Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

November 14, 1956

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.

This is the first time, ladies and gentlemen, that I have seen you since October--October 11, I believe. Since that date there have been two items of transcendent importance to the whole world that have been engaging our attention, yours as well as the Government's. They are, of course, the Mid-East and Hungary.

The first thing I should like to say is this: really for the first time in history an international machinery, set up by nations for the settlement of international disputes, is receiving a truly thorough test.

Consequently, everything that we say and do must bear in mind that behind all of these immediately important incidents is a hope and a desire of the world that some way can be found to settle disputes around the conference table, not on the battlefield.

Consequently, in talking about these things this morning--I am sure we will be talking about them, I tell you in advance, as far as I can talk about them--I would be more than ready to do it, but the last thing we must do is to disturb any of the delicate negotiations now going on under the leadership of Secretary General Hammarskjold. We must do nothing that could possibly delay his operations, impede them, or hurt them in any way.

I should like to take just a moment to say what he has been doing. The man's abilities have not only been proven, but a physical stamina that is almost remarkable, almost unique in the world, has also been demonstrated by a man who night after night has gone with 1 or 2 hours' sleep, working all day and, I must say, working intelligently and devotedly.

In the same way, although Foster Dulles is in the hospital, every day he is thinking and working on these problems. I visit him, his staff visits him. I am happy to say, by the way, that he is so far as health is concerned coming along rapidly and, apparently, to the entire satisfaction of the doctors.

Now, I think with that little background of--well, I will say one more thing before we go to questions.

Nothing, of course, has so disturbed the American people as the events in Hungary. Our hearts have gone out to them and we have done everything it is possible to, in the way of alleviating suffering.

But I must make one thing clear: the United States doesn't now and never has advocated open rebellion by an undefended populace against force over which they could not possibly prevail.

We, on the contrary, have always urged that the spirit of freedom be kept alive, that people do not lose hope. But we have never in all the years that I think we have been dealing with problems of this sort urged or argued for any kind of armed revolt which could bring about disaster to our friends.

With that background, we shall go to questions.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, you have said it is the duty of all United Nations members, including the United States, to oppose the introduction of any new forces in the Middle East. Does this apply to the intervention on the side of Egypt by so-called volunteers from the Soviet Union or Communist China?

THE PRESIDENT. I believe we said the introduction of any armed forces in the area of conflict, or arms, or munitions; so I am not going to say that the United States would make a unilateral determination of exactly what the offense was, if any.

Again, I believe, I stated in that statement that it would be the duty of the United Nations, which would include the United States, to oppose such an effort. So that in the United Nations, we would again try to be their supporters, in any such action.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, how, then, would our form of opposition to aggression in the Middle East or the introduction of new armed forces in the Middle East, to be more correct, what form would our opposition take beyond simply subscribing to resolutions in the U. N.?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't tell what it would be. But the United Nations, if you will read its charter, is not by any manner or means limited to resolutions, and in one instance, at least, showed that it was not so limited.

So I don't know exactly what we would do. It would depend upon the circumstances.

Q. Benjamin R. Cole, Indianapolis Star: Mr. President, this is an awfully little question, and I expect it takes an awfully big answer, but what are our chances for peace, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is a little bit like the old story, a person can be awfully peaceful, but it takes two to make peace, exactly as it takes two to make a quarrel.

I don't believe that you could speculate too much on it other than to say this: the chances for peace are certainly related directly to the depth of our faith and the earnestness of our efforts.

We must not ever lose faith that men can do this. If men can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war include almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man's intelligence and his comprehension--and I don't think he has to be particularly philosophical to arrive at such an answer--would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.

It must be done. The world unquestionably faces a dilemma. I think, on the one hand, there is the greatest future with the development of this atomic science, stretching out in front of the world that, any of us, we can't even possibly dream of what it will bring. But on the other side, if we don't do that, is something very terrible.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, do you consider the time has come for us to reappraise our foreign policy, particularly in relationship to Russia?

THE PRESIDENT. In what way do you mean? Reappraise foreign policy is a very vast subject.

Q. Mr. Sentner: Our relationship to Russia.

THE PRESIDENT. Do you mean--are you talking now specifically about the breaking of diplomatic relations or what are you-

Q. Mr. Sentner: It would appear that their so-called policy of peaceful cooperation has been more or less killed--their actions in Hungary--


Q. Mr. Sentner: --and their threats in the Middle East.

THE PRESIDENT. We have a very great central power here that has not complied with the standards set up by the United Nations with the charter as written.

Now, the question as to what must be done about that, we would, I think, want to again get the considered judgment of the nations of the world; I believe that at this moment, when we are trying so hard to quiet the exciting incidents to a possible greater difficulty, we should not now bring up a thing as broad as the matter you are talking about.

We should first get this Egyptian thing out of the way, try to get all the help for the refugees from Hungary, and to get into Hungary as much as we can to help out these unfortunate people; get these things quieted down--then, I think, would be the proper time for the United Nations to see what do we do in the future along this line.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, you have voiced your objection to another Summit meeting at this time. However, if the Hungarian matter were added to the Middle East crisis in such a Summit meeting, would you think that it might be wise to hold one?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, again, I think the answer is largely the same.

What we are trying to do is to get the United Nations on a basis in the Mid-East that the immediately exciting cause of greater difficulty can be quieted.

I believe that to have Summit meetings when you have got something like this going on, and where the United Nations already has taken cognizance of the whole thing, would be a mistake. Now, this doesn't mean that I, by any means, foreclose meetings with these people for the future. I just think this is simply not the time to do it.

Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Mr. President, I wonder if you could give us your views about our relations with France and Britain, and the advisability of holding a Big Three meeting in the near future with them?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we have talked about a Big Three meeting. We have not set up any definite plan or timing for any meeting of that kind.

Now, I continue to believe that our relationships with Western Europe are--I mean good relationships with Western Europe, strong relationships--are vital to the future of our own country.

We have differed with them on one specific point, and until this point is settled, because the United Nations has taken it over, I think that any meeting of ours would make it appear that we are going off onto some other subjects, when this important one is still ahead of us.

What I say about it is this: I am determined, with this out of the way, our friendships with these two countries are going to be stronger than ever, if I can bring it about.

Q. Garnett D. Horner, Washington Star: Mr. President, do you see any chance for you, yourself, to get in a Thanksgiving or any other kind of vacation any time soon?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, not at the moment, no.

After all, the Secretary of State is in the hospital and will certainly have to go away for a short rest and recuperation. If things would quiet down, why, I would certainly take advantage of the opportunity, I will tell you that. I would very much like to go. But the timing here again would be bad for the moment.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, when the uprisings in Poland and Hungary occurred, Vice President Nixon told an Occidental College audience on October 29 in California, that this proved the rightness of the "liberation position" of the Eisenhower administration. Now, in view of the latest developments, could you explain, sir, what the liberation position of the administration is?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's been perfectly clear from way back in 1950, as far as I am concerned, and I happened to have had the administration when I was then in NATO.

I believe it would be the most terrible mistake for the free world ever to accept the enslavement of the Eastern European tier of nations as a part of a future world of which we approve. Now, we have said this in every possible way, and because of this we try to hold out to all the world the conviction that freedom will live, human freedom will live.

We have never asked, as I pointed out before, for a people to rise up against a ruthless military force; of course we think, on the other hand, that the employment of such force is the negation of all justice and right in the world.

What I do say is the policy is correct in that we simply insist upon the right of all people to be free to live under governments of their own choosing.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, even if we succeed in preventing further warfare in the Middle East, the sorry facts seem to be, as assessed by western observers, that we have suffered a tremendous loss, we, meaning the West, and the Russians have made a tremendous gain. How do we propose to redress that balance or are we writing off as a fact the permanence of Russian influence in the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that you could eliminate influence entirely, but I think that the free world today and, particularly, every small nation would be very, very careful about becoming too closely related to Russia. They have seen what can happen when Russia gains domination over the country.

There is much more to this question, I assure you, that has been asked, than one brief statement of that kind.

This is what I'd say: the United States has tried and will continue to try to be friends with every single nation in this area. We have helped in the past, we stand ready to help in the future, for every one of them that wants to live or abide by the general charter and directives of the United Nations.

Our help will be given and has been given without any conditions attached. No strings of economic or political imperialism are traceable to the efforts we have made to be friends with these people.

We believe this: that our efforts to be friends with both sides in the Arab-Israeli war are the best thing we can do for both sides in order to bring about friendships finally, and relations between them, because it is perfectly clear in the long run they need each other. The Arabs need the manufacturing capacity of Israel. Israel certainly cannot live isolated, trading with no one in the world except Europe and the United States.

So, far from giving up, the second that this is out of the way I want to intensify our efforts of understandings between these nations, the Arabs from one end to the other and with Israel, in order that we can bring about this state of, at least, toleration that will allow them to trade and, therefore, to raise their own standards of living.

And remember this one thing: we are trying to be friends with both sides. We don't pick a side in one of these quarrels.

