Progress Toward Enduring Peace


By HERBERT HOOVER, Former President of the United States

Delivered over the Columbia Broadcasting System from San Francisco, July 18, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 646-647.

I HAVE received a multitude of requests from members of Congress, the press and individuals for my views upon the San Francisco Charter and the progress of peace-making. I am able to do this through the courtesy of the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Charter Should Be Ratified

The San Francisco Charter is better than the Dumbarton Oaks version and is probably as good as could be obtained under the existing emotions, the present governments, the conflicting ideals and ambitions in the world. It should be ratified by the Senate promptly.

Charter Will Not Alone Assure Lasting Peace

The American people should be under no illusions that the Charter assures lasting peace. The Charter at best consists only of an expression of desire and machinery to advance peace. The problem of enduring peace is far wider than the Charter. The foundations of peace must also be laid in the economic and political settlements among nations by which this war is to be liquidated. The nature of these settlements will have more to do with lasting peace than the Charter. The Charter could not preserve a bad peace.

The Strength of the Charter

The major strength of the Charter is a noble preamble and that it provides for continuous meetings of the nations where peace problems can be discussed. It stimulates the methods of peaceful settlement of controversies. It re-establishes the World Court and provides trusteeship for dependent countries. It provides for a limited action to prevent military aggression. It sets up machinery for promotion of social and economic welfare.

The Weaknesses of the Charter

There are many weaknesses in the Charter. There is no positive Bill of Rights for nations and men, but only a mere suggestion that they should be promoted. They are not expressed in the tones of the American Bill of Rights. The Charter does not recover the principles of the Atlantic Charter which were whittled away at Teheran and after Yalta. The political, moral and spiritual standards of conduct of nations and of men are thus insufficiently defined for the tests by which the conduct of nations should be judged by the Security Council. While the Security Council has the power to stop military aggression among small nations, yet this is not assured among the great nations, because of the veto power. The Charter fails to define aggression even in the admirable terms settled by the Soviet Government for inclusion in its treaties of eleven years ago. And it does not even mention the new disintegrating forms of aggression of one nation upon another through propaganda and Fifth Columns. The Regional Organization, the methods of review of outmoded treaties, and the lack of commitment to relative reduction of armies and navies leave much to be desired. Most of these vital questions are referred to in terms of hope or permission, not in terms of positive undertakings or agreements. But these weaknesses point the directions in which there should be amendment over the years to come.

Regional Organization of the Western Hemisphere

There is a step that should be taken at once, after the Charter is ratified. The Western Hemisphere should be immediately organized as a region under the permissions of the Charter. This hemisphere could thus settle its own troubles without interferences from the outside. In any event our troubles are not the kind that have ever led to world wars. The long development of the Monroe Doctrine, the Pan-American Union, the recent session and declaration at Mexico City, all point in this direction. Our ideas of personal liberty and self-government, our opposition to domination of other nations, to imperialism, to Fifth Columns from Europe are common to all the nations of the Western Hemisphere. This hemisphere is the only great region in the world where unity in these vital foundations of lasting peace is universal to us all. Were we thus united into a regional council we would present a much more effective force in the rest of the world than if we rest simply on the individual influence of each nation in the Security Council and the Assembly of the Charter. Such an organization could give immediate strength in the presentation of Western Hemisphere ideals. The Western world could become in time the voice of freedom to the whole earth.

Powers of Our Delegate Should Be Defined

From an American point of view, ratifying the Charter involves little commitment beyond those that may be entered into by our representative on the Security Council. Somewhere along the line there must be a definition by the Congress of the powers of this delegate. While there need be little worry about our representative using our military forces for minor police incidents, yet the Congress should never part with its powers to declare war. It should be understood that the structure of our government differs from those of the other principal powers. The British and French are parliamentary governments where there is no division of power between the executive and the legislative branches. Their executive is a committee of the legislative arm and constantly responsible to it. Therefore the authorized vote of their representative will be the view of the legislative arm. Russia is a totalitarian government where the vote of their representative will be determined in Moscow. Our delegate will represent the executive. We alone have such a separation of the powers of government that ours is the only delegate on the Security Council who might commit his country to war without the consent of the legislative, arm, as the Constitution requires. His authority should be defined so that the delegate is in some way responsible to Congress before our country is committed to war.

