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Sunday, December 04, 2011

JFK, the USSR, and the moon

Not long ago, I saw a television documentary which replayed that famous clip of JFK proposing to send a man to the moon by the end of the decade. That declaration was presented (as it is always presented) as an example of the American "can do" spirit. In short: The clip is used to engender nationalism.

Here is the part of the story that they never tell you: JFK wanted the US and the USSR to go on a joint mission to the moon -- an exercise in cooperation which would have done much to end or to mitigate the cold war. Just ten days before he died, JFK codified this approach with National Security Action Memorandum 271, which you can read here.

He also gave a speech to the UN on September 20 on this topic. I don't know if footage of the speech exists -- if it does, the people who produce television documentaries are either unaware of it or prefer to keep it hidden.
"...Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity -- in the field of space -- there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the moon."

"Space offers no problem of sovereignty; by resolution of this assembly, the members of the United Nations have forsworn any claims to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply."

"Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the moon be a matter of natural competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research construction and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries -- indeed of all the world -- cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the moon, not the representatives of a single nations, but the representatives of all of our countries."
This blog usually concentrates on current events. But in this era of historical revisionism, we should occasionally try to educate today's young people about what actually happened. JFK's dream was not fulfilled; his course was changed.
Interesting there's film of Khrushchev's shoe, but not this more inspiring speech by a U.S. president. Anyway, this audio is quite good.
Extremely interesting thanks.

A couple of sites that may interest you...
Interesting stuff. But remember the USSR was ahead in the space race then.

Nikita "we will bury you" Khrushchev was bigged up as threatening in the US, including on the Sep 1961 cover of 'Time' magazine...but this was the guy who on coming to the UK avowed that if were British, he'd vote Tory (as if anyone sensible thought otherwise).

That film of Khrushchev's shoe looks fake - although the incident did occur.
JFK saw his nuclear agreement as the crown jewel of his first term along a number of executive actions that moved his agenda along in education, health care and labor. Revisionists try to paint him as a reactionary these days. In a Simpson ep, Fox News announces that the dead JFK was a Republican.
It's very curious to me, Joe, that you referenced the posthumous-tribute website of master conspiracy theorist L. Fletcher Prouty for this JFK quote, rather than the primary source that Prouty himself used, which was the ol' standby of pre-Internet political research, "Vital Speeches of the Day".

Andy Tyme
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