This speech was given by U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy during a time when Vietnam was to hold an election to reconcile the country as laid out in the 1954 Geneva Accords. However, the U.S. was concerned that this would give too much power to the communists at the time. Instead, then President Eisenhower supported the creation of a non-Communist state in Southern Vietnam led by President Ngo Dinh Diem, who helped stave off such an election. In Diem, as Sen. Kennedy alludes to in his speech, the U.S. finds an ally against communism but not necessarily a democratic leader.
Full Transcript of "America's Stake in Vietnam" Speech
Transcribed Excerpt from "America's Stake in Vietnam" Speech
- What happens when a firefighter makes a mistake and actually catches other buildings on fire? How does the metaphor of the U.S. as a volunteer firefighter to show the weakness of the country's foreign policy?
- In points two and three made by President Kennedy, what ideas are central to the U.S. policy in Vietnam? How does this foreshadow the type of action Kennedy may take in Vietnam?
Kennedy, John F., "America's Stake in Vietnam," 1 June 1956. Courtesy of National Archives