Quotations: Kennedy, Cuba and the 1960s

This page contains a collection of Cold War quotations, made by political leaders, notable figures and historians, pertaining to John F. Kennedy, Cuba and the 1960s. These quotations have been researched and compiled by Alpha History authors. We welcome contributions and suggestions for these pages. If you would like to submit a quote, please contact Alpha History.

“Restraint? Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards. At the end of the war if there are two Americans and one Russian left alive, we win.”
General Thomas Power, US Air Force, 1960

“Then you had better make sure that they are a man and a woman.”
William Kaufmann, in response to General Thomas Power (above)

“I am not a dictator, and I do not think I will become one. I will not maintain power with a machine gun.”
Fidel Castro, Cuban leader, 1959

“I am not a communist and neither is the revolutionary movement, but we do not have to say that we are anticommunists just to fawn on foreign powers.”
Fidel Castro, 1959

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
Dwight Eisenhower, US president, farewell speech of January 1961

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge, and more.”
John F. Kennedy, US president, at his inauguration in January 1961

“I am a Marxist-Leninist, and I will be a Marxist-Leninist until the last days of my life.”
Fidel Castro, December 1961

“To give [the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba] even covert support is on a par with the hypocrisy and cynicism for which the United States is constantly denouncing the Soviet Union in the United Nations and elsewhere. This point will not be lost on the rest of the world, nor on our own consciences.”
J. William Fulbright, US senator, 1961

“I was impressed with Kennedy. I remember liking his face, which was sometimes stern but which often broke into a good natured smile. As for Nixon… he was an unprincipled puppet, which is the most dangerous kind. I was very glad Kennedy won the election.”
Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet leader, reflecting on his first meeting with Kennedy in 1961

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win… It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.”
John F Kennedy, September 1962

“You have made some pretty strong statements about their being defensive and that we would take action against offensive weapons. I think that a blockade and political talk would be considered by a lot of our friends and neutrals as being a pretty weak response to this [the Cuban missile crisis]. And I’m sure a lot of our own citizens would feel that way too. In other words, you’re in a pretty bad fix at the present time.”
Curtis LeMay, US Air Force general, to John F Kennedy, October 1962

“You’re in there with me. Personally.”
John F Kennedy, responding to Curtis LeMay (above), October 1962

“We were eyeball to eyeball and I think the other fellow just blinked.”
Dean Rusk, US Secretary to State on the Cuban missile crisis, October 1962

“It was a perfectly beautiful night, as fall nights are in Washington. I walked out of the Oval Office, and as I walked out, I thought I might never live to see another Saturday night.”
Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defence, reflecting on the events of October 1962

“We’ve spent half the expenditures, we’ve wrecked our budget on all these other domestic programs, and the only justification for it, in my opinion, to do it in the pell-mell fashion is because we hope to beat them and demonstrate that starting behind them, as we did by a couple of years, by God, we passed them. I think it would be a helluva thing for us.”
John F. Kennedy on the US space program, November 1962

“Berlin is the testicles of the West. When I want the West to scream, I squeeze on Berlin.”
Nikita Khrushchev, 1963

“I once said, ‘We will bury you’ and I got into trouble with it. Of course, we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.”
Nikita Khrushchev, 1963

“There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen – Let them come to Berlin.”
John F. Kennedy, 1963

“Communism has sometimes succeeded as a scavenger, but never as a leader. It has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or corruption, or both.”
John F. Kennedy, July 1963

“We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of a worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth — but neither shall we shrink from that risk any time it must be faced.”
John F. Kennedy, 1963

“The Soviet Union has indeed been our greatest menace — not so much because of what it has done, but because of the excuses it has provided us for our own failures.”
J. William Fulbright, US senator, 1963

“If you [Americans] start throwing hedgehogs under me, I shall throw a couple of porcupines under you.”
Nikita Khrushchev, November 1963

“I believe [the Gulf of Tonkin] resolution [authorising the president to take military action in Vietnam] to be a historic mistake. I believe that within the next century, future generations will look with dismay and great disappointment upon a Congress which is now about to make such a historic mistake.”
Wayne Morse, US senator, August 1964

“If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what’s at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States.”
Ronald Reagan, Californian politician, October 1964

“We’re not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”
Lyndon Johnson, US president, October 1964

“The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat. Communism isn’t sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.”
Richard Nixon, November 1964

“We don’t propose to sit here in our rocking chair with our hands folded and let the Communists set up any government in the Western Hemisphere.”
Lyndon Johnson, US president, 1965

“It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out [in Vietnam] will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honourable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”
Walter Cronkite, American news anchor, February 1968