Begin by reading the nine excerpts from various recent inaugural addresses
by U. S. Presidents. These excerpts ??" the source material for your essay -- are printed below. As you read these, look for concepts related to this POL 300 course, such as the following:
* Balance of power; consistency; credibility; defense; détente, deterrence; disarmament; engagement, diplomacy, sphere of influence, globalization; human rights; idealism; international law; interventionism; isolationism; national interest; non-interventionism; Realist; reciprocity; security; sovereignty; supranational; treaty; unilateralism; or other applicable concepts.
Pick at least three concepts. Each concept must be related to, mentioned by, or alluded to by, at least one of the inaugural address
excerpts. You may write on concepts that are all in different inaugural addresses
or in some of the same addresses
. For each concept, you must do the following:
* Identify and define the concept. Clearly identify the concept and provide a basic textbook definition. You may quote the definition given in the text, or define it in your own words.
* Link to inaugural
excerpts. Identify one or more inaugural address
excerpts which clearly relate to, mention, or allude to the concept. Explain how the inaugural address
you cite relates/relate to the concept.
* Put the inaugural
remarks in historical context. Describe how world events at that point in history influenced presidential politics and thinking.
Nine Inaugural Addresses
Excerpts from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
. . . to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course ??" both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.
So let us begin anew ??" remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate…
Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms ??" and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
Excerpts from Richard M. Nixon’s Second Inaugural Address
This past year saw far-reaching results from our new policies for peace. By continuing to revitalize our traditional friendships, and by our missions to Peking and Moscow, we were able to establish the base for a new and more durable pattern of relationships among the nations of the world. Because of America’s bold initiatives, 1972 will be long remembered as the year of the greatest progress since the end of World War II toward a lasting peace in the world…
It is important that we understand both the necessity and the limitations of America’s role in maintaining that peace. Unless we in America work to preserve the peace, there will be no peace. Unless we in America work to preserve freedom, there will be no freedom. But let us clearly understand the new nature of America’s role, as a result of the new policies we have adopted over these past four years.
We shall respect our treaty commitments. We shall support vigorously the principle that no country has the right to impose its will or rule on another by force. We shall continue, in this era of negotiation, to work for the limitation of nuclear arms, and to reduce the danger of confrontation between the great powers….
The time has passed when America will make every other nation’s conflict our own, or make every other nation’s future our responsibility, or presume to tell the people of other nations how to manage their own affairs….
As America’s longest and most difficult war comes to an end, let us again learn to debate our differences with civility and decency… Above all else, the time has come to renew our faith in ourselves and in America.
Excerpts from Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Address
We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat ??" a quiet strength based on not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice ??" for those are the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.
We are a purely idealistic nation, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness. Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clear-cut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all people.
The world is still engaged in a massive armaments race designed to ensure continuing equivalent strength among potential adversaries. We pledge perseverance and wisdom in our efforts to limit the world’s armaments to those necessary for each nation’s own domestic safety. And will well move this year a step toward ultimate goal ??" the elimination of all nuclear weapons from this earth.
Excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s Second Inaugural Address
We have made progress in restoring our defense capability. But much remains to be done. There must be no wavering by us, nor any doubts by others that America will meet her responsibilities to remain free, secure, and at peace.
There is only one way safely and legitimately to reduce the cost of national security, and that is to reduce the need for it. And this we are trying to do in negotiations with the Soviet Union. We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.
Now for decades, we and the Soviets have lived under the threat of mutual assured destruction; if either resorted to the use of nuclear weapons, the other could retaliate and destroy the one who had started it. Is there either logic or morality in believing that if one side threatens to kill tens of millions of our people, our only recourse is to threaten killing tens and millions of theirs?
I have approved a research program to find, if we can, a security shield that would destroy nuclear missiles before they reach their target. It wouldn’t kill people; it would destroy weapons. It wouldn’t militarize space, it would help demilitarize the arsenals of the earth. It would render nuclear weapons obsolete. We will meet with the Soviets, hoping that we can agree on a way to ride the world of the threat of nuclear destruction.
Excerpt from George H. W. Bush’s Inaugural Address
Great nations of the world are moving toward democracy through the door to freedom. Men and women of the world move toward free markets through the door to prosperity…
We know what works: freedom works. We know what’s right: freedom is right. We know how to secure a more just and prosperous life for man on earth: through free markets, free speech, free elections, and the exercise of free will unhampered by the state.
To the world, too, we offer new engagement and a renewed vow: we will stay strong to protect the peace…. There are today Americans who are held against their will in foreign lands…. Assistance can be shown here, and will be long remembered. Goodwill begets goodwill. Good faith can be a spiral that endlessly moves on.
Great nations like great men must keep their word. When America says something, American means it, whether a treaty or an agreement or a vow made on marble steps. We will always try to speak clearly, for candor is a compliment, but subtlety, too, is good and has its place. While keeping our alliances and friendships around the world strong, ever strong, we will continue the new closeness with the Soviet Union, consistent both with our security and with progress. One might say that our new relationship in part reflects the triumph of hope and strength over experience. But hope is good, and so are strength and vigilance.
Excerpt from Bill Clinton’s First Inaugural Address
To renew America, we must meet challenges abroad as well as at home. There is not longer a clear division between what is foreign and what is domestic ??" the world economy, the world environment, the world AIDS crisis, the world arms race: they affect us all.
Today, as an old order passes, the new world is more free but less stable. Communism’s collapse has called forth old animosities and new dangers. Clearly America must continue to lead the world we did so much to make.
While America rebuilds at home, we will not shrink from the challenges, nor fail to seize the opportunities, of this new world. Together with our friends and allies, we will work to shape change, lest it engulf us.
When our vital interests are challenged, or the will and conscience of the international community is defied, we will act ??" with peaceful diplomacy whenever possible, with force when necessary. The brave Americans serving our nation today in the Persian Gulf, in Somalia, and wherever else they stand are testament to our resolve.
But our greatest strength is the power of our ideas… Our hopes, our hearts, and our hands are with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom. This cause is America’s cause.
Excerpt from George W. Bush’s First Inaugural Address
Through much of the last century, America’s faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations. Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry, but do not own….
We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge. We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.
The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: American remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values which gave our nation birth.
Excerpt from George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address
So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in the world.
This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities…
My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America’s resolve, and have found it firm.
We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right… We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people…
From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet, because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And, as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it.
Excerpts from Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet…
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you….
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
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