Speech at the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Defense Nationale

Paris, France | March 24, 1969

And failures in communication, absence of communication, distortions in communications have seared the pages of history, causing more trouble and disaster, and leaving in their ashes the battle plans which are text and tactic in institutions like this.

A few days before the recent visit of President Nixon, he was provided with a detailed schedule of his activities in France. After noting that he would give a ten minute statement at the airport, our blueprint read: "After you have finished, your remarks will be translated into English."

Fortunately for us the President has a good sense of humor: "I knew I had troubles communicating,” the President told our embassy staff, "But I didn't think I had that much trouble."

But that mistake really emphasizes that fact that we need "translators" - people, machines, signs, languages, to communicate our ideas to other people. And failures in communication, absence of communication, distortions in communications have seared the pages of history, causing more trouble and disaster, and leaving in their ashes the battle plans which are text and tactic in institutions like this.

The irony is that man often has perfected communication systems to destroy rather than to build.

In war, generals urgently seek information about enemy plans and potential. They create elaborate and costly communication systems to obtain and give information and to coordinate and direct the battle.

Today when I need to talk to Washington the fastest means at my disposal is the military telephone system.

Today, when in the United States we see President de Gaulle on TV giving a press conference via telstar, we forget that telstar would not be there without its lineal ancestor, the V-2 rocket.

The military has expended millions and even billions to expedite both the message and the messenger of destruction. And this has been done to defeat, and if possible, to ruin the other man, the other country, the other sphere of influence. Greed, lust for power, fear - these have been our motivations.

Yet in our efforts to prevent war, to dispel misunderstanding, to eliminate fear, to create trust - in those efforts, we are parsimonious in our expenditures. We are old-fashioned in our methods.

The technology of war has out-paced the technology of peace.

My country is as good an example of this as any. We are niggardly in constructing the communications system of peace. Here in France, for example, this year my government's contribution to the Fulbright Scholarship Exchange Program has been cut by 80%.

The Leader Grant Program where we give young Frenchmen the opportunity to come to the U.S. for one month to examine both our achievements, our mistakes and our unfilled hopes - this program has been cut by 70%. This year we have only nine such grants for all of France:

The entire worldwide budget of the cultural affairs section of our State Department is $31 million or an average of $270,000 per country. This means that we spend less than one fifth the cost of one mirage-3 on this important communications system for peace.

Yet earlier this month Congress received a report from our military establishment revealing that we now have spent about $300 million in a joint technical effort with West Germany to develop a super tank. But not a single tank has yet been produced! And we don't know when, if ever, we will get the first!

And what about the communications system for peace?

We teach one another foreign languages because they are the necessary instruments of human communication, but even here in this first step we are sometimes miserly.

Only last week my country's office of education told me that it could not finance a program that would have placed 300 French teachers into 300 American colleges and universities for one year. The schools would have paid part of the cost and the government's share would only have been $100, 000. We could not find that money but it's only three-tenths of one percent of the money already spent on that tank project which has produced no tanks.

Even when we teach one another foreign languages, to what extent. do we teach foreign cultures?

To what extent do we try to get inside the skin and bones of a stranger, to see events as he sees them, to respect his points of view, to reach accommodation between his interest and our own? To what extent do we really want to know? To what extent do we really want to participate in the joy, the sadness, the fear, the elation of another man in another country, on another continent.

These questions are applicable not only to those who practice war or must defend against it, but also to those to whom has been entrusted the task of diplomacy.

Von Clauswitz once said that war is an extension of politics or diplomacy by other means. Maybe the great general knew as much about diplomacy as his renowned skills of war. The objectives often are the same. only the weapons differ.

Yes, on the surface in the diplomatic corridors and by-ways and at the cocktail parties and luncheons, there is a civility, a politeness, a tradition of the grand manner of the gentleman. sometimes there is genuine friendship and sometimes significant trust.

But too often beneath the veneer of civility is the hard core of contestation, of probing, of seeking advantages, of feeling each other out for weaknesses to be exploited.

Too often these diplomatic tactics raise the dust of suspicion, fear and mistrust.

In the Near East today solutions are difficult because neither side believes the other, whatever may be the merits of a proposal.

This credibility gap of suspicion and mistrust for years has prevented significant communication toward a true peace between India and Pakistan.

In Nigeria the hostility is so strong that even food for hungry people has been denied and refused because of a belief that if it should arrive it would be poisoned.

But rather than criticize and look backward, why not let us agree to cooperate and look forward. Let us place aside for a moment the nationalism which your critics say sometimes you glorify, or the imperial pretensions which our critics sometimes hurl at us.

At this session let us not think that French security rests only on the strength of her armies, or on the force de frappe. Let us not think that the maintenance of United States security depends solely on our underground missile silos, our military bases, or our soldiers.

Let us look for the extension of security beyond the military. For security depending solely on the technology to destroy is no ultimate security at all.

The moat was spanned, the fortress was cracked, the trenches were over-run, the planes were shot down and today the missile will be destroyed by another seeking it out.

I do not argue for the abandonment of military strength.

