Anglo-American Unity in Argentina
ERADICATION OF AXIS INFLUENCE
By SPRUILLE BRADEN, American Ambassador to Argentina
Delivered before the British Chamber of Commerce in the Argentine Republic, Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 19, 1945
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 680-681.
TODAY I am happy indeed to follow in the steps of my distinguished predecessor and friend, Mr. Norman Armour, and thus to find myself in this splendid company. Especially proud am I to be the guest of the British Chamber of Commerce in the Argentine Republic, an organization with a long record of fellowship, cooperation, and of signal service to its members, to the ideals of the truly great nation that is theirs and to this hospitable country in which it has its being.
You, Mr. Chairman, have greatly eased the way for me because the timeliness and cogency of your remarks make it unnecessary for me to search for a topic on which to speak. I have only to endorse—as I most whole-heartedly do—and expand somewhat on what you have said.
It is profoundly satisfying to have you underscore the intimate and cordial collaboration and friendship which link the British and American communities who reside in this great Republic of Argentina. That such a close relationship should exist is entirely fitting and in keeping with the underlying sentiment of our two peoples and therefore with the basic policies of the British and American Governments.
In the face of this Anglo-American unity every "insidious and mendacious" attempt to obstruct our concerted efforts, to create jealousies, or to drive a wedge between us has failed and always will fail.
Those "foolish and unthinking people" who make these vain attempts commit the egregious blunder of ignoring or forgetting the facts.
They ignore the facts of history; they forget that the United States is a great and independent nation because Englishmen in the colonies so willed it and Englishmen in England recognized the logic and Tightness of our ambitions. They forget that when the independence of the United States of America was wort we Americans fought not so much to gain new liberties as to recover those which had already been enjoyed but which had been proscribed or restricted. There had been, through the colonial assemblies, a considerable measure of self-rule, so that the urge for separation from the mother country reached a crisis only when it was sought at long range to impair certain of our liberties, to tax without representation, and to limit our freedom of trade. There was strong support for our cause in the homeland, where thinking men recognized that the treatment accorded us simultaneously jeopardized their own liberties. Chatham, Burke, and other great leaders in Parliament energetically defended us and our claims, and Washington's victories contributed towards the elimination of personal government and to the spreading of the democratic system throughout England and the other colonies.
Those presumptuous "wedge drivers" forget that you and we—the British and the Americans—form two great national systems founded on the proposition that the democratic way of life is the only one compatible with the ideal of human freedom and justice. The experiences of both our peoples have demonstrated the soundness of that proposition, Also, we have proved that within our democratic frame-work the free and constant quest of universal spiritual and material well-being is possible. Indeed, not only is it possible; it is a natural concomitant of our democratic processes. I The concept of democracy, which had its true birth in seventeenth-century England, spread to all the world through the founding of the United States, the French Revolution, and the hard-won independence of all the American republics. So now there are two great international systems—the British Commonwealth of Nations and the 21 American republics—which hold that the ethical concept of the state, of the body politic, is that government must emanate from and serve the sovereign will of the people. The state is a consciously chosen physical and moral expression of that popular will. We are not even sure where government leaves off and people begin. The self-interests of the one are the self-interests of the other.
Thus by the evolutionary developments of democratic ideals and processes the peoples of Argentina, Great Britain and the Dominions, and the United States now stand as one, with their Allies, dedicated to the defense of those principal Moreover, we know full well that the imperative need continuing that defense in full vigor has not ended with the
unconditional surrender of Germany nor will it end with that of Japan. On the contrary, as Sir William has so wisely warned us, the Nazis and their sympathizers have not disappeared. Underground and even in the open, when they dare, they will be more active than ever before. We must be constantly alert to expose and destroy the propaganda of canards and lies, spread here and elsewhere—everywhere—by our common enemies, by their agents, by their misguided disciples, and by the victims of their evil preachments. All of them have been and still are our common enemies; all of them have been and still are enemies of civilization and of human decency. So long as any of them remain, anywhere in the world, with the possibility of continuing their vile campaigns, or of renewing them, just so long must we wage the fight to stamp them out. We have got to be unremitting. We have got to be ruthless where necessary. They must be put out of action. Their treachery and craze for power must be eradicated. Their brutalized followers have to be reeducated where possible and otherwise rendered harmless. Theirs is a disease that cannot be treated by half-way measures. There will always be the danger of its breaking out again in all-consuming epidemic waves, so long as a focal point of infection, or even a single live germ cell, is allowed to exist.
