Letter: Inspired by JFK

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JOAN SMITH questions why "one of the worst presidents in American history continues to receive such an easy press" ("What if ... JFK had been bald?", 25 July). As Ms Smith states, John F Kennedy held office for less than three years and, according to her, took us to the brink of nuclear war, supported the Bay of Pigs invasion and was responsible for America's war in Vietnam.

She is entitled to her view. So am I, and many prominent scholars would argue that Kennedy's handling of the Cuban missile crisis through a peaceful blockade was exemplary pragmatism in the face of provocation; that the invasion of Cuba was a policy formed under Eisenhower, too late to stop; and that Kennedy had made many overtures in October 1962 indicating that he was going to withdraw the 16,500 American advisers (not armed soldiers) from Vietnam. People hark back to the administration so "nostalgically" because in a short period Kennedy inspired so many and still does. Personally I'm hoping for similar inspiration today.


Cockfosters, Hertfordshire