It is a great pleasure to participate in this annual exchange of opinion about urgent problems of our time. Certainly, the most urgent problem we face in the world is the prevention of future wars.
We are agreed on one thing: We must not have a third World War. That means we must prevent a future war before it happens.
If any doubts remained after Pearl Harbor, they have been ended by the last desperate act of the Nazis in launching Hitler’s blind weapon of revenge, the robot bomb. This is futile savagery. But it serves to warn us against the future.
Japanese planes launched from a few aircraft carriers on December 7, 1941, struck us a devastating blow at Pearl Harbor. If we fail to make secure the peace of the world, the next war will not begin by a surprise attack upon an outlying base. It will begin when robot bombs launched thousands of miles away suddenly rain death and destruction on our major cities.
Even before this war, the airplane had reduced the size of the earth. The robot bomb has made this world of ours still smaller. It has put us under the guns of any aggressor nation that may rise to power anywhere in the world.
If there should even be a third World War, America would be in the front lines in the very first hour. That is not an argument. It is a fact.
Every American must learn the inescapable conclusion. We must never forget it. We must never again run the risk of permitting war to break loose in the world. Together with all freedom-loving people, we have had a narrow escape. We dare not take another chance. This war must be the last war.
To this end, the United States must take the lead in establishing a world organization to prevent future wars. I am more than a little tired of the defeatist attitude which some people take toward our participation in world affairs. To hear them talk, you would think the United States had never shown any competence in foreign relations. At least, not until the last few years.
Actually, from the earliest days of our nation, when Benjamin Franklin induced the King of France to enter the Revolutionary War on our side. American history is packed with diplomatic triumphs and international achievements.
Time and again, even in the earliest days of our republic, the United States wielded a moral force far in excess of its military power. In more recent years, our history is studded with a series of brilliant measures taken by able American Secretaries of State, to broaden the basis of international collaboration.
On any roll call of these great American Secretaries of State, there would stand out the names of Blaine and Hay and Root, of Hughes, Kellogg and Stimson. Their names are linked to such achievements as the Good Neighbor policy, the Open Door for China, the Hague Peace Conference, the disarmament conference by which the Japanese Navy was limited to an inferior status, the Pact of Paris to outlaw war, the World Court, the Policy of Non-Recognition of the fruits of aggression, and many measures to broaden the basis of international cooperation.
All these were great achievements carried through by men who had the respect of their country and of other nations. And every one of these great Secretaries of State I have mentioned was a Republican.
These achievements and countless others were made under administrations where the President conducted foreign affairs through the Secretary of State and our regular foreign service. These Presidents did not presume to be both President and Secretary of State. They did not presume to substitute their own personal will for the informed judgment of the American people.
If we are to be successful in our future labors to bring about lasting peace, they cannot be the property of one party or one man. It must draw its strength from all our people, everywhere. Only a united America can exercise the influence on the world for which its strength and ideals have equipped it. Of that I am deeply convinced.
I am equally convinced that to the extent that we leave our international relations to the personal secret diplomacy of the President, our efforts to achieve a lasting peace will fail. In many directions today, our foreign policy gives cause for deep anxiety.
The case of Poland is one example. Poland was the first nation to resist the oppression of Hitler. The restoration of free Poland is the outstanding symbol of what we are fighting for. Admittedly, Poland has differences with Russia that go deep in history and for which there is no simple solution. Yet Mr. Roosevelt undertook to handle this matter personally and secretly with Mr. Stalin. At their only meeting, neither our Secretary of State nor the Under Secretary was present, Instead, Mr. Roosevelt took along Harry Hopkins, who acquired his training in foreign affairs in running the WPA, But, because of the secret nature of the meeting, American public opinion has been silenced by the fear that some delicate negotiation might be embarrassed.
Mr. Roosevelt, nevertheless, has not yet even secured Russian recognition of those whom we consider to be the true government of Poland. Neither was it possible to save that immortal group of Polish patriots, led by Gen. Bor, who struck, as they believed, in coordination with Russia, only to be abandoned. After 63 days of gallant and unequal struggle, they were overwhelmed by the Nazis.
