Washington, D. C., December 28, 1942
Release by the Office of the Vice-President.
For the people of the United States, the war is entering its grimmest phase. At home, we are beginning at last to learn what war privations mean. Abroad, our boys in ever greater numbers are coming to grips with the enemy. Yet, even while warfare rages on, and we of the United Nations are redoubling our great drive for victory, there is dawning the hope of that day of peace, however distant, when the lights will go on again, all over the world.
Adolf Hitler's desperate bid for a Nazi world order has reached and passed its highest point, and is on its way to its ultimate downfall. The equally sinister threat of world domination by the Japanese is doomed eventually to fail. When the Hitler regime finally collapses and the Japanese war lords are smashed, an entirely new phase of world history will be ushered in. The task of-our generation-the generation which President Roosevelt once said has a "rendezvous with destiny"-is so to organize human affairs that no Adolf Hitler, no power-hungry war mongers, whatever their nationality, can ever again plunge the whole world into war and bloodshed.
The situation in the world today is parallel in some ways to that in the United States just before the adoption of the Constitution, when it was realized that the Articles of Confederation had failed and that some stronger union was needed.
Today, measured by travel time, the whole world is actually smaller than was our little country then. When George Washington was inaugurated, it took seven days to go by horse-drawn vehicle from Mount Vernon to New York. Now Army bombers are flown from the United States to China and India in less than three days.
It is in this suddenly-shrunken world that the United Nations, like our 13 American States in 1787, soon will be faced with a fundamental choice. We know now that the League of Nations, like our own union under the Articles of Confederation, was not strong enough. The League never had American support, and at critical moments it lacked the support of some of its own members. The League finally disintegrated under the successive blows of world-wide economic depression and a second World War. Soon the nations 9, the world will have to face this question: Shall the world's affairs be so organized as to prevent a repetition of these twin disasters-the bitter woe of depression and the holocaust of war?
It is especially appropriate to discuss this subject on this particular date, because it is the birthday of Woodrow Wilson, who have up his health and eventually his life in the first attempt, a generation ago, to preserve the world's peace through united world action. At that time, there were many who said that Wilson had failed. Now we know that it was the world that failed, and the suffering and war of the last few years is the penalty it is paying for its failure.
When we think of Woodrow Wilson, we know him not only for his effort to build a permanent peace but for the progressive leadership he gave our country in the years before that first World War. The "New Freedom" for which Wilson fought was the forerunner of the Roosevelt "New Deal" of 1933 and of the worldwide new democracy which is the goal of the United Nations in this present struggle.
Wilson, like Jefferson and Lincoln before him, was interested first and always in the welfare of the common man. And so the ideals of Wilson and the fight he made for them are an inspiration to us today as we take up the torch he laid down.
Resolved as we are to fight on to final victory in this world-wide people's war, we are justified in looking ahead to the peace that will inevitably come. Indeed, it would be the height of folly not to prepare for peace, just as in the years prior to December 7, 1941, it would have been the height of folly not to prepare for war.
As territory previously overrun by the Germans and the Japs is reoccupied by the forces of the United Nations, measures of relief and rehabilitation will have to be undertaken. Later, out of the experience of these temporary measures of relief, there will emerge the possibilities and the practicalities of more permanent reconstruction.
We can not now blueprint all the details, but we can begin now to think about some of the guiding principles of this world-wide new democracy we of the United Nations hope to build.
Two of these principles must be Liberty and Unity, or in other words, home rule and centralized authority, which for more than 150 years have been foundation stones of our American democracy and our American union.
When Woodrow Wilson proposed the League of Nations, it became apparent that these same principles of Liberty and Unity-of home rule and centralized authority-needed to be applied among the nations if a repetition of the first World War was to be prevented. Unfortunately the people of the United States were not ready. They believed in the doctrine of Liberty in international affairs, but they were not willing to give up certain of their international rights and to shoulder certain international duties, even though other nations were ready to take such steps. They were in the position of a strong, well-armed pioneer citizen who thought he could defend himself against robbers without going to the expense and bother of joining with his neighbors in setting up a police force to uphold civil law. They stood for decency in international affairs, but in the world of practical international politics the net effect of their action or lack of action was anarchy and the loss of millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in a second world war.
The sturdy pioneer citizen, proud of his own strength and independence, needed to be robbed and beaten only once by bandits to be ready to cooperate with his law-abiding neighbors. I believe the United States also has learned her lesson and that she is willing to assume a responsibility proportionate to her strength. England, Russia, China and most of the other United Nations are perhaps even more eager than the United States to go beyond the Charter which they have signed as a declaration of principles. The United Nations, like the United States 155 years ago, are groping for a formula which will give the greatest possible liberty without producing anarchy and at the same time will not give so many rights to each member nation as to jeopardize the security of all.
Obviously the United Nations must first have machinery which can disarm and keep disarmed those parts of the world which would break the peace. Also there must be machinery for preventing economic warfare and enhancing economic peace between nations. Probably there will have to be an international court to make decisions in cases of dispute. And an international court presupposes some kind of world council, so that whatever world system evolves will have enough flexibility to meet changing circumstances as they arise.
As a practical matter, we may find that the regional principle is of considerable value in international affairs. For example, European countries, while concerned with the problems of Pan America, should not have to be preoccupied with them, and likewise Pan America, while concerned, should not have to be preoccupied with the problems of Europe. Purely regional problems ought to be left in regional hands. This would leave to any federated world organization problems involving broad principles and those practical matters which affect countries of different regions or which affect the whole world.
The aim would be to preserve the liberty, equality, security and unity of the United Nations-liberty in a political sense, equality of opportunity in international trade, security against war and business depression due to international causes, and unity of purpose in promoting the general welfare of the world.
In other words, the aim would be the maximum of home rule that can be maintained along with the minimum of centralized authority that must come into existence to give the necessary protection. We in the United States must remember this: If we are to expect guarantees against military or economic aggression from other nations, we must be willing to give guarantees that we will not be guilty of such aggression ourselves. We must recognize, for example, that it is perfectly justifiable for a debtor, pioneer nation to build up its infant industries behind a protective tariff, but a creditor nation can be justified in such policies only from the standpoint of making itself secure in case of war.
A special problem that will face the United Nations immediately upon the attainment of victory over either Germany or Japan will be what to do with the defeated nation. Revenge for the sake of revenge would be a sign of barbarism-but this time we must make absolutely sure that the guilty leaders are punished, that the defeated nation realizes its defeat and is not permitted to rearm. The United Nations must back up military disarmament with psychological disarmament-supervision, or at least inspection, of the school systems of Germany and Japan, to undo so far as possible the diabolical work of Hitler and the Japanese war lords in poisoning the minds of the young.
Without doubt, in the building of a new and enduring peace, economic reconstruction will play an all-important role. Unless there is careful planning in advance, the return of peace can in a few years bring a shock even worse than the shock of war.
The magnitude of the problem here in the United States, for example, is indicated by the probability that in the peak year of the war we shall be spending something like go billion dollars of public funds in the war effort, whereas two years later we may be spending less than 20 billion dollars for military purposes. In the peak year of the war effort, it is probable that we shall have around 10 million men in the armed services and 20 million additional men and women producing war goods for the armed services. It would seem that within the first two years after the peace at least 15 million of these 30 million men and women will be seeking for jobs different from those which they had when peace came.
Our expenditures have been going at a rate fully seven times as great as in World War No. 1 and the conversion of our industry to wartime uses has been far more complete. Thousands of thoughtful business men and economists, remembering what happened after the last war, being familiar with the fantastic figures of this war, and knowing the severity of the shock to come, have been greatly disturbed. Some have concerned themselves with plans to get over the first year. Others have given thought to the-more distant future.
