San Francisco—The Golden Gate to Peace


By COM. HAROLD E. STASSEN, Former Governor of Minnesota

Delivered at a Meeting Sponsored by the Minnesota United Nations Committee, Minneapolis, Minn., March 7, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 338-341.

IN these last three years America, with her allies, has won a long series of brilliant historic victories in this war. The names stand out as grim markers of our march toward victory, from Guadalcanal and Casa Blanca to Iwo Jima and the Rhine.

These battles will be symbols for generations of how Americans, who love peace, can and will fight when they must.

The superb productive power of our country has played a heavy part in these victories and has contributed to the strength of the other United Nations. American labor, management, capital and agriculture are entitled to high commendation for their performance. The flow of supplies and munitions and ships and planes and guns has been nothing short of a miracle.

The victories have been actually won by the unbelievably heroic and effective fighting of those wise-cracking, good-natured, beloved American sons of yours on the battle fronts of the world.

They take off from rolling carrier decks or advanced airfields, penetrate thick, soupy weather, fight their way to enemy strongholds and deal devastating blows. They wade into beaches in wave after wave regardless of the whir of machine guns, the wham of mortars and the blast of bombs. They slog and worm their way up to blast and burn pillboxes and caves. They stand by their guns and pour out their fire in the face of diving planes or roaring counter-fire or charging tanks. They take their guns, their planes, their tanks, their ships, their subs, their small boats, anywhere and everywhere to strike an enemy or support a pal. They die doing these things. They die, and others like them take their places.

With splendid military leadership from the Commander in Chief, and from generals like Marshall, Eisenhower, Mac-Arthur and Arnold and Vandegrift, and from admirals like King, Leahy, Nimitz and Halsey, they have brought us within sight of the final victory.

That final victory must be our No. 1 aim until the last enemy has surrendered. Nothing must divert us from following through to early, complete winning of the war. Each new quota of supplies and munitions and men to meet the fluctuating needs of the shifting types of battle must be promptly met. We must not listen to the siren call of reconversion until we can reconvert together in peace. Each new battle must be fought with vigor and with skill.

But it is right and proper and urgent that we in service, when the opportunity presents itself, and you at home, proceed to think through the world policy of America for peace, lest we lose much of what we are fighting for.

As you know, the President has invited me to serve as a member of the United States delegation to the San Francisco conference of the United Nations, and I have accepted.

It will be my endeavor to study and to learn as much as possible of the information, ideas and viewpoints of the people of America on the questions coming up at this conference. I have consulted and will consult with leaders of our government and of my Republican party; of Church; of labor, agriculture and business; of women, of youth and of veterans. But I will not seek to, nor claim to, represent any of them as special groups at San Francisco. I will consider it my duty to represent my country as a whole as I see its best welfare, and to be individually responsible for my actions. It will be my aim to assist in securing a result of this crucial conference which will be supported by the overwhelming majority of the people of America, and by substantially all of the other United Nations. This means, of course, that the result will not be, and can not be, entirely in accord with any nation's or any person's individual views. But, I cannot say too emphatically, that the alternative to finding the areas of agreement is to do nothing at all. And nothing at all would start us on our way along the short road of inaction, to world-wide depressions and to the next and most tragic world war.

That is not an acceptable alternative.

It is of tremendous importance that the principles which will guide our actions in the years to come be formulated and clarified and tempered in the heat of free discussion now, so that they may be clearly and definitely set before the world.

To stimulate this search, speaking only for myself, I frankly state what I consider should be the seven cardinal points of our future world policy.

Seven Cardinal Points

First: That as a nation we will join with our present allies at San Francisco to build a definite continuing organization of the United Nations of the World, based on justice and law and insured by force. That we will seek to gradually develop a new and higher level of government, with legislative, judicial and executive functions, and with world-wide jurisdiction, for the future peace, progress and well-being of mankind. That we are and will continue to be interested in what happens in every other part of the globe. That this is one world.

Nor can I speak those last two words without pausing to pay a tribute to him who made them mean more than mere words, more than a symbol, the veritable keystone to a living cause and hope for mankind—Wendell Willkie.

