Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Radio and Television Address to the American People Before Leaving on Good Will Trip to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

December 03, 1959

[ Delivered from the President's Office at 7:15 p.m. ]

Good Evening Fellow Americans:

I leave, in just a few minutes, on a 3-week journey halfway around the world. During this Mission of Peace and Good Will I hope to promote a better understanding of America and to learn more of our friends abroad.

In every country I hope to make widely known America's deepest desire--a world in which all nations may prosper in freedom, justice, and peace, unmolested and unafraid.

I shall try to convey to everyone our earnestness in striving to reduce the tensions dividing mankind--an effort first requiring, as indeed Mr. Khrushchev agrees, the beginning of mutual disarmament. Of course, I shall stress that the first requirement for mutual disarmament is mutual verification.

Then I hope to make this truth clear--that, on all this earth, not anywhere does our Nation seek territory, selfish gain or unfair advantage for itself. I hope all can understand that beyond her shores, as at home, America aspires only to promote human happiness, justly achieved.

We in America know that for many decades our Nation has practiced and proclaimed these convictions and purposes. But this is not enough. For years doubts about us have been skillfully nurtured in foreign lands by those who oppose America's ideals.

Our country has been unjustly described as one pursuing only materialistic goals; as building a culture whose hallmarks are gadgets and shallow pleasures; as prizing wealth above ideals, machines above spirit, leisure above learning, and war above peace.

Actually, as our declaration proclaims, the core of our Nation is belief in a Creator who has endowed all men with inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In that belief is our country's true hallmark--a faith that permeates every aspect of our political, social, and family life. This truth, too, I hope to emphasize abroad.

Of course, as all the world knows, at times, and in some respects, we have fallen short of the high ideals held up for us by our Founding Fathers. But one of the glories of America is that she never ceases her striving toward the shining goal.

And in this striving we know we still can learn much from other cultures. From the ideals and achievements of others we can gain new inspiration. We do not forget that, in the eyes of millions in older lands, our America is still young--in some respects, is still on trial.

So I earnestly make this suggestion, as I start this journey tonight-that you, and those close to you, join with me in a renewed dedication to our moral and spiritual convictions, and in that light re-examine our own record, including our shortcomings. May this examination inspire each of us so to think and so to act, as to hasten our progress toward the goals our fathers established, which have made America an instrument for good. In this rededication we shall replenish the true source of America's strength--her faith; and, flowing from it, her love of liberty, her devotion to justice.

So believing, we look on our Nation's great wealth as more than a hard earned resource to be used only for our own material good. We believe that it should also serve the common good, abroad as well as at home. This is not sheer altruism. If we can truly cooperate with other nations, especially our friends of the free world, we can first defeat the evils of hunger, privation, and disease that throughout the ages have plagued mankind. Thus we can develop a healthier, more prosperous world, and in the process develop greater prosperity for ourselves. Even more than this, we can help reduce the world tensions that are the powder kegs of disaster.

This is why, for more than a decade, America has engaged in cooperative programs with other nations--programs that, in many ways, concern the areas that I set forth to visit tonight. Our part of this effort is our own Mutual Security Program. Abroad, it is supplemented and its effects many times multiplied by programs of all the countries associated with us in this work.

Thus we provide a peaceful barrier, erected by freedom, to the continuous probings of predatory force. Our mutual undertakings support those who strive to forestall aggression, subversion, and penetration. It helps steady the struggling economies of free nations new and old. It helps build strength and hope, preventing collapse and despair. In a world sorely troubled by an atheistic imperialism, it is a strong instrument of hope and of encouragement to others who are eager, with us, to do their part in sustaining the human spirit and human progress.

So we see that our Nation's security, economic health, and hope for peace demand of all of us a continuing support of these cooperative efforts, initiated a dozen years ago. Of the amounts we devote to our own security and to peace, none yields a more beneficial return than the dollars we apply to these mutual efforts of the free world.

