The Victory of Peace
FORMULATE A UNITED NATIONS PEACE PLAN NOW
By SUMNER WELLES, Under Secretary of State
Delivered at the Convocation of the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, February 26, 1943
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 336-339.
I AM deeply conscious of the privilege you have afforded me of addressing this Convocation of the University of Toronto. During the century of its magnificently vigorous life this great institution of learning has become, in the field of education, one of the recognized glories of our New World. In its notable contributions to the welfare of humanity and to the inspiration of the human spirit, all of us who are citizens of the Western Hemisphere can justly feel satisfaction and pride.
It is for that reason that I am so greatly honored by thedegree which the University of Toronto is today conferring upon me.
I know, of course, of the long line of graduates from these halls who have distinguished themselves in so many varied branches of public endeavor, and I am therefore also peculiarly gratified that from now on I may lay claim—at least an honorary claim—to a connection with the University from which graduated the present Prime Minister of Canada.
You will, I feel, permit me to say that while I know howhighly and how justly his outstanding abilities and achievements are recognized in other parts of the world, there is no place outside of his own country where he has won more affectionate regard, or a higher measure of sincere admiration, than in the United States. The peoples of our two countries are singularly blessed, in these the most critical moments of their history, that the guidance of the destinies of our two nations should have been entrusted at this time to two men, Mackenzie King and Franklin Roosevelt, who have ever believed in the need for complete confidence and understanding between the peoples of Canada and of the United States, and who have done more than any other two men similarly placed in the course of our national lives to strengthen in real and practical fashion that friendship which is so vital to the well-being and to the security of us both.
Today our peoples are fighting side by side to defend their liberties and to bring to utter defeat the band of dictators who have dared to think they could extinguish the light of democracy in the modern world. And we recognize fully how long and bitter the road may still be before the final victory is won.
Canada and the United States have had very similar problems in this war.
We have met them in similar ways, and in collaboration, in the spirit of the Ogdensburg and the Hyde Park agreements.
Our naval and military forces are cooperating closely in both oceans, and on our land frontiers. In production we have both faced shortages of raw materials, labor, and manufacturing facilities, and our Governments have imposed effective, and often parallel, controls to overcome these shortages. We have both put our civilian economy on rations, increased taxation, and regulated prices. We have sought to supply each other with the things of which one of us was short, and to coordinate our production facilities and resources in the most effective ways.
Both of us are arsenals of the United Nations, and in that too we have followed a like policy. That policy is first that food and munitions are dispatched to the places where they can be most useful in the conduct of the common war, and second that deliveries to countries that are not in position to make payment now are on terms that do not create impossible financial obligations later. Both of us are seeking to avoid the creation of uncollectible and trouble-breeding war debts.
The present high degree of economic cooperation between our two countries for the purpose of making as great a contribution as possible to the pooled war effort of the United Nations is extremely gratifying to us and must be so to our allies. Fortunately, the groundwork for this close collaboration was laid years before the outbreak of war. I refer primarily to the two reciprocal trade agreements between us, the first of which entered into force on January 1, 1936, and the second of which, replacing the first, became effective on January 1, 1939, the first day of the year in which Hitler forced upon Europe the war that was destined to spread over the globe.
The trade agreements we entered into in the days of precarious peace went a long way to heal the economic wounds, and attendant ill feeling, each of us had dealt the other in earlier years after the first World War.
On my side of the line, there had been the so-called Emergency Tariff Act of 1921, followed immediately by a general upward revision of the tariff in the Act of 1922; then, on the brink of the worst economic depression the world has suffered, came the monumental barrier created by the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930. In our Revenue Act of 1932, two of the four products subjected to new excise taxes bymeans of a rider to that legislation—lumber and copper—were and are of great interest to Canada. These measures in their collective effect struck hard at the trade of other countries. Canada felt the effects as much as any other country—perhaps more than any other.
Action on your side of the line was not slow in coming. You may recall that Canadian duties on a considerable number of products normally imported from the United States were raised automatically to the levels provided for on the same products in our Tariff Act of 1930. Everyone remembers the Ottawa agreements of 1932, when the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations turned their backs upon the United States and all countries and made a desperate effort to make up for lost and depressed markets elsewhere by tariff preferences intended to encourage an expansion of trade within the British Empire. Every country felt the effects of the Ottawa agreements; none, I believe, more than did the United States.
I mention these historical facts because they serve to remind us of past mistakes, still by no means completely remedied, that must be avoided after this most costly of all wars, in men and wealth, has been brought to an end by our common victory. They also serve to emphasize the fundamental necessity of carrying forward constructively the task of economic cooperation between us begun with the first trade agreement and continued ever since.
