World's Future Economic Prosperity


By HONORABLE SUMNER WELLES, Acting Secretary of State

Delivered at the World Trade Dinner of the 29th National Foreign Trade Convention, Boston, Mass.October 8, 1942, and Broadcast by the Blue Network

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 73-76

JUST a year has passed since I last had the privilege of addressing the National Foreign Trade Convention. During the short space of these twelve months the people of the United States have passed through some of the most portentous events they have known in their entire history. They have experienced the most far-reaching changes in their national life which they have yet undergone. They are confronting the gravest dangers they have ever yet had to face. They are now engaged in the greatest war that mankind has suffered.

And yet as we look back over the record of these past twelve months I think we may well feel proud that we are American citizens.

From the moment of the attack upon Pearl Harbor the people of the United States have rallied magnificently.

Owing to the nature of the universal war in which we were plunged it became immediately necessary to send our troops to far-flung outposts in the seven seas. The gigantic difficulties in the carrying-out of the strategic plans involved stagger the imagination. They have been met successfully. We are raising the greatest army our people have ever needed, and we all of us know the superb way in which that task has been carried out.

Every day that passes our Navy justifies more completely the historic pride which the American people have held in it.

And in the field of production the vast goals announced by the President last winter will in some particulars not only be met, but be surpassed. Our production will be far greater than any but a very few of our citizens could then have expected.

At this very moment, our air force, our Army and our Navy are fighting with our allies in regions of the Atlantic, of the North Pacific, in many parts of Asia and of the South Pacific, in the Mediterranean, and the Near East, and are likewise joined with our neighbors of the Americas in guarding the Western Hemisphere. Every hour that passes these forces of ours are becoming stronger and more efficient. Nor do we ever forget the memory of those who, in the defense of our liberties, have already gallantly laid down their lives in battle against our enemies.

None of us can deny that some of us have fallen down on our jobs: nor that some of us have not realized fullyenough the stark evil of the foes who confront us, the vastness of the military resources of our enemies, nor the magnitude of the stupendous task which lies ahead of us. Many of us do not yet realize fully how great are the sacrifices every citizen must make to insure the success of the war effort, nor the inescapable fact that the individual life of every one of us is going to be changed as a result of the holocaust in which the world has been plunged by the criminals of the Axis powers.

But I have never thought that the American people needed to be browbeaten or bludgeoned into defending their independence and their homes. What the American people require is to be told the truth, as the President of the United States, with courage, with foresight and with utter frankness, has been telling it to them. They can take it. And when they know the facts no people on earth are capable of greater accomplishment.

Democracies may take long to prepare for war or to engage in war, but when the free men and women of a democracy such as ours are at war to preserve their liberty and their faith, they will never fail to excel the regimented slaves of the dictators. We are fighting for our own independence, and for the right to live in a decent and a peaceful world. The hosts of Hitler, of the Japanese War Lords and of the Italian Fascist racketeers are being slaughtered because of the insane delusion of their masters that they could make the resources of the world their own individual loot.

Of the outcome of this gigantic contest I have not the shadow of a doubt.

For I am not one of those few who believes that "we are losing the war." I not only believe that we are going to win this war, but I know that however long the struggle may be, however mountainous the obstacles that must yet be overcome, the American people will never lay down their arms until the final and complete victory is won by the United Nations.

In the grim struggle which lies before us we are fighting side by side with the other partners of the United Nations.

Never in the long centuries of modern history have men and women fought more gloriously than have the armies of the Soviet Union. Their epic and successful resistance to the onslaughts of Hitler's forces a year ago not only gave the lie to Hitler's boasts that he could crush the Russian Army, but constituted in itself the major triumph of the United Nations in the war until that time. And once more through the long summer of 1942 the Soviet heroes have held firm.

We don't hear Hitler tell the German people this year that the Soviet Union will quickly crumble before his offensive. He doesn't dare. For he knows that the German people have learned to their bitter cost that Hitler's promise in this case, as they will soon learn they are in every case, are but the empty lies of a rapidly deflating demagogue.

The United States and its associates among the United Nations must render the utmost measure of assistance to the Soviet Union. Whether that assistance be through the furnishing of arms, equipment or supplies, or whether that assistance be by means of the diversion of German armies forced upon Hitler through the creation of a new theater of operations, the fullest measure of every means of help will be given. The surest way to ensure the defeat of Hitler is to give this help, and to give it unstintingly at the earliest possible moment.

