The Happy Warrior

There are an awful lot of armchair warriors around at the minute. However, paddling my coracle on the interweb tonight, I found the video at the bottom of the blog of JFK's charming speech to the Canadian Parliament in May, 1961. I wonder what the apostles of bombing and coalitions of the willing would make of it.

It's interesting, even though Kennedy is laying it on thick almost from the beginning, to note how an America facing a massive and world-ending threat once behaved. Kennedy seeks to uphold the ideas of global development, partnership, responsibility and negotiation. He asks, in this lesser-known speech, that people of goodwill and ability do practical things to uphold human dignity. He notes a fearsome challenge; but makes no bow to go-it-alone militarism or soft bigotry. He is strong, but charming, and principled but not priggish. It is the sort of America that stretched back to the West's better traditions--he even alludes to Salamis and Marathon--and not its darker ones.

And yes, apparently, in Camelot, the leader was always that blow dried, brilliant, and surrounded by mood music, and was trusted and informed enough to discuss foreign relations with someone with a name like Diefenbaker for over two hours on his own. And he didn't blow up the world when given the opportunity in 1962. It makes one think....


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