Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

October 28, 1959

THE PRESIDENT. This morning I have no announcements of my own.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, you have stated that you are ready to go to a Western summit conference at any time. Is there anything new on that? Has there been any progress towards setting up such a meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, yes. As I have said a number of times, I have been holding myself available to go at any time, at any place most convenient to the Western people--I am talking about a Western summit at this time. General de Gaulle has explained some of his difficulties in scheduling and so on, but he will be ready sometime around mid-December to have a Western conference. 1

1 On November 1 the White House announced that, at the suggestion of President de Gaulle, a 4-power Western summit meeting would be held in Paris beginning December 19 for the purpose of making a preliminary examination of questions for discussion later with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: On a number of occasions, sir, you have spoken out emphatically in favor of increased world trade, even at some sacrifice. Nevertheless, the Development Loan Fund is now evolving a "buy American" policy and you yourself just the other day moved to increase rather substantially the tariff on some Japanese metal goods.

Could you discuss this problem, the seeming inconsistencies, and how they may be reconciled?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think there is any real inconsistency. You must remember this: with respect to goods from the United States, from what is called the dollar area, there are still a great number of restrictions, special restrictions, that are placed upon trade. I think that the entire Government, executive branch and obviously the Congress also, believes that in a freer trade is a better solution to many of the world's problems, and particularly the hope of raising living standards for the less developed people.

Now, at the same time, we are putting out on loans, grants, and other means to our friends, money that is used not only for purposes of trade but to make them secure, to make them more secure and to make the free world more secure against possible aggression.

What we say is that we are examining all of these procedures that we use in extending credit to the world to see whether or not we shouldn't have some arrangements whereby our own trade, our own exports are increased.

Now, as I explained the other day in Augusta, there is no countermarching of policy in the United States Government. We are looking at what we are doing all across the board and are making sure that we are doing something that is reasonable and proper, at the same time using every means like GATT and the rest of the agencies involved in foreign trade, to increase the volume of trade.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Could we follow up, please, sir, on your reply to Mr. Arrowsmith.

One, are we to assume then, sir, that there will be a Western summit meeting in Paris in mid-December, with Mr. Macmillan and Chancellor Adenauer?

THE PRESIDENT. Everybody, just exactly like I have done, has expressed his readiness to go to a Western summit; the question of timing and the preparation for it, of course, is something else.

Now, when we speak of a Western summit and we speak of Mr. Adenauer, he, of course, would be there for the discussion of any question affecting Germany.

Q. Pat Munroe, Chicago American: Mr. President, in criticizing communism, you recently said that a systematized order is a step backward. Looking at the Soviet Union's economy and their hopes to improve it, is it your feeling that they will have to adopt some form of free enterprise or perhaps more incentive in the system, in order to become more nearly like our own?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you of a little incident at Camp David.

We were talking about some of the changes, not necessarily in the Marxist doctrine, but some of the changes that the Soviets had adopted in operating their economy. We were talking also about some of the things that happened in our economy that were certainly a long ways from what we used to call laissez faire, and Mr. Khrushchev happened to make the point that actually they are using the incentive system to increase production far more than we are. He pointed out--and he is well read, I must tell you, about some of the things that happened here-he pointed out about our taxes, tax system, and so on. He said, "We give our incentives in things the people can feel and see and use; we give a better house, more rooms, another bath." He went on to tell the things that they do when a man has shown an increased productivity. "In many ways," he said, "you people stifle it; at least ours is more effective," or words to that effect.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Related to this trade and dollar loss problem, does the re-examination that you mentioned earlier cover the largest single expenditure abroad, that is, our military expenditure? Is there any thought of cutting either troops or bases or expenses of that kind by some manner?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that it would be difficult to discuss this question, except on the basis of no word of it ever going outside this room. [Laughter] Since that would be a rather difficult promise to exact and to implement, I would think we should not say too much about it, for this reason: every soldier, every base has been sent abroad by some agreements where people have a right to believe that there might be some different attitude expressed in American policy you might say, solely by confining a discussion just to the matter of troops abroad. So I'd prefer not to talk about that.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, former Governor Battle of Virginia recently left the Civil Rights Commission, and there are reports that you are seeking a similar Southern conservative to fill that place. I would like to ask if that is the type of man you are looking for, and if it's true that you are considering former Governor Darden of Virginia and former Congressman Richards of South Carolina?