The Governments of your country and mine see eye-to-eye on this. They have formally declared their intention to seek common goals in peace as well as in war.
On November 30 last, in an exchange of notes, our two Governments took another important step along the road to a better world after victory. We agreed not only to try to promote mutually advantageous economic relations between ourselves, but to seek the cooperation of other nations of like mind in promoting the betterment of world-wide economic relations. These aims involve appropriate national and international measures to expand production, employment, and the exchange and consumption of goods; elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international commerce; reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers; and, generally, attainment of the economic objectives of the Atlantic Charter, through the collaboration of the United Nations which are willing to join with us in the realization of these objectives.
Many of the United Nations, through Article VII of their mutual-aid agreements with the United States, have already joined in this same declaration of post-war economic objectives.
Our two countries, in the same exchange of notes, have expressed our intention to do something concrete about our declaration of aims by discussing soon with other United Nations how we two and other like-minded nations can agree upon a program to carry out these aims. They seek to furnish to the world practical evidence of the ways in which two neighboring countries that have a long experience of friendly relations and a high degree of economic interdependence, and that share the conviction that such reciprocally beneficial relations must form part of a general system, may promote by agreed action their mutual interests to the benefit of themselves and other countries.
I am not so bold as to venture a prediction here as to the details of such a program. However, I am confident that we can march together, with other forward looking nations, along the road to a fruitful and secure post-war world, provided the people on both sides of the line support their Governments, with understanding and determination, in their efforts to do everything within their power to achieve these great objectives.
When the war ends similar problems will face us both. We shall both confront the task of demobilization, and we
shall both endeavor to make sure that the young men andthe young women—who are discharged from military service have a real chance to find useful and productive employment. Both of us prefer a system of free enterprise, and we shall both desire to lighten government controls as rapidly as the phenomenon of scarcity vanishes and conditions permit free enterprise to play its proper role. Both of us will find our industries still working largely on war orders, and the problems of conversion will be urgent. Both of us will want to make our contribution to the relief and reconstruction of the devastated countries, and we shall want to make that contribution in the way which will help the peoples of those regions get back to health and strength and to self-reliance as rapidly as possible. We shall both be interested in possible international arrangements about gold, and currencies, and international investment. And we shall both desire to increase the economic interchange between us and with others on the most fruitful basis possible.
On all these questions we can talk usefully together as we have agreed to do. Our discussions will become even more useful as we undertake to conduct them in an even larger framework, the framework of the whole United Nations. There is no disagreement anywhere as to what the United Nations want. They want full employment for their people at good wages and under good working conditions and the other physical and institutional arrangements that add up to freedom from want. But differences of opinion doubtless exist within and between the several countries as to the means to be adopted—divergencies may arise as to the desirability or efficacy of particular policies or measures.
An examination of the causes of any disagreement will usually reveal that it exists mainly because people are considering the question from different viewpoints, that the parties are basing their judgments on different or incomplete facts and different considerations. If both parties had the same facts and considerations in mind, and if each knew fully the reasons behind the position taken by the other, there would much more quickly be a meeting of minds.
This is true not only of individuals, but also of nations, and it suggests the need for joint as well as separate study of the facts and considerations relating to proposals aimed at attaining the desired ends. I believe that if the United Nations were to set up machinery for the purpose of assembling and studying all international aspects of problems under the general heading of freedom from want, and for assembling all the pertinent facts and considerations relating thereto, and for jointly analyzing all facts and considerations relating to measures or policies proposed for furthering the end in view, the controversies and conflicts of policy which have so long embittered relations in the international economic field, and therefore generally, might largely disappear. If the analysis were thorough enough, and the problems of each country were fully understood by the others, solutions could be found that would serve the interests of all concerned. Nothing is more clear to my mind than this: if all aspects of an economic problem were explored, it would become apparent that the basic interests of all countries are largely common interests, that each country's economic problems are related to, and inseparable from, those of the others.
A United Nations' study such as I have in mind would explore in a careful, thorough and systematic way world problems in the economic field, toward the solution of which much progress must be made if we are to have anything approaching the goal of freedom from want in our own countries or elsewhere. People and governments here and every-
where are studying these problems; are searching for solutions. The plans of one government or group of governments may seem sound enough in the light of their own interests, but may contain flaws which are visible only from the viewpoint of other governments or countries. If the study to which I have referred did no more than detect and focus attention on such flaws, if it did no more than prevent the crystallization in one country or group of countries of ideas which are objectionable from the viewpoint of others, it would serve a highly useful purpose. It is, however, my hope and belief that a United Nations' undertaking such as I have suggested would be able to formulate plans and recommendations of a constructive sort—to find, so to speak, common denominators which, in the net, would be advantageous to all. Failing to begin such organized study and discussion now, there is danger that divergent views and policies may become crystallized, to the detriment of the common war effort, and to the detriment of efforts to bring about a peace that will be more than a brief and uneasy interlude before another even more horrible and more destructive war devastates and depopulates the world.
