Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

December 02, 1959

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning.

There is one short statement I have to make.

For some time, we have been in the process of negotiating a new treaty, revised treaty with Japan; and, it is a matter to which we attach the greatest interest. Mr. Kishi, who is one of the men that the Government as well as I personally admire very much, is coming to visit this country probably in January, and any questions remaining at that moment of course would be taken up then.

So, while there have been some questions presented to me about this matter, until the thing is completed I will not be making any statements about it. However, Mr. Hagerty will have a little statement for you that really relates what I have just said, but in slightly more amplified form.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press International: Mr. President, in connection with your forthcoming trip, I would like to ask a slightly legalistic question.

Under law, you have the sole authority for the final determination of using nuclear or thermonuclear weapons in event of an emergency. Now, you will be quite some distance from the country during this trip. Have you made any arrangements or are such arrangements feasible where you leave such authority with someone in this country, or would you have to execute such a decision if it became necessary, overseas?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there is no arrangement that puts the President's authority in anybody else. Such decisions that I have to make, though, are of such a character and are kept in such terminology they can be executed from any position and by a simple message that could be delivered instantaneously.

Q. Ray L. Scherer, NBC News: Could you tell us, sir, if you sense any particular feeling, particular sense of mission as you embark on this rather large tour?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I've been thinking and talking about this so long that I may be repeating myself.

I think that we can conclude, from all of the reports that come to us from abroad, that there is a great deal of doubt remaining in the minds of many people, and including our friends, allies and other friends, .as to America's real sincerity in pursuit of peace. We have tried to emphasize this point in every possible way, through diplomatic contacts, through speeches of the Secretary of State, myself, and others, and still it doesn't seem to come through.

Now, I have relatively few months left, and I decided to make an effort that no President ever was called on before to make. I do feel a compulsion to visit a number of countries, and through them hoping to reach many others, and tell them exactly what I believe the United States is trying to do: that our basic aspiration is to search out methods by which peace in the world can be assured with justice for everybody.

I want to prove that we are not aggressive, that we seek nobody else's territories or possessions; we do not seek to violate anybody else's rights. We are simply trying to be a good partner in this business of searching for peace--which means, in the long run, searching also methods in which we, the independent nations together cooperating, can find a better life for all of us; and that means politically and materially.

This is what I'm trying to do, and such prestige and standing as I have on the earth, I want to use it. As long as my other duties do not prevent me from doing so, I'm going to work on this in every possible way I can.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, could you tell us whether you have received the Sigma Delta Chi Freedom of Information Reports; and if so, what was your reaction to them, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to describe them. There are too many reports for me to remember them by title.

Q. Mr. McGaffin: Well, sir, the reason I asked is that Mr. V. M. Newton, Jr., the chairman of the committee that prepared the reports, says that he sent them to you twice, but he feels that you have not personally seen them, or you would not continue in the belief that you have repeatedly expressed about secrecy in Government during your administration.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I'll have to see the report and give you an answer, because I simply can't answer on something that I can't recall the contents of.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Sir, last July the committee studying foreign aid under General Draper made a recommendation to you that the United States should assist those countries with which it is cooperating in economic aid programs, on request, in the formulation of their plans designed to deal with problems of rapid population growth. This was generally interpreted as a recommendation that this Government should distribute birth control information on request. I wondered what your reaction to that report was, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I Cannot imagine anything more emphatically a subject that is not a proper political or governmental activity or function or responsibility.

This thing has for very great denominations a religious meaning, definite religious tenet in their own doctrine. I have no quarrel with them; as a matter of fact this being largely the Catholic Church, they are one of the groups that I admire and respect. But this has nothing to do with governmental contact with other governments. We do not intend to interfere with the internal affairs of any other government, and if they want to do something about what is admittedly a very difficult question, almost an explosive question, that is their business. If they want to go to someone for help, they will go unquestionably to professional groups, not to governments. This Government has no, and will not as long as I am here have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with this problem of birth control. That's not our business.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, as you are about to undertake this trip, can you tell us how you feel as to health; and second, do you or your doctors or your family have any qualms about the heavy physical exertion that this strenuous trip will require of you?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's only natural that any man's family begins to think that he is probably here and there taking on a load that he shouldn't; but I think so far as my doctors are concerned--3 days ago I had again my regular monthly examination--they say I'm capable of doing it. And I think that I am as fit as I possibly could be at my time of life to do this thing.

Of course, it demands real resistance to fatigue; but I think I'm capable of carrying it on, and also without losing the last vestiges of what I once thought was a good disposition. [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland ( Maine ) Press Herald: With increasing agricultural surpluses, increasing food prices to the housewife, decreasing returns to farmers, do you have any new farm solution in mind?

THE PRESIDENT. I Can't say, Mrs. Craig, that I've got a new solution. I believe that for 7 years we've been trying to work on something that's better than we've had, but we have had very little success in finding a formula acceptable to the Congress, that would have been passed by the Congress, to bring about these better conditions.

