The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Excerpts of Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Stadium, Salem, Ohio - (Advance Release Text)
October 9, 1960

The sharpest issue in the world today - not only for this campaign, but for the decades to come, not only for America, but for Africa and Asia and Latin America - is the question of whether this country is moving ahead fast enough compared to the Soviet Union.

Mr. Nixon is satisfied. He has said that our prestige has never been higher. I am not satisfied. I think we can do much better. I think we must move ahead much faster if we are to hold our lead, if we are to gather around us all the free nations of the world. For the test is not mere survival. The test is leadership for the decade of the sixties.

In our debate last Friday, Mr. Nixon said:

Look at the voting in the United Nations over the past 7 years. That is a test of prestige.
I have looked at the voting in the United Nations over the past 7 years. And if that is a test of prestige, then this country is in serious trouble.

Yesterday the United Nations General Assembly voted on the question of admitting Red China. The United States won but by the narrowest margin we have ever had. In yesterday's vote 34 countries voted against us. In 1952, only 7 countries voted against us. We have gone from 7 votes against us to 34 votes against us. And the decline has been progressive. In 1952 we had 85 percent of the vote with us. In 1953 it was 81. In 1954 it was 79. In 1955 it was 77. In 1956 it was 66. In 1957 it was 63. In 1958 it was 61. In 1959 it was 60 percent. This year it was 56 percent.

And of the 44 percent against us, the new nations of Africa and of Asia, the nations of the future, were especially heavy in voting against the American position. In yesterday's vote, only two African countries voted for us; 8 voted against and 14 abstained. Out of 24 nations on the newest continent 22 were against us.

Last week in the United Nations there was another similar test - a vote on a proposal by the neutralist nations to force a meeting between the President and Mr. Khrushchev. We won that vote but only because a two-thirds majority was required. We mustered 37 votes on our side. Forty-one countries, not including any Communist nations, voted against us. Not a single one of the new countries of Africa voted with the United States. More than a score of African countries voted against us.

I agree with Mr. Nixon that those votes are a test of American prestige. But I can take no satisfaction from them. I think they are hand-writing on the wall. I think they point the way to the road to disaster. I think that the direction must be reversed. I think that the shift in the balance of power must be pushed the other way. For what is at stake is not just a show of hands in the United Nations. What is at stake is the struggle between the principles of freedom and the principles of communism. What is at stake is the difference between the clear sunlight of freedom, and the dark arctic night of the Communists. What is at stake, in short, is the destiny of the world. And I say that smug and contented men must not be allowed to play fast and loose with the destines of free people.

I believe that the time has come for a fundamental change. We must not only face up to the Russians. We must face up to the facts - as we have done in all the glorious moments of our history from Valley Forge to the jungles of the South Pacific.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Excerpts of Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Stadium, Salem, Ohio - (Advance Release Text)", October 9, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25740.
 
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