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                                PAPER XXI

There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness.... We must be the great 
arsenal of democracy." 

Fireside chat on national security and the common cause,
   Washington, D. C., December 29,1940

My friends:

This is not a fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national security; 
because the nub of the whole purpose of your President is to keep you 
now, and your children later, and your grandchildren much later, out of 
a last-ditch war for the preservation of American independence and all 
the things that American independence means to you and to me and to 

Tonight, in the presence of a world crisis, my mind goes back eight 
years to a night in the midst of a domestic crisis. It was a time when 
the wheels of American industry were grinding to a full stop, when the 
whole banking system of our country had ceased to function. 

I well remember that while I sat in my study in the White House 
preparing to talk with the people of the United States, I had before my 
eyes the picture of all those Americans with whom I was talking. I saw 
the workmen in the mills, the mines, the factories; the girl behind the 
counter; the small shopkeeper; the farmer doing his spring plowing; the 
widows and the old men wondering about their life's savings. 

I tried to convey to the great mass of American people what the banking 
crisis meant to them in their daily lives. 

Tonight, I want to do the same thing, with the same people, in this new 
crisis which faces America. 

We met the issue of 1933 with courage and realism. 

We face this new crisis-this new threat to the security of our nation-
with the same courage and realism. 

Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American 
civilization been in such danger as now. 

For, on September 27, 1940, by an agreement signed in Berlin, three 
powerful nations, two in Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves 
together in the threat that if the United States of America interfered 
with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations-a program 
aimed at world control-they would unite in ultimate action against the 
United States. 

The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only 
to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to 
enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to 
dominate the rest of the world. 

It was only three weeks ago their leader stated this: "There are two 
worlds that stand opposed to each other." And then in defiant reply to 
his opponents, he said this: "Others are correct when they 

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say: With this world we cannot ever reconcile ourselves. . . . I can 
beat any other power in the world." So said the leader of the Nazis.

In other words, the Axis not merely admits but proclaims that there can 
be no ultimate peace between their philosophy of government and our 
philosophy of government.

In view of the nature of this undeniable threat, it can be asserted, 
properly and categorically, that the United States has no right or 
reason to encourage talk of peace, until the day shall come when there 
is a clear intention on the part of the aggressor nations to abandon all 
thought of dominating or conquering the world. 

At this moment, the forces of the states that are leagued against all 
peoples who live in freedom, are being held away from our shores. The 
Germans and the Italians are being blocked on the other side of the  
Atlantic by the British, and by the Greeks, and by thousands of soldiers 
and sailors who were able to escape from subjugated countries. In Asia, 
the Japanese are being engaged by the Chinese nation in another great 

In the Pacific Ocean is our fleet. 

Some of our people like to believe that wars in Europe and in Asia are 
of no concern to us. But it is a matter of most vital concern to us that 
European and Asiatic war-makers should not gain control of the oceans 
which lead to this hemisphere. 

One hundred and seventeen years ago the Monroe Doctrine was conceived by 
our Government as a measure of defense in the face of a threat against 
this hemisphere by an alliance in Continental Europe. Thereafter, we 
stood on guard in the Atlantic, with the British as neighbors. There was 
no treaty. There was no "Unwritten agreement." 

And yet, there was the feeling, proven correct by history, that we as 
neighbors could settle any dispute in peaceful fashion. The fact is that 
during the whole of this time the Western Hemisphere has remained free 
from aggression from Europe or from Asia. 

Does anyone seriously believe that we need to fear attack anywhere in 
the Americas while a free Britain remains our most powerful naval 
neighbor in the Atlantic? Does anyone seriously believe, on the other 
hand. That we could rest easy if the Axis powers were our neighbors 

If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents 
of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the high seas-and they will be 
in a position to bring enormous military and naval resources against 
this hemisphere. It is no exaggeration to say that all of us, in all the 
Americas, would be living at the point of a gun-a gun loaded with 
explosive bullets, economic as well as military. 

We should enter upon a new and terrible era in which the whole world, 
our hemisphere included, would be run by threats of brute of force. To 
survive in such a world, we would have to convert ourselves permanently 
into a militaristic power on the basis of war economy. 

