Kennedy Doctrine Essay

The Kennedy Doctrine refers to foreign policy initiatives of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, towards Latin America during his term in office between 1961 and 1963. Kennedy voiced support for the containment of Communism and the reversal of Communist progress in the Western Hemisphere. The Kennedy Doctrine was essentially an expansion of the foreign policy prerogatives of the previous administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman. The foreign policies of these presidents all revolved around the threat of communism and the means by which the United States would attempt to contain the spread of it.

The Truman Doctrine focused on the containment of communism by providing assistance to countries resisting communism in Europe while the Eisenhower Doctrine was focused upon providing both military and economic assistance to nations resisting communism in the Middle East and by increasing the flow of trade from the United States into Latin America. The Kennedy Doctrine was based on these same objectives but was more concerned with the spread of communism and Soviet influence in Latin America following the Cuban revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power under Eisenhower during the 1950s.

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Some of the most notable events that stemmed from tenets of JFK’s foreign policy initiatives in regard to Latin America and the spread of communism were: The Bay of Pigs Invasion, April 17, 1961, Increase of U. S. involvement in Vietnam War, 1962, Cuban Missile Crisis, October, 1962, and Ratification of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, July, 1963. The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.

The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in the United States. The Cuban armed forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the invading combatants within three days. The main invasion landing took place at a beach named Playa Giron, located at the mouth of the bay. The invasion is named after the Bay of Pigs, although that is only a modern translation of the Spanish Bahia de Cochinos. In Latin America, the conflict is often known as La Batalla de Giron, or just Playa Giron (John F. Kennedy).

In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U. S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U. S. attack against the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation from an attack by the U. S.

Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961; Castro felt a second attack was inevitable. Consequently, he approved of Khrushchev’s plan to place missiles on the island. In the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba. For the United States, the crisis began on October 15, 1962 when reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba. Early the next day, President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Kennedy immediately organized the EX-COMM, a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis.

After seven days of guarded and intense debate within the upper echelons of government, Kennedy concluded to impose a naval quarantine around Cuba. He wished to prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island. On October 22, Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public and his decision to quarantine the island. He also proclaimed that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba.

Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba, and specifying the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba (The Cuban Missile Crisis, 2010). It was here where Kennedy developed his program of flexible response.

This entailed the end of all out nuclear confrontation in the method espoused by deterrence and rather reliance on gradual missile proliferation supplemented by conventional force build up. This also entailed an increase in covert operations as well. Flexible response also provided for the Rearmament of Western Germany and the construction of a figurative trip wire euphemistically referred to as check point Charlie, a force of US – 30,000 soldiers between the two fortresses of communism and capitalism. In sum Kennedy’s policy of flexible response kept the soviets out of the reconstruction of the western European economy. Wheat) The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World – primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies – and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States and its allies. Although the chief military forces never engaged in a major battle with each other, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

After the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, the USSR and the US saw each other as profound enemies of their basic ways of life. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc with the eastern European countries it occupied, annexing some and maintaining others as satellite states, some of which were later consolidated as the Warsaw Pact (1955–1991). The US financed the recovery of Western Europe and forged NATO, a military alliance using containment of communism as a main strategy (Truman Doctrine).

The US funded the Marshall Plan to effectuate a more rapid post-War recovery of Europe, while the Soviet Union would not let most Eastern Bloc members participate. Elsewhere, in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the USSR assisted and helped foster communist revolutions, opposed by several Western countries and their regional allies; some they attempted to roll back, with mixed results. Among the countries that the USSR supported in pro-communist revolt was Cuba, led by Fidel Castro.

The proximity of communist Cuba to the United States proved to be a center point of the Cold War; the USSR placed multiple nuclear missiles in Cuba, sparking heated tension with the Americans and leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The Cold War featured periods of relative calm and of international high tension – the Berlin Blockade (1948–1949), the Korean War (1950–1953), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the Vietnam War (1959–1975), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), and the Able Archer 83 NATO exercises in November 1983.

Both sides sought detente to relieve political tensions and deter direct military attack, which would probably guarantee their mutual assured destruction with nuclear weapons. The next step in the Cold war was the nuclear arms race, which started after the end of the Korean War. The United States had detonated its first thermonuclear device in 1952. The Soviet Union followed up with its own test of a similar weapon in 1953. By 1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had announced a “doctrine of massive retaliation against communist aggression” (Schoenherr, 2006).

After all of this posturing and competition with nuclear weapons and delivery systems the world found itself living with a decidedly more confrontational situation in October 1962. The previous year had been one of bitter disappointment to Cuban exiles. The Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba on April 17, 1961 had been attempted to trigger an anti-Castro rebellion. The Cuban exile forces had been backed and supported by the United States military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The invasion was a total failure and a means for Castro to project an even harder line towards the United States and capitalism while at the same time embracing the Soviet Union and communism. “It also likely encouraged Castro to accept and the Soviets to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba as a deterrent to any future invasion” (Bentley, et al, 2008, pg. 641). Once Fidel Castro gave his approval to the deployment of nuclear missiles in his country, the Soviet Union wasted no time in quickly and secretly building the launch sites.

On August 31, 1962, Senator Kenneth Keating told the U. S. senate that there was evidence of Soviet missile installations in Cuba. Within two weeks the Soviet Foreign Minister, Andrei Gromyko, warned the United States that any attack of Cuba could mean war with the Soviet Union. By this time, the United States had begun sending U-2 reconnaissance planes on missions over Cuba to gain evidence of the Soviet Union’s complicity in the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba. On October 14, 1962, a U-2 finally got photographic evidence of the missiles in western Cuba.

