There is one thing President Obama, Republicans, and the general public all seem to agree on, and that’s skepticism about Russia’s agreement to work with the U.S. to work together to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Fifty years ago, however, it was the Russians who were suspicious of the Americans. On Sept. 20, 1963, President Kennedy suggested that the Soviet Union and the United States partner on a mission to send a man to the moon. The “space race” was in full swing then. Several years earlier, the Soviets had sent Sputnik, the world’s first satellite, to orbit the Earth. NASA was just three years old. Americans, eager to best their Cold War rival, were scrambling to outdo the Soviets in space.
Kennedy announced his proposal in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. “In a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity — space — there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts,” he said. America’s national security was also important, as were international bans on nuclear weapons, so Kennedy added, “The Soviet Union and the United States, together with their allies, can achieve further agreements — agreements which spring from our mutual interest in avoiding mutual destruction.”
The president’s proposal for a joint mission surprised many on both sides. The Soviet Union’s foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, called Kennedy’s remarks “a good sign,” but wouldn’t comment on the proposal. Many Americans were outraged at the idea of working with the enemy. Others saw the move not as smart politics, but as an attempt to offset the astronomical cost of the U.S.’s fledgling lunar program.
According to a 1997 interview with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s son, the Soviet leader decided in November of 1963 to accept Kennedy’s proposal. Khrushchev initially rejected the suggestion, but began having second thoughts when he realized a joint lunar program could help the Soviets learn more from the Americans’ technology.
A week later, Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas. His successor as president, Lyndon Johnson, would push ahead with a U.S. lunar program, but never seek cooperation with the Soviets. Six years later, the United States sent Neil Armstrong to the moon.
Chemical weapons and space missions have little in common; neither do Russian and American presidents, past and present. But when Russian President Vladimir Putin recently wrote in The New York Times, his words seemed to echo those Kennedy spoke 50 years ago: “If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.”
- 1 Trump Couldn’t Possibly Win—Except That He Probably Will
- 2 As Threats to the Grid Loom, the Catastrophe Lobby Gears Up
- 3 Despite Progress, a Cloudy Future for Criminal-Justice Reform
- 4 Smart Ideas: The Future of the CBC, Hastert, and Political Showbiz
- 5 New Hampshire Is Ground Zero for Abortion-Rights Groups
What We're Following See More »
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."
Conrad Burns, the colorful livestock auctioneer and radio executive from Montana who served three terms as a senator, died on Thursday at age 81. Burns "was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff," although no charges were ever filed.
In an exchange not ripped from the page of The Onion, Vice President Biden revealed to a Vatican cardinal that he's been betting reporters on which cars are faster. After meeting privately with Pope Francis, Biden met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. Within moments of greeting one another, Biden said that he'd met with the pope and, gesturing to the press pool, "I've met with these guys too." Singling out reporter Gardiner Harris, who recounted the exchange, he said, "I had to pay this man $10. He's from the New York Times. We had a bet: which is the faster car, the newer Cadillac or the new [Tesla]. ... The Tesla's two tenths of a second faster. But I lost. I paid my $10." He joked that he's "seeking absolution."
Donald Trump held his first rally in California Thursday night, and things were chaotic: "Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where ... stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate. Traffic came to a halt as a boisterous crowd walked in the roadway, some waving American and Mexican flags. Protesters smashed a window on at least one police cruiser, punctured the tires of a police sport utility vehicle, and at one point tried to flip a police car."
Two powerful House members—Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller (R-FL)—are throwing their support behind Donald Trump.