Some of us like to believe that even if Great Britain falls, we are 
still safe, because of the broad expanse of the Atlantic and of the 
Pacific. But the width of those oceans is not what it was in the days of 
clipper ships. At one point between Africa and Brazil the distance is 
less than from Washington to Denver, Colorado-five hours for the

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latest type of bomber. And at the North end of the Pacific Ocean America 
and Asia almost touch each other. 

Even today we have planes that could fly from the British Isles to New 
England and back again without refueling. And remember that the range of 
the modern bomber is ever being increased. 

During the past week many people in all parts of the nation have told me 
what they wanted me to say tonight. Almost all of them expressed a 
courageous desire to hear the plain truth about the gravity of the 
situation. One telegram, however, expressed the attitude of the small 
minority who want to see no evil and hear no evil, even though they know 
in their hearts that evil exists. That telegram begged me not to tell 
again of the ease with which our American cities could be bombed by any 
hostile power which had gained bases in this Western Hemisphere. The 
gist of that telegram was: "Please, Mr. President, don't frighten us by 
telling us the facts." 

Frankly and definitely there is danger ahead-danger against which we 
must prepare. But we well know that we cannot escape danger, or the fear 
of danger, by crawling into bed and pulling the covers over our heads. 

Some nations of Europe were bound by solemn non-intervention pacts with 
Germany. Other nations were assured by Germany that they need never fear 
invasion. Non-intervention pact or not, the fact remains that they were 
attacked, overrun and thrown into the modern form of slavery at an 
hour's notice, or even without any notice at all. As an exiled leader of 
one of these nations said to me the other day-"The notice was a minus 
quantity. It was given to my Government two hours after German troops 
had poured into my country in a hundred places." 

The fate of these nations tells us what it means to live at the point of 
a Nazi gun. 

The Nazis have justified such actions by various pious frauds. One of 
these frauds is the claim that they are occupying a nation for the 
purpose of "restoring order." Another is that they are occupying or 
controlling a nation on the excuse that they are "protecting it" against 
the aggression of somebody else. 

For example, Germany has said that she was occupying Belgium to save the 
Belgians from the British. Would she then hesitate to say to any South 
American country, "We are occupying you to protect you from aggression 
by the United States"? 

Belgium today is being used as an invasion base against Britain, now 
fighting for its life. Any South American country, in Nazi hands, would 
always constitute a jumping-off place for German attack on any one of 
the other Republics of this hemisphere. 

Analyze for yourselves the future of two other places even nearer to 
Germany if the Nazis won. Could Ireland hold out? Would Irish freedom be 
permitted as an amazing pet exception in an unfree world? Or the Islands 
of the Azores which still fly the flag of Portugal after five centuries? 
You and I think of Hawaii as an outpost of defense in the Pacific. And 
yet, the Azores are closer to our shores in the Atlantic than Hawaii is 
on the other side.

There are those who say that the Axis powers would never have any desire 
to attack the Western Hemisphere. That is the same dangerous form of 
wishful thinking which has destroyed the powers of resistance

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of so many conquered peoples. The plain facts are that the Nazis have 
proclaimed, time and again, that all other races are their inferiors and 
therefore subject to their orders. And most important of all, the vast 
resources and wealth of this American Hemisphere constitute the most 
tempting loot in all the round world. 

Let us no longer blind ourselves to the undeniable fact that the evil 
forces which have crushed and undermined and corrupted so many others 
are already within our own gates. Your Government knows much about them 
and every day is ferreting them out. 

Their secret emissaries are active in our own and in neighboring 
countries. They seek to stir up suspicion and dissension to cause 
internal strife. They try to turn capital against labor, and vice versa. 
They try to reawaken long slumbering racial and religious enmities which 
should have no place in this country. They are active in every group 
that promotes intolerance. They exploit for their own ends our natural 
abhorrence of war. These trouble-breeders have but one purpose. It is to 
divide our people into hostile groups and to destroy our unity and 
shatter our will to defend ourselves. 

There are also American citizens, many of them in high places, who, 
unwittingly in most cases, are aiding and abetting the work of these 
agents. I do not charge these American citizens with being foreign 
agents. But I do charge them with doing exactly the kind of work that 
the dictators want done in the United States. 

These people not only believe that we can save our own skins by shutting 
our eyes to the fate of other nations. Some of them go much further than 
that. They say that we can and should become the friends and even the 
partners of the Axis powers. Some of them even suggest that we should 
imitate the methods of the dictatorships Americans never can and never 
will do that. 

