DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER - SPRING 1953
The Chance for Peace
It follows the full text transcript of
Dwight D. Eisenhower's The Chance for Peace
speech, delivered at the Hotel Statler in Washington
D.C. - April 16, 1953.
In this spring of
the free world
weighs one question above all others: the chance
for a just peace for all peoples. To weigh this
chance is to summon instantly to mind another
recent moment of great decision. It came with
that yet more hopeful spring of 1945, bright
with the promise of victory and of freedom. The
hope of all just men in that moment too was a
just and lasting peace.
The eight years that have
passed have seen that hope waver, grow dim, and
almost die. And the shadow of fear again has
darkly lengthened across the world. Today the
hope of free men remains stubborn and brave, but
it is sternly disciplined by experience. It
shuns not only all crude counsel of despair but
also the self-deceit of easy illusion. It weighs
the chance for peace with sure, clear knowledge
of what happened to the vain hope of 1945.
that spring of victory the soldiers of the
Western Allies met the soldiers of Russia in the
center of Europe. They were triumphant comrades
in arms. Their peoples shared the joyous
prospect of building, in honor of their dead,
the only fitting monument-an age of just peace.
All these war-weary peoples shared too this
concrete, decent purpose: to guard vigilantly
against the domination ever again of any part of
the world by a single, unbridled aggressive
This common purpose lasted an instant and
perished. The nations of the world divided to
follow two distinct roads. The United States and
our valued friends, the other free nations,
chose one road. The leaders of the Soviet Union
chose another. The way chosen by the United
States was plainly marked by a few clear
precepts, which govern its conduct in world
First: No people on earth can be held,
as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity
shares the common hunger for peace and
fellowship and justice.
Second: No nationís
security and well-being can be lastingly
achieved in isolation but only in effective
cooperation with fellow nations.
nationís right to a form of government and an
economic system of its own choosing is
Fourth: Any nationís attempt to
dictate to other nations their form of
government is indefensible.
And fifth: A
nationís hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly
based upon any race in armaments but rather upon
just relations and honest understanding with all
In the light of these principles
the citizens of the United States defined the
way they proposed to follow, through the
aftermath of war, toward true peace. This way
was faithful to the spirit that inspired the
United Nations: to prohibit strife, to relieve
tensions, to banish fears. This way was to
control and to reduce armaments. This way was to
allow all nations to devote their energies and
resources to the great and good tasks of healing
the warís wounds, of clothing and feeding and
housing the needy, of perfecting a just
political life, of enjoying the fruits of their
own free toil.
The Soviet government held a
vastly different vision of the future. In the
world of its design, security was to be found,
not in mutual trust and mutual aid but in force:
huge armies, subversion, rule of neighbor
nations. The goal was power superiority at all
cost. Security was to be sought by denying it to
The result has been tragic for the
world and, for the Soviet Union, it has also
been ironic. The amassing of Soviet power
alerted free nations to a new danger of
aggression. It compelled them in self-defense to
spend unprecedented money and energy for
armaments. It forced them to develop weapons of
war now capable of inflicting instant and
terrible punishment upon any
It instilled in the free nations--and
let none doubt this--the unshakable conviction
that, as long as there persists a threat to
freedom, they must, at any cost, remain armed,
strong, and ready for the risk of war. It
inspired them--and let none doubt this--to
attain a unity of purpose and will beyond the
power of propaganda or pressure to break, now or
There remained, however, one thing
essentially unchanged and unaffected by Soviet
conduct: the readiness of the free nations to
welcome sincerely any genuine evidence of
peaceful purpose enabling all peoples again to
resume their common quest of just peace. The
free nations, most solemnly and repeatedly, have
assured the Soviet Union that their firm
association has never had any aggressive purpose
whatsoever. Soviet leaders, however, have seemed
to persuade themselves, or tried to persuade
their people, otherwise.
And so it has come to
pass that the Soviet Union itself has shared and
suffered the very fears it has fostered in the
rest of the world. This has been the way of life
forged by eight years of fear and force. What can
the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no
turning is found on this dread road?
to be feared and the best to be expected can be
simply stated. The worst is atomic war. The best
would be this: a life of perpetual fear and
tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth
and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of
strength that defies the American system or the
Soviet system or any system to achieve true
abundance and happiness for the peoples of this
Every gun that is made, every warship
launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the
final sense, a theft from those who hunger and
are not fed, those who are cold and are not
clothed. This world in arms is not spending
money alone. It is spending the sweat of its
laborers, the genius of its scientists, the
hopes of its children. The cost of one modern
heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in
more than 30 cities. It is two electric power
plants, each serving a town of 60,000
population. It is two fine, fully equipped
hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete
highway. We pay for a single fighter plane with
a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a
single destroyer with new homes that could have
housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat,
is the best way of life to be found on the road
the world has been taking. This is not a way of
life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud
of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from
a cross of iron. These plain and cruel truths
define the peril and point the hope that comes
with this spring of 1953.
