On this last broadcast before our observance of the birth of the Prince of Peace, it seems appropriate to take a sober look at our world of 1954 to see what some of the problems and prospects are with respect to achieving the “Peace on Earth” that is associated with Him whose birth we are about to observe.
The stubborn fact is that our world this Christmas is divided between that half which is doing its best to blot out any reference to or observance of Christianity and our own half that is, on the surface at least, trying to perpetuate and spread the principles for which the Christ child came.
The Communist world stands for materialism, regards all religion as the opiate of the people, and would crush out any regard for the rights and dignity of the individual as opposed to the prerogatives of the state, which means the small group of men who would impose their will upon the mass of the people. It knows what it wants, where it is going, and will use any means to achieve its end. Truth, human life, the common decencies of civilization – none of these have any meaning to our enemies except insofar as they can use them to confuse and delude us into complacency about the threat they pose for us.
Opposed to this world of dictatorship are the so-called free nations of which we are a part. We subscribe in general to principles that are in general in accord with Christian principles and democracy. But, we are not at all as certain about just what these principles are, about our objectives and ways and means of attaining them. We quibble among ourselves over minor points of policy while our enemies profit by our lack of harmony.
In such a world as this, two things at least are imperative if the free nations are to survive and to perpetuate principles of freedom of Christianity:
- Unity among us must be maintained regardless of circumstances or temporary national interest;
- A solid and permanent substitute for war must be forged by the free nations.
One of the most profitable techniques of the dictators of all times is that of the axiomatic “divide and conquer” practice. Every time we, the French, the English, or any other free nation let an incident or issue cause us to indulge in quarreling, only our enemies profit. This does not mean that there should not be the freest and fullest discussion of legitimately different points of view among us; it does mean that in such discussion we must never lose sight of the imperative need of reaching agreement without compromise of basic principles. Anything less will eventually weaken the already weak coalition of anti-communist nations and permit us one by one to be swallowed up by the Iron Curtain powers.
And we must not lose sight of the fact also that there are among our own people those individuals and forces who advocate courses that, consciously or unconsciously, would deliver us into the hands of our enemies. These are the super-patriots who regard any concession on our part as subversion or downright treason. Their language sounds brave and self-sacrificing. These are flag wavers, the arousers of emotion, the Joes who would “go it alone.” The truth is that most of us Americans wish that we could go it alone in our own way and not be bothered by unpleasant realities in the rest of the world; the sober truth is that we are and must remain an integral and active part of the world of today whether we wish it that way or not. The truth is that a threat to peace anywhere in our world is a threat to peace everywhere. The truth is that there is no longer a dividing line between the battlefront and the home front. The truth is that we are faced with the unpleasant alternatives of co-existence or co-extinction.
None of us wants it that way, but that is the way it is, and we must behave ourselves in accordance with existing realities. No nation can hope today to exist undisturbed and alone; unity among us is the only basis we have for hope of survival against a world that threatens everything for which the free world stands, and we must permit nothing to cause us to lose sight of that fact. Disunity and war not only can, but likely will, result in the destruction of civilization as we in the Western world know it.
But unity of purpose and action must be more than a temporary coalition; it must forge machinery that will be a permanent substitute for war, the scourge of humanity throughout our history. This substitute is very simple, though achieving it is not so simple. The substitute for war is law.
There was a time in man’s history when war between individuals was the natural order of the day. Two people disagreed, and they fought it out. Today, individuals take their differences to court instead of to the battlefield. Clans and tribes once fought at will, one overcoming the other and imposing its system of control, i.e., law, over its former enemy and over a wider area. Eventually, the concept of the national state came into existence, with the imposition of an orderly system of law throughout the whole nation. Today, internal riots and revolts against laws within the nation are almost unknown. We have through law brought peace and stability within nations, and in the free world we have done so with amazingly little violence to the rights of the individual. It is that area between nations where our danger of war lies today, and it is in that area our efforts to apply law must bear constructive fruit.
