August 30, 1954 – President Eisenhower addresses the American Legion Convention in Washington D.C.:
President Eisenhower: “For the third time since World War II, I am honored to join a national convention of the American Legion.
With you, I give thanks that at last we can come together at a time when the sounds of battlefields, everywhere in the world, have been stilled.
In such a gathering, made up of those who have served our country in time of war, it seems fitting that we turn our attention to our international affairs and the Nation’s security. Now, in saying this, I do not mean that any group or any section of America has a monopoly either of interest or of wisdom in dealing with complex world problems.
The contrary is true. The term “bipartisan participation” is too narrow to describe accurately the attitude that all Americans should maintain in this great area of vital concern. Rather, we should speak of universal or national participation, which would in turn imply serious study, analysis, and debate of every proposal and issue presented.
The world must understand that there is stability in our international purposes. Obviously, this cannot be obtained if there is to be marked change or if the world is to fear a marked change with every varying of partisan political winds. The only answer is that the whole American people must be informed and their decisions be made clear.
Of course, it is obvious that much of the diplomatic work, particularly those efforts classed as preparatory toward the reaching of agreements, be conducted in confidence. The political situations in the several free countries are not identical, and premature disclosures of positions and arguments could very well bar the attainment of any reasonable solution. But on broad objectives and purposes, and on the acceptable methods for obtaining them, the American people must be fully informed. Thus, their decisions will be appropriate to the situation, and the world will know that they are stable in terms of time.
This comprehensive approach is difficult to achieve; perfection cannot, of course, be attained. But the first lesson in today’s complicated world affairs is that they are far too important to all of us for any one party or any one group to risk the exclusion of other Americans in reaching answers that will eventually affect the fate of all of us. Success or failure in all we hope to accomplish in attaining a peaceful world may well hinge upon our success in eliminating politics and prejudice from our Nation’s efforts toward this goal.
Basic to our analysis of our present world situation is clear recognition of several important truths. I mention only a few of these, but these few we can forget only at our peril.
The first is that the Communist dictatorship–ruthless, strong, insatiable-is determined to establish its sway over all the world. This truth requires no elaboration. All Americans recognize it as a fact.
The second truth is that the Communist dictatorship is adroit in its selection and use of every imaginable weapon to achieve its ends. It uses force and the threat of force. It uses bribery, subversion, and sabotage. It uses propaganda.
This last weapon–propaganda–is one which emphatically requires from us new and aggressive countermeasures. There is a dangerous disproportion between our country’s efforts to tell the truth about freedom and our Nation’s objectives, on the one hand, and the propaganda of the Red dictatorship on the other. For every spokesman of freedom that we assign to the struggle for men’s minds and hearts, the Communists assign scores; for every dollar we spend for informational purposes, they spend fifty in opposition; for every word we utter in the cause of liberty and faith, they utter thousands to extol their system and to degrade and defame the values of the free.”
Here is that complete address, as given on August 31, 1954.