What Progressives Can Learn From Martin Luther King’s Vietnam Speech

Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about morality and strategy in US foreign policy. After reading Ben Rhodes’ book The World As It Is, I decided to read some of the most significant foreign policy speeches of the last century, ranging from Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points speech of 1918 to Barack Obama’s “A New Beginning,” which he delivered in Cairo in 2009.

One of my favorite speeches that I read was Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam,” which he gave at Riverside Church in 1967. I was struck by the way in which King connected the Civil Rights Movement to the nascent movement to end the Vietnam War, placing them into a common struggle for justice. Inspired by the speech, I wrote a short online article for the Sigma Iota Rho Journal of International Relations. Here’s a quick quote from the piece:

Martin Luther King offers progressives a cogent, authoritative critique of how the US government treats the disempowered, both at home and abroad. As progressives find their voice on foreign policy, King’s global moral vision offers a starting point.

You can read the full piece on the journal’s website.