Thursday, May 22, 2008

What JFK Said and What Happened

What Kennedy said: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” Widely quoted.

What Happened

Kennedy’s one presidential meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, suggests that there are legitimate reasons to fear negotiating with one’s adversaries. Although Kennedy was keenly aware of some of the risks of such meetings — his Harvard thesis was titled “Appeasement at Munich” — he embarked on a summit meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961, a move that would be recorded as one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.

Quote taken from an op-ed article in today's NYTimes, entitled Kennedy Talked, Khrushchev Triumphed.

Kennedy was advised not to meet with Khrushchev, but he went ahead.

. . . and for two days he was pummeled by the Soviet leader. Despite his eloquence, Kennedy was no match as a sparring partner, and offered only token resistance as Khrushchev lectured him on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy, cautioned America against supporting “old, moribund, reactionary regimes” and asserted that the United States, which had valiantly risen against the British, now stood “against other peoples following its suit.” Khrushchev used the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to warn Kennedy that his country could not be intimidated and that it was “very unwise” for the United States to surround the Soviet Union with military bases.

Yes, negotiators are sometimes abusive and if you are accustomed to being polite and to rely on logical presentations, you can get whipped. Not good for a President of the United States. Bush was right and Obama showed his ineptitude.

Obama is not ready to play in the major leagues. There is no evidence that he will ever be ready.


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