Source: Team Kennedy
Watch this incredibly important speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in which he reflects on the connection between America's foreign policy and domestic violence. He references his uncle, President John F. Kennedy's “Peace Speech” from 60 years ago and emphasizes the need for a shift in America's attitude towards foreign policy, away from a focus on adversaries and violence. He argues that the reflexive use of violence has not made America safer and calls for a more peaceful approach. RFK Jr. believes that by taking the first step towards peace, America can regain its moral leadership and become a true world leader.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr (RFK Jr):
Is it any wonder that as America has waged violence throughout the world, violence has overtaken us in our own nation? It has not come as an invasion; it has come from within. Our bombs, our drones; our armies are incapable of stopping the gun violence on our streets and schools, or domestic violence in our homes. I see the same link here as my father and Martin Luther King saw about the Vietnam War. They've believed that we could not; we have warfare abroad without bringing that violence home to our attitudes, to our communities.
60 years ago this month, my uncle, President John F. Kennedy, gave one of the most important speeches in his life and in American history. It was known as the “Peace Speech” at American University. In that speech, he outlined his vision not just for peace in our time but for peace in all time. In commemoration of that speech, I will deliver the first major policy speech of my presidential campaign.
Claire Carter (Buddhist Nun):
I know that he has in his spirit, he has a faith of peace. I've sensed that, or seen that. He understands the profound, profound necessity to change our policy.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the light who shines in the darkness of American politics and will lead us to a new day.
Waging endless wars abroad, we have neglected the foundation of our own well-being. We have a decaying economic infrastructure; we have a demoralized people, a despairing people; we have toxins in our air, our soil, and our water; we have deteriorating mental and physical health. These are the wages of war. What will be the wages of peace?
John F. Kennedy (JFK):
The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war; we do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough, more than enough, of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared, if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it, but we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just.
Let's take up that call from 60 years ago and ask Americans, all of us, to reexamine our attitude. We have been immersed in a foreign policy discourse that is all about adversaries and threats and allies and enemies and domination. We've become addicted to comic book good versus evil narratives that erase complexity and blind us to the legitimate motives and the legitimate cultural and economic concerns and the legitimate security concerns of other peoples and other nations.
We have internalized and institutionalized a reflex of violence as the response for any and all crises. Everything becomes a war: war on drugs, the War on Terror, war on cancer, war on climate change. This way of thinking predisposes us to wage wars abroad, wars and coups and bombs and drones and regime change operations and support for paramilitaries and huntas and dictators. None of this has made us safer, and none of it has burnished our leadership or our moral authority.
But more importantly, we must ask ourselves, is this really who we are? Is this what we want to be? Is that what America's founders envisioned?
Jonathan Franklin (author):
I feel like somebody from the heart was telling me this eloquent story that goes back to the '60s, '50s. As a journalist, I covered Iraq; I was in Panama; I've covered the narco wars; I have covered way too many wars for just one generation. So it was like kind of painfully nostalgic to realize that there was a point in American history when we weren't starting wars, and to have a politician today to remind Americans. I think it's really important to remind people of their own history because it's easy to like sum up history as one war after another when in fact, often the wars are the aberration.
Kenwood Dennard (retired music professor, Berkley College):
I have a sense of clarity and honesty from RFK Jr., and his uncle could very well have been the last president who I felt I could trust to pursue peace.
Yesterday, a shaft of light cut into the darkness. Negotiations were concluded in Moscow on a treaty to ban all nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater.
Alexander Petroff (woodsman):
I spent 12 years back and forth in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. I grew up on militarism, rah rah rah, Isn't it great watching hero movies? If anybody has seen war, it's something that absolutely should be avoided at all cost. And I think it's wonderful that we actually have a candidate who supports that. To think 20 years ago that we would have Republicans and Democrats and Independents all on the same page is remarkable, but it needed somebody to bring it together.
Khrushchev, he said, “The earth is an ark, and we can't build another one. We need to preserve it.” The question now is, are we willing to do anything like that today, or are we going to remain stuck in a self-righteous story in which America is categorically good and our opponents are irredeemably evil? That's the example we've set for everybody in the world. No wonder it's been replicated everywhere: between Israel and Iran, between India and Pakistan, between Shia and Sunni, between Jew and Arab, between Hindu and Muslim, left and right, between pro-life and pro-choice, between vaxxed and anti-vax. This tribalistic “US versus them” thinking is tearing us apart.
Gerard Cunningham (retired construction worker):
The country is in such turmoil now, almost like back in '68 when his father was running. I mean, this country is torn apart. We do have people that don't want any wars, and we want peace, and we want love. We don't want a war machine; we don't want deep suspicions about government; they don't want to, you know, to get along. And just bring up our kids in a loving, secure country. I believe that he's been chosen for this time to do this job for this country.
Peace comes from a different place. It starts by seeing within others and within ourselves that which is not selfish but is brave and generous and idealistic and has good intentions. And I'm not saying that we should ignore the base elements of human nature or the dangers of the world. But if that's all that we see, we're going to be stuck forever in the mentality of war, and that's where the military-industrial complex wants to keep us.
The chart a course for the future of our nation's military and foreign policy I'll return once again to the words of John F. Kennedy:
Too many of us think that peace is impossible; too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, and that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants; no problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable.
When we take the first step toward peace, we will become once again a true world leader, a moral leader, a moral authority. It doesn't take much; it's just the first step, and people will start looking at America differently, the way they did when my uncle was president.
Thank you all very much.