Foreign Affairs of the United States


By BRECKINRIDGE LONG, Assistant Secretary of State

Delivered before the American Federation of Labor Forum on Labor and the Post-War World, Hotel Commodore, New York City, April 12, 1944

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 437-440.

IT is with a solemn understanding of the significance of this meeting and of the forward-looking undertaking of this Post-War Forum that I address this gathering tonight. I bring the best wishes of Secretary Hull and give expression to his hope that your deliberations will be highly productive not alone in the nature of the conclusions to which you may come but in the success they may promise for the realization of a stable peace and for a better world.

It is a matter of solid encouragement that an organization such as the American Federation of Labor, which has done so much to stimulate the conscience and actions of mankind in behalf of human welfare, and which has so consistently recognized that the human element is not a simple matter of local or national concern, is directing its energies toward seeking solutions for post-war problems.

The post-war world presents in prospect many vistas which have a present interest and which hold forth a promise of political stability and economic prosperity—but there will be no realization of those promises unless we win this war—and win it completely.

Victory in this war cannot be reckoned merely in terms of a successful repulse of the enemy. Our victory must mean complete destruction of Fascism and Nazism and the obliteration of every vestige of the vicious movement which set out to destroy, all over the globe, the very foundations of freedom and democracy. All the power of this nation is directed to that end. And tins includes the Axis partner Japan and its brutal attempts at domination. That as the reason the full diplomatic power of the United States has been and must remain committed to support in every possible way the armed forces in attaining their military objectives to the end that the enemy may be completely overcome as quickly as possible. Our diplomatic activity is to be judged primarily by the standard as to whether it will be of maximum effectiveness in winning this war by promoting allied cooperation to that end. Thereafter it will be judged by the measure of cooperation it has achieved among the peacefully inclined nations of the world and the success it may achieve in collaboration with them in laying the basis for a peace of political security and economic well-being.

Of fundamental importance in such an undertaking as the waging of this world-wide war is full cooperation among our allies; and that has been a primary objective of the wartime foreign policy of the United States. Through our diplomatic activity we have developed a very close and satisfying cooperation with our allies against the common enemy. That does not mean that we have each seen each detail with the same eye, but it does mean that we work and fight in unison, that we are united on all-important policy, and that we are all determined to fight it through to complete victory.

Occasional instances, in the kaleidoscopic changes of events, in which in some detail there may not have been full concert of action between great allies have been fully discussed in public while the continuing coordination and cordial cooperation in the common effort, which is the basic fact, is frequently overlooked even though it be essential to victory. No one supposes that by signing the Atlantic Charter, the Declaration of the United Nations, and the Moscow Declaration, that the signatories disposed of all the details of their multiple relationships. The important fact is, however, that they are in harmony as to their general objectives and agreed on as to how to achieve them. It is easy, particularly under the stress and worry of wartime conditions, to magnify some problems out of all proportion to their real merit in relation to the attainment of military success.

We are approaching the time when the allied military operations against Nazi Germany will bring about the liberation of those nations which have been so long and so tragically under its brutal domination. We shall carry with us into those ravaged territories our deep and abiding interest in the restoration of individual liberty, of popular institutions of government, of freedom of worship, of speech and of the press, of right of assembly and of all the rights and privileges of free peoples. In keeping with the provisions of the Atlantic Charter and in line with our own devotion to democratic principles, we intend to take no action which will in any way interfere with the free and untrammeled choice by these nations of the officials and the governments under whose authority they wish to live. We will not permit the armed forces of this country to be used for the support of any group or any government contrary to the will of the people. We intend to do everything we can toward encouraging and assisting these liberated nations to shape their own destinies and to develop their own way of life. We intend to make our contribution toward aiding them to recover from the political, moral and economic prostration into which they have been plunged by the ruthless enemy.

