DECEMBER 10, 1956
NEW YORK—It was interesting that the Vice President of the United States, in a speech on foreign affairs at the National Automobile Show dinner here, made the following statement: "Neither we nor our allies were without fault in the handling of the crisis in which we now find ourselves."
I think many of us are glad to hear this note of humbleness creep into an Administration statement. Everyone coming from Washington has been reporting to me that the Administration felt completely virtuous and bore no sense of responsibility in the situations which led up to the action by Britain and France in the Suez Canal area and to the crisis between Israel and the Arab states.
This is an entirely unrealistic attitude on our part, and I am happy to see the Vice President preparing us to face our responsibilities.
Our memories are short. We have already forgotten that our State Department, during President Truman's Administration, made no protest when Egypt prevented two Israeli ships from going through the Suez Canal. Then was the time for us to have said: "This is an international waterway and all ships go through."
Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser would have known then that there were limits to what he could do. We should have refused to allow Arab protests on the employment of any American on bases or in businesses anywhere in Arab territory. We had a precedent for this in the past. But we chose again to appease.
The Arab governments would have much more real respect for us if we lived by what we believe and stood up for our citizens no matter of what race, religion or color.
We then proceeded to take the responsibility of urging Britain to remove her forces from the Suez Canal in order to make negotiations with Nasser easier. But it was a natural feeling of resentment on the part of Great Britain that we, having urged them to leave the Suez Canal zone, should then take the responsibility of pressing for the settlement of the problems of the canal and the Near East as a whole.
I understand that the British were prepared to bring these questions to the United Nations and that again we felt this should be delayed. Can we say, in the light of this history, that we have no responsibility for their final action?
Therefore, I am glad that our leaders are beginning to prepare the people of this country for a more cooperative attitude towards our allies—Great Britain, France and Israel—and I am glad also to see that we are now beginning to realize we must press in the U.N. to achieve the ends of peace and final settlement of difficulties.
Inaction brings no results. Constant pressing forward may not bring all the results we wish, but we can make progress step by step.