At the end of our Revolutionary War, we had 13 independent nations in this country, each trying to do as it pleased without regard to the will or aspirations of the other twelve. For eight years, from 1781 to 1789, these 13 nations or states gradually saw the futility, even the suicidal results of trying to go it alone. They saw that there were certain matters that could not safely be left for each state to determine for itself if all were to survive. And they did the sensible thing; they formed a union in which such matters were turned over to the federal government to be managed in the interests of all states alike.
Nations have today reached the place that our 13 states had reached in 1787. Nations today come much more frequently in contact with each other and their individual interests conflict with each other far more often than did those of our states 167 years ago, and it is out of those frequent contacts and conflicts of interest that the danger of war arises. We solved these problems in 1787 by applying law on a nation-wide basis, so that it would be impossible for one state to go to war with another. Today, whether we like it or not, we must apply something of the same remedy to international relationships.
This means, in effect, that we must create machinery for the enactment and enforcement of law that will apply to individuals and nations on an international scale. A gesture, but only a gesture, has been made toward this in the creation of the U.N., but this world organization has not been given law-making and law-enforcing authority. Until or unless it is, we shall have continuing anarchy and war between nations.
Now most of us do not like this idea, and I am among them. But the whole matter resolves itself into an “either/or” proposition. Either join together or eventually die separately. It is as crucial as that. One of the most telling cartoons circulated during the fight in 1788 for ratification of our own Constitution was that of a snake divided into 13 pieces, with the caption “Join or Die.” This cartoon was credited to Benjamin Franklin, and it portrayed a truth of the times that is equally true of our times.
There [are] those today who regard any such suggestions as the above as less than patriotic; who are unable to see that one could conceivably be loyal both to the laws of this nation and to those passed by an international body deriving its power form the democratic consent of the peoples to whom those law[s] apply. Yet, there is an inconsistency in their viewpoint. We Americans are loyal to our states and we are also loyal to our nation, and there is no conflict between the two. There is nothing inherently conflicting between a conceived loyalty to the laws of this nation and the laws of an international federation in whose composition we have a voice, and I am sure that those of us who would substitute law for the present warring lawlessness resent the idea that because we advocate federation of the free nations we are thereby less patriotic or loyal than those who oppose such an idea.
We, that is, the free nations, have made some halting steps toward such a free world union. In 1946 the U.S., through Bernard Baruch, proposed to the U.N. that atomic energy be brought under international control through a commission empowered to make inspections anywhere in the world to be sure that all nations were living up to their peaceful responsibilities. We have taken the lead in promoting federation of the nations of Western Europe, though many of us are skeptical that this would be a permanent solution, even if it were achieved. We are skeptical for the simple reason that while such a union would presumably be friendly to us at the moment, there is no guarantee that it would always be so or that we could get along with it should it decide to be unfriendly. While such efforts are commendable in the formation of regional arrangements, anything less than an indestructible union of indestructible nations, grounded in democratic principles, cannot guarantee that peace will be permanent.
Admittedly the creation of such a union will be a difficult task, calling for the best brains, the best intentions that the free world can mobilize. But it would be mobilization for constructive, not destructive, purposes. The discouraging factor is that those in high places appear more amenable to advice from vested interests than to the interest of the mass of peoples in the free world. It is significant to note that military men generally have been among the most prominent supporters of the “go it alone” policies, when they should know better than anyone else that this policy has led to nothing in the past but war. But war is their career. It is also significant that munitions makers, businesses with profitable government war contracts, and professional patrioteers were among the most active forces that succeeded in scuttling the League of Nations and in backing Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and company. It is up to us, the rank and file, the little people of the world, to make our collective influence felt in the halls of Congress and in the United Nations to the end that those representing us understand clearly that while we do not prefer peace at any price, we do realize that the scourge of war can and must be removed as a threat to humanity; that freedom under law is the most important objective for our world of today; that while we realize military security is a must in the light of present conditions, that most of us are hoping to be able to envision a time beyond which we can live secure in the knowledge that war and its tragic consequences will not again be visited on us or our children.