Monday, October 4, 2010

John F. Kennedy’s “Cuban Missile Crisis Address to the Nation” Analysis

In May of 1962 Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea to place nuclear and ballistic missiles on the island just directly south of the United States: Cuba. Upon discovery of these missiles
John F. Kennedy's famous "Cuban Missile Crisis Address to the Nation" was delivered to alert the nation of the situation and inform everyone about how it would be handled. He wanted to let the American people know that it will be handled appropriately. He also wanted to convey to the rest of the word that he sees these missiles as a threat to the security of his nation. Kennedy's audience is most directly the American people, but his secondary audience is Cuba, The Soviet Union, and any other powerful countries. By showing how calm he is in his address he shows the American people that there is no need to worry and that he has it under control. However, he is effective in showing other countries that he is not intimidated by this and that he will do anything to keep his country safe. Kennedy is effective in his rhetorical skills to show the American people there is no need to worry and also in showing other countries that he is not moved by the threat and states that any threat to the American people will be handled appropriately.

In his speech Kennedy addresses the situation by mentioning the discovery of the missile bases, and then goes on to discuss what will be done to diffuse the issue. Kennedy also does a good job justifying his actions by stating "The 1930's taught us a clear lesson: aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war." By stating this Kennedy is saying that if he does not take care of this now it will only lead to bigger problems in the future, and a potential nuclear war. He states that the possible use of the weapons is a definite threat to peace. Kennedy also makes a point to reach out to Chairman Khrushchev in asking him to "halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace." This quote is effective because he is implicating that use of the missiles would lead to another world war.

Although much of what he said pertained to other world leaders his first audience was the American people. This speech does an excellent job in reassuring the safety of the American people and getting his point across to other countries. Kennedy speaks directly to the people but says things that could be directed to the leaders of other countries. The speech starts "Good evening, my fellow citizens" but goes on to say things that are more relevant to other world leaders, most directly Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, as opposed to American citizens. Kennedy calls upon the leaders of the other countries to support him in his decision to act in defense of his own nation's security. Kennedy's intent was that with this speech he would make the American people feel safe first and foremost, but also to show the rest of the world that his acts are strictly in defense of his nation, and are not an offensive action. He supports this by stating multiple times that the missiles are a direct threat to peace.Kennedy takes a firm tone and uses strong, sure words to ensure that he gets his point across. "..will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers." This firm tone he used was effective in conveying to the American people that there is no need to worry, and to the leaders of other countries that any threat to the security of his nation will be handled appropriately.

Works Cited

Kennedy, John F. "Cuban Missile Crisis Address to the Nation" Washington DC, VA. 2 October 1962.

Works Consulted

"Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis" Library of Congress. Web. 3 Oct. 2010

"Cuban Missile Crisis" Web. 3 Oct 2010