Actually, our agriculture has become so completely dependent on what Government does, what political action is, that already I think it is too far or too definitely under governmental control. It's too much of a dependent.

There have been a number of ideas brought to me; I've got them now under study by the Agriculture Department. I will have an agricultural program which I hope will do something to free agriculture from its complete dependency, or almost complete dependency upon Government, and make it more prosperous.

Q. Charles H. Mohr, Time Magazine: Mr. President, this is a moment in history in which we have to maintain a large strategic capability in manned aircraft, and at the same time paying for the increasingly expensive development of missile capability, and also an antimissile defense capability.

I wonder if you could discuss and explain to us how, in such a moment in history, the defense budget does not need to rise but can stay relatively stable over a period of 2 or 3 years?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the first thing is this, since you are going from one defense system, largely, to another, particularly in this matter of deterrent: there is an old saying--what is it--"Be not the first by which the new is tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside." Now, that's what we're doing.

But if you want to have a really expensive thing, stop everything now that we've been doing and then just put a tremendous hysterical urge about the business of getting something new. Now you will really have, to my mind, a bad answer and an expensive answer.

As we are finding that our Atlas is operational, and is operational, and it comes into this picture, it is only natural that there is shown less concern and less cost in the matter of developing newer and better and bigger airplanes, faster, higher-flying, and so on.

Now, we do not quit that entirely. As you know, the B-58, on a moderate program, is to be completed; and there is an R and D program going on, on one that's even bigger. So we do not fed ourselves within just a matter of 2 or 3 or 4 years completely dependent upon the missile, until we've got these missiles perfected to the point where we think that the deterrent itself needs nothing else.

Q. Mr. Mohr: Would that protection include hardening their bases?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, on that, that's a technical question that no one knows really the right answer yet. I think this: there will be certain types of them that will require, oh, I mean will be much better off if you harden the bases; and I think that it will not be as expensive as we once thought. But there will be other types that still will be in what you might call unhardened bases.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, I wonder if you think this is a proper matter for you to give your attention to.

Your Attorney General is reportedly presently investigating an affair whereby the Midwestern Gas Transmission Company is going to make about $ 16 million profit at the expense of the Midwestern consumers for bringing gas in from Canada.

Now, my colleague Joe Huttlinger has discovered whereby the Federal Power Commission had set the rates for this, then they were visited by Mr. Thomas Corcoran, a Democratic Party figure and attorney, who persuaded them to increase these rates.

Now, your Attorney General is looking into this and I wonder if you will discuss this with him and see if you think this is a proper matter for the whole Government to get--

THE PRESIDENT [addressing Mr. Hagerty]. Will you remind me to do that? [Laughter]

Q. J. F. Ter Horst, Detroit News: Sir, while you are gone on your trip, a lot of us will be left wondering what is going to happen in the steel dispute. We know that it has been an annoying and a plaguing problem to you, and we are wondering, sir, if you have in mind any kind of solution by law or by regulation that might bring two parties together when they cannot seem to do so voluntarily?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you didn't describe the problem quite correctly.

You said it's of course annoying and plaguing to me.

This is vital to America.

Now, my interest in this is not employers and, per se, not employees except as all of them are part of America. I have tried to use every bit of influence I have had officially or personally, in this matter to get these people together. I am going again to insist publicly that they do it. I just know this: if we can't get anywhere on this thing, then finally the Government just cannot sit idly on its hands.

But, I do believe that the day that we abandon honest free collective bargaining, it is going to be a sad day for the United States.

So, it looks to me that unless they get together on a kind of settlement that is equitable to each other and absolutely in the public interest, we are going to lose--something.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Will the foreign military assistance appropriation be included in the defense budget, and if so, has that been discussed with the congressional appropriation leaders?

THE PRESIDENT. The military section I think is; I think there has been an agreement to do it for them to defend it next year I think. I have forgotten the details, Mr. Brandt, but I know it has been under study. I think the following year it's to go into the military responsibility, but I can't be sure.

Q. Mr. Brandt: That would be in '62, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. That would .be '62 for the defense of this thing. Now, I would have to have looked up what our final agreement on that was because it has been one of these questions that's bandied back and forth for years. So I would think that you could get that directly either from ICA or Defense.

Q. Earl H. Voss, Washington Star: Mr. President, I have a question about nuclear tests.

I wonder if you could tell us how you think the negotiations are going in Geneva, in the light of the information last Saturday from Radio Moscow that the Russians have been creating artificial earthquakes under a lake in Siberia, and under a river there, which they picked up 250 miles away with seismic instruments.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, we've got the scientists working in Geneva, and that kind of information is among the things, among the factors that they are working on. So I couldn't say a great deal about this particular incident or particular report.

We do attach not only great importance to it, but we are more hopeful about some constructive result out of these negotiations than we were a few months back when it looked like they were going to be completely abandoned.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, before you go away, sir, I wonder if you could tell us what the outlook is for the new budget, and for the resources coming in--how much has it been hit by the steel strike, for example?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there is no question that the revenues coming in for this year of '60 are going to be reduced; and this, of course, as Mr. Stans pointed out down at Augusta in a statement, puts the achievement of the balanced budget for 1960 in a very precarious position.