Here at home we are fortunate in having an economy so richly productive as to sustain a most powerful defense without impairment of human values. Without this military strength our efforts to provide a shield for freedom and to preserve and strengthen peace would be futile. We are determined that in quality and power this force shall forever be kept adequate for our security needs until the conference table can replace the battlefield as the arbiter of world affairs.

This kind of defense is costly and burdensome, as indeed are many other essential Federal programs. For example, the annual interest alone, on our Federal debt, is now more than nine billion dollars a year--a sum in dollars equal to the entire Federal budget of 1940. We must, then, for our security and our prosperity, keep our economy vigorous and expanding. We can keep it so, but only if we meet wisely and responsibly the economic problems that confront us. To mention a few, there are inflation, public spending, taxation, production costs and foreign trade, agriculture, and labor-management relations.

Of these problems, one cries out for immediate solution. I refer to the labor-management dispute that is still unresolved in the steel industry. This, I am sure, is clear to us all: the success of all our efforts to build and sustain the peace depends not only upon our spiritual and military strength, but also upon the health of our economy. Among sovereign nations progress toward a just peace can be achieved only through international cooperation. Likewise, economic strength, in this Nation of free citizens, requires cooperation among us all. We cannot-any of us--indulge our own desires, our own demands, our own emotions, to the extent of working hardship throughout the country.

"Responsible citizenship" in a free country means what it says. It means conducting one's self responsibly, in the interest of others as well as self. America will not--indeed, it cannot--tolerate for long the crippling of the entire economy as the result of labor-management disputes in any one basic industry or any group of industries.

Among our free people there is no one man, no one group, no one industry, no one interest, that measures, in importance, to America.

So, my friends, the choice is up to free American employers and American employees. Voluntarily, in the spirit of free collective bargaining, they will act responsibly; or else, in due course their countrymen will see to it that they do act responsibly. It is up to labor and management, in these disputes, to adjust responsibly and equitably their differences. The Nation is determined to preserve free enterprise, including free collective bargaining. If we are to do this, labor and management alike must see to it, in every dispute and settlement, that the public interest is as carefully protected as the interests of stockholders and of employees. The public will not stand for less.

Tonight, despite months of effort, labor and management in the steel industry are still in disagreement. As I leave tonight, America still faces the possibility of a renewed steel crisis, beginning a few weeks hence.

Day after day, throughout the economy, uncertainty, indecision and hesitation are growing as a result of this continuing controversy. Now, negotiations have just been resumed. The exact methods the parties agree upon to advance these negotiations are of relatively little importance to the American people. The leaders of both segments must realize that the achievement of a voluntary settlement, fair to all, is critically important to the entire Nation. Indeed, it is so important that I am instructing the Director of the Mediation and Conciliation Service to do all that he can to keep the parties negotiating on an around-the-clock basis.

America needs a settlement now.

During these next 3 weeks, while I am talking of peace and of mutual cooperation with our friends abroad, the subject of America's spiritual and economic strength is bound to come up often and importantly. What great news it would be if, during the course of this journey, I should receive word of a settlement of this steel controversy that is fair to the workers, fair to management, and above all, fair to the American people.

One last thought. We have heard much of the phrase, "Peace and friendship." This phrase, in expressing the aspirations of America, is not complete. We should say instead, "Peace and friendship, in freedom." This, I think, is America's real message to the world.

Now, my friends, I set forth as your agent to extend once again to millions of people across the seas assurance of America's sincere friendship. I know you wish me well. And, I wish you well in making your influence felt, individually and collectively, in solving, properly, our pressing problems here at home. For let us remember: these two efforts, the one abroad and the one at home, actually are one and inseparable. Working cooperatively together, here at home, rather than wasting our effort and substance in bitter economic and political strife, we in America will become ever a stronger force on the side of good in the world.

And, as we, through our cooperative efforts abroad, strengthen human understanding and good will throughout the world, we bring ever closer the day of lasting peace.

May the Almighty inspire us all, in these efforts, to do our best.

Good night, and for 3 weeks, goodbye.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Address to the American People Before Leaving on Good Will Trip to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234625

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