MAY 5, 1954
ST. LOUIS—On my way to Champaign, Ill., yesterday I read an interesting editorial that appeared in one of our New York City newspapers on Saturday morning. It dealt with the question that was brought up in Congress as to whether aid should be denied to India because of Prime Minister Nehru's attitude about our airlift to Indo-China and his outspoken feeling that military aid to Pakistan was an antagonistic move toward India and that our attitude in general is leading us to a warlike situation in Asia.
This letter pointed out that there are two ways of approaching the aid that we have been giving to underdeveloped countries. One is the genuine feeling that the aid that we have given to these countries has been given because we genuinely feel that improvement in the standard of living is of benefit to us and to the world in general. The other is that we give this aid purely in order to be able to demand from all countries who receive aid the right to expect them to think as we do and act as we wish them to act.
If we were to withdraw economic aid to India at the present time, then it would seem that our government has decided that this second point of view is the point of view which our people as a whole believe in and under which we are going to operate.
Of course, if this is our point of view, then we must acknowledge that the Soviet Union has been justified in warning many of the underdeveloped countries that there was nothing disinterested about our actions. We meant to control them and sooner or later they would find it out. This would certainly lead to an acceptance of other Soviet propaganda by people in many areas of the world, because if they are proved correct in one case many will think that they are correct in many cases.
We, as a government, have repeatedly assured India and other governments to whom we are giving aid that we have no desire to control them. However, I am afraid if I were one of them, I should be rather shaken by the proposal made in Congress about stopping aid to India.
Granted that Nehru has been too extreme in his attitude, granted that if he has said some of the things he is reported to have said, he must either be really frightened or overemotional to a rather unfortunate point.
Still, I am not sure that all these reports are true. When I have been in other countries I have read about things attributed to some of our higher officials which I was sure they had not said, and this might be true in the reverse.
It is almost impossible not to be misunderstood. We have had an example of that just lately in our country. Our Vice President has been explaining some of his own statements almost immediately after he makes them. It is entirely possible for some to interpret words differently from others.
Perhaps we should give Prime Minister Nehru the benefit of the doubt and try to see how much he and the Indian people must have been worried by our attitude.
If taking economic aid away from a country that needs it badly, and whose well-being is important to us, is what our Secretary of State meant when he talked about "immediate retaliation," perhaps it would be well to stop, look, and listen before we take this retaliatory step.