The Trouble With Kennedy
ON SEPTEMBER 30 of last year, the eminent French sociologist and columnist Raymond Aron addressed in Le Figaro an open letter to President Kennedy. This letter is both a moving and an important document. It is moving because it is written with sympathy and concern by a man who calls himself an “enthusiastic partisan” of the President. It is important because it raises one of the two great issues of government which will ruin the Kennedy administration and perhaps the country if the President does not meet them successfully.
Mr. Aron addresses himself to the President’s method of deciding issues of foreign policy, taking as his point of departure the invasion of Cuba. The President had to choose between two incompatible courses of action suggested by his advisers: to stage an invasion of Cuba, with American military support if necessary, or not to intervene. In order to avoid the risks which either course of action, consistently pursued, would have entailed, the President tried to steer a middle course, intervening just a little bit but not enough to assure success. Confronted with a choice between black and white, he chose gray. “Yet in foreign policy,” as Mr. Aron puts it, “the half-measure, the compromise ordinarily combines the disadvantages of the two possible policies.”
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