Second: That we do not subscribe to the extreme view of nationalistic sovereignty, that we realize that neither this nation, nor any other nation can be a law unto itself in the I modern world, and that we are willing to delegate a limited portion of our national sovereignty to our United Nations organization, so that it may be effective in the tasks we expect it to accomplish. That we hold that true sovereignty rests in the people, and that there is and must be a law of humanity above and beyond the narrow rule of nationalistiC., absolute sovereignty.

Third: That we consider that the future welfare and peace and happiness of the people of America is inseparably intertwined with the future welfare and peace and happiness of the men and women and children of the world.

Fourth: That we will use the enormous productive capacity of America and the reservoirs of capital and credit and technical skill to contribute to the gradual advancement of the standards of living of the peoples of the world, not as recipients of charity, but as self-respecting men and women of dignity and of pride.

Fifth: That we believe in the freedom of informationthrough press and radio and school and forum as a vital factor in the peace and progress of the world and in the fulfillment of the dignity of man.

Sixth: That those who were aggressors in this war shall be stripped of all means to make war and shall remain so stripped. That we propose to remain strong on land, at sea and in the air, and will join with Russia and Great Britain, China and France and the other United Nations in furnishing police power in the world.

Seventh: That we are and propose to remain a democracy of free citizens with an economic system of private capital and individual enterprise. That we will constantly seek to improve the functioning of our system both as to freedom and equality of our citizens and as to the success and adequacy of our economy. That we will explain our system to the world but will leave it to the peoples in each nation to decide for themselves their own form of government so long as they do not trample on basic human rights, or threaten the peace of the world, or transgress upon their neighbors. That we will permit our own citizens to learn of any other form of government they wish to study, but will not permit any other government to actively seek to undermine our own.

Obviously each of these cardinal points could well be the subject of a major address. Within the limits of my time, this evening, I will discuss them in turn.

It is very generally agreed now that an international organization should be formed and that the United Nations should be the basis of such an organization.

I am not one of those who feel that the organization must take some certain detailed, exact form. I believe there are many forms that would be a definite step forward and would make a constructive contribution.

World-Wide Law

I hope that it will include some method of developing basic world-wide law. It should make possible the future enactment of a fundamental code of human rights. The beginning may be very small. But even if we started with the enactment of one law, a law that no country, in time of peace, shall execute a human being without just trial, it would be a significant step. We sometimes fail to realize that there is no such world law today. The Nazi storm-troopers and Gestapo who dragged civilians from their houses in Germany and summarily shot them were violating every moral code we know of, but they were not violating any international law because there is none to protect a human being within a nation. This starkly silhouettes the tragic slowness of the development of society on the world level.

We know full well that Nazi aggression actually started, not when Hitler marched across his borders, but rather when he first ruthlessly trampled the rights of men withinGermany.

From small beginnings, gradually the rights of freedom of worship, of fair trial, of freedom of speech and press, the right of the worker to organize and the prevention of discrimination should be developed. With it should be stated the world-wide laws or rules against aggression, for the flight of aircraft, for the use of ports and canals, the restriction of armaments, the availability of resources, the advancement of health and education and the prevention of unjust confiscation of property.

United Nations Court

Obviously, if we are to have laws we must have a court to administer these laws. Clearly, then, a United Nations Court of some type with world-wide jurisdiction is essential.

It is equally clear that a police force of some nature is mandatory to enforce the decisions of the court, if order and justice is to be respected and maintained. This definitely does not mean an all-powerful international police force of a super state.

Let us clarify our thinking.

If either the United States, or Russia, or Great Britain decide, in the next twenty-five years, to make war, then there will be another world war, and no organization, or league, or union, or treaties will stop it. But I do not believe any of these countries will want to make war. Each knows the horrors of war. Each has so much to gain by not making war. Each has a great future in the peaceful development of its resources and its standing in the world.

They will not always see problems alike. They will not always please each other. But, in the main, they must and should work out their differences of views and find the way ior joint action. The Yalta Conference was a very important indication that this can and will be done. Clearly, then, our policies should be based on the development of the world with these three desiring peace.

A note of caution should also be sounded, however, that we should definitely envisage a system of laws and justice and a moral code supported by police force, and must not permit the development of a continuing system of world power and force without law.