For effective prosecution of the war there is need that all peoples now submerged under Axis invasion use all their energies to resist the invaders and thus speed the day of their own liberation. Internal political controversies inevitably weaken the war effort. We have consistently urged hat they not be permitted to impair the war effort. Such a situation, for example, has existed in Yugoslavia. Even beneath the heel of Axis occupation, that country, formed of many races, has fallen into divided councils. These divisions have seemed to us tragic in themselves and calculated only to benefit the common Nazi enemy. Our policy has been to endeavor to bring these elements into sufficient harmony so that they can make a common front against a common enemy. We are, meanwhile, cooperating in furnishing arms and supplies to all Yugoslavs who are fighting the Germans.

A similar tragedy almost occurred in Greece. Happily it was averted by common effort of the Allies. The differences have, for the time being, been composed. Political questions have been set aside for orderly solution when time permits, and energies are pooled for the common struggle.

Sometimes the objective is not achieved. Finland is a case in point. Finland, an ally of Nazi Germany, seems unfortunately to be choosing a course of action very different from what we desire. We have made every effort to induce Finland to terminate her ill-chosen association with Germany. We have emphasized to her the consequences which must flow from a continued participation in the war on the side of the enemy. We have repeatedly made clear to her that responsibility for the consequences of continuing her association with Nazi Germany must rest solely on the Finnish Government, just as, in the case of Germany's other satellites, the responsibility for remaining in the war on the side of our principal enemy must rest solely on them.

The American people need have no fear that the American point of view is not being vigorously and effectively presented on every occasion where our immediate or long-range interests are involved. These problems are solved, in consultation with our allies, in accord with the controlling purpose of unity in the war effort and in keeping with the fundamental principles of democratic philosophy.

The diplomatic power of the United States is the servant of American foreign policy. There is an inclination to confuse the two—but they should be distinguished. Diplomatic activity is particular action taken in the application of foreign policy to a specific situation, while foreign policy itself is general in character.

American foreign policy is a composite of many factors and influences. The principles of social justice, individual liberty, orderly democratic government and fair play which compose our political philosophy are the spirit of that policy. These and other principles well known to every American are part of our foreign policy because they are a part of America. Whatever else it contains, it must always reflect the doctrines, philosophies, aspirations and practices of the American people.

Our success in the working out of these principles will, of course, vary with time, place and the exigencies of military necessity. However, this Government will giverepresentation abroad to the ideals of America and within the limits of the principle of self-determination, encourage democratic practices in liberated countries.

I have emphasized the dominant part that the war, and its winning, must play in the application of our current foreign policy. But essential as is the total defeat of the Axis, that is not and cannot be the sole great objective. There are two others with which American foreign policy must be concerned—the prevention of future wars, and the promotion of conditions which will permit our people to attain the greatest possible measure of economic well-being.

I should like to speak briefly of our preparations for the future in these two broad fields; of the establishment of an effective system of international peace and security; and of the creation of conditions and agencies for the promotion of economic and social welfare.

For some time the Department of State, in cooperation with other agencies of the Government, in collaboration with individual members of the Congress and in consultation with individuals of experience in private life has been engaged in studying these questions and in formulating the basis for constructive programs of action.

A thorough analysis of the mistakes of the unhappy past, a study of current developments, and an examination of future possibilities have led us to the following conclusions as regards some of the basic problems involved in the future prevention of aggression and war:

11. The major nations together with the other law-abiding states should create an international organization for the maintenance of peace and security.

2. The major nations—and in due course all nations,—should pledge themselves not to use force against each other or against any other nation, except on the basis of arrangements made in connection with such an international organization.

3. Each of the major nations, and any other nations to be agreed upon, should accept special responsibility for maintaining adequate forces and for using such forces, on the basis of arrangements made in connection with the international organization, to prevent or suppress all disturbances of the peace.

Our basic thought is that a general international organization of sovereign nations, having for its primary objective the maintenance of peace and security, should comprise effective agencies and arrangements for the pacific settlement of international controversies; for joint use of force to suppress disturbances of the peace; and for fostering cooperative effort among nations for the progressive improvements of the general welfare. The organization should at the outset provide the indispensable minimum of machinery of action and should be expected to develop and grow as time goes on and as circumstances may indicate to be wise. It is clear that there must be some general body on which all member states will be equally represented to serve as a world assembly of nations. There must be a court of international justice. And there must be a small body or council, representative of the large and small nations, endowed with adequate powers and means to arrange for maintaining the peace.

