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John Foster Dulles:

Dynamic Peace, 1957

Address by United States Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, before the Associated Press in New York, April 22, 1957

A first requirement is that the door be firmly closed to change by violent aggression.

Of all the tasks of government the most basic is to protect its citizens against violence. Such protection can only be effective if provided by a collective effort. So in every civilized community the members contribute toward the maintenance of a police force as an arm of law and order.

Only the society of nations has failed to apply this rudimentary principle of civilized life.

An effort was made through the United Nations to create an armed force for use by the Security Council to maintain international order. But the Soviet Union vetoed that.

However, the member nations still bad the possibility of cooperating against aggression. For the charter, with foresight, bad proclaimed that all nations had the inherent right of collective self-defense.

The free nations have largely exercised that right. The United States has made collective defense treaties with 42 other nations. And the area of common defense may now be enlarged pursuant to the recent Middle East resolution. . . .

The Soviet rulers understandably prefer that the free nations should be weak and divided, as when the men in the Kremlin stole, one by one, the independence of a dozen nations. So, at each enlargement of the area of collective defense, the Soviet rulers pour out abuse against so-called "militaristic groupings." And as the free nations move to strengthen their common defense, the Soviet rulers emit threats. But we can, I think, be confident that such Soviet assaults will not disintegrate the free world. Collective measures are here to stay. . . .

It is also agreed that the principal deterrent to aggressive war is mobile retaliatory power. This retaliatory power must be vast in terms of its potential. But the extent to which it would be used would, of course, depend on circumstances. The essential is that a would-be aggressor should realize that he cannot make armed aggression a paying proposition...

But we do not believe that the only way to security is through ever-mounting armaments. We consider that controls and reduction of arms are possible, desirable, and, in the last reckoning, indispensable. It is not essential that controls should encompass everything at once. In fact, progress is likely to come by steps carefully measured and carefully taken. Thus far it has not been possible to assure the inspection and other safeguards that would make it prudent for us to reduce our effective power. But we shall continue to seek that goal.

Armaments are nothing that we crave. Their possession is forced on us by the aggressive and devious designs of international communism. Ail arms race is costly, sterile, and dangerous. We shall not cease our striving to bring it to a dependable end.

Any police system is essentially negative. It is designed to repress violence and give a sense of security. But the sense of security is illusory unless, behind its shield, there is growth and development. Military collaboration to sustain peace will collapse unless we also collaborate to spread the blessings of liberty.

Trade, from the earliest days, has been one of the great upbuilders of economic well-being. Therefore, this Government advocates trade policies which promote the interchange of goods to mutual advantage.

Also, the United States, as the most productive and prosperous nation, assists other nations which are at an early stage of self-development. It is sobering to recall that about two-thirds of all the people who resist Communist rule exist in a condition of stagnant poverty. Communism boasts that it could change all that and points to industrial developments wrought in Russia at a cruel, but largely concealed, cost in terms of human slavery and human misery. The question is whether free but undeveloped countries can end stagnation for their people without paying such a dreadful price. Friendly nations expect that those who have abundantly found the blessings of liberty should help those who still await those blessings. . . .

just as our policy concerns itself with economic development, so, too, our policy concerns itself with political change.

During the past decade, there have come into being, within the free world, 19 new nations with 700 million people. In addition, many nations whose sovereignty was incomplete have had that sovereignty fully completed. Within this brief span nearly one-third of the entire human race has had this exciting, and sometimes intoxicating, experience of gaining full independence. . . .

Today, nations born to independence are born into a world one part of which is ruled by despotism and the other part of which stays free by accepting the concept of interdependence. There is no safe middle ground.

International communism is on the prowl to capture those nations whose leaders feel that newly acquired sovereign rights have to be displayed by flouting other independent nations. That kind of sovereignty is suicidal sovereignty. . . .

Communism in practice has proved to be oppressive, reactionary, unimaginative. Its despotism, far from being revolutionary, is as old as history. Those subject to it, in vast majority, hate the system and yearn for a free society.

The question of how the United States should deal with this matter is not easily answered. Our history, however, offers us a guide. The United States came into being when much of the world was ruled by alien despots. That was a fact we hoped to change. We wanted our example to stimulate liberating forces throughout the world and create a climate in which despotism would shrink. In fact, we did just that.

I believe that that early conception can usefully guide us now. .

Let us also make apparent to the Soviet rulers our real purpose. We condemn and oppose their imperialism. We seek the liberation of the captive nations. We seek this, however, not in order to encircle Russia with hostile forces but because peace is in jeopardy and freedom a word of mockery until the divided nations are reunited and the captive nations are set free. . . .

Events of the past year indicate that the pressures of liberty are rising.

Within the Soviet Union there is increasing demand for greater personal security, for greater intellectual freedom, and for greater enjoyment of the fruits of labor.

International communism has become beset with doctrinal difficulties. And the cruel performance of Soviet communism in Hungary led many to desert Communist parties throughout the world.

The satellite countries no longer provide a submissive source of added Soviet strength. Indeed, Soviet strength, both military and economic, has now to be expanded to repress those who openly show their revulsion against Soviet rule.

And the Soviet Government pays a heavy price in terms of moral isolation.

Soviet rulers are supposed to be hardheaded. For how long, we may ask, will they expend their resources in combating historic forces for national unity and freedom which are bound ultimately to prevail? . . .

Surely the stakes justify that effort. As I am briefed on the capacity of modern weapons for destruction, I recognize the impossibility of grasping the full, and indeed awful, significance of the words and figures used. Yet we would be reckless not to recognize that this calamity is a possibility. Indeed history suggests that a conflict as basic as that dividing the world of freedom and the world of international communism ultimately erupts in war.

That suggestion we reject. But to reject in terms of words or of hopes is not enough. We must also exert ourselves to the full to prevent it. To this task, the American people must unswervingly dedicate their hearts and minds throughout the years ahead.

That is not too much to expect. Americans are a people of faith. They have always had a sense of mission and willingness to sacrifice to achieve great goals. Surely, our Nation did not reach a new peak of power and responsibility merely to partake of the greatest, and perhaps the last, of all human disasters.


from The Department of State Bulletin (May 6, 1957), pp. 715-719

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998

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