AUGUST 31, 1945
HYDE PARK, Thursday—Now that the first heat of the controversy over lend-lease is at an end, I wonder if it might not be good for us as a nation to think over what the real situation is.
We, in the United States, have at the present time a preeminent world position. We have it, first, because we were the fortunate nation whose homeland was never touched by any enemy. None of our factories were destroyed, none of our homes were bombed, and none of our children and civilian men and women died from enemy action. This was partly due to the fact that our men defended us far from our own shores. But it was also due to the fact that other nations—China in the Far East, Great Britain, Russia, France and many of the smaller nations in the European area—took the first brunt of the war on their shoulders.
In the second place, we had the resources, the wealth and the skills among our people to develop the greatest production area the world has ever seen. Our resources would have availed us little if our people had not been able to use them. The basic wealth of any nation is the skill and ability of the people.
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We therefore have today a position of great responsibility and with it, of course, the opportunity to gain friends for ourselves and make it possible for other nations to live in friendship together. Through lack of forethought and realization of our responsibility we may, however, create discord and dislike for ourselves.
In the case of lend-lease, it is obvious that our responsible officials felt they were obligated at the close of the war to bring it to an end, and undoubtedly the other nations were acquainted with this fact. Certain heads of departments, however, should remember that human nature is similar everywhere. A disagreeable fact is not acknowledged until it is necessary to do so. We allowed ourselves, it seems to me, to be put in a position where we could be blamed for what other nations could claim to be hurried readjustments.
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Our international manners, perhaps, need reconsidering. Might it have been possible to invite the officials who are now coming to Washington to have come before the announcement of the end of lend-lease was made? Might it have been possible to get all of the foreign representatives together and avail ourselves of the opportunity to point out what had been accomplished by joint cooperation, how grateful we were for what had been done for us, and how we hoped that what we had done for others would create a greater desire to work cooperatively in the future? It would have been difficult, then, to claim surprise in any official circles.
The responsibility for forethought and preparation now rests on us, and the peace of the world depends upon our accepting the new position which we now hold.