Address to the Association of Diplomatic Press

Paris, France | October 10, 1968

Mass consumption, mass media, big business, big government, big populations, pose problems as serious perhaps for the future of mankind as the hydrogen bomb. But fortunately we are being awakened by the youth of the world. They are shaking us up quite a bit. They are pointing out some dangers, and if we act upon them perhaps we will avoid some problems before it is too late.

With respect to Western Europe, I would like to emphasize today that the United States remains as deeply and resolutely committed to the support of freedom in Europe -- and that we are just as determined to honor our commitment here, as we have been in the past, during the First and Second World Wars and when our trips returned in those dark days of the late 1940s to help preserve freedom in this land. There are always people -- and I would add that I think it is probably useful that there are such people -- who raise questions about such commitments, who are skeptical about why any nation will do. But to them, let me say that my reply is very simple: look at the record of the United States and I think you will find out, especially where Europe is concerned, our deeds have matched our words.

We in the U.S. are also as deeply committed as ever to assist in appropriate ways in the development of the economic and political strength and the chosen of the European nations. In this respect I draw your attention to not only our support for the Marshall Plan, but also for the development here on this continent of the Common Market, trade with the U.S. and nations which are members of the Common Market has increased tremendously. And to those in our country who are worried about such things, I would like to observe that at the same time our trade with the nations of the EEC has increased at a more rapid rate than before, illustrating, I believe, that what helps Europe to be prosperous helps America also to increase its prosperity.

As President Kennedy said in his memorable address in Philadelphia in 1962, when he spoke at Independence on July the 4th, and I quote: "We do not regard a strong and united Europe as a rival but as a partner. To aid in its progress has been the basic objective of our foreign policy for 17 years. We believe that a united Europe will be capable of playing a greater role in the common defense, of responding more generously to the needs of the poor nations, of joining with the U.S. and others in lowering trade barriers, resolving problems of commerce, commodities and currency, and developing coordinating policy in all economic, political and diplomatic areas. We see in such a Europe a partner with whom we can deal on the basis of full equality in all the great and burdensome task of building and defending a community of free nations.

With respect to the U.S. and Eastern Europe, I think it is fair to say that our policy toward the states of Eastern Europe, taken as a whole, for many years has been not dissimilar to that policy which is sometimes described as a policy of detente. We call it bridge-building: and I call your attention to the fact that our nation helped in many ways the country of Yugoslavia at a time when at home, in our nation, there were many people who said that this was "Traffiking with the enemy." We see no inconsistency in our view that the maintenance of the strength of the Atlantic nations is the best means of assuring that any bridges built with Eastern Europe will have solid foundations on both needs of the bridge and will be wide enough to carry traffic in both directions. Again, if you will forgive me for quoting President Kennedy. In his inaugural address he had a sentence which I always respected and liked: "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."

I would like to mention, if only in passing, a second sort of international relation, which is usually discussed by those interested in business rather than diplomacy; yet the area of industrial cooperation may, in the long run, be almost as important in changing the relationships between states as traditional diplomacy, especially in these times when traditional diplomacy appears to be achieving relatively limited successes. We might do well to reflect on only three examples in this field which pertain to Franco-American relations.

First of all, I would cite the respect which has been won for the French oil industry and for the technological competence of that industry by the vital role of Schlumberger, a French firm in the American oil business. A second illustration would be the role of International Business Machines and General Electric in the development of France's plan calcul. The third is the promising future in the aeronautical field which was opened up only recently by the accord between Ling-Temeo-Vought and Dassault-Sud Aviation.

Whether it be between the US, Britain and the countries of the Common Market: or among western European countries; or even between western and eastern Europe and the USSR; this industrial inter-action is playing a vital role, I believe, in promoting closer relations and greater understanding among states. Because this is not always immediately visible, there is sometimes a tendency to lose sight of it altogether, falling back into narrow nationalism and condemning industrial cooperation on the fallacious assumption that it is a one-way street. However, I think if one stops only long enough to consider how the Soviet Union has altered its traditional market system and some of their Marxist opinions because of competition with the capitalist system, one realizes what an effective and positive force, even in the political realm, can be the force of industrial cooperation.

We must not, however, forget that this same industrial advance has created what may come to rank with the preservation of peace as one of the most important problems of international relations; namely, how can we reconcile the apparently conflicting forces of the development of modern industrial society with the preservation of traditional human values? This problem faces us in the U.S., and it faces many other countries. Henri Bergson wrote about it a long time ago in Head Start book "The Two Sources of Morality and Religion." He said "Mankind lies groaning, half crushed beneath the weight of its own progress. Men do not sufficiently realize that their future is in their own hands."

