The Chance for Peace (1953)

 

 

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its cchildren.
Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors "The Chance for Peace" (16 April 1953)
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. … We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.
 

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
  • No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice. ... No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.
  • A nation's hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.
  • Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?
  • The free world knows, out of the bitter wisdom of experience, that vigilance and sacrifice are the price of liberty.
  • This we do know: a world that begins to witness the rebirth of trust among nations can find its way to a peace that is neither partial nor punitive. With all who will work in good faith toward such a peace, we are ready, with renewed resolve, to strive to redeem the near-lost hopes of our day.
  • The details of such disarmament programs are manifestly critical and complex. Neither the United States nor any other nation can properly claim to possess a perfect, immutable formula. But the formula matters less than the faith -- the good faith without which no formula can work justly and effectively. The fruit of success in all these tasks would present the world with the greatest task, and the greatest opportunity, of all. It is this: the dedication of the energies, the resources, and the imaginations of all peaceful nations to a new kind of war. This would be a declared total war, not upon any human enemy but upon the brute forces of poverty and need. The peace we seek, founded upon decent trust and cooperative effort among nations, can be fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and timber and rice. These are words that translate into every language on earth. These are the needs that challenge this world in arms.
  • The hunger for peace is too great, the hour in history too late, for any government to mock men's hopes with mere words and promises and gestures. [...] There is, before all peoples, a precarious chance to turn the black tide of events. If we failed to strive to seize this chance, the judgment of future ages will be harsh and just. If we strive but fail and the world remains armed against itself, it at least would need be divided no longer in its clear knowledge of who has condemned humankind to this fate.
  • The purpose of the United States, in stating these proposals, is simple. [...] They aspire to this: the lifting, from the backs and from the hearts of men, of their burden of arms and of fears, so that they may find before them a golden age of freedom and of peace.
  • These proposals spring, without ulterior motive or political passion, from our calm conviction that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all people -- those of Russia and of China no less than of our own country. They conform to our firm faith that God created man to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil.