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March 04 , 2009

New Frontier Culture: Inside the Mind of John F. Kennedy


New Frontier Culture is both a remembrance and an essay on the ideas, policy theories and career of John F. Kennedy. It shows the origins of Kennedy's ideas in his life experience and examines how he adapted his fundamental beliefs to the political exigencies he faced during his campaign for the presidency and during his tenure in office.

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Kennedy's ideas had their origins in his exposure to the events of the 1930s. To him, the encompassing issue was the conflict between democracy and tyranny. Dictatorships, he believed, drawing on the experience of the 1930s, held a material advantage over free societies in that the dictatorship could compel its citizens to contribute their energies to the distatorship's causes. Kennedy saw a powerful need for a charismatic leader who would persaude and mobilize the free peoples of the West in their conflict with the totalitarian menace of Soviet communism.

Kennedy sought to become that leader and all was bent in the service of that idea. The persona he created and all of the innovative ideas he advocated, commitment to the space race, international outreach, advocacy of civil rights at home, increased military preparedness, the strategic doctrine of Flexible Response, the counterinsurgency concept, all were directed at the same single aim.

Kennedy believed and often said that the masses of people around the world who were uncommitted held the balance of power in the struggle between the totalitarian Soviet Union and the free West. Much of his rhetoric and many of his initiatives were directed at the aim of winning the allegiance of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1963, Kennedy had his long-awaited confrontation with the totalitarian leader, represented in his mind by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. His geopolitical theory, what I call his political system, did not envision what lied beyond the confrontation, but throughout 1963 he grew in command and stature and successfully promoted his iconic brand of civic inspiration worldwide. There can never be another.

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