March 6, 1964
Policy for the Decade Ahead
As I travel around Arizona and read my mail I sense that many people are disturbed and anxious about the course of American foreign policy. Are we losing the Cold War? Why can't we be more bold and aggressive? Why is there such unrest in the world we live in?
No rational answer can be given to these questions if we look solely and narrowly at whatever international trouble spots dominate the front pages. Rather than that, I should like in this and a subsequent report to take a look at the forest instead of the trees.
The passage of mankind through history is like an endless ocean voyage. There are periods of relative calm with blue skies and gentle swells. In other periods -- the breakup of the Roman Empire, or the French and American revolutions when the pattern of divine rule by kings came apart -- great storms sweep the oceans of history, tossing nations and peoples about with great violence.
In my judgment we are in such a period today. We cannot demand that the storm subside; to a large degree we must ride it out. Patience, strength and wisdom will bring us through, but the storm will run its course whether we desire it or not.
The idea called communism is a part of this storm. Its advocates are dangerous; they want to do our system in. We should be alert and vigorous in countering their moves. But in my judgment it is false to imagine that some kind of "total victory" over communism would end the storm or solve all the deep conflicts and problems which afflict people and nations in this latter half of the 20th Century.
To make my point let us stop for a movement and
engage in some wishful thinking. Let us pretend for a moment that bold,
aggressive policies could somehow in the next 10 years "kill" communism.
Here we are. It is 1974 and "total victory" is ours:
Is this dream likely to come true 10 years from now? Of course not. But suppose it did. What would these achievements mean in relation to our overall problems at home and abroad? Would our troubles be over? Far from it. The storm would still be with us, its force abated only slightly, if at all.
A CONVULSIVE PERIOD OF HISTORY
In the 52 weeks of 1963 there were 53 changes of government in the countries of the world many of them violent. Few of these changes were brought about by Communists. Most of them resulted from the hard facts with which we must deal in a most convulsive period of world history. These changes are symptoms of that convulsion, and they will go on regardless of which American is President or which party is in power. Americans can no more hold back irreversible tides of history than we can hold back the tides of the sea.
If there is one word which can be found to describe the era in which we live, it would have to be revolution. Our own history as a nation began with a revolution; democracy represented a revolution in political thought, and we fought a revolution to achieve it. In the last century we went through an industrial revolution with far-reaching ramifications. But today the term has even greater implications
for the future of world affairs. We are in the
midst of, not one or two, but at least four concurrent revolutions,
extremely important, all threatening changes we can only dimly see
in the years ahead. They are:
All of these revolutions are with us today, and they will continue regardless of what happens to the Communist movement. A little more recognition of these basic facts, and a little less emphasis upon unattainable goals in our competition with Communist nations, may bring more of a semblance of reality to our foreign policy debate. It also may prove to be the best way to advance our national interests in the next 10 years.
THE 'FINAL SOLUTION' SYNDROME
If we have one characteristic as a people, it is our lack of patience. It is both an asset and a liability. We started out our history with a lot of things to do, and we were in a hurry to do them. We bridged chasms and closed vast distances by miracles of transportation and communication. We harnessed rivers and irrigated deserts. And we built an economy capable of providing our people with the world's highest standard of living (a capacity not yet fully realized). With this restless, dynamic background we tend to expect similar solutions to problems lying outside our borders -- and to express impatience when those solutions aren't immediately forthcoming.
What we must ultimately recognize as a nation is that, as long as men and nations are of different minds and different temperaments, there will be no "final solutions" to world problems. There will always be one nation or more wanting to change the status quo, and other nations wanting to retain it. There will always be some new idea to contend with -- whether it be fascism, anarchy, socialism, communism or robber-baron capitalism, -- and in the end these ideas must be met and defeated as ideas, or they will certainly re-emerge at some point to smash the old order. Merely defeating or destroying the men or nations who advocate a new idea will never provide the "final solution" we might seek.
our preoccupation with "final solutions" can be illustrated by our wild hopes for universal democracy and peace after World War I. We convinced ourselves that by winning that war we would
3.make the world "safe for democracy" and put an end to international conflicts. When this bubble burst, we were bitter and enraged, and many of our citizens turned to isolationism as an expression of their disappointment. Similarly, in World War II we made heroic sacrifices, thinking that by defeating fascism on the battlefield we would once again achieve a "final solution" to world problems. The fact that history sent us catapulting into yet another world struggle has disillusioned and embittered a great many of our citizens and led to the current frenzy for flag-waving, fist-flailing and tough talk as a substitute for common sense and sound judgment.
I think Americans should have learned by now that there are no "final solutions" that will set world forces at rest, and that there are no easy, magic short-cuts to the settlement of world problems. Man's history tells me that, at best, we can hope to inch along toward our goals, and impatience will only make the going harder.
To those who say our "final solution" today is
"victory over communism" I say that nothing vaguely
GOALS WE CAN ACHIEVE
What goals can we reasonably expect to achieve
by 1974? Much depends on our leadership and on our willingness as a nation
to exercise patience and restraint under a variety of pressures and frustrations.
However, with wise leadership and some forbearance I believe we can work
for, and hope to achieve, most of the following modest goals in the next
Can we achieve these goals? In my judgment, if we are careful, if we are wise, if we choose sound policies, most or all of these goals can be achieved. While we might hope for more, I think most Amerians can agree that these are worthy objectives, and that achieving them would be in the best interests of our country. Through achievement of these goals we can hope to buy time for the longer range problems which beset us.
WHICH POLICY WILL ATTAIN THESE GOALS?
Even though I think we can agree on these goals, there are two sharply and bitterly divergent ideas about the kind of strategy and tactics most likely to bring them to realization. Let's take a look at them:
I -- The Total Victory Policy
Many sincere people who subscribe to this theory base their arguments on the oft-repeated Khrushchev statement that the Communists intend to "bury" us. Therefore, they reason, our aim must
be to 'bury" them. From this point of view any
nation which calls itself Communist is now and will be forever our
sworn enemy. Any contact, any trade, any negotiation, any expression of
patience toward such a nation will only strengthen it and detract from
our goal of victory. Thus, the advocates of this policy propose to:
II - - The Strength and Patience Policy
This is the policy adopted by President Truman
to stop the march of communism into Western Europe, to save Turkey and
Greece and to counter and contain the military and economic might of Russia
and China. Its essential threads have been continued by Presidents Eisenhower,
Kennedy and now Johnson. It is a policy which seeks to ride out a stormy
period of history and come through safely, and with honor intact, by these
* * * * * * * * * * * *
As a nation we can adopt either of these policies, or some third approach, but in my judgment the "total victory policy" outlined above would be more disastrous than any policy ever adopted by this country. It would almost surely isolate us from our allies, as well as our enemies, and would inevitably lead to war.
In my next report I will attempt to demonstrate why this is so.
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