Remarks of the Vice President, "Nixon Tonight", KENS-TV, San Antonio, TX
[I am glad to be] here at the CBS studio in San Antonio, after speaking at the largest political meeting ever held in front of the Alamo here in San Antonio. Before making this speech I had a very inspiring experience. I laid a wreath at this shrine of Texas and of America. As I laid the wreath, I thought of the things I'm sure all of you listening to this program or viewing it would have thought of. I thought of the many Americans in our history who have fought and died for freedom. I thought, too, of the responsibilities that those who are in positions of leadership in this country have to keep the peace, keep the peace so that men will not have to die for freedom, but they can live for freedom, and tonight I would like to talk again on the subject of how we can keep the peace.
Last night I discussed some of our diplomatic policies. Tonight I want to discuss the military policies that we must have if we are to keep the peace without surrender.
First, because of the kind of enemies we have - I mean potential enemies, those who threaten the peace of the world - it is essential that the United States be the strongest nation in the world. It is necessary that we have enough strength, that regardless of what the Soviet Union or any other potential enemy of peace may have, if they should strike the first blow, we would have enough left to knock out their warmaking capability.
Now, this kind of strength is essential for a very simple reason: We never want to use our strength for aggressive purposes. We only want to use it to keep the peace. In effect, we're the guardians of peace. The Communists, on the other hand, have dedicated themselves to the proposition of conquering the world. They mean to conquer it by any means, if necessary. At present at least the Soviet leaders say that they rule out war. On the other hand, if the time should ever come when their military strength was as great as ours or approached ours, then it would mean that the peace of the world would be in danger, and that is why it is essential then that America, be the strongest nation in the world, with the level of strength that I have just described.
Now we come to the key question, a question that has been discussed in this campaign by my opponent and also by me: Is America the strongest nation in the world today? Well, there's no question about that. We are, and we shall continue to be, I pledge to you.
Now, my opponent has said - and I quote him - that our defenses are shaky. First of all, let me say I think that is a very irresponsible statement by a presidential candidate particularly because, you see, what that does - it creates the impression abroad among our allies that we are shaky, that we are weak, and it also, I would imagine would create the same impression with Mr. Khrushchev and the other potential enemies of peace around the world.
The other reason that it is irresponsible, however is more fundamental even than that. It's wrong. The U.S. defenses today are strong. They are not shaky, and my opponent knows this just as well as I know it, and just as well, incidentally, as Mr. Khrushchev knows it, because if the U.S. defenses were shaky you can be sure that Mr. Khrushchev would be pushing us around in the various sections of the world - in Berlin and in the other areas where we have called his bluff and where as a result of that, we have kept the peace, and kept it without surrender.
So, let us look at our defenses just a moment. Let's see what we have. We know, of course, that we're strongest on the. sea. We know, too, that we have the strongest air force in the world, and with the greatest striking power. But I know a number of people have been concerned by what they call the missile gap. In fact people have said to me: Why did we ever allow such a gap to occur? Well, now, just to set the record straight, this administration inherited the missile gap. The reason that the Soviets got ahead in missiles in the first place and ahead in space was that they started their program immediately after World War II, and we had no program worthy of the name either in space or intercontinental ballistic missiles until after President Eisenhower took over; but then we have really moved since that time. We have been closing the gap, and we have been moving ahead in space. In space, for example, today - I think sometimes we read so many stories about space shots we forget what the score is - we've has 28 successful space shots. They have had eight. That's a pretty good score, and we're going to make it better as we move
But looking at missiles, let's consider our strength there. We all have heard of our Atlas missile, with its very, very great ability to hit the target. We also have heard of Polaris. Look at what Polaris can do. Here is a weapon that the Soviets don't have at all - missiles on a submarine, under the water, submerged, so that it is the kind of weapon that cannot be destroyed by a surprise attack. This, in other words, is the ultimate guarantee of peace because, whatever the Soviets may do, these submarines beneath the sea will be ready to strike back. And you know how much of a load they carry? One Polaris submarine - just one - carries enough missiles to equal all the bombs dropped by both sides in World War II, including the two atom bombs.
So, this is the kind of defense that Mr. Kennedy calls shaky. It is not shaky, my friends. It will not be shaky.
Now, thus does not mean that we must not continue to move forward, of course. We must move forward because there are new breakthroughs every day in this field, and America must always be first. We must take advantage of these new technological discoveries, and we must move forward also because the Soviet is moving forward, and we must never let this gap, which presently exists between their strength and ours, a gap in our favor, be narrowed. As a matter of fact, we must increase it, increase it until the time comes when we can have real disarmament with inspection - and more about that later.
