THE UNSPOKEN SPEECH: TEXT
Remarks prepared for delivery at the Dallas Trade Mart
John F. Kennedy, November 22, 1963
I am honored to have this invitation to address
the annual meeting of the Dallas Citizens Council, joined by the members of
the Dallas Assembly -- and pleased to have this opportunity to salute the Graduate
Research Center of the Southwest.
It is fitting that these two symbols of Dallas
progress are united in the sponsorship of this meeting. For they represent
the best qualities, I am told, of leadership and learning in this city -- and
leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. The advancement of
learning depends on community leadership for financial and political support
and the products of that learning, in turn, are essential to the leadership's
hopes for continued progress and prosperity. It is not a coincidence that those
communities possessing the best in research and graduate facilities -- from
MIT to Cal Tech -- tend to attract the new and growing industries. I congratulate
those of you here in Dallas who have recognized these basic facts through the
creation of the unique and forward-looking Graduate Research Center.
between leadership and learning is not only essential at the community level.
It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation
can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed
to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country's security. In a world
of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations,
America's leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason or
else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible
will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions
to every world problem.
There will always be dissident voices heard in the
land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor,
perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility.
Those voices are inevitable.
But today other voices are heard in the land --
preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties,
doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons,
that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness.
At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its
burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to
our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal
employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes
of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.
expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will "talk sense to
the American people." But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense.
And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that
strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.
want to discuss with you today the status of our strength and our security
because this question clearly calls for the most responsible qualities of leadership
and the most enlightened products of scholarship. For this Nation's strength
and security are not easily or cheaply obtained, nor are they quickly and simply
explained. There are many kinds of strength and no one kind will suffice. Overwhelming
nuclear strength cannot stop a guerrilla war. Formal pacts of alliance cannot
stop internal subversion. Displays of material wealth cannot stop the disillusionment
of diplomats subjected to discrimination.
Above all, words alone are not enough.
The United States is a peaceful nation. And where our strength and determination
are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If
we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will
be of no help.
I realize that this Nation often tends to identify turning-points
in world affairs with the major addresses which preceded them. But it was not
the Monroe Doctrine that kept all Europe away from this hemisphere -- it was
the strength of the British fleet and the width of the Atlantic Ocean. It was
not General Marshall's speech at Harvard which kept communism out of Western
Europe -- it was the strength and stability made possible by our military and
In this administration also it has been necessary at times
to issue specific warnings -- warnings that we could not stand by and watch
the Communists conquer Laos by force, or intervene in the Congo, or swallow
Berlin, or maintain offensive missiles on Cuba. But while our goals were at
least temporarily obtained in these and other instances, our successful defense
of freedom was due not to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready
to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend.
is composed of many different elements, ranging from the most massive deterrents
to the most subtle influences. And all types of strength are needed -- no one
kind could do the job alone. Let us take a moment, therefore, to review this
Nation's progress in each major area of strength.
First, as Secretary McNamara
made clear in his address last Monday, the strategic nuclear power of the United
States has been so greatly modernized and expanded in the last 1,000 days,
by the rapid production and deployment of the most modern missile systems,
that any and all potential aggressors are clearly confronted now with the impossibility
of strategic victory -- and the certainty of total destruction -- if by reckless
attack they should ever force upon us the necessity of a strategic reply.
less than 3 years, we have increased by 50 percent the number of Polaris submarines
scheduled to be in force by the next fiscal year, increased by more than 70
percent our total Polaris purchase program, increased by more than 75 percent
our Minuteman purchase program, increased by 50 percent the portion of our
strategic bombers on 15-minute alert, and increased by too percent the total
number of nuclear weapons available in our strategic alert forces. Our security
is further enhanced by the steps we have taken regarding these weapons to improve
the speed and certainty of their response, their readiness at all times to
respond, their ability to survive an attack, and their ability to be carefully
controlled and directed through secure command operations.
But the lessons
of the last decade have taught us that freedom cannot be defended by strategic
nuclear power alone. We have, therefore, in the last 3 years accelerated the
development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and increased by 60
percent the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe.
Nor can Europe
or any other continent rely on nuclear forces alone, whether they are strategic
or tactical. We have radically improved the readiness of our conventional forces
-- increased by 45 percent the number of combat ready Army divisions, increased
by 100 percent
the procurement of modern Army weapons and equipment, increased by 100 percent
our ship construction, conversion, and modernization program, increased by
100 percent our procurement of tactical aircraft, increased by 30 percent the
number of tactical air squadrons, and increased the strength of the Marines.
As last month's "Operation Big Lift" -- which originated here in Texas -- showed
so clearly, this Nation is prepared as never before to move substantial numbers
of men in surprisingly little time to advanced positions anywhere in the world.
We have increased by 175 percent the procurement of airlift aircraft, and we
have already achieved a 75 percent increase in our existing strategic airlift
capability. Finally, moving beyond the traditional roles of our military forces,
we have achieved an increase of nearly 600 percent in our special forces -- those
forces that are prepared to work with our allies and friends against the guerrillas,
saboteurs, insurgents and assassins who threaten freedom in a less direct but
equally dangerous manner.