The United Nations should also develop an effective and just method of trusteeships for use in governing territories that for reasons of extreme military importance, or inability of self-government, or peculiar economic position, or seizure from an enemy, can best be held in a form of joint United Nations title, rather than in the title of any individual nation. The enlightened interest of the world and the human rights of the people concerned should both be carefully safeguarded. The trustee may be either one of the United Nations, or the United Nations organization itself.

Let us also make it clear that the United Nations organization does not mean breaking up any of the stable associations of nations and peoples now in existence. It is definitely not adverse to the British Commonwealth of Nations, nor to the Union of Soviet Republics, nor to the United States of America, nor to the various associations of nations through treaties and friendships. On the contrary, we seek to build on these cornerstones of stability a worldwide beginning for order and justice and peace in place of chaos and tragedy and war.

Tremendous steps have been taken in recent months toward the fulfillment of this first cardinal point of our world policy.

With the background of the Atlantic Charter and the commitments of Secretary Hull's conference at Moscow, the declarations of Teheran, the proposals of Dumbarton Oaks, the decisions at Yalta, the President's excellent message to Congress last week, and the never ending wholesome study and discussion throughout America, have brought us to the eve of the San Francisco Conference for the drafting of a definite framework for continuing United Nations action in peace, with the overwhelming support of the people of the country and of the United States Senate for the steps proposed.

We should look, therefore, upon the San Francisco Conference as a golden opportunity to win a beachhead in the battle for a just and lasting peace.

The beachhead is of crucial importance and requires many sacrifices and never-ending determination.

And also, the beachhead is not the final goal, but only the jumping-off place for the long, hard drive toward victory.

So it will be, and must be at San Francisco. The results of a successful conference will be of incalculable importance, but they will not be the final answer to our world problems for peace. They will only be the first step. Continuing interest of the American people, continuing devotion of their government, the approval and support of the proposals by the Senate, and then the steady growth and development of the United Nations organization, will be essential if we are to have anything more than a precarious beachhead.

In a discussion of the development of a new and higher level of government you frequently hear the rejoinder, yes, that would be a good step but it would violate the rule of absolute nationalistic sovereignty.

Let us meet this issue squarely.

I do not want my country to face another generation of youth marching off to the horrors of war and say: "We could have prevented the development of this conflict but we had to cling to the extreme principle of absolute nationalistic sovereignty."

There may be many diplomats who do not know it; there may be many political leaders who are afraid to admit it; there may be people who do not understand it, but the extreme principle of absolute nationalistic sovereignty is of the Middle Ages and it is dead. It died with the airplane, the radio, the rocket and the robomb.

In its place we must develop the new principle of the rights, duties and responsibilities of each nation to the other nations and of each man and each woman to the other people of the world.

No nation has any right in the modern world to do as it pleases without regard to the effects of its actions upon the peoples of other nations. True sovereignty rests in the people, and the people know that for their own future welfare they must exercise a portion of that sovereignty on a world level in place of the nationalistic level.

Just as each free man must so limit his liberty of action so that he does not injure his neighbor, so each nation must limit its action so that it does not injure its neighbor. And in one world today, the nations of the world are all neighbors.

One of the most striking facts which has been demonstrated in this war is the enormous productive capacity of America. It has been a huge power for destruction and for victory.

It can be an equally great power for world construction and progress after the war if we but lift our eyes to its opportunities and responsibilities and take the necessary steps for world stability.

Foreign Investments

This will require increased investments by American capital in the resources and facilities of other nations, and increased trade with lower tariffs throughout the world. We must explode the narrow view that if we develop production in other parts of the world we will pre-empt our own markets. We will create markets as we develop means to produce. Producers are consumers. The capacity of the human race to consume is just as great as the capacity of the human race to produce. Of course there are and will be acute problems of distribution. But we can either fight over a shrinking wealth, or work together to participate in an expanding production and the wealth of the future.

Vast sums of charitable assistance will be needed in the immediate post-war period, but this should be definitely separated from the careful investment of capital in the long-term development of other nations. It is better that American capital be invested and reinvested in various countries of the world to assist in raising their standards of living, and in, directly develop jobs in America in the process, than that it be sterile and stagnant in America.

This does not mean a Santa Claus role. Most of the peoples of the world do not want charity beyond the war emergency conditions. They want to be self-reliant. They want to rebuild their own homes and develop their own economy. It is healthy and wholesome for them and for the world that they should.