In all this, we Americans would have a clearer conscience if the voice of our people had not been stifled.
Now look to Italy. Some 15 months have passed since Italy’s surrender. We have sent over a batch of alphabetical agencies. They brought with them invasion currency bearing the legend “Freedom From Want. Freedom From Fear.” What a mockery that must seem to the Italian people.
Here is the comment of the vice president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, who has just returned from Italy. He reports “mass unemployment, hunger, despair, degradation, delinquency and painful disappointment” …because the Allies have not “helped the Italian people help themselves.” He quotes the solemn warning of the Pope as follows:
The great democracies must show greater interest and concern for Italy if she is not to plunge from one dictatorship into another.
The Italian people deserve something better than the improvised, inefficient administration which personal New Deal government is giving them.
Take now the case of Germany. Our experience in Italy should have brought about timely decisions on how to handle the invasion and occupation of Germany. As long ago as last January, Gen. Eisenhower told us we would have to deal with that problem this year. Yet, when the invasion of Germany began, there was still no official plan. Careful plans had, to be sure, been worked out by the two departments primarily qualified – the War and the State Departments. But that kind of planning goes for nothing when the President personally handles foreign policy.
There was a conference involving this very vital subject between the President and Mr. Churchill at Québec last month. Did Mr. Roosevelt take the Secretary of War or the Secretary of State to the conference? As usual, he took neither. Instead, he took with him the Secretary of the Treasury, whose qualifications as an expert on military and international affairs are still a closely-guarded military secret.
The result was a first-class cabinet crisis when it appeared that the work of the State Department and the War Department was to be scrapped in favor of a brand-new scheme produced by the Treasury. In the end, the Treasury plan was scrapped. A new plan was ordered, this time to be produced by Mr. Crowley, head of the Foreign Economy Administration. Today, just an hour ago, I was happy to learn that Allied headquarters had announced a military program for Germany.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Propaganda Minister Goebbels has seized upon the episode to terrify the Germans into fanatical resistance. On the basis of our Treasury Department’s ill-conceived proposals, the German people were told that a program of destruction was in store for them if they surrender. Almost overnight, the morale of the German people seemed changed. They are fighting with the frenzy of despair. We are paying in blood for our failure to have ready an intelligent program for dealing with invaded Germany.
Turn now to France. The unfortunate consequences of Mr. Roosevelt’s personal antipathy for Gen. de Gaulle are only too well known. We backed his antagonist, Darlan. When Darlan was assassinated, we backed Giraud. Now, with France free, Mr. Roosevelt is compelled to deal with Gen. de Gaulle, who is, in fact, heading the only existing French government. Mr. Roosevelt’s persistent refusal to grant recognition to the de Gaulle government of France is contributing to the increasing chaos behind our lines at a critical period of the war. France is Germany’s principal neighbor and knows most about German aggression. The glorious resistance the French people made during four tortured years entitles them to more generous treatment. We need France in our councils and we need her now.
One more illustration. Look at Romania. On September 12, 1944, an agreement was made restoring peaceful relations. This was no mere military armistice. That agreement fixed the future frontiers of Romania. It disposed of Bessarabia and Transylvania, two of the worst trouble spots of Europe. It dealt with economic matters.
Now, who negotiated and signed that agreement? It was signed “by the authority of the government of the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States by Melinosky.” That treaty was signed by a representative of Soviet Russia acting in behalf of the United States.
The day after it was signed, the Secretary of State of the United States declined to comment on the ground that the terms had not been received from Moscow in time to study.
These are just a few examples of what happens when a President insists upon handling foreign affairs on the basis of personal, secret diplomacy. The result is today that no one knows what our foreign policy is with respect to Poland, France, Germany, Romania and other countries of Europe, or for that matter, South America or China. We have no hint of what commitments may have been made, and American opinion is stifled and ineffective. Yet despite these obstacles, we are fighting our way to victory and we shall achieve American participation in a world organization to prevent future wars. We are going to succeed because in this matter we have followed the American way of doing things. The handling of this vital matter has been left to the State Department where it belongs.
