Partial Transcript of Speech of the Vice President, World Newspaper Forum, Beverly-Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
Mr. Ritter has already indicated that in the course of a campaign many speeches are made, that in the course of a campaign particularly for an occasion like this the group expects a speech of some significance. Those of you who know me know that while I am campaigning one thing I very much dislike to do is to read a speech, even if I have written it. Also, I even go further than that. I don't even like to use notes, whether they're allowed or not. But, whatever the reason is, there are occasions in the campaign when the statement is considered to be of such importance and which, therefore, must be so carefully drawn that it must be read, and I thought that this organization was one that would perhaps be a fitting one in which I could make a major statement on foreign policy. So, I have selected this organization for that purpose, and I appreciate the opportunity to present to you one of the first major statements in the field of foreign policy that I am making in the course of this campaign, certainly the first major statement covering the particular subjects or areas of foreign policy that I will be discussing tonight.
Now, mentioning foreign policy, of course, immediately raises a question in the minds of all the listeners as to what is the overriding issue in the campaign. There's no doubt, incidentally, about what the people think. It isn't, of course, true that that is the only thing people are thinking about because, as you travel about the country, you will find that farmers are concerned about their farm income and workers are concerned about jobs as they would very well be, and people in the North, East, West, and South have regional and sectional interests that differ a great deal, but the issue of foreign policy is the one that overrides them all. It's the one that joins them all, and in my travels of 53,000 miles I have found that there isn't any question about that.
I say there are other issues, of course, in which people are interested. There are many who want promises made. I think probably the most interesting one was the other day when we were in - I think it was - Cleveland and a little boy ran up to the car as we were going down the middle of the street. He was about 12 years of age, and he said, "Mr. Vice President, will you make me a promise?"
And I said, "What is it?"
He said, "Will you promise a 4-day week for school?"
I could have made the promise to him, and he would have liked me, but his mother would have hated me, I am sure. But, be that as it may, that is an indication of other interests.
But, coming to the heart of the problem, whether it's a 4-day week for school or whether it is jobs or whether it is health or education or welfare, whatever the case might be, we all know that every place in the Nation people are most concerned about developing policies in which we can keep the peace in this Nation, keep it without surrender, so that we can enjoy the solutions that we work out for all of these domestic problems with which we are concerned.
As far as that particular issue of keeping the peace, as it has often been stated, I have found that, as I have traveled about the country, there has been a growing concern and a growing desire on the part of people, a unanimity on one subject. It's really phrased, I believe, as a command, as a mandate, to whoever is the next President of the United States, and it's the conviction of the American people. I believe their conviction can be expressed in these words: Win the struggle for peace and freedom - not just hold the line for America; not just keep what we have, but win the struggle which is going on all over the world for peace and freedom. I believe the American people want that.
All of us agree as a people and as individuals our chief concern must be, of course, the security of the Republic and our chief purpose leadership of the world in the crusade for the preservation and strengthening of peace and freedom.
Now, no presidential candidate could, in good conscience, guarantee to free the Nation from worry and anxiety every day of his term, particularly as far as this great issue of foreign policy is concerned. The creation of tension, we must recognize is a fixed practice of the Communist rulers, and I might suggest, too, they will be encouraged to make even more trouble, to engage in this practice of creating tension even more, as long as they believe that a Communist-manufactured crisis anywhere will provoke among ourselves irrational fears that America is slipping, that America is second rate in ideas and that we're bankrupt in purposes.
The question, then, in this period is not whether we have crises; it isn't whether we have trouble. The question is how we handle it because we're going to have crises, we're going to have trouble, because they are going to be stirring it up - and I say to the credit of the American people we have been handling our troubles quite well, I believe, particularly in these last few years.
Also, tonight I do not tell you that the Federal Government can or should relieve you and those that you represent, your readers, as citizens of all responsibility and care in the achievement of peace with justice. That would be the easy thing to do, to say: "Turn it over to the President. Elect the right man as President, and he will lead the Nation to greatness." That would be the easy thing to do, to say: "Turn these affairs over to government. If we get a right kind of government, then this will solve our problems."
