To the editor:
President John F. Kennedy created the Cuban Missile Crisis by demonstrating himself to be feckless and flaccid in front of Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit.
Kennedy had arrived at the summit shortly after the Bay of Pigs debacle in which he withheld the air support that he had previously pledged to his anti-Castro forces. Khrushchev interpreted Kennedy’s actions as a sign of weakness.
Khrushchev’s instincts were correct.
Vienna ended with Kennedy ceding Laos to communists who would later murder thousands of U.S. troops in Vietnam. Meanwhile, back in Europe, the USSR constructed the Berlin Wall. Kennedy’s response: “I am a Berliner!”
Kennedy’s negotiation skills did not improve in the months following Vienna. For 15 days in October 1962, the world held its breath while two superpowers very nearly initiated a nuclear world war. Kennedy’s own “Appeasement at Munich” and his paranoid delusions about the U.S. military had brought the world to the brink of annihilation.
Today, our president is faced with a “nuclear rogue nation” that poses an existential threat to our allies and possibly even the United States. Our country cannot afford to simply hope that North Korea will go the way of every other tyrannical regime.
Similar regimes indeed have met their eventual demise but only after first killing untold numbers of human beings. This time, however, the rogues possess the most prolific killing machines in human history.
The North Korean question is not an easy question. Eradicating a cancer that has existed for 64 years is complicated.
We elect adults to national office for such a time as this, and we expect them to make the hard decisions. The decision to move forward with a radical surgery should be hard and thoughtful because the procedure itself involves risk, pain and complications.
Fortunately, we have a president who, unlike John F. Kennedy, trusts our military to help resolve such difficult conflicts.
Paul A. Grace