Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Radio and Television Broadcast With Prime Minister Macmillan in London.

August 31, 1959

THE PRIME MINISTER. Well, Mr. President, I want to star by saying how much we all welcome you here--hundreds of thousands of our people have seen you on the streets, and millions of our people will be watching you tonight.

In the 17 years of our friendship, which I think stared in North Africa, we have had many frank talks together. And I think we can have a frank talk this evening. We have had good talks at Chequers, and here we are at Number Ten.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Harold, let me tell you right away and tell to all of those good people out there who have been so kind to me and my party, that we are mighty glad to be back visiting again this lovely country.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Well, Mr. President, I thought we might star by saying a word about Anglo-American relations. In our lifetime we have been pretty close together, our countries. Of course there have been differences, there is no good denying them. There have been serious differences--before the war--after the war--2 or 3 years ago about the Middle East--sometimes about the Far East--but the great thing about it we never look backward, we look forward, I think. And you and I have tried to do that.

And now we are up against the biggest job in the world: how to keep peace and justice. And I want to say to you, if I may, that I think your visits to these three European capitals, and the interchange of visits that you are going to make with Mr. Khrushchev, are a very fine contribution to peace.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Prime Minister, I would like to say a personal word about this business of Anglo-American relations. Except for the 2 years that I was in Columbia University, ever since 1941 I have been engaged in activities where one of my principal concerns has been the state and the strength of relationships between your country and ours. And I can say through that long personal experience that those relations have never been stronger and better than they are now. In this regard I would like to mention one country of the British Commonwealth that is our geographical neighbor in North America, and this is Canada.

Here is a border more than three thousand miles long that is defended by nothing but friendship. There is not a gun or a fort along it. This is the kind of thing that I think we must all strive to achieve, whether we are geographical neighbors or not, and I am quite sure that if Mr. Diefenbaker were here, he would say we are neighbors in the sense of the Biblical parable just as we are in the geographical.

And one other point, we have spoken of your country and ours in relationship with Canada, but we are neighbors in another great society, a society dedicated to peace and the defense of the West, and that is NATO. In that, we are all proud to be equal partners, and with all our other associated countries, we are dedicated to that one single objective of making ourselves secure and making peace more promising.

THE PRIME MINISTER. You said peace, Mr. President, and I agree with you. But of course a lot of our people, old people who have lived through two wars, and young people, are frightened of war. They fear war. And I have thought a lot about this, and read a good deal recently.

Now the first war, I feel, ought never to have happened. It happened by mistake. I believe if we had the same kind of international meetings as we have now, it wouldn't have happened.

The second war was different. I don't think that it could have been avoided. It was just when it happened and how it happened, because wicked men plotted it who were determined to achieve their aims.

Now we are in a situation I felt there was a danger that we might drift into something by mistake--bluff--counter-bluff--lack of understanding on both sides--and drift into something. And that, I tell you frankly, when I read the Russian ultimatum in November about Berlin, I felt the danger of that drift. And that is why I set about my journeys last February. Some people thought that a bit odd, but we still in an alliance must all have a certain amount of play, and I think I am bound to say that they haven't turned out too badly.

I think now, the position you have created and your initiative, we are in a better position. I have never concealed from you, I always have wanted a summit meeting, and I believe your initiative will put us in a position to get it under the best conditions.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Harold, I think there is one thing we should be very sure of: when we are talking about peace, we are talking about something now that is the imperative of our time. War has become so threatening in its capacity for destruction of our whole civilization that we--and I mean all people as well as statesmen--have the responsibility of making sure that our actions, the things we try to do, are all directed by this single purpose and directed with as much intelligence as we can marshal within such brains as the good Lord gave us. So that these different meetings we are having and the meetings that I am making in Western Europe now, the ones I expect to have with Mr. Khrushchev, they are always having as their background this sense: that peace is an imperative. We must all understand that. And indeed, if we are to have a summit, I am sure of this, Mr. Khrushchev must understand that exactly as you and I do.

If we do that, then--and I think there is real hope--we should have a summit and make something--I mean, if he does things that show that he recognizes that, just as you and I do, then I think a summit meeting would be profitable.