In addition to this, of course, we need intelligence activities, and I want to talk very frankly about intelligence tonight, because this is a matter that has been discussed during this campaign, as you will recall, in our debates. Mr. Kennedy criticized President Eisenhower for allowing the U-2 flights - you know, the ones which we ordered over the Soviet Union, which gathered intelligence information to prepare us against surprise attack - he felt that President Eisenhower should have discontinued those flights when he was meeting with Mr. Khrushchev at the Paris conference. I think he's wrong on that point. I think the President was right, and I want to tell you why.
You remember Pearl Harbor? Right at the time we were negotiating with the Japanese they struck at Pearl Harbor - and that's the history of dictators. At the very time they are talking sweet they're acting tough - and I say with Mr. Khrushchev or with any other potential enemy of the United States we must never allow an intelligence gap.
And I tell you also tonight that we are moving forward in this field, moving forward to what will be, I am sure, a spectacular breakthrough, in which the United States, without the necessity of having flights over the Soviet Union, will get intelligence information which will make it impossible for the Soviet to prepare a surprise attack without our knowing it.
And this is the kind of progress I assure you you will have in my administration, if I have the opportunity to serve you as President of the United States.
Now, up to this time we have been talking about strength, and I have talked very feelingly about it, because, having sat opposite Mr. Khrushchev at the conference table, I know that's all he understands. He understands when he realizes he's up against a nation that is stronger than he is and that will not be pushed around at the conference table or in any other way, and when he understands that, it means that he does not blackmail us, blackmail us into surrender of principle or surrender of territory.
But, my friends, it isn't enough for America just to be strong. It isn't enough simply to hide behind our tremendous military strength and say: Here we are. We're going to guard the peace and to allow this race to go on and on and on. We also have to be champions of peace, champions of peace all over the world, champions of peace with Mr. Khrushchev, champions of peace with the Soviet people themselves. What do I mean by that? I mean that we must constantly do what President Eisenhower has done - be willing to negotiate; be willing to go the extra mile in discussing means where we can disarm with inspection, where we can stop tests with inspection.
Why do I emphasize this inspection? Well, for the reasons I'm sure you've already guessed. If we ever have disarmament in this world, disarmament without inspection, in which the strength of the Soviet Union relative to that of the United States is increased, the risk of war increases. In other words, disarmament without inspection increases the risk of war. It's only disarmament with inspection that will reduce the risk of war.
So, I pledge to you that, with my colleague, Cabot Lodge, to whom I am going to give special assignments in this field, we will take the initiative at every opportunity to deal with Mr. Khrushchev and to work out whatever arrangement we can that will provide inspection for disarmament, for tests, for all these other items which I am discussing tonight.
And now we come to the key question, and one again I want to talk to you very frankly about. Is there any chance - is there any chance - that Mr. Khrushchev will ever agree unless we do agree to give him what he wants, and that is disarmament without inspection? And my answer is: Yes; I believe so. I believe so, my friends, because Mr. Khrushchev, above everything else, is no fool. He's a realist. He knows the power of Polaris submarine missiles. He knows the power of nuclear bombs, and he knows that if war comes, his country will be destroyed, too. He does not want that, I am sure.
I remember what Chancellor Adenauer told me on his last visit to the United States. We were talking about whether Mr. Khrushchev could be dealt with in this field of disarmament, and Chancellor Adenauer, a very wise man, said: Well, he said, there's no doubt that Mr. Khrushchev wants to conquer the world. He wants a Communist world. He wants to rule the world. But, he said, there's also no doubt that Mr. Khrushchev wants to rule the world of live people. He doesn't want to rule a world of ruined cities and dead people.
So, I think this gives us the point, the point which does give us some hope that there is a way out of this terrible dilemma, and the hope is that the very power of the weapons that we've created will force those - not us, because we're willing, but those - who are the enemies of peace, and those who would use this power to conquer the world, to see the light, which means that we must mutually disarm, and that then we shall compete, but compete in peace. And tomorrow night I want to discuss that point with you, because I am convinced that we can keep the peace, keep it because of our strength, keep it because of our diplomatic firmness. But also we must remember that we are in a great struggle which does not involve arms, but which involves the struggle for the minds and the hearts and souls of men, and this struggle will determine the future of the world. This struggle will determine whether men will be free or whether they will be slaves. This struggle we can and we will win, and I intend tomorrow night at this same time to tell you how we can win the struggle for freedom, and win without war. Thank you very much.
Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President, "Nixon Tonight", KENS-TV, San Antonio, TX Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273714