Peace Rests Upon Continued Collaboration of Washington, London and Moscow

The plain fact is that the making of political and economic peace settlements among the United Nations themselves and between the United Nations and the enemy states and the preservation of lasting peace still rest upon the successful collaboration of the three centers of power—that is, Russia. Britain and the United States. And it will rest there for many years to come. But lasting peace cannot be based uponthe dominance of three or four or even five powers forever.

The Charter will offer a forum for world opinion and advice to these responsible powers. The retreat from the Atlantic Charter, the ambitions and emotions of war, the omissions from the San Francisco Charter emphasize that these three great powers are really the trustees of world peace rather than the Charter itself. There must be a transition period where this collaboration will require much patience, it will require great firmness. It will take time and much good will to find lasting settlements after the high emotions of war, of national ambitions, of differing national purposes. In any event, for twenty years after the victory over Japan, all of the nations of the world will be absorbed in restoring their internal economy and in reestablishing their standards of living. During this period the world should be able to work out the problems of lasting peace and to build greater strength in the Charter.

I have said we will require great patience if a peaceful world shall emerge from this most gigantic explosion since civilization began.

Civilization on the continent of Europe will survive but it is dreadfully ill. Millions of her best have died. Scores of cities have been reduced to rubble. Her industrial life is paralyzed. The peoples are hungry and destitute. But even more important, men's minds are distorted by suffering, by hate, by the desire for revenge. Governments are weak from destruction, from exhaustion and bitter factionalism. This is the soil in which revolution will thrive and civil war will arise. Revolutions do not end when the firing of war ceases and liberation comes. That is just the time when they begin. We shall indeed need patience and resolution while these storms blow themselves out.

The Road to Lasting Peace

But gradually war emotions will cool after this period and it should be possible with time to re-establish the only basis upon which the world will have peace. That is, the relations between nations and men must be founded upon positively agreed political, moral and spiritual rights.

The most fundamental of these rights are plain. And I do not use the term "shall be" but the term "must be":

No annexations of territory;

No territorial changes without the free consent of the people therein;

Full sovereignty of people without domination;

The right of all peoples to choose freely their own form of government and their own officials;

Equality of trade and freedom of the sea;

The right of minorities to protection;

The right of fair trial before conviction;

The prohibition of deportations, of slavery or compulsory labor in any disguise;

And finally the greatest rights of all, that is, free press and free worship.

And there will be no peace unless these rights be applied to those peoples who have been deprived of them during this war or who have not yet attained them. This is more important today than ever before, because liberty and freedom have shrunk in great areas as a result of this war.

We have many millions of people whose parents came to us from Poland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia and Greece. In America's First Crusade for liberation of these peoples of 25 years ago we established them in independence, in representative government and in personal liberty. Not only these millions of our citizens from these countries but all Americans are today uncertain of their fate. Questions arise as to whether this, our second crusade of liberation of these and other peoples, will not be lost in the peace-making of this war. I may say at once that peoples who have had independence and freedom will not forever remain suppressed and that lasting peace cannot be assured on this basis. America cannot guarantee or hope an unjust peace will last.

Profound questions affecting lasting peace arise in our treatment of the enemy states. They cannot expect to have all the rights of free men given to them until they have proved their worthiness of them. But still other questions arise in peace-making which bear upon lasting peace. Is Germany to be partitioned? What sort of government is to be erected over the enemy states?

Peace can come only if we differentiate between the common people of the enemy nations and their criminal leaders, so that we do not transform stern justice to war criminals into general vengeance. The Germans, Japanese, Italians, Bulgarians and Hungarians must, sooner or later, govern themselves. While they cannot again be trusted to bear arms, yet they must be allowed to restore their productivity in peaceful industry if they, and indeed the rest of the world, are to recover decent living and to have enduring peace. Our purpose must be to lead them into the paths of peaceful contribution to civilization for our sakes as well as their own. The Charter cannot hope to succeed unless the nations successfully solve these questions.

These are the problems with which President Truman is dealing in Berlin today. And all America wishes him success in their solution.

The Tests

The preamble to the Charter contains a list of vital objectives. This preamble is an expression of hope. It is not a binding agreement. The test of the war-settlements and indeed of the Charter itself will be whether these ideals are applied to all peoples. If the nations fail in these particulars we shall have explosions which no Security Council can control. But if the ideas of this preamble be followed in the political and economic settlements of the war, the wounds of war can be healed, liberty restored in the world, the Charter strengthened and lasting peace can come to mankind.