Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at the Annual Convention of the National Junior Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

June 10, 1953

President Henderson, Governor Anderson, and Members of this great Chamber:

I thank you sincerely for the warmth of your welcome, and for the honor of your invitation to be with you today. That invitation had many values for me. It was brought to me by the distinguished Congressman from this District, my old and dear friend--and valued friend--Congressman Walter Judd.

And yours is an organization with a proud record. First, each of you is a young and responsible person, already the possessor of a record of achievement, but more than this, collectively you have a most enviable record of achievement. You have sought nothing for yourselves. You have sought ways to serve the United States of America and freedom everywhere. I come here in real humble pride--that I assure you.

I have been fortunate that my own life has been spent with America's young people. The grave decisions that I have been compelled to make, at least before this calendar year, have been vindicated by the skill, the sense of responsibility, and the sacrifice of America's young men. My faith in them is as my unbounded faith in America itself.

Now, because you are both young and responsible, you know what is your greatest responsibility of all--it is tomorrow--it is the whole future of freedom.

In the minds of all of you, as in my own mind, is a long list of critical subjects confronting our people today--indeed, confronting all peoples. I wish I could discuss all of them with you: the problems of healthy foreign trade; the regulation of Government expenditures; the achieving of a more just tax structure; the development of sound agricultural programs; the great work to be done in the fields of education, health, and welfare; the great problem of spiritual rejuvenation of our own people, and of free people throughout the world--all of these people. I should like to discuss with you and have your convictions and conclusions on them.

But there is, however, one matter that overshadows all of these. It is the constant, controlling consideration in our national life today. It is--our Nation's security.

Quickly we can see how this one issue effectively rules all others. It alone comes close to fixing the level of our national budget--when two of every three dollars spent by our Federal Government go to defense purposes. It thereby almost automatically sets the requirements for Federal taxes. It directly affects the welfare of our farms, so dependent upon wide opportunities for export. And it is intimately bound up with foreign trade for our own imports of such critical products as nickel and cobalt and mica are essential to our national security.

It is no wonder that our national security is so vast a matter-for the struggle in which freedom today is engaged is quite literally a total and universal struggle. It engages every aspect of our fives. It is waged in every arena in which a challenged civilization must fight to live.

It is a military struggle--on the battlefields of Indochina, and still in Korea.

It is an economic struggle--in which the equivalent of a lost battle can be suffered in a ruined rice crop in Burma, or in the lagging of a critical production line in America.

It is a political struggle--speaking at the conference tables of the United Nations, in the daily diplomatic exchanges that flood the cable wires and telephone lines of the whole world.

It is a scientific struggle--'m which atomic energy plants and colossal research projects can produce terrible wonders matching in fateful effect the inventions of the wheel or of gunpowder.

It is an intellectual struggle--for the press and the radio, every spoken and printed word, can either inspire or weaken men's faith in freedom.

It is a spiritual struggle--for one of communism's basic assumptions about the nature of men is that they are incapable of ruling themselves, incapable, the Communists say, of attaining the spiritual standards and strength to solve national problems when these require voluntary personal sacrifice for the common good. That is the Communist's justification for regimentation--for dictatorship, called in his language, the dictatorship of the proletariat. All this we deny. And we must seek in our churches, our schools, our homes and our daily lives the clearness of mind and strongness of heart to guard the chance to live in freedom.

For this whole struggle, in the deepest sense, is waged neither for land nor for food nor for power--but for the soul of man himself.

Now, my young friends, these are real, tough facts, not mere poetic fancies. They are facts as true and compelling as any airplane production schedules, or the firepower of our guns, or the armor of our tanks, or the speed of our jets.

I cannot presume today to speak of all the aspects of so Vast, so all-embracing, so total a struggle--nor of all the truths that must, I believe, guide us steadfastly.

I wish to speak simply of two of these truths.

The first is this: our military strength and our economic strength are truly one--neither can sensibly be purchased at the price of destroying the other.

And the second is this: this Nation and all nations defending freedom, everywhere in the world, are one in their common need and their common cause--and none can sanely seek security alone.

The first of these two truths concerns our military posture of defense.

The second concerns our whole concept and conduct of world affairs.