But I do argue for more. I do argue that communicating our fears and suspicions - the seeds of war - must be augmented by establishing trust, sharing our hopes, uniting our strength and that is planting the seeds of peace and nourishing their growth.

Our mutual security will be truly secure only when we have augmented and vastly multiplied understanding.

I think an important beginning was made a few weeks ago when President Nixon was in Europe. He came not to propose, not to demand and not even to cajole.

He came to listen.

This impressed the leaders who discussed with him their nation's problems and aspirations. President de Gaulle at the dinner Mr. Nixon gave in his honor used the words "confidence - trust". Prime Minister Wilson described it as "mutual trust" and President Nixon when he reported on his trip to the american people said:

"I think that one of the great accomplishments of this trip is that we have established between the United States of America and other nations of Europe as well a new relationship of trust and confidence that did not exist before."

One of the reasons these words were used by so many of the leaders to describe the results of our president's visit is simply because Mr. Nixon did listen. He turned on his receiver and turned off his broadcaster. This might well be the first demand of an effective communications system for peace.

Our president did not unveil any American project for Europe. I do not mean that he concealed our views and our commitments. He did speak about our continued dedication to the Atlantic Alliance, and our belief in the necessity of a strong NATO--both militarily and politically. He did reaffirm our support for the unity of Western Europe including the United Kingdom. But he did not present any American blueprint. In fact, he said, and I quote him:

"We have indicated that we recognize our limitations as far as European unity is concerned. Americans cannot unify Europe. Europeans must do so. And we should not become involved in differences among Europeans in which our vital interests are not involved."

As a newcomer to diplomacy but as a reader of history, I'm pleased that my country has not been seduced by the historical theory that to remain strong, you must keep others weak - that the formula for power is to divide and conquer.

Quite the contrary - our point of view is to make other nations strong. We have worked to help Europeans create a continent with intellectual and material resources as great or greater than ours.

Our dedication to that ideal should be one basis for mutual trust.

Secondly, I would hope that the spirit of trust was further enhanced when our president committed himself to consult fully with all our allies on all matters affecting their security. Specifically, this means full consultation on our discussions with the Soviet Union, both before and during - and I emphasize during - any such meetings. One top European diplomat told me that his country would never have made such a broad commitment.

Finally, in the wake of the president's trip I believe we are moving toward a constructive dialogue where France may work with us and we with France in addressing world problems.

Our present consultations on the Middle East are only one example. a further objective, I believe, is to encourage increased French participation in the security of Western Europe.

Our president said, he had "some hope that as our conversations continue, we can find a number of areas for mutual cooperation, and consultation on the military side as well as in other respects." With these words he has, opened the door. It is our task to explore the terrain to see what cooperation is indeed possible.

We should explore all the possibilities - military, cultural, political, economic - common interests and divergent ones, in a new atmosphere of confidence and trust.

But it will require more than confidence and trust among heads-of-state to build an effective network for peace. Men of all professions, men of disparate political beliefs and persuasions, men of intellect and men of commerce - all segments of our community of nations will have to tell each other not what they think people want to hear, but rather what they truly believe.

In some small ways we have tried here in France to build these conduits of communication not just between diplomats, but between and for the people themselves.

For example, last December for the first time a group of French mayors attended our National Mayors Conference and discussed mutual problems. We hope our own mayors will soon be invited to come to France and participate in similar meetings here.

Young Frenchmen have gone to the United States to observe our presidential elections and we are hard at work creating a regular exchange program between young parliamentarians of both nations.

Young American businessmen have been brought in touch with their French counterparts through their respective Junior Chambers of Commerce. And we hope, too, that each group will attend each others conferences in the future.

In a few weeks ten young French university professors will spend at least a month in the United States to observe our educational system and to establish relationships which I hope will accrue to the benefit of universities in both nations.

The French advertising industry recently decided to make the improvement of Franco-American relations a major campaign in the coming months, and we hope that the United States advertising council will join us in a similar effort in the United States. the, value of this campaign incidentally in France alone has been estimated at three million dollars, or fifteen million francs.

All of these communications systems for understanding have been nurtured to reality without any expenditure of tax funds from either the United States or France. they have been made possible because of contributions of time, money and material by Frenchmen and Americans who believe that the ultimate security for both of us is in understanding.

But this is not enough. It is only a tenuous beginning.


Our young people need to live, study and observe in our respective countries in far larger numbers. For in their current dissatisfaction with the order of things, our young people are our main hope, not our main problem. Our scientists, our military leaders, our teachers - the leadership group in this room - must all meet in fellowship in the airy atmosphere of a free exchange of ideas and differences among free men. 


This is the communication system of peace i am talking about.

This is why I say:

--Security will only be real when we have augmented and vastly multiplied understanding.

--When we have created trust.

--When we have created a more perfect union of all peoples who believe in the rights of man.

--When we have created not two or more hegemonies, but one communion.

Almost a year ago a great American who also was one of the first citizens of the world really said it for all of us.

His name was Martin Luther King and this is what he told us four days before he died:

"We must all learn to live together as brothers. Or we will all perish as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be."

Thank you for listening to me.