THE PRESIDENT. As you know, in the formation of the initial Commission, I studied a long time and searched and talked with a lot of people; many people frankly don't want to undertake a job that would normally bring about a great deal of criticism, and they just prefer to be out of it.

Now, I have no particular name yet. I think Governor Battle feels that he has done his stint of public service in this area, and that is the reason he preferred to resign. But I haven't got any new individual in mind at the moment. When one is picked, why, it will be announced.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland ( Maine ) Press Herald: Mr. President, are you pretty sore about reports that the Russians bugged our embassy in Moscow when the Vice President was there, and are you going to warn Mr. Khrushchev not to do that before you get there in the spring?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't hear, I didn't understand the first part of your question.

Q. Mrs. Craig: The report is, at the return of our ousted Intelligence man from Moscow the report is that our embassy in Moscow was bugged in chandeliers and various other ways for Mr. Nixon's visit there. And I want to know if that annoys you and will you warn Mr. Khrushchev not to do that to you before you get there?

THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. Well, I will tell you, in 1945 when I was in Russia, I was told that if I had any really private conversation that we should hold it out in the yard--some place where we were away. So I suppose these reports that this man gives are the kind that has come over a long time. I think I can be discreet enough.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, do you want to comment on the behavior of Fidel Castro? What do you suppose, sir, is eating him?

THE PRESIDENT. Actually, I went over very carefully with the Secretary of State the statement that he made about the charges that have been made by Mr. Castro and our reply to it. I think that is about as full an answer as I can make at this time. I have no idea of discussing possible motivation of a man, what he is really doing, and certainly I am not qualified to go into such abstruse and difficult subjects as that.

I do feel this: here is a country that you would believe, on the basis of our history, would be one of our real friends. The whole history-first of our intervention in 1898, our making and helping set up Cuban independence, the second time we had to go in and did the same thing to make sure that they were on a sound basis, the trade concessions we have made and the very close relationships that have existed most of the time with them--would seem to make it a puzzling matter to figure out just exactly why the Cubans and the Cuban Government would be so unhappy when, after all, their principal market is right here, their best market. You would think they would want good relationships. I don't know exactly what the difficulty is.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, at Camp David, what was your reply to Mr. Khrushchev when he told you that he thought their system was working better than ours?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Burd, you can't answer those things categorically for this reason: there are very few places where the Soviets see anything superior in our system or in our accomplishments. Usually they say, "Well, maybe our bucket is not quite as full as yours now with respect to industrial development, but soon it will be just as full and soon ours will be running over." That's the kind of thing that goes on all the time, so the best answer is a smile, I think, for most of it.

Q. Felix Belair, New York Times: Sir, do you have anything you can tell us in reply or reaction to criticism that you should have appointed a fact-finding board in the steel strike earlier than was done?

THE PRESIDENT. No, Mr. Belair, I haven't; and I will tell you why.

Every day, not merely after the strike began but every day from the time that we knew that there were developing rather hardened positions on both sides, I have had in my office or in other places people to advise me on this matter as to what would be the best way that might be useful in bringing about a conciliatory attitude.

My own concern, and the only concern that the Government has in this thing, is the public. I have tried to point out from the beginning that merely selfish interests of either the steel companies or the steel unions are not to be compared with the whole advantage, the whole benefits that come to America when we have full employment and full production. Now, if you try to move into this thing with the Government too seriously, to my mind, one side or the other thinks you are doing something they want; and I think of no better thing that Government can do than to abstain from any such action. So, until the matter became of the kind that seemed too serious to stand further, then is when I asked for the Attorney General to go and ask for an injunction.

Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, in that connection are you encouraged by the settlement that Kaiser has reached with the unions, and do you consider it an appropriate basis for a complete settlement of the strike?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not going to say that I consider it a completely satisfactory basis for the settlement of the strike. I will say this: it is of course encouraging to know that steel production is, by this much, increased. I believe that, as far as the steel industry, Kaiser produces about 2 percent; in the aluminum area, I think they are almost 30 percent; so their agreement doesn't have a very vital effect upon the position of the country so far as production. But I do say that I think this should be a signal for both labor and management to find a basis in which we can get back into full production. To my mind the country not only needs it, but I think the country is more and more demanding it and I believe that these two sides should be ready to make the conciliatory moves that will make it possible.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, NBC News: Chancellor Adenauer intimated Sunday that he would be much happier if the summit would concentrate on disarmament and perhaps not take up the question of Germany at all. Do you think it's possible to have either a Western summit or a summit and not get definitively into the question of Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll tell you: first of all, I don't believe that it is possible to determine in advance exactly what the agenda is going to be. I agree with Mr. Adenauer, with Mr. Khrushchev, with General de Gaulle--and I think that I specifically brought this matter up, or the importance of this matter, with Mr. Macmillan--I agree that some kind of step toward disarmament would be almost the greatest thing that could now be achieved in the whole effort to ease the tensions and to bring about a better approach toward a just peace.