President John F. Kennedy was shown the photographs taken by the U-2 on October 16, 1962. The President met in secret with his advisors for several days to discuss the problem. After many long and difficult meetings, Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies, and demanded the removal of the missiles already there and the destruction of the sites. All of the Soviet ships that were en route to Cuba turned back in the face of the blockade on October 24 except one.

This lone ship was the reason that the Defcon status was raised to 2, which is one short of an all out war. With the reality of a nuclear confrontation looming on the horizon, President Kennedy sent a letter to Khrushchev in which he placed the blame of this crisis on the Soviet Union. The next day a letter was sent to Kennedy from Khrushchev that proposed the removal of the missiles if the President would publicly announce that the United States would never invade Cuba.

Although the Cold War started after the end of World War II, it was the Cuban Missile Crisis that brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. This confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union was thirteen days of drama, fear, and worry as the entire world waited the outcome of the crisis. Not only did the threat of total nuclear war overshadow the world, it looked on as two superpowers dueled with one another. The major lesson learned by the Soviet Union was one of preparation off its military forces.

They found out that without the capability of a blue water navy and long-range transport aircraft, the ability to project power around the world would be limited. The United States stood up to what can only be described as aggression in its own backyard. Without the ability to protect itself from communist forces only ninety miles from its shoreline, there was no way that the country would ever be considered safe and with that the freedoms that we enjoyed would be threatened. In the end, President Kennedy practiced what he preached and kept this nation and the free world safe.

The foreign policy of the United States is the policy for which the United States interacts with foreign nations and sets standards of interaction for its organizations, corporations and individual citizens. In the 21st century, U. S. influence remains strong but, in relative terms, is declining in terms of economic output compared to rising nations such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the newly consolidated European Union. Substantial problems remain, such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the specter of nuclear terrorism.

Foreign policy analyst suggest that all six powers have similar vested interests in stability and terrorism prevention and trade; if they can find common ground, then the next decades may be marked by peaceful growth and prosperity. It is difficult to know for certain what effect Kennedy’s programs would have had on Vietnam or in the Third World in total entirety. What is known though is that the Kennedy Doctrine emphasized the importance of the domino theory in the Third World in traditional notions of geopolitical interests being firmly locked and geared towards geo-economics interests.

Historian, William S. Borden maintains that Kennedy’s commitment to the Third World, “… was to launch an aggressive but ultimately futile defense of American hegemony. ” (Hogan, America in the World, 356) The Vietnam War was doomed to happen with or without Kennedy’s approval. Next the US has come a long way with regard to foreign policies with China ; the USSR, but is it far enough? In my opinion I do not think so. The USSR, I believe still has some negative tensions toward the US and if they were a stronger military power I feel that we should be nervous.

We have a huge trade base with China and because of that I feel that we are on stable ground. Even though with the economy today, China is not pleased with how our markets are looking. Realizing that the US market has an effect on the world markets is cause for them to be concerned. Cuba has been at odds with the United States since Fidel Castro assumed power in 1959. Successive U. S. administrations have employed tough measures against the country, including prolonged economic sanctions and designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but none have substantially weakened Castro’s rule.

In February 2008, longtime president Fidel Castro formally resigned from office, sixteen months after transferring many powers to his brother Raul due to illness. Despite stirrings of U. S. economic interest in Cuba and some policy softening under President Barack Obama, experts say that normalization of bilateral relations is unlikely in the near to medium term. Tensions between the two countries peaked with the 2009 arrest of U. S. citizen Alan Gross, who was tried and convicted of attempting to destabilize the Cuban regime through a U. S. -sponsored program.

Recently, Raul Castro has implemented major reforms, including the lifting of fifty-year-old travel restrictions for Cuban citizens, which, analysts say, are helping the country strengthen ties with its Latin American neighbors. The current status of U. S. /Cuba relations is virtually nonexistent. There is a U. S. mission in Havana, Cuba’s capital, but it has minimal communication with the Cuban government. Since 1961, the official U. S. policy toward Cuba has been two-pronged: economic embargo and diplomatic isolation. The George W. Bush administration strongly enforced the embargo and increased travel restrictions.

Americans with immediate family in Cuba could visit once every three years for a maximum of two weeks, while family remittances to Cuba were reduced from $3,000 to just $300 in 2004. However, in April 2009, President Obama eased some of these policies. He went further in 2011 to undo many of the restrictions imposed by the Bush administration, thus allowing U. S. citizens to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba and to travel to Cuba for educational or religious purposes. Congress amended the trade embargo in 2000 to allow agricultural exports from the United States to Cuba.

In 2008, U. S. companies exported roughly $710 million worth of food and agricultural products to the island nation, according to the U. S. -Cuba Trade and Economic Council. However, that number fell by about 50 percent in 2012. Total agricultural exports since 2001 reached $3. 5 billion as of February 2012. Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas have all brokered agricultural deals with Cuba in recent years. President Kennedy’s personal ambitions and idealist perceptions of the world demanded a proactive strategy, which had to be executed from a position of strength.

A military capable of responding to any number of scenarios was the solution. Kennedy’s flexible response strategy was the result. A convincing argument can be made that his strategy succeeded in spite of, rather than because of, the actions Kennedy took during any number of crises during his Administration. Although Kennedy inherited the “Cuba problem,” it was he who defined it as a crisis when it was politically advantageous to do so. The immediate result was his undertaking of the Bay of Pigs invasion, which, in essence, produced a double-edged sword.

The Bay of Pigs very likely resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The results of the Bay of Pigs produced the decision making mechanism which likely resulted in the successful conclusion of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was the combination of Kennedy’s decisions to use the military, and the military’s performance once those decisions were made, that eventually validated his doctrine. Kennedy’s personality, and the many opportune occurrences which he was a beneficiary of but had no control over,?cannot be excluded as contributing to his successes.


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