FEBRUARY 22, 1960
NEW YORK—I must own to considerable surprise at the interest outside this country in the Chessman case. Of course, I have long been opposed to capital punishment and therefore would do anything to prevent that penalty being meted out to any human being.
It is fairly well proven, I think, that capital punishment is ineffective in preventing crime; and since our whole system of law is based on trying to bring about justice, capital punishment has always seemed to me a very ineffectual way of achieving that goal. In addition, human beings are not infallible, and too many convicted people have been found to have been innocent after they have paid the death penalty.
I hope that this case may have stirred people to thinking, not simply about Mr. Chessman, but about the whole matter of capital punishment. This, I believe, is a question our nation should consider.
I am sure there was almost as much rejoicing in American homes as in Great Britain itself when news came that the young Queen and her husband had become the parents of a second baby boy. There is great warmth of feeling in our country for this young ruler, and anything touching the British royal family's happiness or sorrow gets an immediate response from us. That is one reason why I feel very strongly that the bonds between our two countries are close and unbreakable even though there may be times of strain between us.
I have an interesting letter about the Arab-Israeli situation from a man heading the department of government and international relations in a Midwest college. "I would like to call your attention," he writes, "to the parallel between the incidents now occurring on the Israeli-United Arab Republic front and incidents on the Israeli-Egyptian front which led to the 1956 crisis."
Then, after reviewing the events of history, he continues: "Today, the Israeli-UAR conflict has reached the point at which a neutral police force, modeled on UNEF should be stationed along the demarcation line and in the demilitarized zone between the parties... The U. N. has a better formal basis for intervention in the demilitarized zone than it had in Sinai and Gaza. The Israeli-Syrian armistice gave the chief of staff of the U. N. truce supervision organization authority to supervize the zone; and, if the police force were subordinated to this officer, it could aid in the exercise of authority the U. N. already has."
One difficulty in this plan, of course, would be the expense. But it seems to me that the U. S. government might well take on an added contribution to UNEF, since it certainly would be of service to the world situation if tensions in that area could be lessened by supervision of this kind. There is real trouble in the Near East and we should not let it grow into a more dangerous situation that it already is.