The Federal Government can do some things. It can focus the energies of the Nation in a given area on a given situation for the attainment of a given goal, but Government efforts in these matters is often suspect and ultimately it is sterile unless accompanied, as it has been throughout American history, by the works and prayers of individuals, individuals who see themselves as responsible stewards of a golden heritage and a great destiny, who see their fellow men as seekers after a like heritage and worthy partners in a like destiny.
This, as you know, is the 70th birthday of President Eisenhower. I talked to him on the phone at 6 :30 this morning, incidentally, our time and also sent him a wire indicating that he now has reached this very enviable position: He's the oldest President in years ever to be in the White House, but the youngest in spirit certainly at the very same time. Not only because it's his birthday, but because the words he spoke are such fine guidelines for our times, I quote from something he said a few years ago: "Peace is more the product of our day-to-day living than of a spectacular program intermittently executed."
During his administration we have created and we have crossed a momentous divide in the affairs of men. Behind us lie the dreary and dangerous years of confusion and indecision, in which communism advanced across Eastern Europe and the mainland of China, enveloping three quarters of a billion people.
During these last 7½ years we have arrested this forward march of communism because his inspired leadership gave direction and force to the tenacity of America in its quest for peace among men. Although there may be, very properly, criticisms of the policies the President has followed in this field and in others, none of the criticism can take away the fact that under his leadership we have ended one war; we have kept the Nation out of other wars, and we do have peace without surrender today - and this will be something for which the people will always be grateful to him.
We hear a great deal about the fact that our prestige is slipping, that we do not have the initiative, that it's Mr. Khrushchev who dominates the news, and Mr. Castro and others, but I think that when we actually look at what happens we can realize that the world outside the Communist walls has listened to President Eisenhower and has heeded what he has said.
Look at the performance - I call it that because it was more than just a speech at the United Nations. Compare it with that of his colleague and opponent, Mr. Khrushchev.
We can look at the votes in the General Assembly. All of these are witnesses to the plain fact that America's leadership is worthy today and that it is trusted; and, beside these achievements, the fomented riots and turmoil in some areas should be recognized for what they are - unavailing efforts of Communists to wage an assault on freedom; and, whether it is an attempt of the Communists to block the President's trip to Tokyo or whether it is an attempt of the Communists to work violence upon the Vice President and his wife in Caracas, we Americans in these years ahead must never make the mistake of blaming ourselves and our friends and allies for what the Communists are doing and what they are instigating.
Certainly the experience in Japan is one of which we can be proud, because there, after all the words of doom and gloom were written and spoken, after we thought that our policies in Japan needed a complete reexamination because the Communist-led mobs blocked the President's visit there, we did not change our policy toward Japan. We continued to be their friend. We didn't lose our head. We recognize that the majority of the people of Japan disapproved of that activity, and today the relations with Japan and the United States have never been better, and they will continue to be stronger if we continue along this line.
Up to this point I have been speaking about the past. I now want to turn to what we'd do in the future.
We have stopped in these last 7½ years the aggressive march of communism across borders, but today it confronts us in new forms and faces, new forms and faces which present an even more challenging task than when it confronted us with armies marching across borders, and I think, therefore, it is time today to launch the great new effort designed to meet this new offensive. It must be a new effort, an all-out offensive, for peace and freedom, for victory without war.
Now, how do we go about this task? Well, first, we begin, as all of us will agree, by seeing to it that the United States is the strongest nation in the world.
Second - and here the agreement may not be as great, but certainly it is just as important - we must see to it that we forge a strategy of victory in what I would call the nonmilitary struggle for freedom - and there will be no higher responsibility of the next President in this next decade.
Now, to that end, the two ends that I have described I have some specific proposals to make tonight. First, immediately after the next administration is inaugurated, if I were a part of it, it would be my purpose to convene a council of our defense leaders - the civilian Secretaries of Defense, Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commanders of our major military organizations at home and overseas.