We are firm on one thing, any agreement for disarmament must include its own self-guaranteeing procedures, normally called inspection or controlled disarmament. With that one sine qua non, there is nothing that could more please me, and I am sure all of the United States, than some significant step toward disarmament. Now, I don't see how the subject can be discussed seriously without some mention being made of Germany.

Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, to go back to this Castro problem, one of the things that seems to be bothering the Premier is the illegal flights of mysterious planes over Cuba, presumably from Florida, and apparently our FBI has confirmed that some of these flights are coming from Florida.

I wonder if you can tell us whether you have ordered any of our Federal agencies, for instance the U.S. Air Force, to try to put a stop to some of these flights?

THE PRESIDENT. I've gone through the civil angle rather than the military angle. The Attorney General doesn't just have orders, but he is really using every kind of reinforced means he can to make sure that there is no violation of this kind.

Now, this is not an easy task. There are more than 200 airfields in Florida, and most of them are crowded with private planes. And then you have to find what any individual is intending to do that may be illegal. This is not one of the easy problems to solve. But we are using every single facility that is available to the Federal Government, and we are getting, by the way, the cooperation of the State of Florida, too, so that we don't unnecessarily annoy our neighbors.

Q. Robert H. Fleming, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, with your estimate of the importance of a disarmament start, is there a chance of your travel calendar having an additional visit to Geneva if there is an agreement there on disarmament?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you this: any engagement or any other kind of commitment I could have made would always be broken to go anywhere to make certain of the accomplishment of a single significant step in this whole field.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, in your State of the Union Message on January the 9th, you mentioned the need for national goals, and you described these as largely goals that might bring about better living, better education, and more teachers. I wonder if now after Khrushchev's statements on competition and the possibility that he might pass us, if we would need national economy goals?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I didn't make any limits at all. As a matter of fact I think one of our goals is exactly what we want to be, let's say, in 1969--where we want to be with relation to the rest of the world. These goals ought to be international. As a matter of fact all of these goals are bound to be intertwined and interdependent. I don't see how you can have a prosperous economy without a proper relationship to other countries, and I don't think you can have strong relationships with your friends in defense against possible aggression except by having a strong economy here.

There is reciprocal action between all of these subjects, and there is nothing in my proposal that is self-limiting.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, the Russians claim that they are reducing the proportion of their government expenditures devoted to defense, the percentage devoted to defense. What is the outlook on the budget for the United States? Is there any possibility of reducing defense expenditures and increasing expenditures in other fields? What is the general outlook?

THE PRESIDENT. I would think that no significant reductions could be made this year.

Now, there is another subject Mr. Khrushchev and I talked about at considerable length. I think that there is no doubt that he has come to realize, as we have, that if we have to put into these, you might say unproductive armaments such sums as we now do--but I think it is necessary, I must interject that subject--then we are by that much barred from doing many of the things both at home and abroad that would bring about better living both for ourselves and for others; because if we produce it for others, then we produce it for ourselves again.

So, you may recall that about April 16, 1953, I was not only concerned about this matter, but I made a very earnest effort before the National Society of Editors, as I recall, pointing out the need for beginning to reduce military budgets, military armaments, and to use part of that money to produce a better world than we now have.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, is there a danger that if we tie our loans, that other countries like Germany and Japan will also tie their loans to purchases in their countries?

THE PRESIDENT. What I am saying is: each of these things is handled on a case by case method. So far as I know, there has been no suggestion yet that a policy be made that we will not make a loan unless x amount of it or all of it is used in purchases in our own country. The only place that applies is the Ex-Im Bank which was actually established in order to stimulate that kind of export business. But, it seems to us that we are merely, let's say, increasing the gold reserves of somebody else while we have to make good the resulting balance of deficit in our own receipts from abroad, and we want to take a look at it.