Let us consider each of them briefly, for the mere assertion of a general truth proves nothing and convinces no one.

Now the central problem of our military defense is not merely to become strong, but to stay strong. The reason is obvious; we cannot count upon any enemy striking us at a given, ascertainable moment. We live, as I have said before, not in an instant of peril but in an age of peril--a time of tension and of watchfulness.

The defense against this peril, then, must be carefully planned and steadfastly maintained. It cannot be a mere repetition of today's reflex to yesterday's crisis. It cannot be a thing of frenzies and alarms. It must be a thing of thought and of order and of efficiency.

Precisely such a defense is now being built for our country. I believe it does several things. It soberly promises more efficient military production. It realistically assesses our long-term economic capacity. It demands the elimination of luxury, waste, and duplication in all military activity. And it allocates funds as justly and as wisely as possible among the three armed services. It recognizes the great importance of air power.

Concretely: these defense plans allocate 60 cents out of every defense dollar for air power. With the enactment of pending legislation, our Air Force will have available for its expenditure more than $40 billion. By mid-1954 its strength will total 114 wings. At the same time the air arm of the Navy will command a full half of all the funds available to the entire Naval establishment. The Navy and Marine air arms will alone total almost 10,000 planes. All this, I believe, promises both powerful air defense and a no less powerful deterrent to any would-be aggressor.

Greater efficiency in production will give us less costly production schedules--and something even more vital: fewer planes "on order," more in the air. Today typical production schedules require 26 to 34 months for important bombing types. Our civilian leadership in the Department of Defense believes that such schedules can be reduced to something like 18 months. I repeat: that will mean fewer planes in theory, more in fact--more swiftly and less expensively.

Now, let's look at something very clearly. How many planes, how many divisions, how great a Navy should we have? Such questions are, these days, earnestly and fervently debated by advocates of different theories, as well as a fair number of self-appointed experts.

Now all this is healthy and proper enough, provided we do not lose sight of certain elemental facts.

First: we must remember always that reasonable defense posture is not won by juggling magic numbers--even with an air of great authority. There is no wonderfully sure number of planes or ships or divisions, or billions of dollars, that can automatically guarantee security. Could I pause long enough to say, in all of this I hope you will not forget the security of the United States is found first in the heart--in the heart of youth. Not only the heart of the man who has been or can be called to put on the uniform, in the heart of the grandmother, and of the child, that dedication and devotion to those great human rights for which our country and other free countries have stood.

If we never lose sight of those great values, nor our devotion and dedication to them, we have achieved the first problem of national security.

Now, the most uncompromising advocates of these magic numbers have themselves changed their calculations almost from year to year. Such changes are reasonable, as technological advance requires. But the insistence that the latest change is final, definitive, sacred--that is not reasonable.

Second: we must remember that all our plans must realistically take account--not just this year but every year--of colossal and continuing technological change. We are living in a time of revolutionary military science. Today 25 aircraft equipped with modern weapons can in a single attack visit upon an enemy as much explosive violence as was hurled at Germany by our entire air effort throughout 4 years of World War II. And those of you here who belonged to the Eighth and the Ninth and the Twelfth and the Fifteenth know what that was.

And a third serious truth about our defense is this: there is no such thing as maximum military security short of total mobilization. Now, this total mobilization would mean regimentation of the worker, the farmer, the businessman--allocation of materials-control of wages and prices--drafting of every able-bodied citizen. It would mean, in short, all the grim paraphernalia of the garrison state.

This would do more damage than merely to strain the economic fabric of America.

It would, if long sustained, imperil the very liberties we are striving to defend.

And it would ignore the most fundamental truth of all, one to which I have already alluded--the fact that this total struggle cannot be won by guns alone.

I do not believe, in a word, that we can wisely subscribe to what I would call the "all-out" military theory of defense--ignoring the other defenses of the heart and mind, and of our economy, that we must build and hold.

There is another theory of defense, another oversimplified concept, which I believe equally misleading and dangerous. It is what we might call the "fortress" theory of defense.

Advocates of this theory ask: "Why cannot the strongest nation in the world--our country--stand by itself? What does the United Nations matter? And particularly in Asia, where so many of our sons have died in freedom's name, why cannot we make our own decisions, fight and stand as only we ourselves may choose?"