THE PRIME MINISTER. I agree. But of course we are talking now about the two great groups, the Communist group and our group. But there are lots of other peoples in the world too, countries outside, some of them not yet fully developed, some of them a bit backward. What about them, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I believe in a sense that the problem of the underdeveloped nations is more lasting, more important, for Western civilization than is this problem of the Soviet-Western differences and quarrel.

There are one billion, seven hundred million people that today are living without sufficient food, shelter, clothing, and health facilities. Now they are not going to remain quiescent. They are learning something about their own lot, and they are comparing their lot with ours, sitting here this evening. They are just going to have an explosion if we don't help. I believe the biggest cooperative job that all the world that calls itself civilized, including the Soviets, ought to address themselves to is this problem, and on a cooperative basis help to solve it, so that these people can achieve their legitimate aspirations. And that is the problem that every one of us must address himself to and see what we can do, what our proper part is.

THE PRIME MINISTER. I agree with you, because in a sense it is what we have done in our own countries. A hundred years ago there were deep divisions between rich and poor--great cleavages. The greatest of our Conservative statesmen wrote a book called Two Nations. We have made one nation now. There are still differences, of course, but not the deep divisions. The same as you have done in your country. And I think, like you, it isn't right that we, our people, should have all these things--houses, health services and hospitals, and education--and there should be these people in poverty and in misery.

And in a way we have a certain knowledge of this, because it is the story of our Empire and Commonwealth. I would like to take the opportunity to say a word to you about that. Now I know what colonialism means to Americans, because my mother was American. It means the Boston Tea Party and George the Third and all that. But colonialism had a good side too. And now we are changing the old Empire into the new Commonwealth. We have got a lot of problems ahead of us--in Africa, and so on, but we will solve them. And you have only to look around to see what is happening--India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, Malaya--Nigeria soon--the West Indies--it's the road on which we are traveling, and it isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength.

Don't let anyone in America think it's the sun setting on the British Empire. It's the dawn rising on the new Commonwealth, and it's all part of the same story.

THE PRESIDENT. I agree. I think you have expressed a very splendid thought, not only for your Empire but for all of us who think about these things.

I would like to point out that all of the political moves, all of the educational moves you make, must be supported by trade. We must have better trade because it is through trade that all of us are going to achieve better standards. I know this is one subject that is dear to your heart, and near to your heart, and it is one I think we should all think about very thoroughly.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Well, Mr. President, we both believe the same thing, I think, that these problems in the world can only be solved by the expanding of the wealth and the trade of the world. Of course we are up against quite a lot of pressures. You are, and I am. And it is not always easy to say, it is not always too easy to do. So I think we have done pretty well. It's a great satisfaction to us to feel the enormous increase in trade between Britain and the United States. You helped us very much with the heavy engineering. I wish you could do something for us on wool textiles--perhaps you will be able to do that. Still, broadly speaking, it is enormously increasing, and it wants to be in Europe, and with Europe, and the New World--all the world trading together.

And the old British pound sterling hasn't done too badly to help, because it's in good shape now.

THE PRESIDENT. Let me tell you this: we are concerned about it. We want to see it just as strong as you want to see it.

I would like to point out that supporting this kind of thing is the necessity for broadening our contacts in the world particularly, not only among ourselves but particularly with the Iron Curtain countries. I believe we have got to have a better exchange of ideas, the products, and the conclusions of scientific people; we have got to have more in books, but above all of people. I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it. And that is exactly the way we ought to think, if we are going to think correctly in this thing. It's those people that want these things, and long for them with all their hearts. We have got to make it possible for them to get them.

So the big way, one big way we are going to do it is by broadening these contacts. The people coming back here--some of them will be indoctrinated and we won't think they are too effective at first. But if we keep this thing up, there are going to be a lot of people that are not indoctrinated, and we know we won't indoctrinate our people--we can't--so the exchanges will finally bring truth and understanding to all people that will expand these contacts. So we become very much more understanding among ourselves; and understanding, in the long run, means peace.

THE PRIME MINISTER. I think we really are agreed, we have been agreed, and talked over these things for many years. We have got to be firm on the principles. We have got to maintain justice. But we have got to be flexible about the new conditions that arise and how to deal with each situation. I believe, like you, if we can keep the thing fairly steady over the generations--may take some time but gradually the peoples of the world will demand, because of their contacts and friendships, what the governments--we--are trying to give them. It will take time. We must be patient with them.