A nation such as Russia, under a dictatorship, picks the side they want to woo for the moment, and they have to care nothing at all about the other side. Every move we make must be balanced by a consideration of justice for both sides. That is very clear, I think.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, this question has to do with internal politics. I wonder if you have or if you will use your influence in any way with Governor Shivers of Texas to try to win that Senate seat for the Republicans? Would you do that by asking him to call a special election or asking him to run for the office himself?

THE PRESIDENT. The internal affairs of the State of Texas are something that I would never dream of interfering with. [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Well, sir, I was thinking

THE PRESIDENT. Now, if you say do I want a Republican Senator from Texas, yes.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, on Tuesday night you spoke of Modern Republicanism. What are your plans for greater effort to bring about cooperation with a certain group of your party in Congress to assert your leadership for Modern Republicanism?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say this: in these 4 years ahead of us I intend to work for such a concept industriously and incessantly. I think that there is before the American people now, including even these people that you rather allowed to stay anonymous--[laughter]--that must convince even them that some change in the understanding that the public has of the Republican Party is necessary.

Now, I think I can tell you in a few sentences what I think about Modern Republicanism.

It is a type of political philosophy that recognizes clearly the responsibility of the Federal Government to take the lead in making certain that the productivity of our great economic machine is distributed so that no one will suffer disaster, privation, through no fault of his own. Now, this covers the wide field of education and health, and so on.

We believe likewise in the free enterprise system. We believe that it is free enterprise that has brought these blessings to America.

Therefore, we are going to try our best to preserve that free enterprise, and put all of these problems in the hands of localities and the private enterprise of States wherever we can. It happens that the great difference, as I see it, between myself and people of a philosophy that believes in centralized government, is that I believe to have this free enterprise healthy, you must have, first, integrity in your fiscal operations of the Government; second, you must preserve a sound dollar or all of our plans for social security and pensions for the aged fall by the wayside, they are no good; and thirdly, in this dispersion of power.

Now, that, at home, as I see it, represents Modern Republicanism.

Q. Mr. Brandt: Mr. President, on that very point, in your first 4 years there was criticism that you made recommendations, as I recall it, remember it, and that you did not take personal leadership in working with Members of Congress.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Brandt, leadership is a word and a concept that has been more argued than almost any other I know.

I am not one of the desk-pounding type that likes to stick out his jaw and look like he is bossing the show. I would far rather get behind and, recognizing the frailties and the requirements of human nature, I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone. [Laughter]

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, do we have any information to confirm widespread reports that the Russians already have moved in some fighters and some weapons into the Arab countries in the past few weeks?

THE PRESIDENT. We know, of course, that they put MIGs, quite a long time ago, into Egypt, and we do know that when the British and the French moved in that these were dispersed somewhat to other fields.

We know that there are some of these machines at different places. But I think we have no authentic information of the particular kind you describe.

Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, there is a debate among economists over the question of whether the United States can have a high production and high employment economy without rising prices. Do you believe that the United States can have a healthy economy if prices continue to rise at the rate of 2.8 percent every 44 months, as they have during the last 44, or do you believe that that price increase must be checked in the coming years?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I believe it must be checked. There are two types, of course--we refer to inflation, at least, generally in two of its aspects: one is just cheapened money, deficit spending, of borrowing from our children, from the future, and printing money against that, and that naturally brings rising prices because the money itself is cheaper; then, there are also the rising prices brought about by the efforts of all people to gain a bigger portion of the results of our great productivity; and, finally, you get to the point, and whether or not we have gotten to it yet, I don't know, where you cannot attract capital investment that will build the factories that give the whole 66, 67 million people their jobs, because lying behind every job in America is an investment of somewhere along the order of 15 to 17 thousand dollars. That money has got to be accumulated.

Consequently, if you continue going up too rapidly in one area, say, the labor area, then prices go up, and finally you get to a point where you just simply can't keep things in order, and some difficulty occurs.

Now, I believe this: a country such as ours, believing as it does in the freedom of people to work out their own fate, will develop, and probably has already developed in some quarters, at least, business and labor leadership that is sufficiently wise and farseeing to help solve this problem and keep it within bounds.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, to go back to your election night statement that your victory reflected an approval of Modern Republicanism, could you tell us in the light of that statement how you interpret the election of another Democratic-controlled Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I simply say this: from my viewpoint, the United States has not yet been convinced that Modern Republicanism is with us and is going to be the guiding philosophy of the Republican Party.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Augusta Chronicle: Mr. President, you probably noticed the reason you don't have control of Congress is that you don't have as many members from the Southern States in proportion to your own popular vote there.

You carried a majority of the popular vote in the South.

