John F. Kennedy remains a compelling figure almost sixty years after his tragic assassination. Kennedy’s voice—with all of its characteristic eloquence—as well as the engaging complexity of the man himself, are brought to life in John F. Kennedy’s 1957 Algeria Speech. This book deals with one of Kennedy’s most important as a U.S. Senator—but least recognized—foreign policy speeches calling for Algerian independence after more than a century of French colonial rule. The reader will experience the debate surrounding Kennedy’s speech of July 2, 1957, particularly the resistance it encountered from the Eisenhower administration, French officials, and French citizens, senior members of America’s foreign policy community such as Dean Acheson and Adlai Stevenson, and editorial criticism in some of the most distinguished journals in the United States and France. The author offers new insights into Kennedy’s reasons for giving this speech, as well as his extensive preparation spanning fifteen months. Cleva uses in depth scholarship to analyze several years of classified U.S. Government documents dealing with the Algerian crisis in order to provide this comprehensive study of Kennedy’s Senate speech, how it shaped Kennedy’s own administration, as well its significance to American foreign policy.
Gregory D. Cleva is independent scholar and lecturer in American foreign policy at the George Mason University/Osher Life-Long Learning Institute, and a retired foreign affairs analyst for the US Department of Defense.
Introduction: Kennedy’s Algeria Speech as History
Chapter 1: The Speech: Background and Preparation
Chapter 2: The Politics and Ideals of Kennedy’s Algeria Speech
Chapter 3: What Kennedy Said
Chapter 4: Aftermath: The Controversy in Washington and Paris
Chapter 5: Nationalism and French Colonialism in North Africa
Chapter 6: The Need to Change American Foreign Policy Toward North Africa
Chapter 7: Kennedy’s Algeria Speech: An Assessment
An extraordinarily authoritative and lucid exposition about JFK's most ambitious and risky pre-Presidential venture to break new ground on the subject of American power and the African anti-colonial revolution.
Senator John F. Kennedy’s 1957 speech on Algeria, highly controversial at the time, has been largely overlooked since his presidency. Cleva’s careful evaluation of the speech and its Cold War context shows that Kennedy, six years before the American University speech of 1963, was already thinking in terms of viable alternatives to US policies on colonialism and the Cold War, policies that the US foreign policy establishment was convinced (erroneously) that it had no choice but to follow.
In John F. Kennedy's 1957 Algeria Speech, Cleva provides a meticulously researched account of a moment when the young senator firmly established his foreign policy credentials in a speech that offered an escape from the constraints of Cold War dogma. Cleva notes the significance of the speech for Kennedy's political ambitions, of course, but he gives the reader much more by carefully situating it in its global context. As a result, this is an important study for those seeking to understand what sets Kennedy apart in the post-World War II history of U.S. foreign policy.