The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no 
nation can appease the Nazis. No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by 
stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be 
no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have 
peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender. 

Even the people of Italy have been forced to become accomplices of the 
Nazis; but at this moment they do not know how soon they will be 
embraced to death by their allies. 

The American appeasers ignore the warning to be found in the fate of 
Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, 
Denmark, and France. They tell you that the Axis powers are going to win 
anyway; that all this bloodshed in the world could be saved; that the 
United States might just as well throw its influence into the scale of a 
dictated peace, and get the best out of it that we can. 

They call it a "negotiated peace." Nonsense! Is it a negotiated peace if 
a gang of outlaws surrounds your community and on threat of 
extermination makes you pay tribute to save your own skins? 

Such a dictated peace would be no peace at all. It would be only another 
armistice, leading to the most gigantic armament race and the most 
devastating trade wars in all history. And in these contests the 
Americas would offer the only real resistance to the Axis powers. 

With all their vaunted efficiency, with all their parade of pious 
purpose in this war, there are still in their background the 
concentration camp and the servants of God in chains. 

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The history of recent years proves that shootings and chains and 
concentration camps are not simply the transient tools but the very 
altars of modern dictatorships. They may talk of a "new order" in the 
world, but what they have in mind is only a revival of the oldest sand 
the worst tyranny. In that there is no liberty, no religion, no hope. 

The proposed "new order" is the very opposite of a United States of 
Europe or a United States of Asia. It is not a Government based upon the 
consent of the governed. It is not a union of ordinary, self-respecting 
men and women to protect themselves and their freedom and their dignity 
from oppression. It is an unholy alliance of power and pelf to dominate 
and enslave the human race. 

The British people and their allies today are conducting an active war 
against this unholy alliance. Our own future security is greatly 
dependent on the outcome of that fight. Our ability to "keep out of war" 
is going to be affected by that outcome. 

Thinking in terms of today and tomorrow, I make the direct statement to 
the American people that there is far less chance of the United States 
getting into war, if we do all we can now to support the nations 
defending themselves against attack by the Axis than if we acquiesce in 
their defeat, submit tamely to an Axis victory, and wait our turn to be 
the object of attack in another war later on. 

If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that 
there is risk in any course we may take. But I deeply believe that the 
great majority of our people agree that the course that I advocate 
involves the least risk now and the greatest hope for world peace in the 

The people of Europe who are defending themselves do not ask us to do 
their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the 
tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight for 
their liberty and for our security. Emphatically we must get these 
weapons to them in sufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and 
our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others 
have had to endure. 

Let not the defeatists tell us that it is too late. It will never be 
earlier. Tomorrow will be later than today. 

Certain facts are self-evident. 

In a military sense Great Britain and the British Empire are today the 
spearhead of resistance to world conquest. They are putting up a fight 
which will live forever in the story of human gallantry. 

There is no demand for sending an American Expeditionary Force outside 
our own borders. There is no intention by any member of your Government 
to send such a force. You can, therefore, nail any talk about sending 
armies to Europe as deliberate untruth. 

Our national policy is not directed toward war. Its sole purpose is to 
keep war away from our country and our people. 

Democracy's fight against world conquest is being greatly aided, and 
must be more greatly aided, by the rearmament of the United States and 
by sending every ounce and every ton of munitions and supplies that we 
can possibly spare to help the defenders who are in the front lines. It 
is no more unneutral for us to do that than it is for Sweden, Russia and 
other nations near Germany, to send steel and ore and oil and other war 
materials into Germany every day in the week. 

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We are planning our own defense with the utmost urgency; and in its vast 
scale we must integrate the war needs of Britain and the other free 
nations which are resisting aggression. 

This is not a matter of sentiment or of controversial personal opinion. 
It is a matter of realistic, practical military policy, based on the 
advice of our military experts who are in close touch with existing 
warfare. These military and naval experts and the members of the 
Congress and the Administration have a single-minded purpose-the defense 
of the United States. 

This nation is making a great effort to produce everything that is 
necessary in this emergency-and with all possible speed. This great 
effort requires great sacrifice. 

I would ask no one to defend a democracy which in turn would not defend 
everyone in the nation against want and privation. The strength of this 
nation shall not be diluted by the failure of the Government to protect 
the economic well-being of its citizen. 

