Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

August 06, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down. Good morning. I have no statement.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, do you have any plans to attend and perhaps make a speech at the proposed United Nations General Assembly meeting on the Mid-East?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think, first, I should say I know of no general intention on the part of other heads of government to go to this meeting. But, as you know, each delegation can be headed, if that government so chooses, by the head of the government. And if I found it necessary or desirable, why, I think I could participate.

As of this moment there are no plans of that kind made and no particular intention.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, can you tell us what you would like to see discussed at a General Assembly meeting? Whether you would like to see it confined only to Lebanon and Jordan or whether you would like to see it deal with the whole problem of the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have stated in several of the notes that we have sent, I think you will recall, that it's the general problems of the Mid-East with their underlying causes that we would intend to discuss and to confer about. Of course, this takes in quite a broad field. But I think you couldn't possibly confine anything just to, say, the little country of Lebanon, because the causes of the difficulty are so much wider than are to be found merely within that area that it would be impossible. You would have to discuss the problems.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, would you say the development in the last 24 hours has virtually removed the possibility of any full dress Summit meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, no; you can't say that because about the final three paragraphs, I think it was, or four, of Mr. Khrushchev's letter again return to the subject of Summit meeting; and the general attitude of the United States has been perfectly consistent.

If we see that there can be anything constructive come about from the Summit meeting, of course we would be prepared to attend. But the assurance that anything constructive can be discussed must be attained by going through the preparatory process that we have always urged as a prerequisite to a meeting.

Q. J. Anthony Lewis, New York Times: Mr. President, we are approaching the start of another school year that seems likely to produce as much tension in the South over racial integration as last year and, perhaps, more.

I wondered, sir, whether you had any plans during the month before the start of school to try to head off that tension in the way of personal action by you, talks, statements, or in special instructions to the Justice Department?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't planned at this moment any particular speeches, as you point out.

Now, I have consistently tried over 5½ years to show my belief that mere law will never solve this problem. I believe we have got to look inside ourselves, and this means not only as individuals, this means as groups. It means county authorities, State authorities, and federal authorities.

How are we going to solve this problem? It is a difficult one. And I keep preaching that there must be some wisdom, some sense of civic duty in accordance with the principles which have been laid out for a citizen in this country. That, I think, we must continue to do.

Now, I cannot possibly tell you in what aspect any acute situation may arise, indeed, whether there ever will be any of that kind.

I just say all of us have to work; and if I could think of anything I thought would be effective in August or in the 2 or 3 weeks before the schools start, why, I certainly shouldn't hesitate to do it.

Q. Stewart Hensley, United Press International: Mr. President, can you give us any indication, sir, as to when the withdrawal of American forces in Lebanon might begin?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think this will be when the Government of Lebanon says, "We feel that the situation is in hand, and we do not feel the effects of this indirect aggression that we did before"; and, therefore, we feel confident that at that point we would start out or start back.

Now, in addition, any time that the legitimate government of Lebanon asked us out, we will not be there. That's all there is to it.

Q. Garnett D. Homer, Washington Star: Some time ago, sir, Representative Broyhill of Virginia suggested a meeting between you and Governor Almond of Virginia concerning the school integration crisis in nearby Arlington. Have you any plans for such a meeting, or do you think it would be worthwhile?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there is no time that I have heard this advanced until this moment. But I would say this: from all I know, the Governor is a reasonable American, and if he would like to talk to me, I would like to talk to him about it. I have no objection, certainly, to such a chat with the Governor.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Manchester (New Hampshire) Union Leader: Mr. President, I want to quote to you, if you don't mind, from a--these are your own words, sir, in a speech you made to the GOP women in Washington on March 18, 1958.

You said: "There is only one possible principle for all Americans to follow: the standard of official conduct must be the highest standard known to human behavior. Of course, a Government as large as ours, staffed by fallible human beings, has no way to make certain that a deviation from this standard will not sometimes occur. But all of us can make certain, by prompt, decisive and fair corrective action, that public confidence in the integrity of Government is maintained. The greater the role and responsibility of Government, the greater the importance of uncompromising insistence on the highest official standards all the time everywhere."

Now, sir, I wonder, in view of this, if you can justify keeping Sherman Adams and the girls in the White House who took the gifts from Goldfine on your payroll?

THE PRESIDENT. I made my statement about this subject some time ago. I hope you will remember it, and I am going to say nothing more about it.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, in his letter to you, Premier Khrushchev credits his call for a 5-power Summit conference with forcing the United States and Britain to abandon whatever additional plans they had to enlarge the so-called aggression in the Middle East. What do you think of this remark?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it would be difficult for me to express my opinion adequately.

Now, the history of this century shows to my mind very definitely the basic purposes and principles of the United States as they are applied to the rest of the world.

We have sought sovereignty over no other country; we have not tried to make any country or any people or any nation subservient to us in any way, politically or through military force or through economic


We do believe that freedom and the principle of liberty is indivisible in the world and, therefore, when freedom of the weak, the independence of the weak, is threatened, the United States has a very deep responsibility; indeed, in its own self interest it must attempt to carry that responsibility.

Now, since the founding of the United Nations we have tried to do this collectively. We believe it should be done, and we believe certainly in the Charter of that organization. And only where--because of the critical circumstances as they came in the Lebanon situation, because of the unexpected revolt or the sudden revolt, rather, in Iraq--the United States felt that the Government of Lebanon was justified in calling for a little help, we did call for help. We immediately put the whole problem before the United Nations again, announcing our readiness to get out of there as quickly as the United Nations could take positive action.

As you know, both the United States resolution and the Japanese resolution were vetoed by the Soviet Union.

But their history, which includes all of the eastern European nations that they have taken over by force and held by force since the conclusion of World War II, their adventures into North Korea and North Vietnam, all show and point to the fact that the accusation they made should be directed directly to themselves and not to us.

Q. John Hefling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, this has to do with labor-management reform legislation, which is a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate, 88 to 1. This, as you know, is an outgrowth of the McClellan committee, which recommended measures of this kind. The same bill now has a fighting chance of passage in the House if it gets the same bipartisan support.

Would you comment, sir, on the importance of this legislation, and specifically will you give your backing to this labor-management reform bill?

THE PRESIDENT. When such a bill comes before me, I will decide what to do about it.

Now, my recommendations on it have been set out in detail not only in my own specific messages to the Congress, but by my Secretary of Labor, who has gone down time and again to explain our opinions and our briefs about it.

Now, if we get a bill that, in spite of its elimination of measures or its avoiding of bringing up measures that I think are necessary, if it is still progress towards the goals we have set, then, of course, I would approve it and support it.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, you have just re-enunciated some of our principles of conduct in international affairs.

Some of the members of your administration privately are saying that as noble as they are that these are not enough, and that opposition to indirect aggression in the Middle East is not enough, that we have, perhaps, to get down to specifics and clarify our position and policies on such specific matters as Arab nationalism, the borders of Israel, economic plans for the area, and so forth.

Admitting the awful tortuous complications of such problems, do you think it is possible and/or wise to take a fresh look at these problems now?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, indeed. As a matter of fact, I think we should take a fresh look at them all the time, and I hope there is no rigidity of opinion that is maintained and sustained within the administration.

I was merely pointing to the principles and the standards of conduct that the United States sets up for itself out of its deep convictions, lasting for these many years.

Now, what you are talking about is the application; and that, of course, is a most extraordinarily difficult thing.

I will say this much, in the generality to cover the situation: I believe that negative measures are never going to succeed, just as any defense in war if it is maintained forever is going to fail, because only the offensive can do anything positive. We must do positive things to bring about that sense of cohesion, that sense of oneness among the free world that we must have if we are going to be successful.

I believe in nationalism. This administration believes in nationalism. We believe it for ourselves, and we believe that any nation, any peoples, have the right to their independence. Indeed, it is because of our belief in the spirit of nationalism that we are in Lebanon today; and if the Arabs, as a whole, want to express their nationalism in the form of a federation of a larger state, we have no objections to that. As a matter of fact, we recognized very quickly the U. A. R. because of our belief in that.

But even that is not enough. These countries did not develop as ours. Here was a vast wilderness of natural resources with very few people. Opportunity was so rich and found on so many sides that our problems were how could each of us drive himself far enough, hard enough to achieve the almost limitless ambitions he set for himself.

