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Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks Before the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, and Technical Employees.
Lyndon B. Johnson
442 - Remarks Before the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, and Technical Employees.
October 23, 1967
Public Papers of the Presidents
Lyndon B. Johnson<br>1967: Book II
Lyndon B. Johnson
1967: Book II

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President Suffridge, and delegates to the inaugural session of the 15th triennial congress:

It is a very great pleasure for me to welcome you here for your first conference in this hemisphere.

I have been familiar with your work-your good work--for many years.

In 1961, I took one of the most rewarding and exciting trips of my life with your president-Jim Suffridge. Together we visited a number of your countries on a mission for President Kennedy. It was on that journey-with Mr. Suffridge as my guide--that I saw some of the worldwide activities of FIET.

I saw then in other lands what I knew well in my own--working people building better lives for themselves and better futures for their families through their labor organizations. I saw schools, new housing and health clinics, credit unions and cooperatives which had been created largely with the help of trade unions.

As you meet to study the problems and the promise of tomorrow, I join you as one who shares your vision of the good life. I come as a representative of 200 million people who want very much to see a world
--in which all the guns of war are stilled; --in which every nation is free to mark its own course;
--in which every man is able to build-through his own effort--fulfillment for himself and opportunity for his children.

We can agree quickly, I think, that this is the goal we all seek--because we are not the first to actually put it into words. In this generation, many men from many lands have talked hopefully of a stable world of growing promise--because for the first time in man's history it is now realistic to think in global terms about improving man's condition.

The fact that mankind now can rid this planet of ignorance and hunger is one of the most awesome bits of knowledge that we live with.

It is history's cruel paradox that man should finally acquire this ability, after all his years of struggle, just as he also gains the power to destroy his race.

The rest of his story will be told--if it is told at all--in terms of which power he actually employs.

He can use his atomic might to make the deserts of the world bloom--or to incinerate his planet.

We can use our science to develop weapons that dwarf the mind--or to expand men's minds with learning.

We can commit our sons to a new generation of peril--or leave them the foundation stones for a new civilization.

The will to live is the strongest human impulse. It generates a stubborn optimism which runs deep in the human spirit.

An eloquent American writer has given it voice in our time when he said, "I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance."

William Faulkner spoke those words almost two decades ago. It is a measure, I think, of how far we have come that they sounded braver when they were spoken than they do as we meet here today.

The great victories of reason and agreement, which can assure the survival of the human race, still are in front of us.
The ones behind us are modest and small.
But they are victories nonetheless.

We have not yet passed safely through the danger we have created. But we have walked far enough to dare to hope that we will make it.

The fact that war itself has not yet disappeared is a matter of infinite tragedy.

Many thousands of our countrymen are today involved in a bitter conflict in a land far away--because armed invaders try to impose their will on their neighbor.

In every way we can, we search for peace in Vietnam. But we appear to be searching alone. Those who began the war are not willing to sit down and with us explore the ways to end it. They cling stubbornly to the belief that their aggression will be rewarded--by our frustration, by our impatience, or by our unwillingness to stay the course.
It will not be so.

Peace and stability will come to Asia only when the aggressors know that they cannot take another 'people's land by force.

Our Asian allies fighting beside us believe this.

And so do the leaders and the peoples of those free nations that are standing there in the path of conquest.

But to end the threat of war, we must do even more than keep aggression in check.

As all of you know, most wars are bred in conditions of human misery. Aggressors are boldest always when they can exploit a people's discontent.

This discontent churns in a world where illiteracy cripples two-fifths of the adult population--and where disease still dooms millions of children to an early death.

The experience of the last decade proves that violence erupts most often in the nations which are the poorest.

The great work of our day, therefore, is to change the conditions that breed and encourage war--to do something about the old tyrannies of hunger, disease, ignorance, and poverty which still enslave two-thirds of the human race.
That work has well started.

I am very proud of the role that my own country has played in the beginning of this very worthy adventure. A leading public figure of a free Asian country recently said about the United States--and I quote him: "... This is perhaps the first time in history that a world power has consciously used its strength and wealth to promote the interests of weak and poor nations."

