NOVEMBER 16, 1957
NEW YORK—While on my trip to the Middle West, I noticed in the Chicago Sun-Times an article originating in New York which frankly accepted the fact that the Soviet Union is making remarkable strides in science and will continue to do so. Whether the Soviets will overtake the West depends upon whether the West decides to put as much effort into the development of science as the Soviets have done.
Former President Truman, in a speech to the American Legion, said one reason for our falling behind was the fact that so many of our scientists had been victims of "character assassination" during their government service and had chosen to leave this service and go into schools, colleges and industry.
This has deprived us of some of the best scientific minds in the country, according to Mr. Truman. I agree, for if we think back to the McCarthy era, which did us incalculable harm, we will remember that we lost many people from government, not only scientists but other valuable government servants. They were forced out by that era of fear which prevented us from getting the knowledge about our adversary which we now realize we sorely need.
There was another article in this Midwestern newspaper pointing out—to soothe our feelings somewhat—where the Soviets lag in technical fields. It stated that Russian advances have not been as great as ours in biology, for instance, nor in the production of steel, so it is felt that in medicine and in economic production we still have the lead.
The Russians, I think, would agree to this, but I hope this is not going to be used as soothing syrup to keep us from making every effort to move ahead, both in pure science for peaceful purposes and in military science.
This is no time for the people of the United States to feel complacent. They should press their leaders to give them the facts both of advances in the Soviet Union and of lags in their own country. We have to meet the Soviet challenge on a voluntary basis, and we cannot get cooperation from people who do not know the facts.
Everyone should be glad that the President has been found to be in excellent health. Will this allow him more time for his work as President or does it simply mean that it confirms the present routine the doctors have set up for him and that he will be allowed no more effort than he is now making?
At the present time it is immensely important who are the President's aides and advisers, because of necessity they must do much of the President's work.
With regret I noticed that India's Defense Minister, V.K. Krishna Menon, was compelled to give up his defense of India's position in the United Nations Security Council because of exhaustion.
We all hope that he will be able to resume his duties, but perhaps it would be wise if he tried to make his statements in the U.N. shorter. These long speeches are exhausting, not only to the speakers but to the delegate listeners. While it takes these very busy men more thought and skill to condense what they have to say, it would be well worthwhile to abbreviate even a long and legalistic brief.
A short item in a New York newspaper the other day should be brought to the attention of the people because it illustrates the value of one of the specialized U.N. agencies.
This agency is the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) which, the item reported, has prepared the first map of the soil cover of the greater part of the African continent. In 1958 the FAO hopes to publish this map, together with an analysis coordinating its information on climate and soil as a help to the African people to increase their agricultural output.
This is part of an overall project to study the possibilities of food production for the world. The FAO hopes to do the same thing for South America and to revise and bring up to date a 1927 survey of the soil and climate of Europe. This is knowledge of great value to the people of the world.