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The John F. Kennedy years were often described as Camelot - Term Paper Example

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John F. Kennedy was the 35th man to serve in the office of the President of the United States of America. His term was short, beginning in 1961 and ending with his assassination near the end of 1963. It is difficult to define President Kennedy…
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The John F. Kennedy years were often described as Camelot
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Download file to see previous pages It is difficult to define President Kennedy. He was a man with a hidden past, and one who kept his life in strict compartments. He had spent much of his youth seriously ill, and even throughout his Presidency hid the constant pain he felt, so that even those who were closest to him were unaware of it1. As a man he w as easily bored, loved excitement and was charming to all those he dealt with. Whatever decisions he made he was able to back up through rhetoric and charm regardless of whether the choice that had been taken had been the correct one2. There were many events throughout Kennedy’s short presidency including riots over the admission of Negros into University, the Cuban Missile Crisis, civil rights movements, the Vietnam War, as well as countless other incidents3. The manner in which Kennedy handled these incidents and the depiction of him in later literature and film have led to the years of John F. Kennedy’s presidency have often been called the Camelot years, referring to an idealized time, analogous to the years of King Arthur. Under this analogy, Kennedy is thought of as a hero, promising peace to the United State including the complete withdrawal from the Vietnam War. This never happened because of the assassination of Kennedy in 1953. How realistic is this view of Kennedy? Was he a hero, giving the United States a few golden years, or does this view ignore many of the facts of Kennedy’s presidency? This essay examines some of the key aspects of Kennedy’s presidency, including his opinions and decisions concerning the Vietnam War, the way he was as a leader, how he appeared in public compared to his own staff and his personality. It is proposed that the concept of the ‘Camelot years’ of Kennedy’s presidency was brought about by opinions and theories following his assassination, and perhaps by the fact that he was assassinated, but that this description of his term bears little resemblance either to the man himself, or the events that occurred throughout his time as President. The Vietnam War Kennedy is often seen as a peace bringer and a hero because of his strong desire to bring about the end of the Vietnam War. This image was first advanced by the film JFK produced by Oliver Stone4. Stone forwarded the idea that Kennedy had the intention of ending the Vietnam War, but that this plan was prevented by his assignation in 1963. The image that Kennedy puts forward is one of a lone hero, and has grown in popular opinion since the film’s release5. Yet, considering him a hero in this respect is not entirely accurate. While it is true that in 1963 he strongly desired to end the war, the actions in the first two years of his presidency were not to this end. When he first took office, the war had been occurring for some time, and the position of the United States was poor and on the verge of collapse. Under his leadership, the war was escalated in 1961 and 1962 with the level of violence being increased6.He was responsible for substantially raising the level of aggression with such acts as ordering a squadron from the United States Air Force to become involved directly in combat operations7. As a consequence, he moved the focus from being warfare that was backed by the United State to direct armed attack8. Indeed, although Kennedy’s military advisors put forward predictions that the increases in violence would eventually lead to a military victory within Vietnam, and allow the United States to withdraw their forces, Kennedy himself never fully supported the idea of withdrawal9. The opinion that Kennedy planned to end the Vietnam War was not the only thesis that has been proposed by supporters of Kennedy. Some have proposed that he planned not only the complete with ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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