The amazing efforts of the British Air Forces in its all-out attacks upon Germany have long since shown the German people how much value they can attach to the assurances given them by the Nazi leaders that Germany would never be bombed. The havoc and devastation created by these British flyers, now joined by our own air forces, are cripplingwar plants, munitions factories, shipyards and railways, and gravely impairing the German effort to maintain the earlier levels of war production.

Nor can we here in the United States ever fail to remember with profound gratitude and renewed encouragement that eleven of the other Republics of the Americas are joined with us, side by side, in the war, and that seven other Republics have severed all relations with the Axis, and are rendering their neighbors who are at war every form of cooperation and assistance. It is true that the remaining two Republics of the twenty-one have still refrained from carrying out the unanimous recommendations of the Inter-American Conference of Rio de Janeiro, in which they themselves joined, that all of the Americas sever all relations with the Axis, and are still permitting their territory to be utilized by the officials and the subversive agents of the Axis as a base for hostile activities against their neighbors. As a result of the reports on Allied ship movements sent by these agents, Brazilian, Cuban, Mexican, Colombian, Dominican, Uruguayan, Argentine, Chilean, Panamanian, and United States ships have been sunk without warning while plying between the American Republics, and as a result many nationals of these countries have lost their lives within the waters of the Western Hemisphere. But I cannot believe that these two Republics will continue long to permit their brothers and neighbors of the Americas, engaged as they are in a life and death struggle to preserve the liberties and the integrity of the New World, to be stabbed in the back by Axis emissaries operating in the territory, and under the free institutions, of these two Republics of the Western Hemisphere.

Not until freedom was in mortal danger throughout the earth did liberty-loving nations fully learn the lesson of collaboration. Had that lesson been learned earlier, had the United Nations found their unity in anticipation of attack rather than under the urgent pressure of attack, the maximum effectiveness of our war effort would have been reached far more speedily. It is now evident that in the cooperation and unity of the United Nation lies our ultimate victory. I believe that it is equally true that in the continuance and timeliness of that cooperation also lies our hope for an honest, a workable, and a lasting peace.

The unity which the free peoples have achieved to win their war must continue on to win their peace. For since this is in truth a people's war, it must be followed by a people's peace. The translation into terms of reality of the promise of the great freedoms for all people everywhere is the final objective. We must be beforehand in charting the course toward that objective. The clearer we can make the outlines of the peace, the firmer will be our determination to attain it, the stronger our will to win the war.

One hears it said that no thought should be given to the problems of the peace, nor to the problems of the transitional period between war and established peace, until after the war has been won.

The shallowness of such thinking, whether sincere or sinister, is apparent.

In many cases it is due, I think, to what Plato terms "double ignorance": when a man is ignorant that he is ignorant.

It does not detract from our war effort, nor from the single-minded drive of the nation towards the ultimate victory, that our people should be thinking of, and planning for, the kind of world of the future in which peace can be maintained, and in which men and women can live out their lives in security and free from fear.

Such efforts in my judgment contribute directly to the drive towards victory.

The setting-up, now, of efficient machinery to deal withsuch problems as relief and rehabilitation, for example, which will accompany victory, cannot fail to strengthen the resolve of all liberty-loving peoples, including those in areas now occupied by the enemy, to bring the conflict to the speediest possible conclusion; it cannot fail to make them realize that the sort of world for which we are striving is worth the sacrifices of war; is worth the cost of victory.

It is clear to all of us, I think, that the United Nations must maintain their unity beyond the immediate task of prosecuting the people's war in order to prepare for and insure to the people their peace.

Point Four of the Atlantic Charter promises "to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity."

This promise, and the balance of the Charter, the United Nations adopted as their own by their common declaration of last January 1.

How do they propose to make it real?

Some things at least are clear.

Access to raw materials does not mean and cannot mean that every nation, or any nation, can have the source of all of them within its borders. That is not the way the world was put together. Coal and iron in combination are found in few locations. Much of the nickel of the world is in one great Canadian deposit. Neither coffee nor cork will grow in the United States. No nation can be self-sufficient by changes in its boundaries, and those who try by force to do so, as the Axis leaders have tried, bring on themselves inevitably only their own destruction. The path to plentiful supplies does not lie through physical control of the sources of supplies.

The problem of raw materials is not exclusively, or even primarily, a problem of colonial or undeveloped areas. The great mineral deposits exist chiefly in countries that are already self-governing, such as the United States, the Soviet Union, Canada, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil. Access to raw materials does not mean possession of a colony. It means effective power to buy in the world's markets.

