Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can A Democratic President Draw Red Lines?

Sure he can.

Courtesy of IMRA:

(President Kennedy Press Conference, 13 September 1962 lays out some red lines in Cuban Missile Crises
the audio is available at:

President John F. Kennedy
State Department Auditorium
Washington, D.C.
September 13, 1962
6:00 PM EDST (Thursday)
307 In Attendance

THE PRESIDENT: I have a preliminary statement.

...Ever since Communism moved into Cuba in 1958, Soviet technical and military personnel have moved steadily onto the island in increasing numbers at the invitation of the Cuban government.

Now that movement has been increased. It is under our most careful surveillance But I will repeat the conclusion that I reported last week...If the United States ever should find it necessary to take military action against communism in Cuba, all of Castro's Communist-supplied weapons and technicians would not change the result or significantly extend the time required to achieve that result.

...let me make this clear once again: If at any time the Communist build-up in Cuba were to endanger or interfere with our security in any way, including our base at Guantanamo, our passage to the Panama Canal, our missile and space activities At Cape Canaveral, or the lives of American citizens in this country, or if Cuba should ever attempt to export its aggressive purposes by force or the threat of force against any nation in this hemisphere, or become an offensive military base of significant capacity for the Soviet Union, then this country will do whatever must be done to protect its own security and that of its allies.

...We shall continue to keep the American people and the Congress fully informed. We shall increase our surveillance of the whole Caribbean area. We shall neither initiate nor permit aggression in this hemisphere.

With this in mind, while I recognize that rash talk is cheap, particularly on the part of those who do not have the responsibility, I would hope that the future record will show that the only people talking about a war or an invasion at this time are the communist spokesmen in Moscow and Havana, and that the American people defending as we do so much of the free world, will in this nuclear age, as they have in the past, keep both their nerve and their head.

QUESTION: Mr. President, coupling this statement with the one of last week, at what point do you determine that the buildup in Cuba has lost its defensive character and become offensive? Would it take an overt act?

THE PRESIDENT: I think if you read last week’s statement and the statement today, I made it quite clear, particularly in last week's statement, when we talked about the presence of offensive military missile capacity or development of military bases and other indications which I gave last week, all those would, of course, indicate a change in the nature of the threat.

QUESTION: Well, Mr. President, in this same line, have you set for yourself any rule or set of conditions at which you will determine the existence of an offensive rather than a defensive force in Cuba, and in that same connection in your reading of the Monroe Doctrine, how do you define intervention? Will it require force to contravene the Monroe Doctrine or does the presence of a foreign power in any force, but not using that force in this hemisphere, amount to contravention of the Doctrine?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have indicated that if Cuba should possess a capacity to carry out offensive action against the United States, that the United States would act. I have also indicated that the United States would not permit Cuba to export its power by force in the hemisphere. The United States will make appropriate military judgments after consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others, after carefully analyzing whatever new information comes in, as to whether that point has been reached where an offensive threat does exist. At that time the country and the Congress will be so notified...


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