These people are already in crowded areas, denuded areas. for example, in the Mid-East and Africa, I have often heard the saying that the Arab doesn't follow the desert, the desert follows the Arab. His ways of grazing and of handling his flocks, and so on--when all the grass cover is gone, he moves on, but the desert follows wherever he has gone.

Now, I believe that some things can be done to bring that back, but that is only one specific place.

Throughout the world these crowded countries--some of them not so crowded--need the sums, the capital investments, that will help them achieve more rapidly their legitimate economic aspirations.

This the United States, I believe, must help do, if we are going to be true to ourselves, to make ourselves more secure. It is the reason that I have worked so hard, never have I worked any harder on any particular bill, to get the needed sums for the Mutual Security Act this year; because we begin to see evidence that some of these dissatisfactions are reaching the boiling point. The people are impatient, and they are turning to people that they do not trust, that they do not believe are going to be content in letting them have their own freedom of action. I say we must make it possible for them to turn to us to get effective help of this kind and, therefore, I say it must be not merely negative.

Troops are never going to win the peace. We have got to do something positive, and this must be in the field of moral and spiritual and economic and political strengthening of all these areas.

Q. Mr. Morgan: Does this mean, sir, that with or without a Summit meeting, your administration plans to come up with an integrated overall program of operation in the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, I am not going to put it in those broad and quite such resounding terms. We certainly know what we want to do; and we are prepared, as we agree with each of these countries or indeed with a group of these countries if we can, to help wherever we can.

As you know, for many years we have been working on the Johnston plan, the so-called Jordan plan, so that both Arab countries and Israel could get great benefits from that river; but neither side apparently could ever accept the political consequences of what both knew to be a very fine economic development.

But, nevertheless, you have asked a question that, to my mind, does illustrate what should be the basic concern not just of this administration, but of America today.

Q. Dayton Moore, United Press International: In light of the rise in steel prices and the prospects for large federal deficits during the next 5 years, do you have any plans to curb inflation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, strangely enough, you ladies and gentlemen were hearing me talk about this problem of inflation a few months back where everybody wanted to spend more money and decrease taxes.

I believe that labor, management, and Government must all be concerned in this problem; and I think, of all these branches, no one could be more concerned than is labor.

It is easy to suppose, because a man is getting increased wages, that he, through his collective bargaining process, is staying ahead of the progress of inflation. I don't believe this is ever true, and the reason that it is not true is this: our whole industrial civilization, today certainly, has come to include as its important feature for the future of the laborer the pension plan--social security--pension plans of the companies, and his own insurance and bonds, savings of that kind.

Now, when he starts to make those savings at the beginning of, let's say, a 30-year period of work, but every year there is inflation, regardless of his wages he will get back the dollars at the end of this inflationary period; whereas, he was paying in his dollars at the median of that whole process. In other words, if you take the average of the dollars he put in, they will be worth 15 years more than the ones he gets back. So that no group can have any more interest in combating inflation than labor, as I see the problem.

Therefore, I think that, first of all, if we are going to remain a country without artificial control, meaning that we are not going to try to go into a federally controlled economy, then labor and business must be very, very careful about this whole problem of pushing wages each year above those rates that imply or show the increases in productivity; and business must make its profits of such a scale that where they can still continue to invest money, they are not robbing the public, because if they do, just as sure as you are a foot high, one day the American consumer is going to rebel. He is going to rebel in a big way, and there will be real trouble, and we will get something that we don't want.

Now, Government's principal reason here is to keep down expenses so we can try to keep, so far as we can, fiscal responsibility. I do not admit, and I do not for a moment believe, that we are going to have constantly increasing deficits.

I believe the prospects are this next one--goodness knows, horrible as it is--must be the highest one, and we must go back from there.

Q. Chalmers Roberts, Washington Post: In the Middle East question, sir, one of the points of this, here in Washington, seems to be whether the United States accepts as a fact the presence of the Soviet Union as a power in the Middle East.

In your answer to the questions asked by Mr. Morgan do you imply that the United States would be prepared to take economic steps or give border guarantees only as a Western proposition or would we be prepared to do these things in conjunction with the Soviet Union?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, in that case I think we ought to do it through the United Nations because one other thing, I believe, that the United States abhors, as a corollary, as a consequence of the principles I have already talked, is any thought that big powers are going to control the world.