There are many answers, of which I will give you a few.

A total struggle--let us never forget it--calls for total defense. As there is no weapon too small, no arena too remote, to be ignored, there is no free nation too humble to be forgotten. All of us have learned--first from the onslaught of Nazi aggression, then from Communist aggression--that all free nations must stand together or they shall fall separately. Again and again we must remind ourselves that this is a matter not only of political principle but of economic necessity. It involves our need for markets for our agricultural and industrial products, our need to receive in return from the rest of the world such essentials as manganese and cobalt, tin and tungsten, without which our economy cannot function.

This essential, indispensable unity means working together-always within a clearly defined, clearly understood framework of principle. We know the need of working together, in harmony with basic principles, within our own Nation. It is the essence of the democratic process. We should not be surprised that it applies just as vitally among nations--in the wide community of the world's free peoples.

How, where, can there be retreat from this unity? Surrender Asia? That would mean leaving a vast portion of the population of the entire world to be mobilized by the forces of aggression. Surrender Europe? That would mean more than doubling the industrial power of those same forces.

Who is there who thinks that the strength of America is so great, its burdens so easy, its future so secure, that it could make so generous a gift to those challenging our very lives?

And very important, there is no such thing as partial unity. That is a contradiction in terms.

We cannot select those areas of the globe in which our policies or wishes may differ from our allies--build political fences around these areas--and then say to our allies: "We shall do what we want here--and where you do what we want, there and only there shall we favor unity." That is not unity. It is an attempted dictation. And it is not the way free men associate.

We all hear, in this connection, a good deal of unhappy murmuring about the United Nations. It is easy to understand this dismay. None of us is above irritation and frustration over the seemingly vain and tedious processes of political discourse, particularly in times of great crisis.

But none of us can tightly forget that neither the world--nor the United Nations--is or can be made in a single image of one nation's will or ideas. The fact is that from its foundation the United Nations has seemed to be two distinct things to the two worlds divided by the iron curtain. To the Communist world it has been a convenient sounding board for their propaganda, a weapon to be exploited in spreading disunity and confusion. To the free world it has seemed that it should be a constructive forum for free discussion of the world's problems, an effective agency for helping to solve those problems peacefully.

But the truth is that even if the United Nations were to conform to the concept held by the free nations, it would still be bound to show infinite variety of opinion, sharp clashes of debate, slow movement to decision. For all this is little more than a reflection of the state of the world itself. An image of perfect symmetry would be a distorted image--the false creation of some nation's or some bloc's power-politics. And perhaps one of the greatest values of the United Nations is this: it holds up a mirror in which the world can see its true self. And what should we want to see in such a mirror but the whole truth at such a time of total struggle?

There are, as you see, certain common denominators to all that I have said, certain constant thoughts I believe to be consistently relevant in facing tomorrow.

We must see clearly that all the problems before us--from farm exports to balanced budgets, from taxes to the vital resources for our industry--all are dependent on our Nation's security. And in this real way freedom's great struggle touches all of us alike-farmer and businessman, worker and student, pastor and teacher.

We know this to be true because we know that there is but one struggle for freedom--in the market place and in the university, on the battlefield and beside the assembly line.

We know that strength means being strong in all these ways and in all these places.

We know that unity means comradeship, patience, and compromise among all free nations.

And we know that only with strength and with unity--is the future of freedom assured. And freedom, now and for the future, is our goal!

And now, my friends, before I leave you, I should like to give to you an announcement that came to me just as I left my airplane.

There was a telegram came from the East, that said that Senator Taft had announced that his physical condition has become so serious that he has had to give up his active duties as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate.

I am sure that you would allow me to speak for you--indeed, I have already ventured to do so, I think, in a telegram I just sent, saying that as he well knew, that we could not spare such patriotic and devoted service as his, and sent him our prayers for his early recovery.

Thank you very much indeed.

Note: The President spoke at the Minneapolis Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. In his opening words he referred to Horace Henderson, President of the National Junior Chamber of Commerce, and Governor C. Elmer Anderson of Minnesota.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at the Annual Convention of the National Junior Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231918

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