I would direct these leaders to reexamine completely all the implications, both of Soviet policy and the rapid pace of technological change and to reevaluate, in the light of these factors, the long pull of defense policies which, under the President's leadership, have kept the peace with honor for the last 7½ years.
I would work with these leaders in the development of policies which will insure that America, which is, as I have indicated, already the strongest nation in the world, will maintain this superiority throughout the sixties and beyond, regardless of technological developments, regardless of what the Communists may do.
This we must do, and this we must be prepared to pay for, and if the cost should be greater - and my estimate is it is more likely to be greater than less - the American people, I am confident, will be willing to pay what is necessary to see that we continue to have the strength that will allow us to be the guardians of peace and freedom, as we are today.
Now I would like to turn to the nonmilitary part of our program. This one is more difficult to explain, more difficult to gain public support for, but in the end can be and probably will be more decisive, because here is where the battle will actually be waged. Our military strength will create the stalemate which we have been having for the past 7½ years. In this nonmilitary area we need the offensive for freedom, and what does this mean? It requires - and I emphasize - the total mobilization of all of our natural resources and of the resources of the free world.
Now, this is not a task that can be left to the President alone. It is not a task that can be left to the Government alone. The President can and he must exercise leadership toward mobilization of our energies, but our ultimate success - if we're going to have it, we're going to have to have heroic support of the people, as they have given it even in times of shooting wars.
As far as Government is concerned, and the part that it plays, this is very clear. I have already announced - and, incidentally, I will spell this out in greater detail in a later speech - that I would request the Vice President, my long-time associate, Henry Cabot Lodge, to coordinate all the resources and activities of the Federal Government in the nonmilitary area.
I am speaking here now of those activities that cut across all the agencies of Government - the activities of the State Department in the diplomatic area, the activities of the Treasury Department in the field of loans, the activities of the Commerce Department and the Agriculture Department, and all the rest, all of these coordinated under the day-to-day leadership, under the direction of the President, of the Vice President of the United States. All Government agencies taking part in this vital undertaking would be brought together in a union of effort so that no energy, no capability is unused or wasted.
Heretofore, the major effort of Government in this cause has been to counter the Communist propaganda attack and to assist newly independent and underdeveloped nations to make a start toward a better life for their people.
We have done a very admirable job in many, many ways, but we need now a stepped-up program. We need now a better coordinated and directed program. We need now, one, a program in which we are not only countering, but in which we are taking the initiative in nation after nation around the world for the cause of peace and freedom, and in which all of our Government activities are welded together under central direction and day-by-day direction as I have indicated.
In that connection, I would like to say that, while referring to my own qualifications as against those of my opponent would be improper, I think I can properly say that I don't know of any man in the world today who is better qualified by experience or could have done a better job fighting for the cause of peace and freedom than my colleague, Henry Cabot Lodge, as the Ambassador to the United Nations.
Now, it would be very easy to stop here, and this too often is our tendency. The President will do these things. He will lead. The Government will do these things. But if we stop here we are failing to make use of the major and unique advantage that the United States and the free nations have in this struggle.
All that the Soviet Union and the Communist nations offer is government activity, but that government activity is the total activity of the whole people. Government is everything in a Communist country.
As we know, in a free country like ours, Government plays an important part; but the more important part, the greatest creativity in a free country, is not from Government, but from individuals. Therefore, if we are to wage the struggle for peace and freedom effectively, we cannot simply have it waged by the Government sector of what we call America. We must bring into play the tremendous creative ability and imagination of 180 million free Americans, and it's to this point that I would like to talk at this time.
We can't measure what I am talking about in material terms because here we have a wealth of dedication and commitment of knowledge and inspiration communicated directly to the peoples of the world.
Let me just indicate some of the things that will bring, of course, recollections and memories to you.
We are engaged, in addition to strictly governmental action, in a program that is so immense that few can really comprehend it.
Take our churches. Literally thousands of them in every State in the Nation are committed to a sustained and enduring concern, using that Quaker term in its best sense, a concern for their fellows everywhere who are in need. The world is dotted - and all of you who have traveled abroad, as my wife and I have, know that the world is dotted - with schools and hospitals and centers of assistance in every field of human improvement, supported entirely by the churches and the synagogues and the meeting houses of America.
Some of the most exciting people abroad that I have seen have been not government officials - some of them have been doing splendid work - but people of this kind.
I remember a priest that I met in Vietnam. He had been there for 25 years working for the Vietnamese. As a matter of fact, he spoke English with a Vietnamese accent, he had been there so long, and he was loved by those people as not even one of their own people could be loved because of the work he was doing.
I remember a Seventh Day Adventist hospital that my wife visited in Burma, and I recall the tremendous affection that the people in that hospital had for those who were there serving them in that way.
More illustrations could be given, but let us never underestimate the tremendous power for good that the churches of America, for example, have contributed to in the past and are contributing to today all over the world.
Take our colleges and universities. Thousands of individuals in those colleges and universities are concentrating their knowledge and wisdom, unwarped by ideological pressures, on the study of problems in the most distant places of the earth. In addition, they are using this knowledge in operating great educational programs in all parts of the world, and we have seen them. We've seen them in the Philippines. We've seen them in India. We have seen them in South America. We have seen them in countries throughout the world. In countless American communities - I imagine in every community represented by the publishers here - groups of men and women, joined in service, professional and social organizations, are voluntarily engaged upon specific efforts to insure individuals abroad educational opportunities, good teachers, adequate support, and entire communities in distant places a better chance for health or knowledge.
These are not Government activities. These are activities that come from the heart of American people and, because they come from the heart of the American people, they have an immense effect on the heart of the world - and that is what the struggle for the world eventually will be decided upon, we can be sure.
Together, in other words, they constitute a phenomenal demonstration of American concern for the freedom and the betterment of humanity, and they must be encouraged, they must be coordinated, where possible, with Government effort, and they must be greatly increased and tapped even more than they have been in order to further the cause of freedom, because - I again emphasize - it is our total effort that will count, not just what Government does; and we must remember that what individuals do, non-Government activities are never suspect and, therefore, their contribution must be stepped up, and it can be.
What can the next President of the United States do about this?
I would suggest that before he takes office he should extend an invitation to a meeting in Washington, perhaps the last week of December, for 100 men and women representing a cross section of America's life. Such a meeting would have an agenda which would be open to all ideas that serve the cause of peace and freedom. This group would pool its knowledge and experience in reviewing, first, what America is doing now. It would also go into what is more effective and less effective about what we are doing, where we succeed and where we miss the mark, what resources we are using best and how we can use them better.
The group would make recommendations to the incoming President as to Government action. In addition, the group would submit suggestions for renewed effort by all elements of the Nation - non-Government I am speaking of - for advancing the cause of freedom.
Here, in other words, we would be tapping the best thinking not only of the dedicated people in government, but of the best thinking of America as a whole to determine what government should do and and what people outside of government should do - and on a basis never actually, I think, surpassed before.
I am confident that such a mobilization of America's brainpower and heart power would have a significant impact on the course of the global struggle, but I must point out that it is not enough for us to re-double our own efforts, public and private, in this cause. The total resources of the free world, not just America, but of the free world, must be mobilized if all within it are to share the future's promise.
In recent weeks we have seen again what the United States can do to buttress peace and freedom when solidly supported by American purpose and spurred by American effort. We must reinforce the United Nations in all possible ways so that it will continue to represent and defend the aspirations of all mankind, as it did in Korea, as it did in Lebanon and it has in the Congo.
Now, the Communist leaders, with their rude and threatening conduct at the current General Assembly meeting, have shown, it seems to me, a pattern of intent which is really reminiscent of Hitler and Mussolini prior to Munich. They have the same threatening luster. They have the same bullying tactics. They are designed to frighten the free nations into paying an unpayable price for a phantom peace. This time the price is Communist domination of the United Nations, itself.
