Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address Delivered Before a Joint Session of the Parliament of India.

December 10, 1959

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Honorable Members of Parliament, and Ladies and Gentlemen:

Mr. Chairman, I must assure you that our audience here will be aware of a great deal of duplication in our two speeches. It does not dismay me, though, to repeat these sentiments, for the simple reason that one of the reasons that I am here is to assure you of the identity of view on the part of the American people to those that have just been so well expressed.

It is with a sense of high distinction that I accepted the invitation to address you. I deem this a great personal honor, and a bright symbol of the genuine friendship between the peoples you and I represent.

I bring to this nation of four hundred million, assurance from my own people that they feel that the welfare of America is bound up with the welfare of India. America shares with India the deep desire to live in freedom, human dignity, and peace with justice.

A new and great opportunity for that sort of life has been opened up to all men by the startling achievements of men of science during recent decades. The issue placed squarely before us today is the purpose for which we use science.

Before us we see long years of what can be a new era; mankind in each year reaping a richer harvest from the fields of earth--gaining a more sure mastery of elemental power for human benefit--sharing an expanding commerce in goods and in knowledge and in wisdom--dwelling together in peace.

But history portrays a world too often tragically divided by misgiving and mistrust and quarrel. Time and again governments have abused the fields of earth by staining them with blood and scarring them with the weapons of war. They have used a scientific mastery over nature to win a dominance over others--even made commerce an instrument of exploitation.

The most heartening, hopeful phenomenon in the world today is that people have experienced a great awakening. They see the evils of the past as crimes against the moral law, injuring the offender as well as the victim. They recognize that only under the rule of moral law can all of us realize our deepest and noblest aspirations.

One blunt question I put to you, and to all--everyone--everywhere who like myself share responsibility assigned to us by our people:

Must we continue to live with prejudices, practices, and policies that will condemn our children and our children's children to live helplessly in the pattern of the past--awaiting possibly a time of war-borne obliteration?

We all fervently pray not. Indeed, there can be no statesmanship in any person of responsibility who does not concur in this world-wide prayer.

Over most of the earth, men and women are determined that the conference table shall replace the propaganda mill; international exchange of knowledge shall succeed the international trade in threats and accusations; and the fertile works of peace shall supplant the frenzied race in armaments of war.

Our hope is that we are moving into a better era. For my part, I shall do all I can, as one human working with other humans, to push toward peace; toward freedom; toward dignity and a worthy future for every man and woman and child in the world.

If we--and especially all those occupying positions of responsibility-give all that is within us to this cause, the generations that follow us will call us blessed. Should we shirk the task or pursue the ways of war--now become ways to annihilation and race suicide--there may be no generations to follow us.

I come here representing a nation that wants not an acre of another people's land; that seeks no control of another people's government; that pursues no program of expansion in commerce or politics or power of any sort at another people's expense. It is a nation ready to cooperate toward achievement of mankind's deep, eternal aspirations for peace and freedom.

And I come here as a friend of India, speaking for one hundred and eighty million friends of India. In fulfilling a desire of many years I pay, in person, America's tribute to the Indian people, to their culture, to their progress, and to their strength among the independent nations.

All humanity is in debt to this land. But we Americans have, with you, a special community of interest.

You and we from our first days have sought, by national policy, the expansion of democracy. You and we, peopled by many strains and races speaking many tongues, worshipping in many ways, have each achieved national strength out of diversity. And you and we never boast that ours is the only way. We are conscious of our weaknesses and our failings. We both seek the improvement and betterment of all our citizens by assuring that the state will serve, not master, its own people or any other people.

Above all, our basic goals are the same.

Ten years ago, your distinguished Prime Minister, when I was his host at Columbia University in New York, said:

"Political subjection, racial inequality, economic misery--these are the evils we have to remove if we would assure peace."

Our Republic, since its founding, has been committed to a relentless, ceaseless fight against those same three evils: political subjection, racial inequality, economic misery.

Not always has America enjoyed instant success in a particular attack on them. By no means has victory been won over them and, indeed, complete victory can never be won so long as human nature is not transformed. But in my country, through almost two hundred years, our most revered leaders have been those who have exhorted us to give of our lives and our fortunes to the vanquishment of these evils. And in this effort for the good of all our people, we shall not tire nor cease.

Ten years have passed since Mr. Nehru spoke his words. The pessimist might say that, not only do the three evils still infest the world--entrenched, and manifold; but that they will never lose their virulence. And the future, he might conclude, will be a repetition of the past; the world stumbling from crisis in one place to crisis in another; given no respite from anxiety and tension; forever fearful that inevitably some aggression will blaze into global war.

Thus might the pessimist speak. And were we to examine only the record of failure and frustration, we all would be compelled to agree with him.

We Americans have known anxiety and suffering and tragedy, even in the decade just past. Tens of thousands of our families paid a heavy price that the United Nations and the rule of law might be sustained in the Republic of Korea. In millions of our homes there has been, in each, the vacant chair of absent men--a son who performing his duty gave some of the years of his youth that successful aggression might not come to pass. The news, from near and distant places, that has reached us in America through these 10 years, has been marked by a long series of harsh alarms.

