JULY 24, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—One of the extremely difficult problems that confronts our nation at the present time is to preserve a balance which will give due weight to the importance of strengthening our military position, but which, at the same time, will not cripple our economic position. From the events of the past few weeks, it should seem evident to the world that we have no aggressive intentions, whereas the Soviet Union, in spite of all its words in favor of peace, has proved that it was actually increasing its aggressive military strength.
To a great many people, however, the situation in the world today seems very menacing, particularly if they are small nations. They see two great nations, each capable of great military and economic strength, seemingly traveling the road which will eventually lead to a clash between them; and they realize that that clash will affect not just the two great powers, but may very easily destroy many of the smaller nations. For this reason they are suspicious of both of us. Therefore, if we let down today on the programs which have helped them to build up their standard of living and their own independent strength, they are going to feel that we also are a menace and they will not know where to look for that hope of peace and security which keeps them working and building for the future.
This is the real reason why great wisdom and financial acumen is needed in making the plan for our overall effort today. To preserve peace in the world, it must be abundantly clear that we can and will develop a mobile striking force that can be used against aggression by the United Nations anywhere in the world until the United Nations has set up its own force, which should be made superior to that of any one nation or combination of nations. At the same time, however, our own economic situation must remain strong, and our aid in the development of other countries must be continued.
The Point Four program is one which will eventually be of economic value to us because, with increased production capacity here, there must be increased buying capacity throughout the world. But this program is mainly important at the moment as a weapon against Communism. It has been proved that poverty and want are what make people Communists. Freedom means nothing to a man with an empty stomach. He will accept a dictator if, with the dictator, comes the promise of food and shelter. We have never been in real danger in this country of having great numbers of our people become Communists except during the depression. Then democracy seemed so helpless to meet the material needs of the people that they were naturally vulnerable to suggestions that something else be tried.
From that point of view the Point Four program, the Marshall Plan and all other specialized agencies of the United Nations, which work to help raise their standard of living and their general health and education, are of vast importance in the spread of democracy throughout the world. None of this can be accomplished if we do not keep our economy in good condition, and we had better search for the wisdom that understands how to keep a wise balance between our various needs at the present time.