. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – American Forum – Prospects For Peace 1956 – December 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
In 1956 the world was just as much on edge as it is today. Then, the players were different – the issues were somewhat different – but the saber rattling was just the same.
In 1956 we were in the midst of the Cold War. Any erupting conflict could have its blame placed squarely on Moscow. Even the Civil Rights movement in the South had many claiming the protests were Communist inspired. It was hard to get around. But, the fact of the matter was, the world was changing – the old colonial powers were losing their grip. Former Colonies were declaring independence. And in the Middle East, a new Arab Nationalism was sweeping over the former protectorates and the age-old conflict with Israel was relegated to permanent boiling point. The Suez Canal was the latest conflict and the latest area of concern.
Uneasy, uncertain times time be sure. The threat of another World War was always looming not far off in the background.
But in the midst of all this, cooler heads were attempting to prevail. We had a United Nations, and it was, for the most part, working. How well it worked, and what more it could do was always up for debate.
On this Sunday Talk program, American Forum Of The Air, four Ambassadors to the U.S. sat down with the moderator and discussed the possibilities of a lasting peace. Could one be achieved? Representatives from Sweden, Thailand, Greece and Colombia were all posed questions on the current situation. And even though the answers were arrived at in different ways, the general consensus of opinion was that yes, it could – if for no other reason than the idea of an all-out nuclear war was impossible to conceive, with fantastic consequences for everyone. However, they did feel conflicts would still be with us – and that wars would be on a smaller-scale and that the UN would be relied on more to settle disagreements and supply peace-keepers.
Almost 60 years later, the story is still the same. Although the nature of war has changed. Conflicts are not as easily defined as to opposing sides. Nationalism has been usurped by Fundamentalism and formulas for peace are getting more difficult to arrive at. Wars are no longer cut-and-dried affairs (as was mistakenly assumed in Iraq), but are in danger of being protracted conflicts with constantly changing enemies.
In 1956 we were wondering if a lasting Peace was possible. In 2015 we’re asking if a lasting peace is ever attainable.
To get an idea what we were all about a long time ago, here is that episode of The American Forum, as originally broadcast on December 2, 1956.