Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The Legacy of JFK
I attended a conference last week on John F Kennedy's Presidential Heritage. It was hosted by the excellent Eccles Centre in the British Library. I hope that, in the not too distant future, recordings and possibly transcripts from the conference will be available on their website.
Going down, I feared that it might be an extravagance on my part - JFK has always fascinated me - but that era is just outside my areas of research (US Congress and UK Parliament 1974-date), and there was to be nothing related to the current work I'm engaged in. I need not have felt guilty - it was a thought provoking day - covering the role of "Action Intellectuals" in the White House; Civil Rights; Economics; the Vietnam War; the role of Lyndon Johnson; and Kennedy's death. I took pages of notes - but most importantly, have had lots to think about since.
In the evening David Miliband gave an inspiring talk about America; Britain & Europe: Lessons from JFK. At its heart was Kennedy's recognition of "Double-Pull" - the pull of both national political identity and the search for unity and co-operation between states. Kennedy was attracted by the idea of European Integration - and encouraged Britain to get involved. He liked the idea of strong European institutions to act as umpires in the disputes over national interests.
Do look out for the papers from the conference - they were excellent.