Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: We Are Closer to Nuclear War Today Than at Any Time Since 1962

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK), the son of Robert and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, is running for the Democratic Party nomination to the Presidency. In his video message to the New York “Humanity for Peace” rally, he said: “Today we’re closer to a nuclear exchange than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962. My uncle understood that, if you want to keep the country out of war, you have to be able to put yourself into the shoes of your adversary. When he came into office, the intelligence agencies and people around him, knew almost nothing about Nikita Khrushchev. President Eisenhower had said that it wouldn’t be a soldier, a President who had started out as a soldier, who would put Americans into World War III, because soldiers knew about war. He was a soldier himself. My uncle had been a soldier, was the only President to win the Purple Heart. And Khrushchev, of course, was a soldier, and had been in the most brutal battle of World War II in Stalingrad.”

Indeed, in 1961, JFK started his relationship with Khrushchev on a rocky road. “In August, there was a confrontation at the Berlin Wall, where U.S. tanks were facing down Russian tanks at Checkpoint Charley, and the world was this close to nuclear war at that point. And my uncle made a back-channel cable to Khrushchev, asking him to pull out his tanks. Khrushchev sent a note back to my uncle’s cable, saying ‘my back is to the wall, I have no place to retreat’, and my uncle realized at that point that Khrushchev was in the same position that he was in: He was also surrounded by military warhawks who were egging for a fight with the United States. And they realized that only the two of them were going to prevent that full-on nuclear exchange. My uncle made a proposition, a promise to him, that if Khrushchev withdrew his tanks, my uncle would follow within a few hours, and they did that. And afterwards they trusted each other, and they realized that they had to communicate directly with each other. (…)

“They were in a very analogous situation, where we are putting Vladimir Putin in a place where his back is against the wall: And it’s a time more than ever that we need to be talking to each other. We have made no effort to talk to the Russian leadership, for many, many months, almost a year. And there have been many efforts by the Russian leadership to engage us, and engage Ukraine in peace negotiations, and we have rebuffed those.

“In April of 2022, the Russians and—we now know—the Russians and the Ukrainians initialed a peace agreement, that was based on the Minsk Accords, and the Russians were already beginning to withdraw their troops. And yet, we sent, the U.S. White House sent, [then-British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson over there to torpedo that deal.

“We need to be doing the opposite of that: We need to be talking directly with Vladimir Putin, and all sides and we need to settle this insanity, before we initiate another nuclear exchange that will destroy all of humanity.

“I want to thank you for all the work that you’re doing, and I want to congratulate you and send you all my gratitude for making this a priority for all of humanity. Thank you very much.”

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