Many times in the past, and six weeks ago, in detail, I have set forth the principles which should govern us in the great work ahead. There are two distinct tasks. One is the immediate problem of victory – the question of what shall be done with Germany and Japan when they have surrendered. The other is the long-term problem of world organization for peace.
The first task is primarily the responsibility of the victors. It will require continued close collaboration among the four great powers, the United States, Great Britain, Russia and China. France, too, must have a voice, as well as other countries whose territory has been conquered by the Nazis, but whose heroic people have shared in the winning of the victory.
Germany and Japan must not only be utterly defeated, but also completely disarmed. As I have already suggested, it may be necessary to forbid Germany any aviation industry of her own, and the entire Ruhr, which is the heart of Germany’s heavy industry, should be internationalized. Beyond that, the war criminals, both high and low, must be brought to justice. The people of Germany and Japan must be taught, once and for all, that war does not pay.
But I cannot repeat too emphatically that the second major task, the building of a world organization for peace, should not wait upon final victory. It should go forward as rapidly as possible, to immediate solution.
The main outlines of that organization have already become clear. It must include a general assembly comprising all the peace-loving nations of the world and a council small enough for almost continuous meeting and prompt action.
This world organization must be enabled, through the use of force where necessary, to prevent or repel military aggression. It must be supplemented by a world court to deal with international disputes.
These, in essence, were almost the recommendations since drawn up by the conferences at Dumbarton Oaks. At those conferences, we have made a good start. But this is only a beginning. Important matters remain to be worked out. It would be a profound tragedy if, after having reached a broad general area of agreement on the major principles, we should now fall to impatient quarreling over things still to be settled.
There are already those among us who want to attack the work that was done at Dumbarton Oaks because it did not go far enough. There are others, equally vehement, who are fearful that the plans go too far. Extremists on both sides have missed the point.
The important point is that a beginning has been made. Let us remember that achievement can only be reached through agreement – agreement between the Executive and Congress – agreement among our people – agreement not merely among the three most powerful nations, but among some 60 nations which must join in this endeavor for it to succeed. It is imperative that the small nations of the world be brought into full partnership in this work now and not later. World opinion in the final analysis is essential to continuing success, Force, without justice, can never preserve peace. The treatment of small nations is the test of the conscience of civilization. They should have a full share in these labors from the start.
There are two great disasters which could occur to us. The first would be if a few individual rulers should, in secret conferences, try to shape the future peace of the world. The second would be for any nation involved to break up into quarreling groups over individual proposals. We must make certain that cur participation in this world organization is not subjected to reservations that would nullify the power of that organization to maintain peace and to half future aggression. The surest way to invite disaster is to insist that everything must be perfect from the start. Human progress is not made in that way, and this is a profoundly human problem.
Whatever the difficulties, we must not be diverted from our goal by the irreconcilables of either camp. We have before us vividly the grim reminder of the robot bomb which shows no nation anywhere can be safe against aggression. No single nation can make itself impregnable to attack, We can no longer rely solely upon our own defenses, or upon our own love of peace. We can and we must have a world organization to prevent future wars.
We must have two unities on which to build. One is the unity of the United Nations. The other is unity of the American people.
We are working successfully now. With 130 million of our own people, to satisfy, and with almost 60 other nations to come to agreement – I am sure none of us will get exactly what he wants. Individuals must have convictions, but if any of us insists on exactly what he wants or nothing, we will get nothing, and that would be the greatest disaster the human race has ever suffered.
Secretary Hull is working steadily with a bipartisan committee of the United States Senate in the best American fashion. I have been happy to join with Secretary Hull in non-partisan work between both parties on the drafts which have recently been completed at Dumbarton Oaks. In the end, I am convinced that we can meet all of these problems if we will use patience, wisdom and the full force of our people’s determination.
We have made a great beginning. We must hasten our labors to a successful conclusion. Our objectives and our methods must be known to our people and approved by them, so that they will be willing to support them and to sacrifice for them in all the years to come. Ten million Americans are making sacrifices today beyond any our nation has seen before. Some will come home permanently scarred. Some will never return. These tragedies must not visit us again. Our dead must not have died in vain.
We must keep our unity at home bright and fresh for the great tasks ahead. With that unity, we can give leadership in bringing lasting peace to a stricken world.