So on behalf of our people, I believe that tribute is well deserved. The American people have used their resources in a constructive and a compassionate way--because we have had to learn quickly the lessons which history forced upon us overnight.
Today, history teaches us all a new lesson. A concept of world order is already quietly emerging which, we believe, offers the world its best chance for constructive change.

It is a new sense of community. It links together states that share a common geography.

There is no word which can adequately describe it and convey the excitement and the hope that it generates. But, for want of a better term, we have all started calling it regionalism.

It is built on an idea which has grown rapidly in the minds of many men. It is simply this--despite the spirit of nationalism, the problems of an area respect no national borders. There is a belief that action can be more effective when it is taken in unison. There is a determination to work together in shaping a common destiny, through economic development.

The logic of this idea first became evident in Europe. The chaos of war had forced the leaders of Western Europe to look with new insight into the old patterns of rivalry. They reached a significant conclusion. They saw that the more they could travel together, the faster they could move to a prosperous future. Going it alone, perhaps they would never make it. So the European Common Market was a result of this thinking.

In Latin America, economic integration is dearly seen as the key which can unlock the strength dreamed of for centuries.

In Asia the same idea has now begun--for the very first time--to persuade separate nations of their common purpose.

Africa, too, is feeling the stirrings of this regional spirit.

Only in the Middle East do ancient rivalries and frustrations still seem to inhibit the prospects of cooperation. But in our search for new solutions to old challenges, there is hope even here that men will look together at the problems they share.

Nowhere is the road easy, and nowhere has that road yet been fully traveled. But men and nations are today moving ahead together.

In my years of public life, no development in world affairs has given me more encouragement. Because behind the headlines of crisis, a new spirit of progress has been quietly at work.

The United States of America will continue to encourage its development and continue to support its growth.

But the world itself remain's man's first community. And his problems still must be met on a global basis--weather control, for example, and the spread of nuclear weapons, and international monetary reform. And then world trade is another.

It was just 5 years ago--I know you will remember--that the major trading countries began the most ambitious round of trade negotiations that had ever been undertaken. Because these talks were initiated by a great American President, they took his name, and became known as the Kennedy Round.

This past summer, the Kennedy Round was successfully concluded. It brought tariff reductions greater than any known in our history. It moved the world closer to the healthy trading conditions on which the prosperity of many nations depends.

It was a historic landmark in the efforts of all of us to create a sounder world community.

Preserving the gains won in the Kennedy Round is now essential to the harmony and well-being of all of us.

It will not be easy. Freer trade often causes temporary but painful dislocations. And today, once again, we hear protectionist voices rising out of the past.

But larger interests just must prevail. We must consider our common goals:
--to protect our consumers;
--to promote healthy and competitive industry and agriculture;
--to raise the productivity and wages of our workers.
We have an enormous stake in keeping and extending the benefits of 30 years of constructive trade policy.

And our overall interest lies in working together to establish new conditions for a peaceful and more prosperous world order.

To the developing countries, striving to reach the 20th century industrial world, trade is the lifeline of hope.

The leading nations of the free world are together studying ways to improve the trading position of those emerging nations. In the meantime, the Kennedy Round increases the trading opportunities that are so badly needed.

That increase in strength is not enough to insure their industrial success, it is true. But it is a long step forward.

Yes, as we meet here this morning, the world is moving fast. Developments measured a step at a time may not stir the mind as forcefully as the headlong rush of crisis does.

And through a generation of 'peril, progress has often moved forward by short steps. Yet those steps now add up to many, many miles.

So, I think, it is good for all of us, when we are burdened by the awareness of how far we must still go, to look back and to reflect on how far we have come.

I am very grateful for this opportunity to try to--in my own humble way--point out some of the things that we have yet to do, and some of the things that we have already done.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:43 a.m. in the Regency Room at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington before delegates to the week-long conference of the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, and Technical Employees representing 112 affiliates in 62 countries. In his opening words he referred to James A. Suffridge, president of the Federation and of the Retail Clerks International Association.
Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks Before the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, and Technical Employees.," October 23, 1967. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=28497.
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