APRIL 2, 1951
NEW YORK, Sunday—As we watch the Western Hemisphere Foreign Ministers meet in Washington, one cannot help wondering how they all feel about the rather high-handed manner in which freedom of the press has been handled in the last few weeks in the Argentine.
Dr. Gainza Paz, owner of La Prensa, the paper closed down by President Peron, fortunately escaped to Uruguay, which I have always understood is one of the most advanced democracies of the world. There on his mother's ranch he is safe, I suppose. But the loss that can not be repaired is the loss by the people of Argentina, who may someday come to understand what it means when freedom of the press no longer exists in a country and only such things as the government decides to have printed are printed and allowed to reach the hands and minds of the people. This is the beginning of drawing an iron curtain around oneself, when one no longer hears what other people think or feel unless the government decides to print it.
One of the accusations levelled at a free press by the USSR and its satellites is that so-called freedom of the press simply means license to run down and attack other governments, to promote warmongering and imperialist interests. I read not long ago the answer made by one of our American citizens to the accusations that we have been a warmongering nation and are preparing for aggression against the rest of the world. He went back into our history and pointed out that in every one of our wars we have been caught unprepared and had to get our production going while we were already at war. We always reached the height of our power just as victory was won by our armies, then promptly scrapped our military power as quickly as we could so we could start the cycle all over again if another aggressor threatened us.
We followed this pattern from the time of the Revolution through the Mexican and Civil War and continued to do it through both World Wars, each time destroying our navy, our air force and our army. If we have to build our defenses and are unfortunate enough to have to fight a third World War, we will undoubtedly follow that by destroying again what is left of our strength. We should learn from the past and preserve some of our strength between times. If once we get universal military training started, this will not be such a difficult achievement. But to call us warmongers in the light of our history is utterly nonsensical, and this writer has all the hard facts to prove his case.
Speaking of writers, I had the great pleasure of seeing John Gunther today. Someone recently took him to task for not being completely accurate in everything he wrote, but I don't quite expect that kind of accuracy. I look for impressions in Mr. Gunther's books, and I am sure I will get many impressions and many interesting and stimulating deductions from the sights he saw and the conversations he held.