Now, you must remember, we have been very, very free about this, we have never had a restriction of any kind. But at that time, all the economies of Europe were in bad shape. There has been a great renaissance in their activity and in their prosperity. They are getting in position, as we see it, to help in this business of helping underdeveloped countries that we have been carrying so much by ourselves. Doing that, we can also take a look at our whole system of extending credit to. see whether we can't, without damaging anybody else, require that certain of these amounts be used to buy our products.

Q. Mr. Reston: Would it be right to infer from that that this Government feels that they could do more than they have been doing in terms of defense aid and aid to the developing countries?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether we have stated that as a conclusion. The very fact that I have asked them to study it, and I know that each of them is studying it, shows our concern, that we are not to be looked on just as an Atlas trying to carry the whole world, that this is a job for all of us. And those with increasingly efficient economies, we think, ought to be just as concerned about this matter as we are.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: To follow up some earlier questions, sir, does the fact that you, General de Gaulle, and Prime Minister Macmillan stand ready to meet in mid-December with Chancellor Adenauer mean that such a conference definitely will be held in mid-December, and could you tell us where, whether the site will be Paris?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no, no. I can't say that, because there has merely been an expression of readiness, you might say, on everybody's part.

For myself, I haven't concealed my belief that we should have the Western conference possibly somewhat earlier. But we do have this: with the expressed readiness of everybody now to do something of this kind, I think our diplomatic processes can go to work and do a lot of the preliminary work toward preparing positions, and position papers, and then developing agreements that will tend to solidify the Western position. And I think that we don't have to remind ourselves that if we would ever visualize an East-West summit without the Western position in a good, strong coordinated position, this would be very bad, indeed.

Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Sir, has your recent diplomatic mail given any indication that the Red Chinese may be in a frame of mind to release our American prisoners that they are now holding?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have seen nothing of that. As you know, I brought the matter up again, but I have heard nothing of it.

Q. Frank Bourgholtzer, NBC News: Mr. President, shortly after the Camp David meeting it was the impression that any East-West summit conference would deal principally with the subject of Berlin. You have indicated this morning that the question of Germany might come up only incidentally to a discussion of disarmament. Is this a change in our position?

THE PRESIDENT. You people apparently want to be right in the middle of this forthcoming summit meeting. [Laughter]

And I think you are being a little bit unreasonable.

Now, there are many ways in which we need progress.

What was achieved at Camp David was this: a statement that I made, later corroborated by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviets, that any negotiations about Berlin would be not unnecessarily or needlessly, some such adverb, prolonged, but that there would be no time limit fixed upon it.

Now, the Berlin question was not discussed there except in that context. There was no attempt here for us to lay out a formula, or the other side to lay out a formula where the Berlin or German questions would be solved.

This matter we now can negotiate without the feeling on all the free world that there is not--without an axe hanging over our heads, that's all.

Q. Mr. Bourgholtzer: My question, sir, was whether this would be taken up at an East-West summit conference that would be forthcoming.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh! Sorry. Well I am almost sure you couldn't possibly in the East-West--now you are talking about the West conference?

Q. Mr. Bourgholtzer: No, the East-West that would follow the Western summit conference.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know what subjects are going to be brought up there, that's one of the reasons for having the Western conference.

Q. Mr. Bourgholtzer: Do you--

THE PRESIDENT. That's all.

Q. E. W. Kenworthy, New York Times: Sir, to return to Mrs. McClendon's question, there have been reports that--

THE PRESIDENT. Now wait a minute, what was it?

Q. Mr. Kenworthy: This is on the goals, on the national goals--

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes, yes.

Q. Mr. Kenworthy:--in your State of the Union Message last January.

There have been reports that a chairman has been found for this committee, and that the committee will shortly start to work. Can you discuss that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have selected the principal members and I think there are one or two more that would probably be selected, with the advice and help of those others. But, they do not want to organize formally until after we are certain that this whole matter is understood, and that it is properly financed from the beginning by private sources.

We are particularly concerned right now in laying this whole matter out so that everybody will understand it. What we are really talking about, when you come down to it, is a coordination of an American policy for the future, international and domestic, because that is what goals mean--or put it this way: if you are concerned with that kind of a problem, then you must state within that whole broad area the goals the United States is trying to achieve.

Now that is really what I am talking about, and it is going to be a very difficult, it is going to take the very best brains that we have, and it must be adequately financed.

Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and seventy-fourth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 11:04 o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 28, 1959. In attendance: 228.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234527

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