy made his “Peace Speech” in June, 1963. He was assassinated several months later.

This is part of what JFK said five months before he was killed:

I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived–yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.

What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. 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.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles–which can only destroy and never create–is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. 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.

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.

First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable–that mankind is doomed–that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again.

I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace– based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions–on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace–no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process–a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. 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. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.

JFK also warned against the dangers of censorship. Many years ago, US schools taught about the dangers of a totalitarian society, embodied in the Soviet Union. Today, you should ask yourself what nation fits JFK’s description of a totalitarian state.

The Assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Most Americans do not accept the official version of the assassination of JFK, that he was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.  In 2017, NBC found that 61% of Americans believed that more than one person was involved in killing JFK. (Links to an external site.)   After examining the evidence and books on the subject,  I also reject the official narrative that Oswald acted alone. 

One particularly convincing bit of evidence to me was a book written by the surgeon, Dr. Charles Crenshaw, who treated JKF at the Dallas Memorial Hospital.  He eventually wrote a book, Trauma Room One: The JFK Medical Coverup Exposed (Links to an external site.)

Dr. Crenshaw provided his own drawings of the massive head wound suffered by JFK, which clearly show that the bullet entered from the front and then blew out the back of JFK’s skull  (the photographs had been destroyed).  Kennedy’s body was forceably removed from the Dallas Memorial Hospital by the Secret Service and flown to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the official autopsy was performed.  Photos from that autopsy showed no massive exit wound from the back of his head, which would have contradicted the official story, since Oswald had supposedly fired from the side, which made a frontal wound impossible.

The videos copied below discuss this and many other details of the assassination.  They were produced by British TV and shown on the HIstory Channel (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Men_Who_Killed_Kennedy.The production of the last three episodes in 2003, especially episode number 9, created great controversy and caused the episodes to be withdrawn.