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Excerpts of Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy, Boston Garden, Boston, MA - (Advance Release Text)

November 07, 1960

The decision which the American people make tomorrow will affect many areas of our national life: The growth of our economy and the employment of our workers, the education of our young and the welfare of our older citizens, the development of our great rivers, and the prosperity of our abundant farms.

But of all the great issues whose ultimate resolution may depend upon tomorrow's choice, none is more important or more urgent than the issue of peace, whether, in the sixties, the world will move closer to a secure peace in which freedom can flourish, or whether we will drift toward armed conflict, with all its terrors and potential for destruction.

For no issue more sharply divides the two parties and the two candidates in this election than the issue of peace. Of course, both Mr. Nixon and myself share the common desire of all Americans for a peaceful world but throughout this campaign we have differed, and differed sharply, as to the most effective way to pursue peace, on the course American must take if Communist attack is to be deterred, tensions relieved, and the vast resources, which now go to build weapons, are eventually to be used to advance the welfare of all men.

Mr. Nixon believes that peace can be achieved through conferences and commissions, through meetings and good-will tours through special missions and propaganda gimmicks. But words and gestures, talks and visits, will not bring peace in the future, just as they have failed to bring peace during the past 8 years.

We face a ruthless and implacable enemy bent on world domination. An enemy supremely confident of its ultimate victory and willing to seek that victory by whatever method seems likely to succeed.

The Soviet Union recognizes and respects only one obstacle to its ambitions and that is the strength of its opponents; only a strong and vital America can convince the Communists that any attempt at armed aggression will cost them too dearly to be worth the gamble; only a strong and vital America can maintain the leadership of the alliance of free nations. Only a strong and vital America can maintain the leadership of the alliance of free nations. Only a strong and vital America can become the model of Democratic progress to the newly emerging nations who are looking for guidance and for help.

Therefore, if elected, I pledge myself and my party to begin work immediately on a program to achieve peace through strength.

First, we will strenghten our military power to the point where no aggressor will dare attack, now or in the future. Two days ago an independent study made for the Department of the Army concluded that unless we acted immediately we might "become a world power inferior to the U.S.S.R." But America must not become inferior to any nation. For an inferior America endangers peace and the survival of freedom. Therefore, we will build a mobile retaliatory force incapable of destruction by surprise attack, and modernize and strengthen our conventional forces so as to deter limited war.

Second, we will act to strengthen America here at home, by working to reverse the current decline in our rate of economic growth and rate of employment, by meeting the needs of our people for medical care, for education, for housing and all the rest, and by assuring every American, of every race and creed equal opportunity in all the activities of our national life. In this way we can convince the people of the developing nations that the road to progress is freedom's road - that democracy, not communism, offers the brightest hope for their future.

Third, we will strengthen the political and economic independence of those nations newly emerging on the bottom half of the globe to prevent in those countries the chaos and despair on which Communist expansion thrives.

Such an effort requires not only long-term development loans but education, student exchanges, stepped up Voice of America broadcasts, concerned and competent Ambassadors, and a wide range of measures designed to increase the strength of freedom and stimulate the economic advance on which freedom often depends.

Fourth, we will strengthen our planning the preparation for disarmament. One of the most glaring failures of the past 8 years has been our failure to prepare properly for any arms control conference since the end of the Korean war. As a result we have allowed the Soviet Union to take the initiative and win the propaganda victories while our blunder often made it seem to others that America, not Russia, was the real obstacle to disarmament. It is no longer enough to have only 100 men, in the entire Government, working on the complex problem of arms control. We must immediately establish a National Peace Agency, an Arms Control Research Institute, to work full time on these problems.

Fifth, we will strengthen man's hopes for freedom in those countries where Communist despotism now rules. From Peiping to Warsaw, from Budapest to Havana, millions of people have lost their freedom. We must constantly remind them through stepped-up Voice of America broadcasts, through exchange of information, and through economic help where that help seems likely to decrease their dependence on Moscow, we must remind them that America looks forward to the day when they will be free.

If we pursue these programs, if we are willing to forego the easy but fatal course of thinking that we can talk our way into a peaceful world, for the course of the action and effort and sacrifice which the Democratic Party offers, then I believe that we will move toward the day which was promised mankind almost 2,000 years ago, the day when there will be "peace on earth and good will toward men."

John F. Kennedy, Excerpts of Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy, Boston Garden, Boston, MA - (Advance Release Text) Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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