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The image that won't go away

Reader comment on item: Memories of John F. Kennedy's Inauguration

Submitted by Chester Anthony (Turkey), Mar 12, 2011 at 07:47

JFK died over a year before I was born, and although I grew up in a Republican family that was critical of him as a liberal, as I aged I started to wonder how inadequate Kennedy really was. By the time I had studied US-Soviet relations during the Cold War at the graduate level, I began to realize that the Soviet leadership must have perceived him as a "kid" who would be easy to intimidate over Cuba. The Soviets underestimated him, clearly, and today no one really questions that it was the Soviets who "blinked" first.

I still imagine the Soviet leaders watching the image of Kennedy explaining the Cuban crisis to the American public in a televised address, and I wonder what Khrushchev and his cohorts must have been thinking. I think Kennedy should still be credited for showing an unexpected toughness and resolve when many in the military and intelligence community (in both the USA and USSR) must surely have been dismissing him as a spoiled Harvard brat who only cared about leading a decadent lifestyle. Many around the world were frightened of nuclear armageddon, but Kennedy held firm. Had he not, America's decline as a world power might have come much earlier, and with much worse consequences for the world.

The videotaped image of his death remains the most indelible image of political murder in my mind, and I believe it is both a stain on America's national consciousness, and a source of powerful collective guilt.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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