MARCH 16, 1948
HYDE PARK, Monday—The people of this country do not want war. Neither, I am sure, do the people of any other country. It seems to me it would be far better if gentlemen who formerly occupied official positions would remember that, in times of tension, it is wise to allow responsible public officials to advise the public.
James F. Byrnes must have forgotten how much trouble others could cause him as Secretary of State, or in the other official positions which he occupied, by talking in a way which might make conditions more difficult to handle than they already were. Mr. Byrnes may be weary of conversation, but I can assure him that there are a great many people in this country who would prefer a little more conversation to any kind of action which would lead to war. Men who do not have to fight wars, nor be in command and order men into battle, find it hard perhaps to realize quite what that responsibility is.
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I am not advocating a policy of weakness. I wish with all my heart that Congress would show unity in strengthening our democracy. And if Mr. Byrnes would advise his own State's officials that their present attitude is doing more to bring us discredit in the world and create a feeling of our weakness than anything the Communists could do, he would do us a great favor and help his country to gain prestige and influence.
I think this is a time for unity in this nation, not division. We can decide whether we want a Republican or a Democrat to preside over our Government during the next four years without tearing each other apart on foreign affairs. I would like to see Congress act quickly to pass the Marshall Plan.
Creating an atmosphere in which democracy can strengthen itself and prove that it has more to offer for the good of the people of the world than any other form of government, is again our best defense against Communism. It is a legitimate way to prove, without war, what are the genuine methods by which people can be made freer and more secure under a rule of law instead of a rule of war.
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I am quite willing that we should build up our defense forces because, until the United Nations can control an aggressor, we must be able to defend ourselves. However, building up our Army from 550,000 to 669,000 would seem to me a foolish gesture. And it would fill our young men, who have barely got started in civilian ways of life, with a feeling of futility because they would see themselves shortly back in uniform. Who is going to make an effort to succeed in any new line of work if he thinks he is going to be cut off again and thrown back into the maelstrom of war within the next few months?
A strong air force is essential. But when we speak, we should speak with strength and clarity and unity, and we should not threaten. We should try to find with Russia mutual benefits and mutual security which would remove not only the fears of our own people and of the USSR but those of other nations which are struggling for democracy at the present time.