Two Contrasting Commencement Addresses a Half Century Apart
Paul Craig Roberts
On June 1, 2019, American vice president Mike Pence gave the commencement address at West Point. He told the graduates that it was a certainty that they will “be on a battlefield for America” and “will move to the sound of guns.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-vice-president-pence-west-point-graduation-ceremony/
Pence did not say for whose agenda they would be fighting, whether it would be the oil companies’ agenda, or Israel’s, or the New York Banks’, or for the neoconservative ideology of US world hegemony, or for the CIA’s drug business. Indeed, the West Point graduates will die without ever knowing for whose interest they are fighting.
Pence’s address is a perfect illustration of The Matrix at work. The innocent and ignorant graduates are sitting ducks for recruitment into what US Marine General Smedley Butler described as the hit men for American corporate interests. https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2019/05/27/something-to-think-about-on-memorial-day/
War and the preparation for war has been the hallmark of America since the Clinton regime. In American history, the wars have always been for empire and the economic and financial interests that benefit from empire. There are very few years in American history when the government has not been at war with someone.
On June 10, 1963, 56 years ago, a much greater man than Pence, President John F. Kennedy, gave the commencement address at American University in Washington, D.C. His speech stunned the military/security complex. It revealed a president who was committed to establishing a peaceful relationship with the Soviet Union. This would be a peace that would threaten their budget, power, and importance. Kennedy’s brave speech was a nail in his coffin. Five months later President Kennedy was murdered by the CIA and Joint Chiefs of Staff in Dallas Texas. Their deed was blamed on Oswald, who was promptly shot dead inside the Dallas jail by a private citizen given admittance for that purpose. Thus, the set-up fall man was murdered before he could deny his involvement.
President Eisenhower had rattled the cage of the military/security complex when he said in his last public address in 1961 that they were a threat to American democracy. But at American University President Kennedy went further and said his intention was to make peace and to remove the threat of war:
“I have chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived–yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace.
“What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.
“I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.” https://www.jfklibrary.org/archives/other-resources/john-f-kennedy-speeches/american-university-19630610
Kennedy also had confidence in America that no president since, except Ronald Reagan, had:
“We can seek a relaxation of tension without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove that we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people–but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.”
Contrast Washington today with President Kennedy, and you can see the total collapse of America. Today we seek to stamp out all news except from those presstitutes that repeat the official explanations. We jam foreign broadcasts by requiring Russian news services to register as “foreign agents.” We close down websites and ban free speech from Facebook and Twitter. We have zero diplomacy, only threats. Indeed threats are America’s hallmark. Threats of war. Threats of sanctions. The President of the United States gives away other countries’ territories and decides who is to be the president of Venezuela. Today’s America is scared to death of peaceful competition and imposes tariffs on everyone from Mexico to China.
When John Kennedy was president, America was a proud country. Today it is a shameful place in freefall, a grave danger to its own citizens and to the rest of the world.