Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama's Six Month Exam

"Mark my words: It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.  The world is looking.  We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America.  Watch, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.  He's going to have to make some really tough - I don't know what the decision's going to be, but I promise you that it will occur.  As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it's going to happen." Joe Biden-10/19/08-Seattle

This comparison of Obama to Kennedy is not new. Obama himself brought it up while speaking back on May 18 while in Portland. He said that he was going to follow John F. Kennedy's example of meeting with dictators without preconditions. He sites JFK's meeting with Soviet leader Khrushchev in June 1961, almost six months to the day that he took office, as proof of the wisdom of conducting such meetings. Obama called the Vienna Summit one of the great triumphs the led to our victory in the Cold War. Unfortunately, everyone that was alive in 1961 and actually in Vienna on June 3 and 4 of that year remember the meeting very differently.

In the debates before the election, Kennedy said he wouldn't met with Russian leaders without preconditions, but JFK meet with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev on June 3 without any precondtions anyway. During the meeting, Khrushchev took a "dazed" JFK to school. According to many around the president, Khrushchev, and JFK himself, he was belittled, berated, and bullied for two straight days. Many diplomats, including the US ambassador to Russia, was suprised by how little resistance JFK gave to Khrushchev's tirade on the superiority of Communist ideology, nuclear weapons, the "balance of power" between East and West, etc. The only thing that made Kennedy act like a man in the meeting was Berlin. He all but said there would be nuclear war, if the USSR acted against West Berlin.

After the meeting, those close to Khrushchev said that the Soviet leader thought Kennedy was "very young, very intelligent, but not very strong". Despite all of his charisma and eloquence, it meant nothing when faced with an actual dictator. Khrushchev came away from the meeting thinking that the leader of this country was a pushover and full of himself. An aide to the Soviet dictator called the president "very inexperienced, even immature". Even Kennedy agreed with the Soviet assessment. Right after the meeting, he was seen in the bedroom of the embassy pacing back and forth and saying that "He treated me like a little boy, like a little boy." JFK told James Reston of the New York Times, "He just beat the hell out of me. I've got a terrible problem, if he thinks I'm inexperienced and have no guts. Until we remove those ideas we won't get anywhere with him."

After the failures of the Bay of Pigs (This was where JFK backed out of sending air support into Cuba for Cuban rebels which were supposed to overthrow Castro. In turn, the rebels got slaughtered for their trouble.) and the Vienna Summit, the aggressiveness of the USSR escalated. About a month and a half later, the Berlin Wall went up. They, also, soon started sending nuclear missles into Cuba which started the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the crisis, President Kennedy finally succeeded in standing up to Khrushchev, but the crisis might have been avoided altogether, if he would've stuck to his original statement. He shouldn't have met with any Soviet leaders without preconditions.

Let's also look at the last few other young presidents we've had and how they were tested. Clinton had the first World Trade Center bombing just months after he took office. Bush, also, was tested by China when they took American hostages from a downed spy plane just three months after inauguration. It's very likely that Obama is going to be tested like the rest, if he is elected. Is he ready to handle those that want to do us harm and hate us? "Please" and flowery woods aren't going to melt their hearts of stone. Strength is the only thing that men like Khrushchev and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela understand.

We already have a brewing Cuban-like crisis possibly brewing with Russia/ Vladamir Putin and Venezuela/Hugo Chavez. They have a new "friendship" brewing. They are running military exercisies together.
They are in the process of talks of sharing nuclear technology for "energy" purposes. Russia has even started sending warships and selling military vehicles and weapons to Venezuela like helicopters, combat planes, and rifles. Even Iran said they are receptive to opening trade and talks between the two countries especially about their nuclear program.

Is the disasterous Vienna Summit what Obama wants to pattern his meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran or Vladimir Putin of Russia after? Does the way that Russia looked at JFK as young, intelligent, but weak or inexperienced, immature, and arrogant sound familiar? Is the way that JFK was viewed be the same way that Obama will be viewed by our enemies?

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