Fifty Years Without JFK: Rethinking Global Diplomacy
Keynote address: Kennedy as a Strategist
Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman (King's College London)
The School of Advanced Study's Institute for the Study of the Americas and the London School of Economics and Political Science's LSE IDEAS are jointly hosting a conference on JFK's foreign policy at Senate House, University of London on March 13, 2013. The British Association for American Studies (BAAS) is kindly providing support for postgraduate travel and attendance.
This conference will commemorate the political life of President John F. Kennedy, fifty years after his assassination in 1963. Although Kennedy's tenure as President of the United States (1961-63) was cut short, his impact on the world has been significant. When Kennedy took office in January 1961, relations with the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist countries were cold. When it came to fighting Communist influence, Kennedy's administration did not start strongly. In April 1961, there was the doomed US-supported Bay of Pigs invasion. Then, during the Berlin crisis, Kennedy openly committed to using nuclear weapons in order to counter Khrushchev's unilateral resolution. In August that year, construction of the Berlin Wall began. By 1962, however, Kennedy achieved notable foreign policy success when he forced the Soviets to withdraw nuclear weapons and soldiers from Cuba. By 1963 there were 16,000 military advisers in Viet Nam, and Kennedy had engaged the Soviets and the British in talks to limit atmospheric nuclear testing. But the legacy of his engagement with world affairs is perhaps more evident in the establishment of the Peace Corps and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID): both organisations still exist today. While the Peace Corps has engaged young Americans in understanding the world by living and working in developing countries, USAID has continues in its mission to elevate the lives of others through the development of their economies, societies, and political systems.