The Sound of Statesmanship

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 September 21, 2017|
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The most nationalist speech given by an American to an international audience was—and remains—John F. Kennedy’s “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech.

In it, Kennedy threatened the Soviet Union, an enemy of the United States. The Soviet Union menaced the United States with a massive arsenal of thermonuclear weapons. Mutually assured destruction made the use of nuclear weapons an uncertain proposition. As Winston Churchill had said: “…safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation.”

Still, safety was not secured. The Soviets continued to pursue dangerous aggression around the globe, inspired by the perverted ethic that all morality is subordinate to the march of History, ending in communist world domination.

But there was something the Soviet Union feared more than mutually assured destruction. Kennedy understood it and threatened it.

“What is true of this city,” he said, “is true of Germany: Real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with goodwill to all people.”

Less than two decades after Germany laid waste to European Russia, Kennedy had uttered the unthinkable. He threatened Russia with a unified Germany. The effect was immediate. The German crowd’s wild reaction unsettled some observers. That was the sound of statesmanship. The other sound heard was the sound of Russians changing their underpants.

Tuesday, in an act of statesmanship paralleling Kennedy’s, President Trump curbed the ambitions of a vicious tyrant armed with nuclear weapons. Threatening North Korea with annihilation, Trump made clear that he would think the unthinkable, as Kennedy had 54 years before.

Like Kennedy, who wordsmithed his message into the line “Ich bin Ein Berliner,” Trump too reduced his message to an unforgettable phrase: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission.”

This is the sound of statesmanship. The other sound heard is the sound of Rocket Man and company changing their underpants.

About the Author:

Jay Whig
J. Whig is an attorney practicing in New York and a resident of Connecticut specializing in insolvency and restructuring. Opinions are his own.
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8 Comments

  1. Joel Mathis September 21, 2017 at 11:08 am

    How were Kim’s ambitions curbed?

    • carl Jung September 21, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      for a start, china just ordered its banks to stop trading with norkor. additionally south korea has requested that the US base nukes there.

      • Dee Win September 21, 2017 at 3:10 pm

        bingo!

      • maireadm September 21, 2017 at 7:25 pm

        President Trump has issued an executive order targeting North Korea’s trading partners telling them they can do business with the United States or with North Korea but not both. This is intended to dry up the money, technology, goods and services into North Korea.

    • Dee Win September 21, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      What Carl Jung said

  2. DejaniArlinda September 21, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    for a start, china just ordered its banks to stop trading with norkor. additionally south korea has requested that the US base nukes there.

  3. NASArefugee September 21, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    “Ich bin ein Berliner” means “I am a jelly donut”. Kennedy wanted to sound more erudite than he was, and didn’t know that in German, profession and nationality/affiliation don’t use a determiner — he should have said “Ich bin Berliner”.

    Hillary was even worse with her Russia “overvoltage” button (pyeregruska, instead of the correct pyerezagruska). Somebody was just looking words of in an English-Russian dictionary.

    I’ll take Trump’s malapropisms over pretentiousness.

    • Altalena September 23, 2017 at 6:00 am

      In fact, JFK was telling the truth; in more ways than one, he *was* a jelly donut. Weak president with a fairly impressive history of epic fails even in his truncated term… but her sure liked Sweet Little Things. Needless to say, his speech did not cause the wall to evaporate.

      Trump’s malapropisms are also nothing compared to BHO’s “corpse-men” and his reference to the Austrian “language”, to say nothing of his notion that the US has 57, 58 and perhaps even 60 states.

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