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Preface to Adlai Stevenson's "Looking Outward: Years of Crisis at the United Nations."

October 24, 1963

THIS COLLECTION of speeches and papers offers a valuable tour d'horizon of contemporary American foreign policy in all of its scope and variety. In particular, this work will give its readers a fresh and full understanding of the reasons why the United States supports the United Nations and why that institution so well serves our national interest.

Many crises have threatened the peace of the world since Adlai Stevenson became the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. The force, eloquence, and courage with which he has advanced the American viewpoint have played no small part in helping to confine those crises to the council chambers where they belong. "Looking Outward" is, in consequence, no academic or textbook exposition of our foreign policy in the United Nations. It is rather a running discourse on some of the most electric events of our time. It is thought generated on the spot, not hindsight called up in tranquility; it is the voice of Ambassador Stevenson, quickened by crisis. That, of course, is the heart of the U.N.'s existence--to provide a forum in which the clash of ideas in healthy debate will supplant the clash of arms in deadly combat. That it may do so with steadily mounting success is our hope in this age when man's capacity to wreak destruction still overshadows his ability to reach the stars.

Our belief in the indepensability of the United Nations does not, of course, mean that we are in total agreement with every decision the United Nations might take. What it does mean is that we are a nation of laws--and that we respect the law of nations. So it follows that we invest the highest hope in the organization which encourages all nations, large and small, to walk the same path of justice and progress we ourselves have chosen in our own history. In supporting the United Nations, we not only support aims and ideals inscribed in our own Constitution, but we work to convert the high goals of our own foreign policy into living reality: the achievement of a world community of independent states living together in free association, in liberty, and in peace.

I was present as a member of the press when the United Nations was organized in San Francisco in 1945. Governor Stevenson was there too for the Department of State, although he wasn't making as many speeches as he does now. Nor was I--but we have both made up for our silence in the years since.

During his presidential campaigns Governor Stevenson raised the level of our national political dialogue. As our representative in the United Nations, he has similarly raised the level of the international political dialogue. The proof lies in the pages which follow.


Note: The preface is reprinted with the permission of the publishers, Harper & Row.

"Looking Outward: Years of Crisis at the United Nations" by Adlai E. Stevenson, edited with commentary by Robert L. and Selma Schiffer, is copyrighted 1963 by Adlal E. Stevenson and Selma Schiffer.

John F. Kennedy, Preface to Adlai Stevenson's "Looking Outward: Years of Crisis at the United Nations." Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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