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Kennedy and the Berlin Wall

1960 was a Presidential election year in the US.

Richard Nixon the Vice President to Eisenhower was expected to win but the Democrat, Kennedy, campaigned heavily on closing the 'missile gap', alleging that the USSR had a big lead and that Eisenhower and by extension Nixon, was endangering the country by being too soft on defence. 

President Eisenhower, an ex-General and Supreme Commander in World War two had become concerned about the arms race and the power of the: 'military-industrial complex' (a term that he coined) and had reduced military size and weapons spending. 

The 'missile gap' (follow the link) was fictional - invented by the Kennedy campaign spin-doctors (and military donors?).

After vehement White House denials the Russians had suddenly wheeled out Powers, together with the material evidence on the plane. Internationally the U-2 Incident was a major loss of face for the US and for the White House and therefore for Nixon. 

Kennedy was far more skilful (and presentable) than Nixon on the new medium of television and this was a gift from above.

Seven months later, in November 1960, the American public very narrowly elected young, good looking John F Kennedy, with his beautiful wife, as President ahead of Nixon. 

In his inaugural address Kennedy promised to: "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty" and that call to arms was a promise he lived up to.  In April 1961 the Cold War got a lot hotter when a CIA sponsored army of expatriate Cubans unsuccessfully attempted to retake Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.  Follow this link to the relevant section from our 2012 trip to Cuba.

The same year the US deployed PGM-19 Jupiter medium range nuclear ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey targeted on Moscow and on military assets identified by the U-2 flights. The Russians responded by deploying their own missiles to Cuba.  But before they could fully install them Kennedy threatened nuclear war if they were not removed.  Both sides then backed down and the US removed their missiles too.  The Kennedy administration kept this secret and pretended that at the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis the Russians had backed down unilaterally.  This is a myth perpetuated even today.

The failed Paris Four Powers Summit agenda had included the joint management of Berlin to limit the city's use by East Germans to leave their country.   As a result of the collapse of the Paris Summit, and the Kennedy Administration's actions that year, on August 13 1961, Berlin was suddenly partitioned and the construction of the Berlin Wall began.

In 1963 Kennedy flew to Berlin to promise continued unflinching US support and used the immortal words:

Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum ["I am a Roman citizen"].
Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner!"...
All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner!"

By year's end he was dead, assassinated, possibly because of US actions in Cuba.


The Kennedy Grave at Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC
Note the eternal flame - not accorded to any other President
Jacqueline is buried here too - not with Aristotle



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Canada and the United States - Part2



In Part1, in July 2023, Wendy and I travelled north from Los Angeles to Seattle, Washington, and then Vancouver, in Canada, from where we made our way east to Montreal.

In Part2, in August 2023, we flew from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, down to Miami, Florida, then Ubered to Fort Lauderdale, where we joined a western Caribbean cruise.

At the end of the cruise, we flew all the way back up to Boston.

From Boston we hired another car to drive, down the coast, to New York.

After New York we flew to Salt Lake City, Nevada, then on to Los Angeles, California, before returning to Sydney.

Read more: Canada and the United States - Part2

Fiction, Recollections & News

The new James Bond



It was raining in the mountains on Easter Saturday.

We'd decided to take a couple of days break in the Blue Mountains and do some walking. But on Saturday it poured.  In the morning we walked two kilometres from Katoomba to more up-market and trendy Leura for morning coffee and got very wet.

After a train journey to Mount Victoria and back to dry out and then lunch in the Irish Pub, with a Cider and Guinness, we decided against another soaking and explored the Katoomba antique stores and bookshops instead.  In one I found and bought an unread James Bond book.  But not by the real Ian Fleming. 

Ian Fleming died in 1964 at the young age of fifty-six and I'd read all his so I knew 'Devil May Care' was new.  This one is by Sebastian Faulks, known for his novel Birdsong, 'writing as Ian Fleming' in 2008.

Read more: The new James Bond

Opinions and Philosophy

Gaia - Climate Speculations





Our recent trip to Central Australia involved a long walk around a rock and some even longer contemplative drives.

I found myself wondering if there is more or less 'life' out here than there is in the more obviously verdant countryside to the north south east or west. For example: might microbes be more abundant here?  The flies are certainly doing well. Yet probably not.

This led me to recall James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis that gave we readers of New Scientist something to think about back in 1975, long before climate change was a matter of general public concern.


Read more: Gaia - Climate Speculations

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