OCTOBER 31, 1947
NEW YORK, Thursday—According to all accounts, France is going through a real crisis. Those among us who have long had affectionate ties with that nation look on with anxiety as we see the political and economic situations react on each other to make a slow evolution into quieter waters more difficult.
However, I have great trust in the stability of the French people, and in their flexibility. Their financial crisis is serious, and they face it with a population which has known two wars in twenty-five years and which suffered severe losses in manpower in each of them. For parts of France, the food situation was serious during the years of the war and has been more serious since. But that situation has not spread all over France. And I cannot help believing that they will find a way to solve their economic difficulties, as well as their political ones, without bowing to a dictatorship either of the right or the left.
We think of Latin nations as being very emotional but, as a matter of fact, I think the French have a great power of calm analysis, which I think we are going to see in action in the present situation.
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One cannot help hoping that, when the special session of Congress meets, those Congressmen who have been to Europe will be heard by their colleagues. Perhaps there will be some who will say, as Rep. John Taber did, that they saw no hunger in Europe. But I hope there will be more who were able to look below the surface, and who could gauge the effect of the war years on the mental and spiritual attitude of the European people. This is almost as important as their physical condition.
If we do not have a full realization of the many points involved in the aid that we give to any nation, we are in danger of arriving with too little too late. We are also in danger of making a plan which is not comprehensive enough to achieve the results we desire.
I think it is quite natural to want to observe what happens to the money we give for rehabilitation purposes. And I have said right along that I think our help should not be just in money or in goods. It should also include individuals skilled in the use of whatever machinery is supplied and, in addition, young executives who have the "know-how" and the energy to carry out a rehabilitation program under the very difficult conditions presented by a country devastated by war.
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It is good to hear from Mr. Charles Luckman, chairman of the Citizens Food Committee, that real progress is being made in grain savings, and that he believes we will achieve our goal of saving 100, 000,000 bushels by January 1. He is reported as hoping that, by the first of the year, we could do away with meatless Tuesdays and eggless and poultryless Thursdays, but he did not make any promises!
The mile-long train which he is organizing to cross the country and pick up food supplies will not only achieve practical results; it is good publicity and should dramatize for many people in this country what we are actually able to do for people in foreign lands.