But American military might should not and need
not stand alone against the ambitions of international communism. Our security
and strength, in the last analysis, directly depend on the security and strength
of others, and that is why our military and economic assistance plays such
a key role in enabling those who live on the periphery of the Communist world
to maintain their independence of choice. Our assistance to these nations can
be painful, risky and costly, as is true in Southeast Asia today. But we dare
not weary of the task. For our assistance makes possible the stationing of
3-5 million allied troops along the Communist frontier at one-tenth the cost
of maintaining a comparable number of American soldiers. A successful Communist
breakthrough in these areas, necessitating direct United States intervention,
would cost us several times as much as our entire foreign aid program, and
might cost us heavily in American lives as well.
About 70 percent of our military
assistance goes to nine key countries located on or near the borders of the
Communist bloc -- nine countries confronted directly or indirectly with the
threat of Communist aggression -- Viet-Nam, Free China, Korea, India, Pakistan,
Thailand, Greece, Turkey, and Iran. No one of these countries possesses on
its own the
resources to maintain the forces which our own Chiefs of Staff think needed
in the common interest. Reducing our efforts to train, equip, and assist their
armies can only encourage Communist penetration and require in time the increased
overseas deployment of American combat forces. And reducing the economic help
needed to bolster these nations that undertake to help defend freedom can have
the same disastrous result. In short, the $50 billion we spend each year on
our own defense could well be ineffective without the $4 billion required for
military and economic assistance.
Our foreign aid program is not growing in
size, it is, on the contrary, smaller now than in previous years. It has had
its weaknesses, but we have undertaken to correct them. And the proper way
of treating weaknesses is to replace them with strength, not to increase those
weaknesses by emasculating essential programs. Dollar for dollar, in or out
of government, there is no better form of investment in our national security
than our much-abused foreign aid program. We cannot afford to lose it. We can
afford to maintain it. We can surely afford, for example, to do as much for
our 19 needy neighbors of Latin America as the Communist bloc is sending to
the island of Cuba alone.
I have spoken of strength largely in terms of
the deterrence and resistance of aggression and attack. But, in today's world,
freedom can be lost without a shot being fired, by ballots as well as bullets.
The success of our leadership is dependent upon respect for our mission in
the world as well as our missiles -- on a clearer recognition of the virtues
of freedom as well as the evils of tyranny.
That is why our Information Agency
has doubled the shortwave broadcasting power of the Voice of America and increased
the number of broadcasting hours by 30 percent, increased Spanish language
broadcasting to Cuba and Latin America from I to 9 hours a day, increased seven-fold
to more than 3-5 million copies the number of American books being translated
and published for Latin American readers, and taken a host of other steps to
carry our message of truth and freedom to all the far corners of the earth.
that is also why we have regained the initiative in the exploration of outer
space, making an annual effort greater than the combined total of all
space activities undertaken during the fifties, launching more than 130 vehicles
into earth orbit, putting into actual operation valuable weather and communications
satellites, and making it clear to all that the United States of America has
no intention of finishing second in space.
This effort is expensive -- but
it pays its own way, for freedom and for America. For there is no longer any
in the free world that a Communist lead in space will become a permanent assertion
of supremacy and the basis of military superiority. There is no longer any
doubt about the strength and skill of American science, American industry,
American education, and the American free enterprise system. In short, our
national space effort represents a great gain in, and a great resource of,
our national strength -- and both Texas and Texans are contributing greatly
to this strength.
Finally, it should be clear by now that a nation can be no
abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches
about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice
affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is
fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers
of the world in which we live. And only an America which is growing and prospering
economically can sustain the worldwide defenses of freedom, while demonstrating
to all concerned the opportunities of our system and society.
It is clear,
therefore, that we are strengthening our security as well as our economy by
our recent record increases in national income and output -- by surging ahead
of most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin
of corporate profits, by maintaining a more stable level of prices than almost
any of our overseas competitors, and by cutting personal and corporate income
taxes by some $11 billion, as I have proposed, to assure this Nation of the
longest and strongest expansion in our peacetime economic history.
total output -- which 3 years ago was at the $500 billion mark -- will soon
pass $600 billion, for a record rise of over $100 billion in 3 years. For the
time in history we have 70 million men and women at work. For the first time
in history average factory earnings have exceeded $100 a week. For the first
time in history corporation profits after taxes -- which have risen 43 percent
in less than 3 years -- have an annual level of $27.4 billion.
My friends and
fellow citizens: I cite these facts and figures to make it clear that America
today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their
ambitions, our dangers have not diminished, our vigilance cannot be relaxed.
But now we have the military, the scientific, and the economic strength to
do whatever must be done for the preservation and promotion of freedom.
strength will never be used in pursuit of aggressive ambitions -- it will always
be used in pursuit of peace. It will never be used to promote provocations
-- it will always be used to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes.
country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than choice -- the watchmen
on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our
power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and
restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient
vision of "peace on earth, good will toward men." That must always be our goal,
and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as
was written long ago: "except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but
Courtesy of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts