Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 31, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated. I have no special announcements to make, ladies and gentlemen, but I will try to answer questions, if they are not too complicated.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, Representative Tauriello of New York yesterday said that Secretary Johnson had lost the confidence of the people of the country. What do you think of the statement?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on it.

Q. Mr. President, to put the question another way, following up Secretary Johnson's letter,1 have you been embarrassed by him?

THE PRESIDENT. No. If I had been embarrassed, everybody would have found it out because I would have announced it.

1On August 23 Representative Anthony F. Tauriello of New York wrote to the Secretary of Defense demanding his resignation. On August 30 Secretary Louis Johnson replied in the form of a statement reviewing his stewardship as Secretary of Defense.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, this is rather a complicated question. I had in mind the fact that it is a little over 19 months since you first announced the point 4 program, since which there has been a great deal of discussion and some legislation. I wonder if you would care now to indicate your general thought about that program, and your hopes for its realization?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course I hope for its realization, and I have made it as strongly apparent to the Congress that I hope for its realization. And if sometime or other we can get that 36-inch globe--or 30-inch globe--I have over at the office up here, I will give you a dissertation on it that will show you just how simple and how easy it would be to put it into effect, and how much good it would do us, and the rest of the world.

Q. That was what I had at the back of my complicated question. In your own mind the underdeveloped areas are relatively apparent--

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes. It is not necessarily underdeveloped areas, it is the development of areas that will support more populations, raise more food, and cause a demand for our own products, and at the same time raise the standard of living of millions and millions of people--which is exactly what keeps peace in the world. It would be the best guarantee of world peace that we could possibly put out, and it wouldn't, in the long run, cost us anything except the technical help which we would be furnishing.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Lucas says the statehood bill would not be taken up this year. Have you any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. I am very sorry to hear it, because I am anxious for Alaska and Hawaii to be made States in the Union for national defense purposes principally. I want somebody down there fighting all the time for their proper development and defense. Never get that until they get a couple of Senators in the Senate and some Representatives in the House.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, in New York the longshoremen are refusing to unload ships that are coming from Russia and satellite countries, and some of those who are affected--importers--are claiming that this would amount to setting foreign policy--

THE PRESIDENT. That is exactly right, and they haven't any business doing a trick like that. The foreign policy is not made by any longshoreman's union.

Q. Are you planning to intercede in any way, or have Mr. Steelman intervene--

THE PRESIDENT. What intercession can I make?

Q. To prevail upon the union, perhaps?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will take care of the situation if it gets bad enough.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, some of the Congressmen up on Capitol Hill were very talkative today about the decentralization program. They don't think that this is real decentralization, they think the Government agencies should be dispersed farther from Washington. Would you care to say something about that ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think there is very much comment I can make on that. This is merely the beginning of a plan which has been under consideration for a long time. Of course, I can understand the attitude of some of the Congressmen, they would like to have these things moved into certain other cities--and that is not the objective at all.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, concerning imports and exports, there has been a good deal of congressional criticism in the past few days, sir, reflecting the speech by Winston Churchill,2 and an incident or two concerning what is called lax export control here--a lot of strategic things that are going to Russia. Do you feel our controls are lax and--

THE PRESIDENT. No, they are not. Our controls are not lax at all. We have been trying to get the other countries to tighten up as tightly as we have been doing, and then we wouldn't have any trouble.

2In a speech on August 26 Winston S. Churchill, then British opposition leader, speaking from his country home at Westerham in Kent, stated that the British should stop selling machine tools and diesel engines to Russia and her satellites. He also spoke out against the presence of Soviet "inspectors" inside factories where production of a secret nature was underway. He was referring to work being done in British factories for the Soviet Union. The orders were placed under the British-Russian trade agreement of 1948.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, in your message to General MacArthur the other day,3 you told of getting reports from Admiral Sherman and General Collins on Korea. You said you were gratified by the report. Now, I wondered if there was some good news there that you could share with the people?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in a position to comment on that today. I am sorry, I can't.

3 See Item 226.

Q. Mr. President, will the allied forces stop at the 38th parallel?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question.

Q. Mr. President, how great do you regard the danger of Red China becoming involved in the action in Korea ?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope that there is no great danger that Red China will become involved in this United Nations approach to establishing peace in Korea.

Q. Mr. President, in your letter to Ambassador Austin on Sunday,4 you gave as one of the reasons for neutralizing Formosa the fact that the conflict between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Nationalists might threaten the security of the United Nations forces operating in Korea, or even result in the extension of the Korean war to the Pacific area. Does that mean that when peace and security are restored to the Korean area, then the United States 7th Fleet would be withdrawn from the Formosan--

THE PRESIDENT. The Formosan situation as set out in my various messages is one for settlement--in the Japanese peace treaty with the allies who fought in the Japanese war and with those occupation forces--by those nations that have occupying forces in Japan now. Of course, it will not be necessary to keep the 7th Fleet in the Formosa Strait if the Korean thing is settled. That is a flank protection on our part for the United Nations forces.

4 See Item 223.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, would you favor changing the present wiretapping law to make wiretapping illegal as it stands, regardless of divulging--

THE PRESIDENT. ] can't comment upon that now. When that matter is put before me, then I will pass on it. I can't comment on it now, because I have no idea of what sort of legislation will be before me.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is there any significance in the fact that the Attorney General is here ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Attorney General is a visitor. He has never seen a press conference in this new hall of ours, and he wanted to see whether it was successful here or not. [Laughter]

[10.] Q. Mr. President, did Secretary Johnson discuss anything about the wool shortage situation with you Tuesday?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It has been discussed with me, however, time and time again, but he did not discuss it with me Tuesday.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you anything further to say about General MacArthur's views on Formosa and what should be done about it?

THE PRESIDENT. The MacArthur incident is a closed incident.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, if the North Atlantic Pact countries do not increase their defense efforts, will you be called on to ask for more funds for them?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer a question like that because they are all making efforts to increase their defense efforts, and I think they are going to do it.

Q. Are the efforts satisfactory?

THE PRESIDENT. They are hoped to be satisfactory, when they are finished. I can't comment on it because they are only in the preliminary stages. It wouldn't be fair to those countries for me to stand up here and tell them what they ought to do. That's their business.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, just to clarify my lead on Secretary Johnson, you don't contemplate any change in the Defense Secretary?


[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any views as to how the ECA Administrator should administer the Spanish loan, if it remains in the omnibus appropriation bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when we come to the implementation of the Spanish loan.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, along the line of the previous question, it is suggested that we increase our garrison forces in West Germany until they can get some muscle in there. Have you any idea of increasing the present occupation forces?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at the present time.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, do you care to make any predictions about the November elections?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not a columnist nor a pollster, so I can't very well do it. [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and thirtyseventh news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, 1950.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230189

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