Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remarks to the Advertising War Council Conference.

March 08, 1944

I want to say "how do" to you, and tell you how glad I am that you are here. I wish I had been able to make these tours with you; I probably would have learned a great deal. I am rather envious for that reason. I also want to tell you how really appreciative I am of what you have done for the war in the past couple of years. It has been a tremendous help to us in all these war campaigns that you, probably more than anybody else, have put across throughout the country. They will be coming along, probably for a good long time to come- more of them.

And we are counting on you for continued work with us in educating the country. It isn't propaganda and it isn't a drive, but it is part of our system of modern education, getting into all the communities, large and small. A good many new ones that will come right along. They are not propaganda, or political in the larger sense.

I hesitate a little bit to ask you to help me on one thing. I think one of the real dangers in the country, on the non-military side, is inflation. I am scared to death of inflation, quite frankly; and I don't think it is a party matter. There have been quite a number of ads that have been carried in the recent past about the dangers of inflation. And yet, as I see people that come in here from all over the country, the number of people that don't understand it yet! It is perfectly appalling. So the more education we give them the better it is.

I think probably everybody in this room is afraid of inflation, just as I am. You have seen it happen in other countries. We know the dangers that would occur if we went into an inflationary period. I still think we have got to do an awful lot of educating to prevent it from happening in some manner or form. It isn't just the same things that have happened to other countries that have got a debased currency, but it is what would happen to the investments of every man, woman, and child in this country.

One thing that I don't dare say— talk about out loud—is the effect it would have on Government bonds. A good many of us have bought Government bonds, and we want to get paid back in the same kind of dollars, so far as we can, that we put into those bonds. Of course, I can't talk about it in that way, because it might discourage the future sales of Government bonds. So that kind of advertising and information- education- has got to be written by experts like you people.

Things of that kind I don't think have anything to do with politics. And yet it's amazing the number of people who are playing up the inflationary program, who think of it very largely in terms of politics, one way or the other- both parties.

I am just using that as an example of some of the things we still have to do to keep the feet of the country on the ground. And there is always the tendency, in matters like that, for people to lift one foot up, a little like one of my farm-leader friends who admitted to one of the committees in Congress, when he talked about the benefits of this, that, and the other thing. And he was asked whether he was in favor of inflation."

Oh— Oh no. Oh my, no. Of course not."

Then he hesitated a minute, and said, "Just a little bit of inflation."

Well, if you once start a little bit, as you all know, it is pretty hard to stop it. You want to keep the dam from breaking.

So I hope that you have had a good time, also a successful time, in hearing some of the military and naval problems. I think things are going along fairly well. Of course, I am never satisfied. Probably it's a good attitude of mind to be in- never to be satisfied.

You probably heard some of the senior officers about the background of things, and some of the junior officers who have been out on the firing line, who are much more interesting than the senior officers. Human interest stuff; and they are long on human interest- rightly. And they are grand people.

Then, of course, we have to remember that they wouldn't have had their human interest if it hadn't been for the planning by the different staffs. And it is rather an interesting fact- no reason you shouldn't know- that on all this planning neither Churchill nor I has ever overruled the staffs. Lots of people think so. It isn't true. We have gone along with the staffs remarkably well, if I do hand myself a bouquet. Then it so happens that the joint staffs and I over here have viewed this picture of the war all over the world in exactly the same way. We haven't had any basic disagreement, and even haven't had any minor disagreements. We happen to have been thinking exactly along the same lines.

On international cooperation, we are now working, since the last meeting in Teheran, in really good cooperation with the Russians. And I think the Russians are perfectly friendly; they aren't trying to gobble up all the rest of Europe or the world. They didn't know us, that's the really fundamental difference. They are friendly people. They haven't got any crazy ideas of conquest, and so forth; and now that they have got to know us, they are much more willing to accept us. And we are working in with them on actual operations and plans much better than we did before, just because we didn't know each other.

So that was one of the great gains of last fall in Teheran. Things of that kind take quite a while to work out with people who are five or six thousand miles away, who don't talk our language, English- and we certainly don't know Russian. And yet we are getting somewhere with them.

And all these fears that have been expressed by a lot of people here—with some reason—that the Russians are going to try to dominate Europe, I personally don't think there's anything in it. They have got a large enough "hunk of bread" right in Russia to keep them busy for a great many years to come without taking on any more headaches.

The military operations, therefore, are in a good cooperative position. We have got a long, long road to go. Of course, the more you do to tell the people that "peace is just around the corner," the better it is, but nobody agrees that peace is around the corner. It just plain isn't. It's a long road, and a difficult road. We are going to have big losses. And I am personally confident of victory in the long run. But I am inclined to think that we ought—if we do any complaining at all—to be against the people who are, honorably and honestly, working in just the wrong direction, such as the group that wants to make peace now.

Well, just for example, I got a letter yesterday from a very prominent man who has been retired for some years, a five-page letter, making a plea to me to appoint a "secretary of peace" and send him over to Germany- it's a beautiful letter, and he meant it; it's an honest thing, from his heart—to see if we couldn't work out some means with Germany of ending this terrible slaughter, and the busting up of civilization. Not a word about some of the things we are hoping to get, such as the end of German aggression, and a change in the philosophy of the German government. Oh no, not a word about that! But, appoint a peace secretary to go over there- sort of a roving commission- to bring peace to the world.

Now there are a lot of people in this country that are doing things of that kind honestly. I don't believe in this "ulterior motive" stuff, but they just don't know. And therefore they require what I was talking about before, some education from you people.

So go ahead and give it to them, all you possibly can.

We are going to win the war- it is going to take an awfully long time- and we don't like to be interfered with in the winning of the war.

So on that note I am putting it up to you.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to the Advertising War Council Conference. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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