The step in the direction of creating an effective general international organization was taken at Moscow. The Four Nation Declaration signed there constitutes a solemn declaration of intention on the part of the four major countries to act hi common for the preservation of peace and security, and to Jake the lead in the establishment of a permanent international organization for this basic purpose. The next step had to be a joint examination of the problems involvedin setting up such an organization.

Our studies in preparation for discussion with other governments, which were well advanced before the Moscow Conference, have been intensively carried forward since. They have involved a careful examination of the various alternatives with respect to the structure, powers, and procedures of an international organization. They have involved also an examination of our constitutional processes as regards participation by this country in the creation and functioning of such an organization, including especially the providing of armed forces for international action.

The next step involves additional conferences with representatives of both parties in the Congress and thereafter a full exchange of views with other governments and in accordance with our constitutional provisions, discussions at home—all looking toward an agreed proposal for an effective international security organization.

At the same time our thoughts have been on the other related question, that of economic security.

International cooperation is as important in one field as in the other. This is not the occasion to undertake an extensive discussion of the broad question of economic collaboration, but I do wish to stress the need for collaboration in this field as well.

Events have lifted one fundamental aspect out of the realm of speculation and controversy. The economic interdependence of nations is no longer a theory but a well-substantiated fact. The economic and social policies of one nation exercise influence on the economic and social conditions of other countries. This phenomenon of international relations leads to one basic conclusion. National and inter national economic policies should be formulated with a recognition of the basic and permanent interests of all peoples. These policies should be designed to promote, as widely as possible, full and productive employment under conditions favorable to the physical and moral well-being of the worker.

Under present day conditions, all nations are vitally dependent on each other as regards their economic and social well-being. The state of employment, distribution and living conditions in our country and in every other country are mutually interdependent. Hence the welfare of every country requires the greatest practical measure of collaboration between nations on policies affecting the production, distribution and use of the world's goods and resources. I need hardly underscore the fact that no group has a larger stake in both the economic and social security aspects of post-war economic cooperation than has labor. The reduction of the barriers to an expansion of mutually profitable trade after the war will be needed in order to open opportunities for work for millions now employed in war production and millions now serving in our armed forces.

In the field of international cooperation directly affecting the interests and problems of labor, we are fortunate in already having an international organization with twenty-five years of experience—the International Labor Organization. In this field we do not have to wait for the establishment of a suitable vehicle.

A few of those present tonight working and planning with others assumed responsibility in the movement which led to its establishment I refer to Mr. William Green, Mr, Matthew Wolland to Professor James T. Shotwell, who was not only collaborator in the movement but its historian as well. And yet another in that group also here tonight is the distinguished Minister of Great Britain, Mr. HaroldButler. Without the unremitting labors of these able and forward looting men—always remembering as one of the leaders of the whole group, the late Samuel Gompers—without them there might not be an I. L. O.

But there is!—and it is fitting in this connection to recall that one of the most important steps—if not the most important—which this country took during the inter-war period toward assuming its rightful place, as an active member of organized international society was taken in 1934 when President Roosevelt, pursuant to a joint resolution of the Congress, accepted membership for us in the I. L. O. It is commonly acknowledged today that the establishment of that organization marked one of the truly significant milestones in the history of a social progress.

It has a value today of particular importance, when some persons are skeptical about the possibilities of world peace through international organization. I suggest that such persons study the history of the I. L. O. At the time of its inception there was hunger, misery and serious disorder throughout Europe. President Roosevelt, referring to its origin, said of it later, "To many it was a wild dream." The dream carrying hope to those who could hope has justified the confidence of its founders and become an outstanding demonstration of the effectiveness of men of many nations when determined to do so to work together for the good of all. It is an inspiration to those who believe that the mind and heart of men can solve the problems of mankind.