Becoming JFK: A Profile in Communication

By Vito N. Silvestri | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
Reaffirmation and Revitalization:
Kennedy's Summer Tour of Europe,
1963

Western Europe is no longer the seedbed of world war, but an
instrument of unity and an example of reconciliation.

John F. Kennedy

With civil rights legislation before the Congress and nuclear test ban treaty talks scheduled for mid-July, Kennedy embarked in June, 1963, on a tour of Germany, Ireland, England, and Italy. His goal was to revitalize the NATO alliance, an item on his presidential agenda that had received less attention than other issues. Originally he had planned only to tour Germany, but Italy, citing its loyalty to NATO, requested a visit. Kennedy added a trip to Ireland and then to England to confer with Macmillan about the forthcoming talks in Moscow.

The tour was a continuous ten-day schedule of speeches, ceremonial remarks, receptions, inspections of military installations, reviews of NATO projects, press conferences, and meetings with officials.


REVERBERATIONS ABOUT THE PEACE SPEECH

As soon as he arrived in Germany, the first country on his tour, Kennedy learned of international concerns about his peace speech. Conrad Adenauer, the eighty-year-old Chancellor of West Germany, greeted Kennedy on his arrival in Bonn by quoting a passage from the speech that emphasized that the United States would not make concessions to the Soviets at the expense of its allies. Adenauer praised Kennedy for visiting Germany so soon after the speech, citing it as proof of his sincerity. Adenauer's subtext, however, was his concern about feeling excluded from the decisions that led to the speech and about any arrangements that might be at the expense of West Germany. After a four-hour meeting, he and Kennedy announced a cordial state of agreement on issues. 1

At a press conference in Bonn, reporters asked Kennedy about the implications of the peace treaty: What did he mean about encouraging the Soviet Union to allow nations to determine their own form of government? What would be the US role if this did not happen? What was the

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