129. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Murrow) to President Kennedy 1

SUBJECT

  • Reactions to Your Speech at American University

The response to your speech of Monday2 continues on the lines given in my weekly report of Tuesday, and detailed comprehensively in Tom Sorensen’s memorandum to Mac Bundy on Wednesday.3

The only negative consensus is in France, where most papers asserted that France would not go along with what was called an effort by you and Khrushchev to “slam the door of the nuclear club.” The French press dwelt heavily on the alleged domestic difficulties of yourself and Prime Minister Macmillan as the motive for the speech.

Later reports include the following:

Communist Bloc

Izvestia published the speech in full. Peking domestic radio reported briefly and without comment the upcoming talks in Moscow.4

Near East and South Asia

The press of India hailed the speech as “significant,” “dramatic,” and a triumph of statesmanship over the exigencies of politics.” Two leading newspapers in Cairo carried optimistic editorials.

Africa

The government-controlled Ghanaian Times viewed the test-ban aspect of the speech as “one of the most conciliatory, hopeful, and encouraging made by any statesman on the vital issue of peace.” How[Page 336]ever, said the paper, your statement that the Soviet drive to impose its system on others is the primary cause of world tension would cause “many to giggle;” colonialism and neo-colonialism are the real causes.

Latin America

The speech was given major attention in the Brazilian press, but the only two editorials available are equivocal. El Dia of Mexico City asserted that it is the “strong conservative interests which have stagnated and which persist in privileges, maintaining a position blind to the purposes of the wiser and more realistic forces represented by Kennedy.”

Edward R. Murrow
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, Departments and Agencies Series, Box 91, USIA 4/63–6/63. No classification marking. A stamped notation in the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum indicates that it was received in the White House at 10:06 a.m. on June 14.
  2. For the text of Kennedy’s June 10 commencment address at American University, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1963, pp. 459–464.
  3. Murrow’s June 11 weekly report and Sorensen’s June 12 memorandum to Bundy were not found.
  4. Reference is to the nuclear test ban treaty negotiations held in Moscow among the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union from July 15 until July 28, which culminated in the signing of a treaty on August 5. For documentation on the talks, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. VII, Arms Control and Disarmament, Documents 328359.