Our answer to the Communist leaders must be that the free nations will not be intimidated. There is to be no new Munich - not in the United Nations, not anyplace in the world will this happen, because if there is one lesson that we Americans have learned over the past quarter of a century it is this in dealing with dictators: a policy of military strength and diplomatic firmness leads to peace. A policy of military weakness and/or diplomatic concessions leads inevitably to war.
You will always find - and history is complete with it - that those who, with the best of intentions, suggest that we can surrender this section or this one to a dictator, and that this may stop his appetite, are guessing exactly wrong, because the opposite is always the effect - and this is particularly true of those who run the Communist empire.
We speak, for example, of the leaders in Moscow. We can look also to the leaders in Communist China. Their aim, of course, is not the offshore islands. Their aim is not Formosa. Their aim is the world, and we must constantly keep this in mind as we make any decisions or any statements with regard to what we should do.
This is why I think the President of the United States was correct. That is why an overwhelming majority of the Senate was correct when it voted 70-12 in 1955 to indicate that the President of the United States should have the power to commit the forces of this country to stop Communist aggression designed to attack the position of freedom in Formosa. That is why it was proper, by the vote that I have indicated, for the Senate of the United States, a majority of Democrats and Republicans alike, to resist the well-intentioned efforts of those who said, "We will draw a line; we will leave part of the area out and say, 'We will only defend this,'" because once the line is drawn it is an invitation not only to take over that part which you leave out, but it is an invitation for the dictator to ask for even more and the next time you may not be able to stop without retractions, as we know.
Now, if I may turn to the course ahead, I have a third proposal, a third proposal for a series of regional conferences of state - and these conferences, incidentally, would take place in the first year of the next administration - bringing together of the heads and leaders of government of all the free nations of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Why would we have such conferences? These would be their objectives: First, to strengthen the peaceful mission of the United Nations and, second, the strengthening of the free nations, politically, economically, socially and militarily.
Even before the new administration takes office I would seek the cooperation of the President in requesting that the Secretary of State explore during the December meeting, this December, of the NATO Council of Ministers the expansion of the spring meeting of that council into a conference of heads of government.
The time also is at hand quickly to revitalize our regional security arrangements which have been made in accordance with the United Nations Charter. I would ask the NATO governments to consider the feasibility of still closer ties and reinforcement of our existing provisions for mutual defense and mutual benefit.
There is, moreover, a pressing need in the Atlantic Community for an institution to coordinate and direct aid to the underdeveloped countries.
I said last night on television, as some of you may recall, that it was essential that the United States get more assistance from our allies abroad and our former enemies abroad who we have helped to restore their power, more assistance from them in this common enterprise of serving the cause of peace and freedom throughout the world. This would be directed toward that end. This program increasingly should be a shared burden. It should be a common plan among the many increasingly prospering Western nations. The very creation of such an institution would help not only to remove conflicts in this field, but also to quicken the sense of common purpose binding the participating nations.
Let's turn to the Western Hemisphere. The United States has already taken an active lead in bringing the American Republics together to plan common action for achieving such goals as land reform, decent housing, development of industrial programs and realization of the great potential of the Andes.
Now, we must proceed rapidly with these steps which were successfully inaugurated at Bogotá at that conference last month. Toward this end, I believe we should invite the heads of government of the American Republics to join us in a new conference specifically to consider the overall political, economic, and military problems most susceptible to further common action. Such regional actions, moving toward confederation, is an imperative of our times.
Now, in addition to these conferences of state with heads of government in the Western European Community and in the Western Hemisphere, I believe there should be an early undertaking of a similar nature with the leaders of the newly emerging nations of Africa.
What would this be? These efforts could be designed to determine ways and means by which the United States, which now pays a great part of this burden, and the other free nations could best assist these new states with their great problems incident to their transition to new political, economic, and social reforms.
Let me point this out: Again many well-intended people, in speaking of the great continent of Africa, tend too often to say that the answer is simply in pouring billions of dollars into Africa in the form of loans or grants and the like. I can say that pouring billions of dollars into any newly developing country that is not ready to use it effectively would do more harm than good and would be a very great mistake for us to engage in that kind of policy.