But it will mean long-term investments and reinvestments, Nor is this all just an idealistic dream. Never did a country for its own sake more need to clear the cobwebs from its thinking. Never did a country for its own sake more need to appraise the value and the purpose of its great productive strength.

If it does not lift its eyes and use its brain and its brawn for progress of the world it will wither and deteriorate in petty internal struggles over the division of a shrinking economy.

But if it contributes to the progress of the world it will itself share in that progress in high standards of living, a richer life and peace.

This is also true of other peoples. Any attempt to profit by one nation at the expense of other peoples will fail If it meets with temporary success it will soon be lost in either the whirlpool of depression or the cauldron of war. We cannot have continued economic warfare and continued military peace.

The world must advance together and there is room in the world for all the peoples who live in it.

World opinion is almost unanimous that the Germans and the Japanese must be stripped of their means of making war. This can best be done by joint action of the victorious nations through the United Nations organization, with a continuing joint occupation and inspection.

Under that military rule all indemnities and penalties and reparations should take place. Then and only then the gradual development of self-government should be permitted to arise. It should begin in the localities and in the schools and slowly develop as the capacity and desire for non-aggressive, peaceful and successful administration is demonstrated.

Freedom of Information

Freedom of information to the citizens of these countries must be a fundamental rule. Open to the children of Germany and Japan and Italy the full access to the radios and publications and books of the world, and if we are right in our basic concepts in America, and I believe we are, in 3 generation or two we will have a different Germany and a different Japan. When the change is demonstrated, they should be permitted to become self-governing and be granted membership in the world organization, but even then there is no reason why they should be permitted to rearm, and there is every reason to prevent them from rearming, m will be saying in effect to the conquered nations, "We will permit you to rise again as successful, self-governing constructive nations, if you so desire, but we will not permit you to rise again as a military power, whatever may be your protestations of intentions."

We, ourselves, should remain strong. We should maintain a powerful, modern navy. We should keep an alert up-to-date air force. We should constantly train an efficient force.

We should do this to fulfill the police force responsibility which will be ours in enforcing and supporting the world code of justice and the United Nations organization, and

also to assure our own future security and progress. We should make it plain that much as we want peace we will fight again and will fight any one who basically violates world justice and seeks to flaunt our policies and tries to make might right. This position, I am convinced, is more likely to maintain peace than an announced policy of making ourselves weak and of not fighting, even though provoked.

To those who scoff at thoughts like these expressed tonight as abstract idealism I simply ask that you look out upon the world-wide tragedy of war today. When the terror of war has reached the grand scale that it has today, it is time for some thinking for peace on a grand scale. And I add that I will work with you with just as much hard-shelled realism on the emergency of today and with just as much down-to-earth practicalism on the problems of tomorrow.

But our ideals will determine the all-important question of the basic course that we take.

We need not scoffers today.

We need men. Men to assault the pillboxes of lethargy—the emplacements of prejudice—the spitting guns of intolerance. Men who are willing to fall in the assault so that others may carry the day. It will take that to build the world. It will take that to raise the standards of mankind—to make freedom and liberty and peace—living symbols to men and women and children—and not mere words in speeches or in charters.

Will Take Time

Our fighting men want America to have a world policy for peace that is as big, as definite and as successful as has been our strategy of war.

It will take time and it will cost.

But the alternative makes it worth the cost.

They do not Want you to surrender before the counterattacking assault waves of cynicism this best hope of enduring peace on earth.

Some people say that our democracy is not perfect and that there is discrimination and inequality and apathy and corruption. They are right. Some say that our economic system has not functioned perfectly and that there are maladjustments and sufferings and faulty distributions. They are right.

But neither of these facts are any reason for waiting for the correction of these imperfections before we step forward to fulfill the world leadership which it is mandatory that we exercise.

We must advance on both the world front and the domestic front at the same time. In fact, they are in large measure interdependent.

I speak not of a Utopia. I speak not of a human race suddenly turned angelic.

There will be selfishness and greed and corruption and narrowness and intolerance in the world tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow. But pray God, we may have the courage and the wisdom and the vision to raise a definite standard that will appeal to the best that is in man, and then strive mightily toward that goal.