The present war had its real beginning in 1918, at the end of what was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Then, and in the years following, we mistakenly trusted and attributed good intentions to a people whose national mind, already predisposed, was increasingly sickened through arrogance and hallucinations and became incapable of distinguishing between good and bad.
We made the mistake of being lenient—but only because we wanted to be humanitarian, and so we can be forgiven for that. But never could we be forgiven were we to make the same kind of mistake again.
Here there is much to be done in cooperation with the Argentine people and authorities. I can speak frankly because Argentina is our Ally and because she, together with the other 20 republics at Chapultepec, has, amongst many joint obligations, solemnly agreed that the war criminals shall be tried and sentenced; that centers of Axis subversive influence throughout the hemisphere shall be eradicated; and that enemy properties, investments, and other holdings (beginning with those stolen from their victims) shall be sought out, immobilized, and controlled. To extirpate this loathsome growth we must tear it out by the roots. To do so thoroughly will require the unrelaxing cooperation of all the Allied governments and peoples. We must cut sharply and deeply with the firmness and speed of the skilled surgeon.
Due to circumstances with which we are all well acquainted, Great Britain and the United States are the two nations best equipped to offer Argentina the most effective assistance in this task of stamping out the nefarious activities of our common enemies. By giving our all-out collaboration we shall not only be fulfilling our joint commitments but we shall also be contributing to the glorious future of this great country in its tradition of democracy and human freedom.
The Axis propagandists, of course, endeavor to spread rumors that to eradicate their fifth columnists and to wrest from them the control of their enterprises is too complicated a job and that it will impair Argentine economy.
What drivel! Such allegations are not even worth the breath I have used to utter them. We are all jointly and severally obligated to purge every phase of the national life of every American republic of all Axis influence and participation, in business or otherwise, irrespective of how difficult or costly the undertaking may be. But as a matter of fact it will be neither difficult nor costly. The elimination and control of Axis firms and individuals elsewhere has been accomplished easily and speedily. In each case the country involved has protected both itself and its neighbors. Virtue has not only been its own reward but has also brought material benefits.
To be specific, some of the Nazi and Japanese firms here clearly are of no importance whatever to Argentine national economy. They often were established for other than commercial reasons—reasons so obvious as to call for no comment. Such firms are sources of danger, nothing less. They should rapidly be eliminated and then forgotten.
There are, however, many enemy firms with established industries that must be continued as units of Argentine production. But they are in treacherous hands so long as they are in enemy hands. In such hands they are an intolerable source of danger.
Luckily, the solution is simple. The Axis firms in question can easily be converted into Argentine enterprises. Argentina would get rid of the enemies within her own and this hemisphere's gates, and she would simultaneously take a long step toward building up her national industry.
I see no reason for delay. In view of what the Germans and Japanese have proved to be, in view of their deeds so repugnant to all decent men and women, and in view of the fact that their presence here is a constant menace to a country now at war with them as it is also to the American continent and to the rest of the civilized world, the Argentinizing of their industrial establishments would be an act of justice and equity.
Argentina possesses the financial, technical, and practical ability to take over those industries and to make full profitable use of their productive capacity. They would then be industries entirely owned and run by Argentines for Argentines. It would benefit not only this country's industry, trade, and commerce but also indirectly those of all other civilized nations. Should any instance arise when assistance may be required temporarily in taking over these Axis industries or businesses, my Government would gladly endeavor to help a democratic Argentina, but always on the strict understanding that, in keeping with the good-neighbor policy, they shall become exclusively Argentine at the earliest possible moment. We do not seek or expect, nor will we accept, any ownership or permanent participation in those enterprises. They must remain Argentine.
Gentlemen, your distinguished chairman with clarity, vision, and conciseness has touched on other important topics. I am heartily in accord with his views, but I shall reserve my expressions of conformity for some other occasion when we may be together, and may I add that I hope there will be many opportunities for us to foregather. I am fully "aware of the good fellowship and close collaboration which prevail between the American and British communities here." It is my earnest desire to cooperate with all of you, in every way possible, within the pattern of fellowship and collaboration, to the end that we may fortify and expand that constructive and kindly relationship in all directions.
For the honor the British Chamber of Commerce and each of you have done me, please accept my sincere and abiding thanks.