Excerpts of Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, Union Square, San Francisco, CA
The critics of President Eisenhower and this administration apparently are suffering considerable strain in determining how to make their attack.
Before Los Angeles they argued that even though it was true the United States had been at peace for the last 7 years, and even though the prospects for peace in the years ahead seemed bright, that the administration was at fault because it was an "uneasy" peace. This attack fell flat because it was so obviously senseless. The fact is, of course, that as long as international communism controls a large area of the earth's surface and one-third of its population, the world will be uneasy. As President Eisenhower, himself, has said: "We live in a time of peril."
There is no easy way - or even no bold or imaginative way as critics like to suggest - to escape that truth. To suggest that the United States is at fault because the peace we have enjoyed for the last 7 years is an uneasy one is wholly unrealistic and the American people know it. More than that, no contrived political argument can obscure the fact that President Eisenhower has kept the promise he made in 1952 to end the war in Korea and to maintain peace with honor in the world.
This attack met with no success because it was not accurate, and the public was not taken in by it. Therefore, the type of attack was completely changed.
During the convention at Los Angeles, it became a slashing, broadside attack. It was repeated by speaker after speaker that the United States had no friends left.
The American people not only were not fooled by these attacks, they resented them as irresponsible and harmful to our national interest. Sensing this, the opponents of the administration have now changed their attack once again.
Today, they are saying that while it is true we are at peace and are the strongest nation in the world militarily and economically that we are losing our strength and prestige. This is not as irresponsible, but it is just as wrong.
The United States is the strongest nation in the world economically, militarily, and morally, and we are going to stay that way. Our prestige as a nation is great.
This has been demonstrated in many ways. It was clearly demonstrated by the tremendous reception given to President Eisenhower in all of the countries he has visited. Probably no person in the history of the world has been received so enthusiastically by so many persons as he has. And the tribute has been not only to him but to the United States and is proof of its prestige.
The standing of the United States in the eyes of other nations in the world has been proved convincingly in the United Nations during the last 7 years. In every vote taken, when the United States was on one side and the U.S.S.R. was on the other, the position of the United States prevailed.
Why then is it claimed that our national prestige has suffered? Possibly it is because it is thought that in an election year the American public can be led to believe that every time there is trouble in the world the United States is to blame for it. I do not for a moment think this will happen because I have too much confidence in the good sense of the American people.
It is not the first time that politics of despair have been employed against the Eisenhower administration. Four years ago the President's political opponents sought to persuade the Nation to reject his leadership by arguing that American prestige had fallen to an alltime low. It was proved to be bad strategy then, and I believe it will prove to be bad strategy again this year.
Of course, we all know that in the world situation that exists today, there will be bad news from time to time. It was not good news when Khrushchev scuttled the summit conference. It was regrettable when his agents were able to inflame Japanese street mobs against Eisenhower's visit.
There has been disturbing news from the Congo; and it has been disappointing to learn that the aspirations of the Cuban people for liberty have been obscured temporarily.
But it is important to recognize that if our policies are right - and I believe they are - we must pursue them with confidence. Our leadership must continue to provide the kind of national maturity which President Eisenhower has provided for the last 7 years.
I do not mean to suggest that we should overlook our mistakes or gloss over our weaknesses. But if we become discouraged every time there is a problem in the world, if we thoughtlessly condemn ourselves for all the trouble from civil strife in the Congo to mob violence in Tokyo, we cannot long maintain the strength of leadership in international affairs which President Eisenhower has given our Nation.
With a leader less firm and coolheaded than the President, we could easily have made serious mistakes in these past months, when Khrushchev blew up at the summit and heaped insult upon us, we could have answered in kind. Or we could have apologized to him, which would have been worse.
We could have allowed our relations with Japan to become strained. We could have tried to inject ourselves into the Congo without honoring our commitments to the United Nations charter, just as Khrushchev seems to be trying to do.
We could have turned Cuba into a second Hungary.
But we can be eternally grateful that we have a man in the White House who did none of these things.
We have met these situations as a mature nation, sure of our strength and of the rightness of our cause.
We did not rant at Khrushchev and the Communists. Nor did we apologize. We did not attempt to appease him by making concessions concerning the freedom and destiny of the brave people of Berlin.
We did not lose our heads over the Japanese riots. We continued to think of Japan as what it is, a strong, friendly ally with common security interests in the Pacific. What happened? The Japanese Parliament promptly ratified the Japanese-American Security Treaty; since then political candidates favorable to the treaty have won in local elections by greater majorities than in previous elections; Japanese-American political and trade relations flourish and Japan stands firm as our friend and ally in the Far East.
We did not inject our way unilaterally into the situation brought about by the aspirations of the Congolese for independence, aspirations which were not backed by adequate preparation. We have cooperated with and supported the United Nations.
We have not bullied Cuba, in spite of the provocation of its Communist-oriented government. We have dealt with this threat to the peace and stability of the hemisphere as we pledged we would in our solemn treaty commitments. We have cooperated with other American republics, who also recognize the threat, through the Organization of American States.
Moreover, I am certain that the President has handled these situations in the very way that the American people collectively have responded to them, confidently and maturely.
It is unfortunately too easy for a false impression of America to be conveyed abroad by the hullabaloo of a political campaign. We understand our politics, but some of our friends elsewhere in the world do not.
I am particularly struck by the impressions of a London newspaperman who has recently been among us, traveling the length of the country, talking to as many Americans as he could meet in 6 weeks.
"Experts tell us," he wrote, "that the Soviet Union is a land of promise and expanding production. Other experts tell us that America is a land of disappointment and contraction. All I can say is: Pity the country whose glories only experts can detect, and envy the country whose faults it takes an expert to discover.
"So far as my eye could see, so far indeed as any normal yardstick can measure, America fulfills more of the criteria of a civilized society than any in human history."
Richard Nixon, Excerpts of Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, Union Square, San Francisco, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273858