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Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon both pledged to strengthen American military forces and promised a tough stance against the Soviet Union and international communism. Kennedy warned of the Soviet's growing arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles and pledged to revitalize American nuclear forces. He also criticized the Eisenhower administration for permitting the establishment of a pro-Soviet government in Cuba. John F. Kennedy was the first American president born in the 20th century.
The Cold War and the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union were vital international issues throughout his political career. His inaugural address stressed the contest between the free world and the communist world, and he pledged that the American people would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty. Before his inauguration, JFK was briefed on a plan drafted during the Eisenhower administration to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of their homeland.
The plan anticipated that support from the Cuban people and perhaps even elements of the Cuban military would lead to the overthrow of Castro and the establishment of a non-communist government friendly to the United States.
Kennedy approved the operation and some 1, exiles landed at Cuba's Bay of Pigs on April The entire force was either killed or captured, and Kennedy took full responsibility for the failure of the operation. Kennedy was surprised by Khrushchev's combative tone during the summit. As a result of these threatening developments, Kennedy ordered substantial increases in American intercontinental ballistic missile forces. He also added five new army divisions and increased the nation's air power and military reserves. The Soviets meanwhile resumed nuclear testing and President Kennedy responded by reluctantly reactivating American tests in early Memorandum relaying the main points of the conversation between John F.
Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev during their first lunch meeting in Vienna, on June 3, During this meeting, President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev discussed Soviet agriculture, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's space flight, the possibility of putting a man on the moon, and their hopes that their two nations would have good relations in the future.
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In the summer of , Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with the Cuban government to supply nuclear missiles capable of protecting the island against another US-sponsored invasion. In mid-October, American spy planes photographed the missile sites under construction. Kennedy responded by placing a naval blockade, which he referred to as a "quarantine," around Cuba.
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He also demanded the removal of the missiles and the destruction of the sites. Recognizing that the crisis could easily escalate into nuclear war, Khrushchev finally agreed to remove the missiles in return for an American pledge not to reinvade Cuba. The Soviet leader decided to commit whatever resources were required for upgrading the Soviet nuclear strike force. His decision led to a major escalation of the nuclear arms race. He urged Americans to critically reexamine Cold War stereotypes and myths and called for a strategy of peace that would make the world safe for diversity.
In addition, Washington and Moscow established a direct line of communication known as the "Hotline" to help reduce the possibility of war by miscalculation. They joined Americans already sent by the Eisenhower administration. In February , the president sent an additional 12, military advisers to support the South Vietnamese army.
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By early November , the number of US military advisers had reached 16, Even as the military commitment in Vietnam grew, JFK told an interviewer, "In the final analysis, it is their war. They are the ones who have to win it or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment, we can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it—the people of Vietnam against the Communists. But I don't agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake. Now Europe is quite secure.
We also have to participate—we may not like it—in the defense of Asia. Skip past main navigation. JFK in History. Life of John F. Kennedy Life of Jacqueline B.
Scene from a Cold War
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