Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

May 14, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, I have one or two points this morning in which you may have some interest.

On Tuesday evening I shall make a radio talk. On that morning I am going to have a conference with the legislative leaders, sort of a final one, in talking about security, budget, and expenditure programs. And that will be mainly the subject of my talk that night, to explain exactly what we are trying to get at in this whole field, the relationships of security, our economy, budgets, and deficits.

Then, a week or so later, I shall probably go on a television program, in an effort to make a report to the Nation on what has taken place up until that moment.

Those are the only items of announcement that I have, and we will go right to the questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, what do you think of Prime Minister Churchill's proposal for a top-level international conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course the State Department, yesterday, released a statement with my approval. All of these things are manifestations of the free world's great longing for some kind of peaceful composition of our difficulties in the world, and all of us share them.

Now, the question comes finally: when can the heads of states, that are very busy men, when can they meet and discuss these things with some promise of progress?

There have been many conferences in the past of foreign ministers, and Secretaries, and other types. I repeat: I am personally ready to do anything, and the only thing that I believe that the dignity and the self-respect of the United States demands is that we have some reasonable indication that progress can be made.

I don't insist upon full progress, or any great blueprint to come out of such a conference for the peace of the world, just something that can be called progress by all of us.

So I have no objection whatsoever to Sir Winston's proposal; but I would like, before I would commit this Government to participation, something that would be an earnest of good faith all around.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Mr. President, would you be in favor of calling a conference before a truce in Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't even go so far as to state a series of things, something that had to be done, or something that would not be done. What I would like to say is this: I believe that the common sense of the world can make its own judgments as to acts or deeds that would give a real earnest of good faith. Now, if such an act comes along, I am perfectly ready to engage myself in any kind of an effort, at any time. But I cannot prescribe exactly what would be an earnest of good faith and what would not.

I have, in my speech of April 16, listed two or three that I thought would be definitely indicative of such intent. There could be others, but I do not want to say that unless this is done I won't do so and so; I don't believe that. I am ready to take most any kind of a chance to promote. peace in this world.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo News: Mr. President, do we correctly infer, then, that you have not had the evidence of intent that you would like to have, that these deeds have not occurred?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. I see nothing that you could really point to as definite evidence of good faith.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) papers: Mr. President, do you believe that the personal method of conferences is better than the impersonal, through subordinate diplomats?

THE PRESIDENT. I suppose there are times when the highest authorities, taking great questions of policy, might do better by meeting, establishing personal contacts, maybe personal confidence, mutual confidence. But, by and large, I think that these things must be done through the Foreign Offices and State Department, because they are so complicated, and so much in the way of procedure, and all that sort of thing, comes into it. It would be unwise to depend entirely on just meeting of the heads of state, and that kind of person.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Mr. President, I would like to ask you two allied questions on a single topic. First of all, you endorsed the New York State and Province of Ontario development of the water power in the St. Lawrence River.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Mr. Emory: Do you also feel that way about the development proposed in the Niagara River at Niagara Falls?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that, from our side of the case, it is primarily a New York State responsibility; and I should be glad to see that authority given New York State to then handle the thing as they saw best.

Q. Mr. Emory: That more or less answers my second question, sir, which was that Secretary McKay, who followed your lead on the St. Lawrence question, has said that he thought the Niagara development should be a matter for settlement on the State level

in New York without reflection of White House views.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. That's right.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, are you personally in favor of the Hells Canyon project, or the Idaho Power Company plan for the Snake. River development?

THE PRESIDENT. I doubt that my own opinion on that should be even governing, except as, I suppose, eventually I have to decide between presentations.

I must say that so far as I have seen, so far, the weight of evidence presented is on the side of letting this thing be decided locally. Again, I believe in the local decision. But what the exact, ultimate decision will be, I am not prepared to say this morning.

Q. Mr. Brandt: What are you going to do about the multiple purpose dams?

THE PRESIDENT. You mean all multiple-purpose?

Q. Mr. Brandt: No--well, yes. What is the policy on multiple-purpose against purely hydroelectrical development?

THE PRESIDENT. I should say in each case it depends upon what is indicated is necessary, and what is the profitable thing in that area. Not always are multiple-purpose dams indicated as necessary; sometimes they are.

Q. Mr. Brandt: Would they be Government problems, then? I know of no private companies developing multiple projects.

THE PRESIDENT. As I have said time and time again, I really believe that no one should attempt to take exclusive jurisdiction over these things. I believe the Federal Government normally has some job that it has to do in connection with these great projects; but what we want to do is to keep the maximum local influence, authority, and direction in the thing. If the local people want also, let us say, to sell power at bus bar, and all that sort of thing, in order to get local interest, local competition, I think it is their right. Now, I don't believe there is any one single answer for any of these problems.

Q. Mr. Brandt: In the Snake River area, is the local support greater for the Idaho Power than for the Federal Government plans?

THE PRESIDENT. Within Idaho, definitely. As a matter of fact, long before I was elected President of the United States I was visited by many, many people. They insisted--not because they were officials--they were mayors, they were people like that-they insisted that they do not believe in this big dam.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, do you plan any special shipboard conferences this week, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope to have one or two come down. I am taking along the draft of the talk I hope to give Tuesday night--by radio, that is; that is not a television show--I am going to take that along, and I hope no later than Saturday morning to have come down two or three people to confer with me, and at least listen to what I have to say.

Q. Mr. Donovan: Do you expect to have any conferences with naval people in Norfolk when you are down there?

THE PRESIDENT. I expect, of course, to see Admiral McCormick and discuss with him some of his particular problems.

Q. Paul R. Leach, Chicago Daily News: Recently, David McDonald of the CIO-United Steel Workers, proposed that the President of the United States work and use his influence for obtaining a guaranteed annual wage for labor. Do you think that is--have you given any thought to that, is it something that the Government can do, or is it inimical to bargaining--collective bargaining?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not ready to discuss this subject in terms of final conclusions. I do repeat that I believe the White House has no real function in interfering in normal labor-management discussion and argument.

Now, you are bringing up something that can go way beyond that, you can talk about national policy on a very broad scale. I wouldn't, on that point, express an opinion until I have had the most exhaustive kind of analyses and studies made.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, what do you think of Clement Attlee's statement that he believes there are some people in this country who do not really want peace?

THE PRESIDENT. Again, I do want to say this: I do not criticize individuals as such, or their opinions, and therefore set myself up as an allwise judge that knows the motives that led someone into a particular line of thought, a particular line of statement.

I say this: I have met no one in the United States that doesn't want peace. I must say that there is a wide variety of opinion as to how we will obtain peace. Some believe it can be obtained only if we have almost an overwhelming amount of military power from which to talk in almost dictatorial tones. Others 288 believe that we should start from almost the opposite end of the scale. But if anyone knows of these people--and I believe the statement said both in Britain and America--who do not want peace, I must say I haven't met them.

Q. Alice Johnson, Seattle Times: Mr. President, are you still opposed to the inclusion of Alaska in the Hawaiian statehood bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I am personally of the belief that the Hawaiian bill should be handled by itself on its merits. I have said time and again, and this is entirely aside from what the Republican platform said on it, my own conviction is this: in Hawaii you have an economy that is self-supporting, it has a large population, and on top of that they delivered a record in World War II that to my mind clearly entitles them to the privileges of statehood. I would like to see that case handled directly and specifically on its merits, without complicating it with any other question, any other matter.

Q. Mrs. Johnson: One more question, please, sir. Are you giving any consideration to going to the Governors' Conference this summer?

THE PRESIDENT. Indeed I am. I don't know whether I am going to make the grade; I don't know where Congress will be by that time.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, may we put in direct quotes your statement "I have met no one in the United States who does not want peace"?


Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Mr. President, do you think Senators and Congressmen should get a raise in pay?


Q. Mr. Tully: Would you like to expand on it, sir? Why?

THE PRESIDENT. Because I think this: we are rapidly approaching the time when we are likely to be deprived of the best men we can get in these jobs. With the kind of taxes we have, we are very, likely to get to the state where only someone who is fortunately placed in the economic field--financial field--can come to Washington. I believe we should make certain that we can have the very best man, whether he has got a nickel or a lot of money.

Q. Milburn Petty, Oil Daily: Last week Governor Thornton told us that he had suggested to you a proposed voluntary program to cut back oil imports. Would you tell us the status of that now, please?

THE PRESIDENT. He did not describe it to me. He told me that was his plan and he was going over to discuss it with other people in Government. As a matter of fact, Senator Thornton was very kind and realized that I didn't have time to study this problem singly and alone, without help, so he took it directly to the other people. I haven't heard anything further on it; it has not reached me.

Q. John Herling, Register and Tribune Syndicate: As you know, there is considerable restlessness among the labor groups about the staffing in the Department of Labor. Do you plan to send up names of the secretaries which the Department now lacks, in the near future?

THE PRESIDENT. I will send them as rapidly as the Secretary recommends them, and the people recommended meet all the qualifications that are demanded in this Government before going up.

Q. Mr. Herling: Secretary's office?

THE PRESIDENT. I Can't say that it is entirely the Secretary's office, because we do make all sorts of investigations, some of which demand quite a bit of time. I can't say at this moment. I would be glad to look it up, and have Mr. Hagerty tell you further on the point.

Q. Edward J. Milne, Providence Journal: Will your fiscal program next week include recommendations for new taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. The program will discuss the whole tax problem and what our general approach to it will be. I can't give you any more details at this moment.

Q. Anthony Leviero, New York Times: I have a question about the Presidential income. I know it can't be raised or lowered while you are in office. In your recent speech in New York you said that the experts said that you might go in the hole. I wonder if you have observed enough to tell us about how much?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I must assure you that I used that sort of facetious allusion merely to show that I was not insensible to the tax problem.

It matters very little to me what happens. I believe that any man who undertakes a job such as I have undertaken would be very foolish to talk about what his tax problem is. And so I am perfectly ready to meet it. I haven't a word of criticism or complaint to make. Whatever it is, I will do my best.

Q. Doris Fleeson, Bell Syndicate: Mr. President, I understood you to refer to Governor Thornton of Colorado as Senator Thornton. Does that suggest that he will run next year against Senator Johnson? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I think your question merely illustrates the speed with which anyone is ready to pick up a slip. If I did that, I am sorry. I meant Governor and nothing further.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Texas papers: Mr. President, was this separate Continental Shelf bill that was introduced in the House this week, was it introduced at your request and with your previous knowledge?

THE PRESIDENT. The separate one?

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I merely say this: I have expressed always the same attitude on this whole question, from 1948 onward. I believe that-outside of the historic boundaries--the State has no possible claim on the areas outside those boundaries. Inside them, I believe they do.

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Back to my question, did you have previous knowledge and was it at your request that this particular separate bill was introduced at this time and in the manner in which it was?

THE PRESIDENT. The technique of introducing those bills I always leave to the people who have that job. The bills do express my general philosophy; that's all I ask of them.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, I ask this question by request. What is your opinion of UNESCO? That is the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization of the United Nations.

THE PRESIDENT. There never was an organization started with a finer announced purpose. Because manifestly, if we are going to have peace and understanding in the world, we have got to know about each other's culture, there has got to be greater information disseminated throughout the world--each of the other.

Now, in our own country, there has been a lot of suspicion aroused about this Organization. I think possibly some of the discussions within the body have given rise to this suspicion. But I do know, as of now, there are very good people on our particular section of this Organization; and they are people that I believe are interested in the welfare of the United States of America.

I have not looked up to see on my own, or there has been no report made to me, whether there is any real justification of this suspicion. I do know it exists. It is something I want to get around to, when I can. That's all I can say at the moment.

Q. Mr. Folliard: Senator Flanders of Vermont has a peace plan; I think he flew to Denver and discussed it with you last fall. He has been at the White House twice, recently, within the past 2 weeks. Would you care to comment on it?

THE PRESIDENT. NO. Senator Flanders has given me certain suggestions, and I think on a confidential basis; I certainly thought that that is the way I received them. Generally I say this: I find nothing that is different in them from what most of us are working toward, and there is nothing sensational about them.

I always welcome any such suggestions; and I would be very poorly advised, I think, to discuss them in detail, because I would soon be cutting off some of the advice that I do get.

Q. Arthur Sylvester, Newark News: Mr. President, do you expect your new Joint Chiefs of Staff to come up with different strategical concepts and different estimates of the power we should have?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I should say this: let us remember that the great facts that affect a so-called strategic situation and plan do not change rapidly. It takes no great wisdom to see how important to the general safety of the free world, and of the United States in particular, are certain vital areas of the world.

Take Western Europe: there is no great struggle there to see the relationship between West Europe's freedom and strength and health, and ours. There are other areas from which we get vital materials. There are other areas that are vital to the commerce of the world--lines of communication, or like the Mideast, the storage place of such tremendous amounts of oil.

So, no strategic plan suitable to the United States can be greatly different from any other, as long as it is based upon these facts. Now, you do get into differences of the methods and means by which the safety of these things will be brought about. For example, one extremist believes that merely in the fear of retaliation is safety. I doubt that many believe in that extreme view. Others believe you have just got to put the man on the spot with his bayonet fixed, almost, defending him. I doubt that for the United States many believe that is a sound policy.

There is in all of these things a need for achieving the balance between nationalistic aspirations, the union that must be established between countries in order that their economies and standards of living may go up.

Finally, the basic problem of how do you preserve an independent life at the same time that some of the measures that you are forced to adopt would tend to lead you toward a garrison state? We don't want to become a garrison state. We want to remain free. Our plans, our programs, therefore, must conform to the practices of a free people, which means essentially a free economy. That is the problem that, frankly, this administration meets on, discusses, works on, every day of its life. There is no easy problem.

Now, the new people coming in: let me, with your indulgence, take a little time out here to discuss something that is very close to my heart. All of the men who have been on these Joint Chiefs of Staff; they are my old friends, they are my old associates. Through years of experience with them, sometimes experiences that were a bit soul-racking, I have found them to be loyal and dedicated men. I have no criticism of anyone that is going out.

We do have a new approach. We feel that the United States has a right to think that there is a new approach, a study that is made without any real chains fastening to the past.

The Secretary of Defense felt he should have an entirely new team, and I agreed with him. But I must assure you this: there is nothing that I can say, from my viewpoint as an old soldier, having served with these men, that would be too high praise for every single man on that Chiefs of Staff as I have seen him operate.

Now, I would hope that those words would be taken just as sincerely and earnestly as I feel them and believe them.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: There has been some interpretation of the selection of the new Chiefs as a shift in emphasis from Europe to Asia. I wonder if you would care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have insisted, time and time again, that I see nothing in this argument of Europe versus Asia. The world happens to be round, and it has no end. I don't see how you can discuss the great basic problems of today, which are so largely philosophical in character, without thinking in global terms. I think that there may be times when, tactically, your interest is shifted in one direction, at times in another. But in the actual thinking and considering of this whole problem you must think globally, or you are bound to go wrong. And so this shift, so far as I am concerned, means nothing, except that I believe Mr. Wilson has selected a very able group of people to come in and help him.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, in your television talk, will that be a straight speech by you, or are you thinking in terms of some new format of panel discussion?

THE PRESIDENT. Thinking in terms of what?

Q. Mr. Donovan: Some new format of panel discussion, or will that be a talk by you?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course now, you are talking about techniques; and these techniques, seemingly, are going through development. I personally would hope to be able to talk very informally on the television. I think when you have to be exact and talk formally, I would rather be on the radio. In any event, however we do the thing on the television, it will attempt to be an accurate report to the American people of what has happened to date, the purposes that have led us, and the accomplishments up to that moment.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, you said that you saw nothing that you could really point to as definite evidence of good faith.

THE PRESIDENT. I remember.

Q. Mr. Smith: I know this is redundant, but I just want to be sure we understand you correctly; you are speaking of the need of evidence of good faith from the Russians?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct, that is correct.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: In that connection, do you feel that the Communists' very quick rejection yesterday of General Clark's peace proposals in Korea means that they are stalling again--to drag this out over the summer, or to prevent our bringing the war to a military conclusion?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't had a definite report from General Clark as to the details of that meeting. But I would say this: it was indicative of a sort of fixed attitude, that they could reject anything so quickly. That's all I would say. I could be mistaken. I would hope I were mistaken, but that is the way it would look.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, to get back to the Attlee and Churchill comments, what is your opinion of their recommendation that Communist China be admitted to the United Nations Security Council should an armistice be signed?

THE PRESIDENT. I do think that you must remember that different nations have different interpretations on what recognition of a nation means. I think, ever since Wilson's time, in this country, we have more or less gone on the theory that recognition means also tacit approval. Now, at one time, as you well know, recognition meant just the recognition of the fact that there was a de facto ruler of an important segment of the world. And I think in certain other countries, that viewpoint still holds. With us, because there has been a different meaning developed in our country of this word recognition of another, we have to view the case differently. And I do not consider it as big a rift, let us say, between British and American policy, as it might appear on the surface, that we don't reach the same conclusion on it.

Certainly I would not say at this moment that I believe that admittance should follow an armistice.

Q. Joseph A. Fox, Washington Evening Star: Mr. President, what is the hour of that speech next Tuesday night?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is 10 o'clock, but--[confers with Mr. Hagerty]. The final hour isn't fixed.

[Speaker unidentified]: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's ninth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 14, 1953.

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/231779

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