OCTOBER 22, 1957
HYDE PARK—I am just back from two days in Memphis and St. Louis. It is interesting to find that wherever you go now people are talking about the advance of science in the Soviet Union. I don't think they are as panicky as Washington seems to be, but it is well for the people as a whole to realize that all scientific discoveries have a bearing on our security and that if we wish to negotiate for peace we must negotiate from strength and not from weakness.
I am a little surprised to see that Mr. Dulles is threatening the Soviets in the same way that Mr. Khrushchev boastfully threatens us. Both men, I am sure, know that the use of atomic weapons is unthinkable because of the destruction they will create, and that if we use them the Soviets will use them. Of course we are tied up with all kinds of treaties to defend people in all parts of the world. Yet when the Soviets talk about war if Turkey should threaten the Syrian border, they are not thinking of atomic war. For us to make threats to attack them in their homeland, which would have to be with atomic weapons, seems to me somewhat dangerous.
No responsible person today can actually want to see an atomic war, and that should be made clear by the State Department. We should certainly try to keep superiority in scientific weapons, but we should make it clear that the only reason for doing so is that we want to make it safe for negotiation for a real reduction of arms and for a peaceful world. The kind of boastful threats that we have just engaged in seems to me foolish and highly dangerous.
In St. Louis I visited the John J. Cochran General Hospital. Most of the patients there are suffering from results of disease or injury which was not always clearly service connected. Some of them were injured in World War II or previously, but even the non-service connected illnesses or injuries frequently have their roots in service in some war. We need to go more often into veterans hospitals and see how many men pay the penalty for the wars of the past. Science can do a great deal now to make life better for these men. There are better artificial limbs, better training in their use—but when all is said and done, the cost of war in human lives is a very heavy burden for the country.
On Wednesday morning I spoke at Washington University in St. Louis. Afterward I held a question and answer period at a reception for the students, and enjoyed a small and informal lunch at which a number of students were present. In the evening I spoke at a meeting for the American Association for the U.N. and then came back on a night plane.
I want to draw your attention to the fact that the week of October 21-27 is National Bible Week. It is observed every year and the three major faiths—Protestant, Catholic and Jewish—join together in recommending that this week be observed. A knowledge of the Bible is valuable to every individual. It is history and literature and inspiration for the spiritual life of a very large portion of the people of the world.