THE PRESIDENT. I agree. In other words, you are saying strategic principle is immutable, tactics change according to armed weapons and the different changes.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Yes, and not only armed weapons, the psychological weapons--the contacts and the friendships of which you spoke.

THE PRESIDENT. But let us remember this one thing: when we say we are sustaining principle, once in a while something comes along that makes us state a principle, then seeing this affect a particular problem.

Now I refer you to West Berlin. We say freedom, if there is to be peace, is indivisible. Freedom is the possession, or should be the possession, of all men. Now we have got two million free West Berliners. Now we simply are not going to abandon principle. But here it seems to me principle says you cannot abandon two million free people and still be true to the statement that freedom is truly indivisible and the right of every man. So in that case, we have really got to be firm, in my opinion.

THE PRIME MINISTER. I agree with that. I agree also with your other principle, we have got to use the right tactical methods to achieve our purpose with a reasonable amount of adjustment that is necessary from time to time.

THE PRESIDENT. I agree, I agree. Well, this is something that lies so close to my own heart that any trouble there is for me to come to any capital in Europe, including Moscow, I am perfectly glad to do it, if it will advance something. I will not be a party to a meeting that is going to depress and discourage people. Therefore, we must have some promise of fruitful results. Except for that single exception, there is nothing they can't ask me to do that I won't try to do.

THE PRIME MINISTER. I know that, and I feel that what you are doing now will bring us much nearer to what we both want.

So let us run over what we said tonight, I think it's of some importance. Our own relations between our two countries are probably as close as they have ever been. We have got our NATO allies. There are difficulties, of course--no use pretending they don't exist. People take different points of view--they wouldn't be free governments if they weren't. We have to try and keep it all together.

We have got this problem of the underdeveloped countries which we really must work on--we I think are ready to do our part. We have got a stronger economy at home, so we are able to give more abroad.

And then, as you have said, you have got these contacts, the idea of developing movements between the countries which will make the background, and that will help the statesmen to do what the peoples really want.

And I think sometimes it's extraordinary, I think about it, and I expect you do. You and I sit in our rather lonely position sometimes, and think what is it the people want and can we give it to them and at the same time keep the principles we stand by--I call it peace and justice, and those are the two words.

THE PRESIDENT. You know, one Frenchman gave a definition of freedom I like. He said, freedom and liberty are merely the opportunity for self-discipline.

Now we know that there are certain things that great nations can do if they are organized, harnessed, as one, and go ahead to do it. In dictatorships, this is all done by the order and by the police that make the order effective, so there is a continuity of policy and a unity of effort that is quite remarkable, sometimes, in Western eyes. But let's remember this: our great strength is our dedication to freedom, and if we are sufficiently dedicated, we will discipline ourselves so that we will make the sacrifices to do the thing that needs to be done. And that is exactly what you and I, I think, are trying to teach ourselves, our friends, our own peoples, and we are hopeful Mr. Khrushchev.

THE PRIME MINISTER. Well, Mr. President, I think our time is rather drawing to an end, we mustn't go on too long, we have got some guests waiting. But I would like to say again how very glad--I know I speak on behalf of every single man, woman and child in this country whatever party or creed or anything--how glad we are to have you with us.

As I said when I met you at the airport, it was meant. It isn't only for what you represent--the great country you represent--of course it is that--but it is because we have known you all these years for what you are yourself. We have always known you from 17 years ago, when you took command of our great forces and carried them through to victory. And we welcome you here.

Now we have got our guests, and among our guests I am happy to say we have Sir Winston Churchill.

THE PRESIDENT. I must Say you embarrass me, but I am delighted Sir Winston is going to be here.

Now, do you mind my saying one word directly to your people?

THE PRIME MINISTER. No, that's all right.

THE PRESIDENT. I want to thank everybody that has had a part in showing his kindness and British hospitality to me and to my party, and in doing so to show also that respect for the principles on which both our countries are founded and established and maintained--that we in our country so revere.

So finally, may I just say this one word: God save your gracious Queen and all her people.

Note: The broadcast was delivered from Number 10 Downing Street at 7:20 p.m.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Broadcast With Prime Minister Macmillan in London. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235304

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