Excerpts from President Kennedy's Speech at University of California, March 23, 1962


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 2, pp. 809-810


President Kennedy's Speech at University of California, March 23, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents, Kennedy, 1962, p. 265:

"The leaders of the Communist world are not only confronted by acute internal problems in each Communist country--the failure of agriculture, the rising discontent of the youth and the intellectuals, the demands of technical and managerial groups for status and security. They are confronted in addition by profound divisions within the Communist world itself--divisions which have already shattered the image of communism as a universal system guaranteed to abolish all social and international conflicts, the most valuable asset which the Communists had for many years.

"Wisdom requires the long view. And the long view shows us that the revolution of national independence is a fundamental fact of our era. This revolution cannot be stopped.

"As new nations emerge from the oblivion of centuries, their first aspiration is to affirm their national identity. Their deepest hope is for a world where, within a framework of international cooperation, every country can solve its own problems according to its own traditions and ideals.

"It is in the interests of the pursuit of knowledge--and it is in our own national interest--that this revolution of national independence succeed. For the Communists rest everything on the idea of a monolithic world--a world where all knowledge has a single pattern, all societies move toward a single model, all problems have a single solution, and all roads lead to a single destination.

"The pursuit of knowledge, on the other hand, rests everything on the opposite idea--on the idea of a world based on diversity, self-determination and freedom. And that is the kind of world to which we Americans, as a nation, are committed by the principles on which this republic was formed.

"As men conduct the pursuit of knowledge, they create a world which freely unites national diversity and international partnership. This emerging world is incompatible with the Communist conception of world order.

"It will irresistibly burst the bonds of Communist organization and Communist ideology. And diversity and independence, far from being opposed to the American conception of world order, represent the very essence of our vision of the future.

"There used to be much talk a few years ago about the inevitable triumph of communism. We hear such talk much less now. No one who examines the modem world can doubt that the great currents of history are carrying the world away from the monolithic idea toward the pluralist idea-away from communism and toward national independence and freedom.

"No one can doubt that the wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed, but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men. No one can doubt that cooperation in the pursuit of knowledge must lead to freedom of the mind and of the soul.

"The specter of thermonuclear waro will hang over mankind; and we must heed the advice of Oliver Wendell Holmes of 'freedom leaning on her spear' until all nations are wise enough to disarm safely and effectively.

* * *

"We must seize the vision of a free and diverse world-and shape our policies to speed progress toward a flexible world order.

"This is the unifying spirit of our policies in the world. The purpose of our aid programs must be to help developing countries to move forward as rapidly as possible on the road to genuine national independence.

"Our military policies must assist nations to protect the processes of democratic reform and development against disruption and intervention."

* * *


Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Vietnam War Page