It should be obvious to practically everyone that, without well-planned and vigorous action, a series of economic storms will follow this war. These will take the form of inflation and temporary scarcities, followed by surpluses, crashing prices, unemployment, bankruptcy, and in some cases violent revolution. If there is lack of well-planned and vigorous action, it is quite conceivable that the human misery in certain countries after the war may be even greater than during the war.
It is true that in the long run any nation, like any individual, must follow the principle of self-help, must look to its own efforts to raise its own living standards. But it is also true that stronger nations, like our own, can provide guidance, technical advice, and in some cases capital investment to help those nations which are just starting on the path of industrialization. Our experience with the Philippines is a case in point.
The suggestions I have made with a view to promoting development and encouraging higher standards of living are necessarily fragmentary at this time. But in some quarters, either knowingly or unknowingly, they have been grossly distorted and misrepresented. During the recent political campaign one member of Congress seeking re-election made the flat statement that I was in favor of having American farmers give away a quart of milk a day to every inhabitant of the world. In other quarters these suggestions have been referred to by such terms as "utopian," "soggy sentimentality," and the "dispensing of milk and honey." But is it "utopian" to foresee that South America, Asia and Africa will in the future experience a development of industry and agriculture comparable to what has been experienced in the past in Europe and North America? Is it "soggy sentimentality" to hold out hope to those millions in Europe and Asia fighting for the cause of human freedom-our freedom? Is it the "dispensing of milk and honey" to picture to their minds the possible blessings of a higher standard of living when the war is over and their own productivity has increased?
Among the self-styled "realists" who are trying to scare the American people by spreading worry about "misguided idealists" giving away U. S. products are some whose policies caused us to give away billions of dollars of stuff in the decade of the 20's. Their high tariff prevented exchange of our surplus for goods. And so we exchanged our surplus for bonds of very doubtful value. Our surplus will be far greater than ever within a few years after this war comes to an end. We can be decently human and really hard-headed if we exchange our post-war surplus for goods for peace, and for improving the standard of living of so-called backward peoples. We can get more for our surplus production in this way than by any high-tariff, penny-pinching, isolationist policies which hide under the cloak of 100 percent Americanism.
Self-interest alone should be sufficient to make the United States deeply concerned with the contentment and well-being of the other peoples of the world. For, as President Roosevelt has pointed out, such contentment will be an important contribution to world peace and it is only when other peoples are prosperous and economically productive that we can find export markets among them for the products of our factories and our farms.
A world family of nations can not be really healthy unless the various nations in that family are getting along well in their own internal affairs. The first concern of each nation must be the well-being of its own people. That is as true of the United States as of any other nation.
During the war, we have full employment here in the United States, and the problem is not to find jobs for the workers but to find workers for the jobs. After the war, it will be vital to make sure that another period of unemployment does not come on. With this end in view, the suggestion has been made that Congress should formally recognize the maintenance of full employment as a declared national policy, just as it now recognizes as national policies the right of farmers to parity of income with other groups and the right of workers to unemployment insurance and old-age annuities.
Full employment is vital not only to city prosperity but to farm prosperity as well. Nothing contributes more to stable farm prosperity than the maintenance of full employment in the cities, and the assurance that purchasing power for both farm and factory products will always be adequate.
Maintenance of full employment and the highest possible level of national income should be the joint responsibility of private business and of government. It is reassuring to know that business groups in contact with government agencies already are assembling facts, ideas, and plans that will speed up the shift from a government-financed war program to a privately-financed program of peacetime activity.
This shift must be made as secure against mischance as if it were a wartime campaign against the enemy. We cannot afford either a speculative boom or its inevitable bust. In the war we use tanks, planes, guns and ships in great volume and of most effective design. Their equivalents in the defense against postwar economic chaos will be less spectacular, but equally essential. We must keep prices in control. We must have continuity in the flow of incomes to consumers and from consumers to the industries of city and farm. We must have a national system of job placement. We must have definite plans for the conversion of key industries to peacetime work.