There must be an equality in the sovereignty and in the rights of each nation to dictate its own affairs. So I would say in the United Nations these things should be done, and we would be prepared to go along with any decision of that kind. And, of course, we would hope that the Soviet Union not only would be prepared to do the same thing, but would actually observe its commitments. But I don't think that we ought merely to say, two or three great powers, "This is going to be the score." I do not believe that.

Q. William Knighton, Jr., Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, are you rather well satisfied with what Congress has done to your legislative program this year and, if you are, what are you going to use as a campaign issue this fall? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you one thing: I believe I have got enough on my mind that I am not compelled at this moment to think of campaigns, political campaign issues.

I do say this: I have laid before the Congress a program of legislation that I think was necessary and for the good of the country. I would hope that it would be substantially enacted.

Now, there were three things, you may recall, in the international field: the reformation of the defense organization, the mutual aid, and reciprocal trade. All of these things seem to me to be absolutely vital to our international health.

There are many other things that apply to this domestically. Some of them are going pretty well in the way I recommended; some are not. I would say, all in all, there seems to be a pretty good record of accomplishment. But I would say this: I am not yet satisfied, and they are not through yet.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Indirect aggression is very difficult to prove. How do we expect to prove it in the General Assembly in relation to indirect aggression in the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is correct that it is somewhat difficult to prove. It is a little bit difficult sometimes to prove things in a trial court. You have to get in all the evidence; you have got the evidence that comes in, the circumstantial evidence, as well as the direct evidence, things that you can see.

But the United States did publish, as I recall, a series of incidents within Lebanon. I believe there were 125, as I recall, and they pointed these things out at the same time that the local freely elected government said it was occurring. And then, as I say, with the sudden revolt in Iraq, we thought that the evidence was dear, so far as we are concerned. We would hope to be able to prove it.

But I will cheerfully admit that it can be done sometimes so cleverly and in such a clandestine manner that it will be difficult.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, there have been stories in the London papers saying that your health is not good. You look pretty good to me. May I ask, sir, how you feel?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Eddie, for the remark. [Laughter]

Mr. Hagerty told me about these stories; I hadn't read them. I don't know why it is done, nor what is the purpose.

I know this: they have not consulted my doctors, and certainly they haven't consulted me as to how I feel.

The only thing they could be talking about that I can see is that my last two golf scores--I assure you, they are terrible. [Laughter]

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: In that connection, with Mr. Folliard's question, when you are dealing with very urgent foreign and domestic problems, as you have been recently, do you find that the burden of office is harder to carry than it was 5 years ago? And in that connection, do you have to pace yourself a little more as time goes on?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think I have to pace myself more. But I feel this--now, this may be just because of my advancing years which, after all, everybody has to experience--I feel that the last 5 or 6 months or even more than that, going back, say, to the beginning of the depression, seem to have brought a more constant stream of problems that need evening meetings or late afternoon, to try to get some decision out for use the next day or very quickly.

I think there seems to be more of them, and I don't know whether it is just because I notice them more or because there are actually more. But actually, frankly, so far as the physical part of it is concerned, I assure you, all of the indices that the doctors use, they say that I am in good shape; and as far as I feel, I don't feel physically a burden that is really greater.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, in looking over the current shift in Soviet tactics regarding the Summit conference, do you have any information yet on how important the role was of Mao Tse-tung? Can you assess it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, no; but I will tell you, I have some people studying that who told me they would give me an idea of it. I think there are some indications that he had quite a bit, but not too much.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Since the Summit meeting now seems to be off, sir, I wonder if you could give us an outline of the concrete proposals you were to make at that meeting or if that is too large a question, if you could comment on the idea that was advanced for neutralization for that area; was that encompassed in that suggestion?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we certainly were prepared to discuss such a thing. I would say this: our major effort would be, first of all, to show that we had acted within the spirit of the United Nations, and from there on to put all our emphasis on constructive things to help the peoples of this area, to help them develop themselves, and to bring about a peace not only by the advances they make but by their certainty that we are doing it for that reason.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and thirty-ninth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 11:00 o'clock on Wednesday morning, August 6, 1958. In attendance: 243.

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/233812

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