My Government believes that the initiation of such studies is already overdue. If we do not make a start now, there is danger that we shall be brought together to make the peace with as many plans as there are governments. The day of complete victory cannot come too soon; we all give thanks to God for every advance we make toward that goal; at every sign of weakness in our enemies. Between now and that day we must endeavor to prepare ourselves to meet the responsibilities, and to make the most of the opportunities, that peace will bring.
I am glad to say that my Government intends at once to undertake discussions with other members of the United Nations as to the most practical and effective methods through which these vitally necessary conferences and consultations between us all can be held. It is my conviction that from these meetings a large measure of agreement will already be found to exist; that solutions will be available for such divergencies as may be apparent; and that in the last analysis it will be found that what may even appear to be fundamental obstacles can be resolved in the interest of the welfare of us all.
What the people of the United States are striving for, I am persuaded, is exactly what the people of Canada are striving for. They seek the attainment of the noble objectives set forth in the Atlantic Charter. They seek to achieve these ends, not because of any altruistic motives, not through the dictates of any theoretical idealism, but rather because they believe that the attainment of these objectives will be in their own self-interest—and I believe that in my own country we have learned through the bitter experience of the past quarter of a century that the most practical form of self-interest is enlightened self-interest.
We have seen beyond the shadow of any doubt that a policy of international cooperation which far too many told us twenty-four years ago was a policy of suicidal sentimentality, was in fact a policy of advantageous hard-headed realism.
Most of us have learned a great truth that is beginning to dawn upon the consciousness of many peoples in all parts of the globe, and that is that the real self-interest of one nation coincides with the permanent, with the ultimate, self-interests of other nations.
For there is no people which will not benefit more by peace than by war. The preservation of peace and the practice of human tolerance must come to be recognized by every nation and by every government as the indispensable requisites of all peoples. Never again can humanity permit dictator demagogues once more to proclaim the alleged virile glories of war or the cruel falsehood that there exists a master race.
No rational man or woman today can question the fact that had the nations of the world been able to create some effective form of international organization in the years that followed the close of the last great world war, and had been able to bulwark that organization with judicial and police powers, the devastating tragedy which humanity today is undergoing would have been avoided. From the standpoint of material self-interest alone, leaving aside every moral consideration, the lot of every one of our fellow citizens would have been far better. No one can appraise the cost of the present war in terms of life and human suffering. But we can appraise its cost in material terms, and we know that as a result of this material cost, the standard of living of every individual in every region of the world will be impaired.
If at the conclusion of this war the Governments of the United Nations are not afforded by their peoples the opportunity of collaborating together in effective policies of recovery, or of assuming a joint responsibility for making completely sure that the peace of the world is not again violated, there can be no result other than utter disaster. The structure of our civilization is not so tough as to make it conceivable that it would resist a repetition of the present holocaust.
We have evolved here in the New World a system of international relationships which constitutes perhaps the highest achievement in the sphere of practical international living which civilized man has so far created. From the historical standpoint it is very recent indeed, but it has grown, gradually perhaps but nevertheless steadily, throughout the period of the individual life of the democracies of the Americas. It is a system in which the smallest state isjust as free to determine its own destiny as the largest state. It is a system where the smallest state feels just as secure as the largest state, because of its knowledge that its independence and integrity are a matter of vital concern to its more powerful neighbors, and because of its assurance that should its liberties be jeopardized by aggression coming from without the Western Hemisphere, its more powerful neighbors will take the action necessary to repel that danger.
Every region of the world possesses its own peculiar problems, its own special advantages, and its own inherent difficulties. We hear much of the age-old rivalries which have persisted in Europe and in other quarters of the globe. But I think that we of the Americas can say that if 22 independent democracies such as those which occupy North, Central, and South America—of different races, of different languages, and of different origins—can achieve the measure of progress which we now have achieved, towards a peaceful and humane relationship, and towards profitable economic cooperation, that same form of relationship can be achieved in all regions of the world.
The creation of that same kind of decent international relationship by all peoples is the objective today of the United Nations. I am confident that after the unconditional surrender of our common enemies that objective will be attained.
Through our continued cooperation the peace of the world can be maintained, for with the defeat and total disarmament of the Axis powers there can be no further conflict—if the United Nations stand together.
We cannot permit this time that the supreme sacrifice which our sons and our brothers are making in the defense of our liberties shall be made in vain. Only through our combined efforts can we make certain that the victory which we will win in battle can become in fact the victory of peace.