Eisenhower – Kennedy Paper
In January 1961, Dwight Eisenhower's presidency was coming to an end, and the nation was preparing for the new administration of John Kennedy. Within a week of each other, the two men both made addresses to the nation – Eisenhower made a farewell speech and Kennedy delivered his inaugural address. There were significant similarities and differences in the speeches. While both men understood that the Cold War would be a national priority for the foreseeable future, they also saw the risks posed by a global military buildup – albeit from different perspectives. Finally, Eisenhower focused some of his address on domestic issues, while Kennedy spent his entire address talking in more global terms.
One area of similarity between the Eisenhower and Kennedy addresses is that both men recognized the lasting threats posed by the Cold War, although neither man directly referenced the Soviet Union. Eisenhower, as a general and then president, saw the Iron Curtain descend across Europe and how the Soviet influence was spreading around the globe. This was an active and volatile situation inherited by Kennedy, and both Eisenhower and Kennedy made it clear in their addresses that they expected the conflict to be a dominating presence during Kennedy's pending presidency and beyond.
Looking forward, Eisenhower reflected that the achievement of America's "noble goals" was being "persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world." If there was any doubt that Eisenhower was talking about the spread of communism, he erased that by describing the "hostile ideology" as "atheistic in character," which is a key tenet of communism. Eisenhower warned that America was going to have to confront the threat for years, even going so far as to say it "promises to be of indefinite duration." He was girding America for a protracted struggle, a strategy that was also used by…