These alarms invariably had their source in the aggressive intentions of an alien philosophy backed by great military strength. Faced with this fact, we in America have felt it necessary to make dear our own determination to resist aggression through the provision of adequate armed forces. These forces serve us and those of our friends and allies who like us have perceived the danger. But they so serve for defensive purposes only. In producing this strength, we believe we have made a necessary contribution to a stable peace, for the present and for the future as well.

Historically and by instinct the United States has always repudiated and still repudiates the settlement, by force, of international issues and quarrels. Though we will do our best to provide for free world security, we continue to urge the reduction of armaments on the basis of effective reciprocal verification.

And contrasting with some of our disappointments of the past decade, and the negative purposes of security establishments, Americans have participated, also, in triumphant works of world progress, political, technical, and material. We believe these works support the concept of the dignity and freedom of man. These hearten America that the years ahead will be marked by like and greater works. And America watches, with friendly concern, the valiant efforts of other nations for a better life, particularly those who have newly achieved their independence.

Ten years ago India had just achieved independence; wealthy in courage and determination, but beset with problems of a scale and depth and numbers scarcely paralleled in modern history. Not even the most optimistic of onlookers would then have predicted the success you have enjoyed.

Today, India speaks to the other nations of the world with greatness of conviction and is heard with greatness of respect. The near conclusion of her second 5-year program is proof that the difficulty of a problem is only the measure of its challenge to men and women of determined will. India is a triumph that offsets the world's failures of the past decade; a triumph that, as men read our history a century from now, may offset them all.

India has paced and spurred and inspired men on other continents. Let anyone take a map of the earth and place on it a flag wherever political subjection has ended, racial prejudice has been reduced, economic misery at least partially relieved during the past 10 years. He will find evidence in the cluster of these flags that the 10 years past may well have been the 10 most fruitful years in the age-old fight against the three evils.

Because of these 10 years, today our feet are set on the road leading to a better life for all men.

What blocks us that we do not move forward instantly into an era of plenty and peace?

The answer is obvious: we have not yet solved the problem of fear among the nations. The consequence is that not one government can exploit the resources of its own territory solely for the good of its people.

Governments are burdened with sterile expenditures--preoccupied with the attainment of a defensive military posture that grows less meaningful against today's weapons carriers.

Much of the world is trapped in the same vicious circle. Weakness in arms often invites aggression or subversion, or externally manipulated revolutions. Fear inspired in others by the increasing military strength of one nation spurs them to concentrate still more of their resources on weapons and warlike measures. The arms race becomes more universal. Doubt as to the true purpose of these weapons intensifies tension. Peoples are robbed of opportunity for their own peaceful development. The hunger for a peace of justice and good will inevitably become more intense.

Controlled, universal disarmament is the imperative of our time. The demand for it by the hundreds of millions whose chief concern is the long future of themselves and their children will, I hope, become so universal and so insistent that no man, no government anywhere, can withstand it.

My nation is committed to a ceaseless search for ways through which genuine disarmament can be reached. And my government, even as I said more than 6 years ago, in April of 1953, still--"is ready to ask its people to join with all nations in devoting a substantial percentage of the savings achieved by disarmament to a fund for world aid and reconstruction."

But armaments of themselves do not cause wars--wars are caused by men.

And men are influenced by a fixation on the past, the dead past, with all its abuses of power; its misuses of responsibility; all its futile convictions that force can solve any problem.

In the name of humanity, can we not join in a 5-year or a 50-year plan against mistrust and misgiving and fixations on the wrongs of the past? Can we not apply ourselves to the removal or reduction of the causes of tension that exist in the world? All these are the creations of governments, cherished and nourished by governments. The peoples of the world would never feel them if they were given freedom from propaganda and pressure.

Permit me to cite two simple examples from my own experience. As President of the United States, I welcomed into our Union last year a new sovereign State, Hawaii--peopled by all the races of the earth, men and women of that new State having their ancestral homes in Asia and Africa and Europe, the two Americas, the islands of the earth. Those peoples are of every creed and color, yet they live together in neighborly friendliness, in mutual trust, and each can achieve his own good by helping achieve the good of all.

Hawaii cries insistently to a divided world that all our differences of race and origin are less than the grand and indestructible unity of our common brotherhood. The world should take time to listen with attentive ear to Hawaii.

As President of Columbia University, every year we welcomed to its campus, from every continent, from almost every nation that flew a flag-and some tribes and colonies not yet free. In particular there still lives in my memory, because of their eagerness and enthusiasm for learning, the presence of hundreds of young people from India and China and Japan and the other Asian countries that studied among us, detached from any mutual prejudice or any fixation over past wrongs--indeed, these vices are not easily discernible among the young of any people.

These two simple things from my own experience convince me that much of the world's fear, suspicion, prejudice, can be obliterated. Men and women everywhere need only to lift up their eyes to the heights that can be achieved together; and, ignoring what has been, push together for what can be.

Not one wrong of years ago that still rankles; not one problem that confronts us today; not one transitory profit that might be taken from another's weakness, should distract us from the pursuit of a goal that dwarfs every problem and wrong of the past.

We have the strength and the means and the knowledge. May God inspire us to strive for the world-wide will and the wisdom that are now our first needs.

In this great crusade, from the history of your own nation, I know India will ever be a leader.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President was introduced by Vice President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the upper house. M.A. Ayyanger, Speaker of the lower house, proposed a vote of thanks to President Eisenhower.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Delivered Before a Joint Session of the Parliament of India. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234880

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