Mass consumption, mass media, big business, big government, big populations, pose problems as serious perhaps for the future of mankind as the hydrogen bomb. But fortunately we are being awakened by the youth of the world. They are shaking us up quite a bit. They are pointing out some dangers, and if we act upon them perhaps we will avoid some problems before it is too late. They appear to see, at least in some cases, what some of us have either ignored or neglected; namely, the necessity for man to dominate science and technology so that they will serve his purposes as a human being rather than the reverse.

This phenomenon is not restricted to any one country. Your President commented on it in his speech of June the 7th when he said "Cette explosion a été provoqué par quelques groupes, quelques groupes qui se révoltent contre la société moderne, contre la société de consommation, contre la société mécanique qu'elle soit communiste à l'Est ou qu'elle soit capitaliste à l'Ouest."

The contestation which emerged in France during the month of May is being matched maybe over-matched, in terms of general objectives, not in magnitude, in the U.S.: in some of our universities, although certainly not in all of them and the difficulties in the urban centers of some of our cities; and we cannot forget that in other countries besides ours, similar difficulties have occurred in the past and are occurring now. These happenings show just how serious and wide-spread has become the divorce between the individual and the society in which he lives.

Fortunately these alarm bells are being heard and first efforts are being made to change the situation. We have watched with great interest, I, especially, the extraordinary efforts being made here in educational reform. We are trying to do some things similar to that in the U.S. In the war against poverty the anti-poverty programs at home falls into that classification, and so do many others. Now this awakening has been good, I think, not only for us but for many other nations, because we are coming to be aware that if we are to lick the problems of human poverty and misery, the problems caused by increasing urbanization, the problems of inadequate education, of pollution of the air and water and the destruction of our natural resources, we must do it together. I sense that this is a growing awareness of this. I certainly hope so.

Already indispensable cooperation on a bilateral and multi-lateral basis, a lot of it unofficial, but nevertheless effective, is coming up. There have been some exchanges, for one, as your President commented, between experts on mental retardation in our nation and here. For these of you who might think that this is a specific type of disease with no social significance, let me say that more has been learned about human beings, including how normal human beings learn, how they memorize, how they retain their information, how they think, more has been learned about that as a result of investigations on what is the matter with a mentally retarded person that than ever before in the history of mankind. So that what we learn by studying a pathological condition - in this case mental retardation - can have great social benefits for all.

I am happy that today our Secretaire of HEW is in Paris. He came here at our special request, and because of Head Start great interest in the remarkable developments in education, and also because of his remarkable expertise and desire to discuss matters on public welfare, for example, with Monster Schumann and others in your government. At home in the U.S. our system of public welfare is under severe challenge and criticism. Secretary Cohen is here to study, albeit briefly, how public welfare is handled here in France. And we hope that we can learn from your example, and perhaps avoid making mistakes at home as a result of what we learn here.

There are only a few illustrations. There could be many more cited. And I hope that they will be increased and depend, because despite the linguistic and cultural differences that may exist between France and the U.S., I think that both of us have a much greater chance of survival and success when we work together than if we try to do things separately. As we move toward greater cooperation in many fields, I think today we must all honestly admit that human beings are still losing ground to the rush of the modern de-humanistic society, and that the time must soon come when we awaken ourselves fully to the problem and reach the point where we begin and negotiate treaties to ban poverty as well as bombs, when we are just as interested in the non-pollution of outer space.

Let me conclude by saying that my stay, very brief though it has been so far, here in Paris and in France has been marked, from my point of view, by the happiest of circumstances, by the greatest hospitality on the part of your government officials, by the ordinary people of France on those occasions when I've had a chance to see them and talk to them. I was deeply touched when I was visiting in Nice, and Menton and other cities of the south by the spontaneous appearance of people waving at my automobile and crying out "Vive l'Amerique." I've had other experiences at home which are different than that, so I perhaps more than others appreciate "Vive l'Amerique." In fact, I even appreciate it in the U.S. I was touched by the ceremonies at Verdun. I was moved by the reception I received at Amiens, out at Poissy and other places where I have had, in this brief time, an opportunity to visit. It is on this basis of friendship, mutual respect, that we can build what you want and what we want: an independent, prosperous, successful Europe, linked with an equally independent, prosperous and successful America. When those two great pedestals are strong, there is no doubt in my mind about the future of peace for mankind.