The legal right to export raw materials has seldom been restricted by producing countries. True, the United States and other countries sometimes have been guilty of forbidding the export of certain things needed for production elsewhere, for fear that others might obtain the means to trespass on their markets. But those cases were rare. Countries producing raw materials desired normally to sell their surplus, and the problem usually was to find a profitable market. The right to buy was real, and satisfied peace-loving peoples. Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, not to speak of the United States and England, bought in the years between the wars great quantities of foreign raw materials, and none of them claimed that they needed greater resources to live. The countries that complained, and shrieked that they must have colonies or die, have shown now by their conduct that what they wanted was not prosperity and peace, but the materials for making war.

For war indeed, one cannot count on overseas supplies, and an aggressor must first corner all he can of coal and iron and oil and copper, in the ground or out of it.

But the Atlantic Charter does not propose to aid aggression. It proposes, on the contrary, to make sure that aggression does not happen, and to that end the United Nations will create the necessary instruments—and this time they will be effective instruments and must be firmly used—to make it certain that any power that again threatens to enslave its neighbors is denied the means to do so. The materials of war must be denied to any future Hitler.

The access to raw materials of which the Charter speaks is access for the purpose of peace. For that purpose it matters little in whose territory particular resources are found. Access means the right to buy in peaceful trade, and it exists whenever that right is effective and secure.

What forces then have interfered with that right in the past, or may interfere with it in the future?

Most raw materials are not subject to monopolistic practices, because producers are too numerous; but there have been charges in the past, and there are charges now, that in certain cases the producers of some commodities with the support of the governments to which they owed allegiance, have managed, by what our Sherman Law calls combinations in restraint of trade, to reduce supplies and enhance prices beyond reasonable levels, or to discriminate among their customers. A world devoted to increased production and fair and fruitful exchange of all kinds of useful goods cannot tolerate such practices.

But monopoly, in the field of raw materials, is not the major problem. Most materials are plentiful in peace, and their producers want to sell them to any customer who has the means to buy. The real problem of consumers has always been the means of payment. In the world that emerges from the war that problem will be very serious indeed.

When this war ends much of the world will be impoverished beyond anything known in modern times.

Relief cannot go on forever, and the day must come as soon as possible when the devastated areas again are self-supporting. That will require enormous shipments from abroad, both of capital goods and of the raw materials of industry. For these early reconstruction shipments no immediate means of payment will be visible. That means large financing, much of it long-term. The United Nations must arrange that too. But finally comes payment, both of whatever interest burden the loans carry, and for the current purchases of raw materials and other imports. I need not tell this audience that international payments, on that scale can be made only in goods and services. There is no other way. Access to raw materials comes in the end to access to the great buying markets of the world. Those who expect to export must take the world's goods and services in payment. I hope that the United States is ready, now to act upon that lesson.

The United Nations have agreed to act upon it, and in mutual aid agreements with a growing number of them we and they have promised to direct our common efforts to increased production, employment, and the exchange and consumption of all kinds of useful goods. We and they have promised further to attack the problem by removing discriminations in the treatment of international trade, and by reducing unwarranted and artificial tariff barriers. The future prosperity and peace of the world, and of the United States, depend vitally on the good faith and the thoroughness with which we and they together carry out those promises.

During the war as fully as we can, and more fully after we have destroyed the madmen who seek to rule the world by force and terror, we of the United Nations will go forward in a loyal partnership to carry out the pledges we have made to each other and the world.

There is no limit, then, to the material prosperity which is within the reach of the United States, and of mankind. The great thing that has happened in our time is that mankind at long last has taught itself enough of the means and techniques of production, of transport, and of scientific agriculture so that it is technically possible to produce and todistribute on this planet the basic physical necessities of health and decent living for all of the world's people. What remains, and it is a great and formidable task, is so to remake our relations with each other, in loyal and cooperative effort, that the great productive forces which are within our sight may function freely for the benefit of all. It is within our power to make a mighty start upon that road; we have laid down the principles of action; it is for the people of the United States to determine whether their Government is to be authorized to carry on.

For twelve tragic years after the close of the last World War the United States withdrew from almost every form of constructive cooperation with the other nations of the earth.

We are reaping the bitter cost of that isolation.

For I am persuaded that after the victory is won, so long as the power and influence of the United States are felt in the councils of the world, so long as our cooperation is effectively offered, so long can one hope that peace can and will be maintained.

The blessings we have inherited from our forefathers do not constitute an inheritance that we may only passively enjoy. They can only be preserved by sacrifice, by courage, by resolution and by vision.

If the American people prove themselves worthy of their ancestors, if they still possess their forefathers' dauntless courage and their ability to meet new conditions with wisdom and determination, the future of this nation will rest secure, and our children and our children's children will be able to live out their lives in safety and in peace.