If our capacity to produce is limited by machines, it must ever be 
remembered that these machines are operated by the skill and the stamina 
of the workers. As the Government is determined to protect the rights of 
the workers, so the nation has a right to expect that the men who man 
the machines will discharge their full responsibilities to the urgent 
needs of defense. 

The worker possesses the same human dignity and is entitled to the same 
security of position as the engineer or the manager or the owner. For 
the workers provide the human power that turns out the destroyers, the 
airplanes and the tanks. 

The nation expects our defense industries to continue operation without 
interruption by strikes or lock-outs. It expects and insists that 
management and workers will reconcile their differences by voluntary or 
legal means, to continue to produce the supplies that are so sorely 

And on the economic side of our great defense program, we are, as you 
know, bending every effort to maintain stability of prices and with that 
the stability of the cost of living. 

Nine days ago I announced the setting up of a more effective 
organization to direct our gigantic efforts to increase the production 
of munitions. The appropriation of vast sums of money and a well 
coordinated executive direction of our defense efforts are not in 
themselves enough. Guns, planes, ships and many other things have to be 
built in the factories and arsenals of America. They have to be produced 
by workers and managers and engineers with the aid of machines which in 
turn have to be built by hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the 

In this great work there has been splendid cooperation between the 
Government and industry and labor; and I am very thankful. 

American industrial genius, unmatched throughout the world in the 
solution of production problems, has been called upon to bring its 
resources and its talents into action. Manufacturers of watches, farm 
implements, linotypes, cash registers, automobiles, sewing machines, 
lawn mowers and locomotives are now making fuses, bomb packing crates, 
telescope mounts. Shells, pistols and tanks. 

But all our present efforts are not enough. We must have more ships, 
more guns, more planes-more of everything. This can only be accomplished 
if we discard the notion of "business as usual." 

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This job cannot be done merely by superimposing on the existing 
productive facilities the added requirements of the nation for defense. 

Our defense efforts must not be blocked by those who fear the future 
consequences of surplus plant capacity. The possible consequences of 
failure of our defense efforts now are much more to be feared. 

After the present needs of our defenses are past, a proper handling of 
the country's peace-time needs will require all the new productive 
capacity-if not more. 

No pessimistic policy about the future of America shall delay the 
immediate expansion of those industries essential to defense. We need 

I want to make it clear that it is the purpose of the nation to build 
now with all possible speed every machine, every arsenal, every factory 
that we need to manufacture our defense material. We have the men-the 
skill-the wealth-and above all, the will. 

I am confident that if and when production of consumer or luxury goods 
in certain industries requires the use of machines and raw materials 
that are essential for defense purposes, then such production must 
yield, and will gladly yield, to our primary and compelling purpose. 

I appeal to the owners of plants-to the managers-to the workers- to our 
own Government employees-to put every ounce of effort into producing 
these munitions swiftly and without stint. With this appeal I give you 
the pledge that all of us who are officers of your Government will 
devote ourselves to the same whole-hearted extent, to the great task 
that lies ahead. 

As planes and ships and guns and shells are produced, your Government, 
with its defense experts, can then determine how best to use them to 
defend this hemisphere. The decision as to how much shall be sent abroad 
and how much shall remain at home must be made on the basis of our over-
all military necessities. 

We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency 
as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the 
same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of 
patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war. 

We have furnished the British great material support and we will furnish 
far more in the future. 

There will be no "bottlenecks" in our determination to aid Great 
Britain. No dictator, no combination of dictators, will weaken that 
determination by threats of how they will construe that determination. 

The British have received invaluable military support from the heroic 
Greek army, and from the forces of all the governments in exile. Their 
strength is growing. It is the strength of men and women who value their 
freedom more highly than they value their lives.

I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war. I base 
that belief on the latest and best information. 

We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope-hope 
for peace, hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building 
of a better civilization in the future. 

I have the profound conviction that the American people are now 
determined to put forth a mightier effort than they have ever yet 

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made to increase our production of all the implements of defense, to 
meet the threat to our democratic faith. 

As President of the United States I call for that national effort. I 
call for it in the name of this nation which we love and honor and which 
we are privileged and proud to serve. I call upon our people with 
absolute confidence that our common cause will greatly succeed. 


See footnote to Paper XVII of this series for additional citations to 
aid for the democracies and the Lend-Lease Act. This address is also 
known as the "Arsenal of Democracy" Speech.