May 8, 2009


(Handed a rather overflowing plate in 1961)

With all the recent reflection on Presidential 100 days and crisis management, I was reminded just how much the Kennedy Administration had been handed in the area of Foreign policy and crisis management in their first 100 days.

Senator J. William Fulbright was Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, overseeing a host of hotspots, including the Congo, Berlin, Laos (in fact the whole Southeast Asia region) and Cuba. Ironically, five days before this Meet The Press was recorded, the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion took place - a bungled attempt at toppling the Castro regime on the part of the CIA causing a big black eye in our policy towards Latin America in general.

The deck was pretty stacked and there was no shortage of fires to put out. Fulbright was a big advocate of education and foreign assistance as a means of overcoming the increasing Communist influence in these regions. He was no advocate of armed conflict, particularly in SouthEast Asia, citing the French excursion and terrain as reasons to avoid it. His solution to funding the campaign of education and Foreign Aid was probably tainted by those two most lethal words in politics, "higher taxes".

This Meet The Press, from April 30, 1961 features Fulbright answering a battery of questions from Lawrence Spivak and Company.


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