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July 2, 1957

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy in the Senate, Washington, D.C., July 2, 1957

On July 2, 1957, US senator John F. Kennedy made his perhaps best-known senatorial speech—on Algeria.

Home to about 8 million Muslims, 1.2 million European settlers, and 130,000 Jews, it was from October 1954 embroiled in what France dubbed “events”—domestic events, to be precise. Virtually all settlers and most metropolitan French saw Algeria as an indivisible part of France. Algeria had been integrated into metropolitan administrative structures in 1847, towards the end of a structurally if not intentionally genocidal pacification campaign; Algeria’s population dropped by half between 1830, when France invaded, and the early 1870s. Eighty years and many political turns later (see e.g. Messali Hadj’s 1927 speech in this collection), in 1954, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) launched a war for independence. Kennedy did not quite see eye to eye with the FLN.

As Kennedy's speech shows, he did not want France entirely out of North Africa. However, he had criticized French action already in early 1950s Indochina. And in 1957 he met with Abdelkader Chanderli (1915-1993), an unaccredited representative of the FLN at the United Nations in New York and in Washington, DC, and a linchpin of the FLN’s successful international offensive described in Matthew Connelly’s A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (2002). Thus, Kennedy supported the FLN’s demand for independence, which explains its very positive reaction to his speech.

And thus, unlike the 1952-1960 Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) that officially backed the views of NATO ally France and kept delivering arms, the Democratic senator diagnosed a “war” by “Western imperialism” that, together with if different from “Soviet imperialism,” is “the great enemy of … the most powerful single force in the world today: ... man's eternal desire to be free and independent.” (In fact, Kennedy’s speech on the Algerian example of Western imperialism was the first of two, the second concerning the Polish example of Sovietimperialism. On another, domestic note, to support African Algeria’s independence was an attempt to woe civil-rights-movement-era African Americans without enraging white voters.) To be sure, Kennedy saw France as an ally, too. But France’s war was tainting Washington too much, which helped Moscow. In Kennedy’s eyes, to support the US Cold War against the Soviet Union meant granting Algeria independence. The official French line was the exact opposite: only continued French presence in Algeria could keep Moscow and its Egyptian puppet, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from controlling the Mediterranean and encroaching on Africa.

February 1927

Statement of the Delegation of the "Etoile Nord Africaine" ("North African Star") by Hadj-Ahmed Messali

The presenter of this address, Ahmed Ben Messali Hadj (1898-1974), is known as the “father” of Algerian nationalism, one of whose foremost biographies is Benjamin Stora’s Messali Hadj, 1898-1974 (2012). Having served in the French army in 1918-1921, Messali Hadj for economic reasons moved to Paris. There, he met his French wife, the leftist Emilie Busquant. In 1925, he was recruited to the French Communist Party’s (PCF) colonial commission. In June 1926, he co-founded, and became Secretary General of, the Etoile Nord Africaine (ENA), which at first demanded political and legal equality for France’s Muslim North Africans. As this text shows, demands shifted by February 1927. That month, ENA functionaries including Messali Hadj travelled to Bruxelles. Together with leftists and delegates from three dozen colonized countries, they participated in the founding conference of the League against Imperialism (LAI), which was initiated by the Moscow-headquartered Comintern and organized by the PCF and the German communist Willi Münzenberg; the experience in Bruxelles of one non-Arab delegation, India, has been analyzed in Michele Louro’s Comrades against Imperialism: Nehru, India, and Interwar Internationalism (2020).

It was in Bruxelles that Messali Hadj held the below address, speaking ex catedra as his notes had disappeared. The LAI was soon paralyzed by discord between communists and activists for whom allying with communists was a means to an anticolonial end; in 1936, it dissolved. Even so, it was the first truly international attempt to combat imperialism, as shown by the edited volume The League against Imperialism: Lives and Afterlives (2020). As for the ENA, it in 1928 cut its ties with the PCF, being too independent-minded and -organized and vexed that the PCF, following the Comintern line, was moving away from ENA’s ideas about self-determination. In 1929, the French government outlawed ENA. In the 1930s Messali Hadj became closer inter alia to Shakib Arslan, translated excerpts of whose work Why Muslims Lagged Behind and Others Progressed is included in this collection. Even so, in 1936 to early 1937 a rebranded ENA shortly joined the leftist French Front Populaire, but then again was closed down. Messali Hadj reacted by establishing the clandestine Parti du Peuple Algérien (PPA), which—a shift—demanded absolute Algerian autonomy within the French Republic.

Condemned by the Vichy government to hard labor in 1941, Messali Hadj returned to Algeria in 1945. He continued to play a leading political role, founding in 1946 a PPA successor, the Mouvement pour la triomphe des libertés démocratiques. But from 1954, his star declined. By 1957, the Front de Libération Nationale, the new organization that in November 1954 started the War of Independence, ravaged the Mouvement National Algérien that Messali Hadj had founded that month, too. Politically neutralized, he stayed in France. He was allowed to return to Algeria only after his death, in 1974, for burial in his hometown of Tlemcen.

October 19, 1964

J.S. Mehta, 'China's Bomb and Its Consequences on her Nuclear and Political Strategy'

Analysis of the recent Chinese nuclear weapon test and it's strategic implications for China's diplomatic and military policies.

January 1, 1964

Report by Shri S. Sinha, Director (EARC) – Ministry of External Affairs, 'Brief Analysis of the propagandist statements on disarmament and nuclear-free zone made by the Peoples Republic of China'

The Peoples Republic of China supports disarmament and a nuclear-free zone in the Asian and Pacific Regions strictly for tactical reasons


Visit to the United Kingdom of Bulganin and Khrushchev, 19-27 April 1956

UK record of discussions with a Soviet delegation including Bulganin and Khrushchev.

November 18, 1957

Mao Zedong, 'Speech at a Meeting of the Representatives of Sixty-four Communist and Workers' Parties' (Edited by Mao)

During a speech at the Moscow Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties of 1957 , Mao Zedong proclaims that "the east wind prevailing over the west wind." This version of the speech was edited by Mao for publication.

November 29, 1960

Record of Conversation between Polish Delegation (Gomułka et al.) and Chinese Communist Politburo Member Liu Shaoqi, Moscow

Liu Shaoqi and Gomułka review the state of the communist bloc, discussing the Sino-Soviet intervention in North Korea in 1956 and the position of Albania.

April 2, 1958

Record of Conversation between Polish Delegation and PRC Leader Mao Zedong, Wuhan

Chairman Mao and Comrade Jaroszewicz changed their views about the plan to catch up with western countries, the excessive population growth, the agriculture production.

March 1, 1961

Transcript of Conversation between Deputy Premier Chen Yi and Romanian Ambassador to China Barbu Zaharescu

Chen Yi and Ambassador Zaharescu discuss the unity of the socialist bloc.

December 24, 1960

Cable from the Chinese Embassy in Romania, 'The Change of Romanian Attitude toward China before and after the Moscow Conference'

The Chinese Embassy in Bucharest concludes that "the Romanian attitude toward us has warmed."