GOFFSTOWN, N.H. – Can America engage in a foreign policy based on peace? Robert F. Kennedy Jr. thinks it’s not only possible, but essential.
That was the crux of the message he gave to New Hampshire voters on Tuesday at Saint Anselm College’s Dana Center as he made a series of stops throughout the Granite State in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Kennedy Jr. leaned heavily on the memory of his father and the presidential administration of his uncle as twin bulwarks toward casting the U.S. as a peaceful and positive force in the world. Since that time, Kennedy said that America has instead become dominated by forces seeking to trap America into a “forever war” where the world is polarized into good and evil and violence is the only solution to international problems.
He said that this mentality has also permeated domestic politics as well, leading to permanent incivility in the country’s political discourse and the feeling that confrontation is the only way to solve any problems.
“We have internalized and reflexivized violence as the solution for any and all crises,” he said.
While not mentioning recent U.S. presidents by name, Kennedy contrasted America’s lack of diplomatic contact with Russia today with communication in the 1960s that helped prevent nuclear war, such as the direct phone line between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev as well as speeches his father made across the American South and West advocating for non-proliferation treaties where Robert F. Kennedy Sr. asked Americans to understand the Russians’ point of view.
On Tuesday, Kennedy Jr. said that mentality is needed again, as the U.S. has violated agreements with Russia over the expansion of NATO, creating a security threat to Russia that America would never tolerate if Russia tried the same thing. He added his view that the war between Ukraine and Russia had been escalated by the U.S. and was just a jumping-off point for further aggression against China and other points in the world.
“I abhor Russia’s brutal and bloody invasion of (Ukraine), but we must understand that our government has helped lead to those circumstances,” he said.
Kennedy Jr. concluded his speech by calling on American officials to immediately engage in military de-escalation and become a role model for other countries across the world to engage in constructive dialogue.
While the majority of the speech was focused on foreign policy, his introduction praised New Hampshire’s tradition of forcing candidates to meet face-to-face with voters, echoing his reply earlier in the week to New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley implying that he will seek out discussion with voters anywhere, including events hosted by groups with values seemingly antithetical to Democratic Party values, such as PorcFest.
In a Quinnipiac poll from last week, incumbent U.S. President Joseph Biden leads Kennedy by 53 points for the Democratic nomination.