AUGUST 9, 1946
HYDE PARK, Thursday—In the headlines of one of our great New York newspapers yesterday morning, I read: "Byrnes Accuses Molotov of Twisting Views, Asks Russia to Print Speech." And just below: "Molotov Derides Press. Suggests American and British Newspapers Reflect Only Views of Their Owners." These headlines show how government representatives can reach a point of exasperation where the amenities are completely forgotten.
Amenities are important because they create an atmosphere, but there are more important things than the amenities. The fundamentals are the things which the peoples of the world must keep in mind, even when their representatives forget them. There is one great objective being served today by the representatives of 21 nations meeting in Paris. This great objective is the actual achievement of a world at peace.
The peoples of the world want peace. Their representatives, as individuals, may be tried almost beyond endurance but, when all is said and done, the only thing which will satisfy the people is the feeling that security and confidence is being built up in the world and that we are moving towards a more peaceful atmosphere.
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The two nations pitted against each other in most people's minds today are the United States and Russia. When we were fighting the war together, even the American press frequently emphasized some of the similarities that exist between us. Now, however, it is always the differences that are exploited. It is not only Russia's actions that create fear and suspicion in the minds of the people of the United States. Our own press must accept some of the responsibility.
Of course, the Russians whom most of us meet in this country, being government representatives, are sometimes hard to get to know as human beings. They feel that they must always express the point of view of their government. They rarely feel that they can depart from this role.
Among themselves, perhaps even in their dispatches sent back to Moscow, they may acknowledge that an argument is valid for a new point of view. But it is rare, indeed, that a free and close relationship is built up with the representatives of another nation which permits them to express personal opinions. More frankness between individuals would bring their governments closer together.
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The actions that are taken in great assemblages of statesmen seem far away from those of us who are leading our daily lives in rather narrow confines. But as a matter of fact, they affect our daily lives, and we the people should begin to insist that our final objective never be lost sight of.
It is impossible to find the right solution to all the questions that come up in a peace conference, and we know that many changes will be made later. But if every action is taken to bring about better conditions, we will be ready to make changes when we see that a change is necessary to attain our objective.
Because so much is said about the difficulties that may arise between Russia and ourselves, I think we should make an effort to understand some of the background of these difficulties. My experience with Russians is limited, but my experience with many different kinds of people is fairly wide. Tomorrow I would like to discuss some of the things we might bear in mind in our dealings with other peoples in this postwar period.