Do you plan to rebuild the Republican Party in a modern way in the States like Georgia and Virginia to elect governors and congressmen there?

THE PRESIDENT. I will do every single thing I can; but there is an old saying, if you will forgive me again for quoting a military aphorism: you always reinforce success and never defeat. That would dictate that you would start with the States in which you have apparently made pretty good progress, reinforce them, and build them up, and the others will be bound to come along, I think.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: I would like to return to the Middle East for a minute, sir. You mentioned a while ago that our policy was to be friends to both sides, both the Israelis and the Arabs, and after this crisis has calmed down to try to get them to trade with each other.

THE PRESIDENT. Well--trade--I say that is long-term; you are not going to do that very quickly, I am sure.

Q. Mr. McGaffin: I know, sir, but what I wanted to ask you, many people feel that it is our failure to work out an overall solution to the basic problems in the Middle East, that it was our policy of sort of drifting there which brought this crisis on.

I wondered if we are going now to try to work out a long-range solution to such basic problems as the 900,000 Arab refugees, the undefined boundaries, all the problems that have been kicking around out there for the last 8 years?

THE PRESIDENT. I should like for you to go to the State Department, if you think we have been drifting on these problems, and I would like you to get a detailed account, if they can give it to you, of what's been going on.

Take the 900,000 refugees: I don't know of any problem that was placed in my lap earlier than that when I was first inaugurated; all the way through--the Eric Johnston plan for developing the Jordan River to the benefit of all, the study with every one of these nations of their problems, and an attempt to help them out.

As a matter of fact, up until the point, I would say, when the Egyptians had accepted Russian arms, we had every reason to believe that things were going along, and maybe we could prevent such a thing as this happening.

It did happen, and we have got to get over this hump before we can keep pushing ahead. But I don't think you will find any question of drifting in the Mid-East.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, could you tell us whether you have been in communication with Marshal Zhukov in the interests--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't--

Q. Mr. Scheibel: --of a settlement?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not since this thing.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, in 1954, as you traveled around the country, you warned against a split government. You used such expressions that a split government would mean stagnation, partisan cold war. Then, after the Democrats captured Congress, you acknowledged that language was too strong.

I noticed in this last campaign you asked people to vote for the straight Republican ticket but sounded no warnings. Now, did you foresee a Democratic Congress, or why the difference?

THE PRESIDENT. No. From the very beginning it was thought to be very close in both the Senate and the House.

Now, it never even occurred to me that I hadn't warned-what I was saying, in which I believe, this country knows who and which party to hold responsible when they have both the Legislature and the Executive in the same party hands.

If you will remember in this campaign time and again you had incidents come up where both sides were claiming credit or both sides were ducking, making alibis for the failure.

Now, I really believe that what we should have and you would normally expect--with such a big vote for a President, you would expect to bring in the House, at least, because they are all elected each year, and it is a popular vote that goes for the President. Consequently, you would expect that would happen, and then you would be held responsible.

Now, the only thing I say is, it is difficult, far more difficult, to hold anybody responsible when you don't have it in the same hands. I always have said that.

Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, returning to the Middle East for a moment, in August of 1955 Secretary Dulles offered a United States guarantee of the Israeli-Arab frontiers if the Arabian and Israeli Governments could reach an agreement, and also offered help in resettling the refugees. Does that offer of a guarantee and help still pertain today? Is it still--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that was a rather long statement, as I recall, he made in August, and I don't remember all its details. But I would say this: I know of no reason for not sticking right with it.

Q. Mr. Steele: Including the guarantees?

THE PRESIDENT. If these conditions are brought about first; the guarantee was given on the certain conditions.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, in view of the voters' decision to continue split government-that is, a Democratic Congress and Republican Executive--do you regard the election returns as a mandate to push forward with the program that you have had, to re-examine it or to

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Lawrence, I think if I didn't believe that this was somewhat of a mandate to me to push forward with what I have been trying to tell the United States is my policy, my beliefs, my convictions, and a program, that then I would be arrogating to myself a tremendous personal magnetism and standing that probably would make me about as egotistical as any man in the world.

If they don't approve what I stand for, I would not understand why they voted for me.

Therefore, I would say, of course, with all of the plans we have developed, not necessarily the details, but the type of farm program, school program, road program, everything in the United States regarding health, all of that sort of thing, I believe it is approved in general by the United States.

Moreover, I believe that the efforts, the untiring efforts, that this administration has made working through the United Nations to produce peace in the world and tranquillity have the thorough approval of our people in the States.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's ninety-ninth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 11:02 o'clock on Wednesday morning, November 14, 1956. In attendance: 258.

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/233896

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