When the war is over, the more quickly private enterprise gets back into peacetime production and sells goods to peacetime markets here and abroad, the more quickly will the level of government wartime expenditures be reduced. No country needs deficit spending when private enterprise, either through its own efforts or in cooperation with government, is able to maintain full employment. Let us hope that the best thought of both business and government can be focused on this problem which lies at the heart of our American democracy and our American way of life.
The war has brought forth a new type of industrialist who gives much promise for the future. The type of business leader I have in mind has caught a new vision of opportunities in national and international projects. He is willing to cooperate with the people's government in carrying out socially desirable programs. He conducts these programs on the basis of private enterprise, and for private profit, while putting into effect the people's standards as to wages and working conditions. We shall need the best efforts of such men as we tackle the economic problem of the peace.
This problem is well recognized by the average man on the street, who sums it up in a nutshell like this: If everybody can be given a job in war work now, why can't everybody have a job in peacetime production later on? He will demand an answer, and the returning soldier and sailor will demand an answer-and this will be the test of statesmanship on the home front, just as ability to cooperate with other nations for peace and improved living standards will be the test of statesmanship on the international front.
How thrilling it will be when the world can move ahead into a new day of peaceful work, developing its resources and translating them as never before into goods that can be consumed and enjoyed! But this new day will not come to pass, unless the people of the United Nations give whole-hearted support to an effective program of action. The war will have been fought in vain if we in the United States, for example, are plunged into bitter arguments over our part in the peace, or over such fictitious questions as government versus business. Such bitterness would only confuse us and cloud our path. How much more sensible it would be if our people could be supplied with the facts and then, through orderly discussion, could arrive at a common understanding of what needs to be done.
I have heard the fear expressed that after the war the spirit of self-sacrifice which now animates so many of our people will disappear, that cold and blind selfishness will supplant the spirit which makes our young men willing to go thousands of miles from home to fight-and die if need be-for freedom. Those who have this fear think that a return of blind selfishness will keep the nations of the world from joining to prevent a repetition of this disaster.
We should approach the whole question, not emotionally from the standpoint of either sacrifice or selfishness, but objectively from the standpoint of finding the common meeting ground on which the people of the world can stand. This meeting ground, after all, should not be hard to find-it is the security of the plain folks against depression and against war. To unite against these two evils is not really a sacrifice at all, but only a common-sense facing of the facts of the world in which we live.
Now at last the nations of the world have a second chance to erect a lasting structure of peace-a structure such as that which Woodrow Wilson sought to build but which crumbled away because the world was not yet ready. Wilson himself foresaw that it was certain to be rebuilt some day. This is related by Josephus Daniels in his book, The Life of Woodrow Wilson, as follows:
"Wilson never knew defeat, for defeat never comes to any man until he admits it. Not long before the close of his life Woodrow Wilson said to a friend: 'Do not trouble about the things we have fought for. They are sure to prevail. They are only delayed.' With the quaintness which gave charm to his sayings he added: 'And I will make this concession to Providence-it may come in a better way than we propose.' "
And now we of this generation, trusting in Providence to guide our steps, go forward to meet the challenge of our day. For the challenge we all face is the challenge of the new democracy. In the new democracy, there will be a place for everyone-the worker, the farmer, the business man, the housewife, the doctor, the salesman, the teacher, the student, the store clerk, the taxi driver, the preacher, the engineer-all the millions who make up our modern world. This new democracy will give us freedom such as we have never known, but only if as individuals we perform our duties with willing hearts. It will be an adventure in sharing-sharing of duties and responsibilities, and sharing of the joy that can come from the give-and-take of human contacts and fruitful daily living. Out of it, if we all do our part, there will be new opportunity and new security for the common man-that blend of Liberty and Unity which is the bright goal of millions who are bravely offering up their lives on the battle fronts of the world.