Kennedy Inaugural

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Selections from the John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address, Friday, January 20, 1961. 54 years have passed and we face the same challenges but seem possessed of less courage in our beliefs and less committed to spreading democracy.

“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”
John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address (Friday, January 20, 1961)

Still true.

“We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”
John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address (Friday, January 20, 1961)

My father’s generation fought World War 2 to prove this commitment. I worry we are closer the attitude of the people in the early 1900’s who viewed warfare as an outmoded concept, unlikely to occur on a large scale because of the incredible new communication technologies and the unprecedented level of trade between nations.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address (Friday, January 20, 1961)

You get the behavior you incentivize. If we draw a red line and ignore when it’s crossed we encourage our adversaries to take us less seriously in future.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction. We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.”
John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address (Friday, January 20, 1961)

It’s astounding that we have lived another 54 years without an accidental nuclear launch and without another nuke going off intentionally. The North Koreans and the Iranians may prove less prudent than the Russians or Chinese.

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