I can only say this: I have had many conferences with all executive divisions and departments, trying to find ways that we can save money in '60 to make up this deficit and try still to achieve that balanced budget. It would have a tremendous effect on the economy, as I see it, and certainly upon all our friends abroad.

So, projecting that same kind of thinking into '61, I think we should strive not only for a balanced budget in '61, but that we must get some small surplus to start paying on this deficit.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to tell you something. I think the last year that the United States spent less than $9 billion, or spent just about $9 billion for its entire expenses, was 1940. That is less than we are now paying for interest. And it seems to me that this ought to have a very significant meaning for all our people, everybody, everybody in this room that's a taxpayer, thinking about their dollars or their final pension or their final OASI payments. They are the things that are threatened, if we are not more fiscally responsible. I think we are trying to do many things that are not completely necessary; and we should kind of put them off on the shelf until we have got our fiscal system in order, and our financial system.

So for people abroad who are depending on us as the world banker, for ourselves who are hoping to keep a stable dollar, we ought to take this lesson to heart and do something about it.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, as you travel in these countries on your trip, and meet the leaders of the countries, do you expect to discuss with them a number of specific issues in which they are interested?

What I have in mind particularly is the problem which Mr. Nehru is having with the Chinese Communists on the border.

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I shall be glad to discuss such problems; with respect of this particular one, I don't think the issue, as far as I know, is the exact spots in which this McMahon Line is located. I don't think anyone has ever known exactly. As a matter of fact there is one road and one border of India that was, I believe, in existence 2 years before anybody except its builders knew anything about it. It's a very remote and wild region.

What is important and what is the issue is this: are nations going to settle their differences by negotiation, honest meeting, honest negotiation with each other, or are they going to move in with force and take that course in the settlement of these disputes?

Now, that is the real issue, and on that I am very much on the side of the people that say we must do it by negotiation.

So, when I go through all of these countries, there will be a number of problems. After all, there have been difficulties as we know between Pakistan and India. There are two countries in which we have great interest. All right. There has been a good beginning made through the World Bank in getting the waters of the Indus and other rivers properly stored up, divided. If this leads to the settlement of their outstanding things, this will be a wonderful thing because it will be done not with force, not with threat of force, by negotiation.

This applies to almost every other country in the world.

Q. E. W. Kenworthy, New York Times: Mr. President, a number of leading universities and colleges have decided not to participate in the Federal Student Loan Program because of the loyalty oath required. I wonder if you would give us your views on the loyalty oath and whether you would favor a revision of the law to make this unnecessary.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the law, of course, was passed by Congress; and while I didn't particularly like the one part of it, why, I, of course, had to put it in the position where it could be executed.

So far as I'm concerned, and I have stated this ever since the question was posed to me, I personally am ready each morning to take an oath that I am not a Communist and that I am loyal to the United States. I think, however, that when we begin to single out any group of citizens and say, "This is a matter of legal compulsion," I can see why they are resentful.

To my mind, anybody who is taking an oath as a citizen, when he becomes naturalized or any other time he is required to take an oath as a public servant, when he says that he is going to defend the United States and its Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, for me that ought to settle the question.

I rather deplore that universities have found it necessary to find, for the moment, a narrow dividing line and therefore keep a number of citizens out of taking advantage of the loan provisions that the Federal Government set up; but for my part, I should think that the loyalty oath, the basic citizenship oath, is sufficient.

Q. Thomas N. Schroth, Congressional Quarterly: Mr. President, do you plan to submit any additional civil rights proposals next year? Specifically I have two in mind: the provision for Federal voting registrars, as proposed in the September 8th report of your Civil Rights Commission; and the so-called part III provision, which would empower the Attorney General to file civil suit in all civil rights cases.

THE PRESIDENT. I have not yet had my final conferences with the Attorney General and the other people interested, but I do say that I would like to see all the parts of the bill that I submitted last year considered, and if possible, enacted this year.

Q. Marianne Means, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, in the interest of Latin American relations, is it possible that the United States will let Panama's flag fly beside the United States flag in the Canal Zone?

THE PRESIDENT. This is one of the points that's been talked about for many years, since for 50 years the United States has recognized the titular sovereignty of Panama. There have been numbers of problems over the years that have come about because, first, of what the Panamanians felt were injustices to them in the original treaties; and secondly, by the interpretations of treaties as revised in later years.

These last problems of the differences were under study for the last few months, and we had already agreed with the Panamanians for methods of taking another look at them and trying to see whether we couldn't meet their requirements in this matter. So. there has been a very conciliatory attitude toward governments, as far as I have known, and the one question of the flag has never been specifically placed before me, no decision has ever been made about it; but I do in some form or other believe we should have visual evidence that Panama does have titular sovereignty over the region.

Merriman Smith, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and seventy-sixth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 11:02 o'clock on Wednesday morning, December 2, 1959. In attendance: 261.

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/234616

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