The analogy of the Marshall plan is often used, but we forget that the Marshall plan funds were sent into nations which had a core of people, political, economic and others, who were able to use those funds, direct them into the proper channels, so that they could build themselves up.
You cannot apply that same formula to newly developing countries, with very few people in many instances, who have the ability to run an economy or even run the political forms which they have in these countries. They need assistance on the economic side, true, and we, and our allies, must help to provide it; but they need assistance, also, and a great deal, in training men and women in the technical and administrative skills of the modern state. They need help in bringing their economies toward high standards of productivity, but bringing that without loss of freedom, through freedom, rather than at the cost of freedom.
Finally, I propose there should also be an early conference of Asian leaders to examine similar programs for the new and old nations of this great and important area.
Now, Ambassador Lodge and I would expect to participate in these conferences of state and to carry on the work flowing out of them in the months and years ahead.
I also can announce tonight that I intend to invite Governor Rockefeller, of New York, to work closely with me, to the extent that the duties of his office would permit, in pressing forward these efforts, especially those looking toward regional confederations to which I have referred, a matter to which he has devoted much original study and thought.
And I am happy also to be able to tell you tonight that, in advancing these worldwide initiatives, we would have available the wise guidance and the rich experience of President Eisenhower.
I have consulted with him, as late as this morning, I should say, and earlier, too, and I have his assurance that even after his lifetime of dedicated service to our country, he will remain ready, after leaving the White House, to continue his heroic work for peace and freedom throughout the world.
And, so, in summary, I plan to use the conference of military leaders, the conference of citizens, the conferences of state with world leaders to forge programs of action, programs that will assure that we continue to deal with the forces of international communism from a position of strength, programs that will demonstrate to the peoples of the world that the American people will travel the second mile in order to help them achieve their highest potential, programs that will serve notice that the free world is united in its determination to preserve and to strengthen freedom.
With these combined efforts, our own and those of our friends and allies among the free nations, intensifying the quest for peace and freedom, great new forces for the benefit of mankind will surely be set in motion.
So, there is our goal, and I would say, in conclusion, that I am confident of the outcome. I am confident that the new nations will live in freedom and independence long after the Communist system has succumbed to its inherent weaknesses.
I am confident, too, that we can be certain that freedom so dear to the countries of eastern Europe, countries like Poland where my wife and I saw it so eloquently - that they will have freedom again.
We in the United States must never accept the present situation in Eastern Europe as anything but temporary. As long as we keep the hope, we can be sure that eventually the hope will be realized.
Then, may I add a caveat: The tasks I have set forth here will not he easy, nor will the distance be short. There are going to be successes, but there may be setbacks, as the Communists relentlessly pursue their purposes.
There are two dangers - and this I emphasize above all - that we Americans must avoid at all cost: First, there is the danger of fatigue in this struggle, a tiring in the sustained effort required for the victory of freedom, because we can be sure that they will not tire. They say over and over again that they will wait, 25 years, 50 years, a hundred years, if necessary, and we have to outwork, outlast, and we can do it if we know what we have to do.
And, second, the second danger: That our fiber will be weakened by a morbid anxiety over our national health, and a disposition to reassess our standing among our friends and our allies every time the sun sets.
What we need, we whose ears are often deafened, whose eyes are often fogged by the propaganda of menace and the propaganda of doubt - what we need, putting it very simply, is a burning faith in America. We can call it a simple faith in America, a simple faith that heartened our ancestors and today inspires our children.
This is what this great struggle demands, and this is an absolute imperative upon every one of us.
And, so, I say to you: Let us have the courage and the confidence that inspired our forebears through generations of adventure and enterprise and trial and hard-won triumph that ignited in peoples everywhere dreams of a like march toward great goals.
Proud of America's yesterday, unafraid of America's tomorrow, we will not and we cannot let down in our great cause.
Richard Nixon, Partial Transcript of Speech of the Vice President, World Newspaper Forum, Beverly-Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273917