This is one of those
times in the affairs of nations when the gravest
choices must be made, if
there is to be a turning toward a just and
lasting peace. It is a moment that calls upon
the governments of the world to speak their
intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It
calls upon them to answer the question that
stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no
other way the world may live?
The world knows
that an era ended with the death of Joseph
Stalin. The extraordinary 30-year span of his
rule saw the Soviet Empire expand to reach from
the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan,
finally to dominate 800 million souls. The
Soviet system shaped by Stalin and his
predecessors was born of one World War. It
survived with stubborn and often amazing courage
a second World War. It has lived to threaten a
third. Now a new leadership has assumed power in
the Soviet Union. Its links to the past, however
strong, cannot bind it completely. Its future
is, in great part, its own to make. This new
leadership confronts a free world aroused, as
rarely in its history, by the will to stay free.
This free world knows, out of the bitter wisdom
of experience, that vigilance and sacrifice are
the price of liberty. It knows that the defense
of Western Europe imperatively demands the unity
of purpose and action made possible by the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization, embracing a
Community. It knows that Western Germany
deserves to be a free and equal partner in this
community and that this, for Germany, is the
only safe way to full, final unity.
that aggression in Korea and in southeast Asia
are threats to the whole free community to be
met by united action. This is the kind of free
world which the new Soviet leadership confronts.
It is a world that demands and expects the
fullest respect of its rights and interests. It
is a world that will always
accord the same respect to all others. So the
new Soviet leadership now has a precious
opportunity to awaken, with the rest of the
world, to the point of peril reached and to help
turn the tide of history.
Will it do this? We do
not yet know.
Recent statements and gestures of
Soviet leaders give some evidence that they may
recognize this critical moment. We welcome every
honest act of peace.
We care nothing for mere rhetoric. We are only
for sincerity of peaceful purpose attested by
deeds. The opportunities for such deeds are
many. The performance of a great number of them
waits upon no complex protocol but upon the
simple will to do them. Even a few such clear
and specific acts, such as the Soviet Unionís
signature upon an Austrian treaty or its release
of thousands of prisoners still held from World
War II, would be impressive signs of sincere
intent. They would carry a power of persuasion
not to be matched by any amount of oratory.
we do know: a world that begins to witness the
rebirth of trust among nations can find its Ďway
to a peace that is neither partial nor punitive.
With all who will work in good faith toward such
a peace, we are ready, with renewed resolve, to
strive to redeem the near-lost hopes of our day.
The first great step along this way must be the
conclusion of an honorable armistice in Korea.
This means the immediate cessation of
hostilities and the prompt initiation of
political discussions leading to the holding of
free elections in a united Korea.
mean, no less importantly, an end to the direct
and indirect attacks upon the security of
Indochina and Malaya. For any armistice in Korea
that merely released aggressive armies to
attack elsewhere would be a fraud.
We seek, throughout Asia as throughout the
world, a peace that is true and total.
Out of this can grow a still wider task--the
achieving of just political settlements for the
serious and specific issues between the free
world and the Soviet Union.
None of these issues, great or small, is
insoluble--given only the will to respect the
rights of all
Again we say: the United States is ready to
assume its just part.
We have already done all within our power to
speed conclusion of a treaty with Austria, which
will free that country from economic
exploitation and from occupation by foreign
We are ready not only to press forward with the
present plans for closer unity of the nations of
Western Europe but also, upon that foundation,
to strive to foster a broader European
community, conducive to the free movement of
persons, of trade, and of ideas.
This community would include a free and united
Germany, with a government based upon free
and secret elections.
This free community and the full independence of
the East European nations could mean the end
of the present unnatural division of Europe.
As progress in all these areas strengthens world
trust, we could proceed concurrently with the
next great work--the reduction of the burden of
armaments now weighing upon the world. To
this end we would welcome and enter into the
most solemn agreements. These could properly
1. The limitation, by absolute numbers or by an
agreed international ratio, of the sizes of the
military and security forces of all nations.
2. A commitment by all nations to set an agreed
limit upon that proportion of total production
certain strategic materials to be devoted to
3. International control of atomic energy to
promote its use for peaceful purposes only and
insure the prohibition of atomic weapons.
4. A limitation or prohibition of other
categories of weapons of great destructiveness.
5. The enforcement of all these agreed
limitations and prohibitions by adequate
including a practical system of inspection under
the United Nations.
The details of such disarmament programs are
manifestly critical and complex. Neither the
United States nor any other nation can properly
claim to possess a perfect, immutable formula.
But the formula matters less than the faith--the
good faith without which no formula can work
justly and effectively.
The fruit of success in all these tasks would
present the world with the greatest task, and
greatest opportunity, of all. It is this: the
dedication of the energies, the resources, and
imaginations of all peaceful nations to a new
kind of war. This would be a declared total war,
upon any human enemy but upon the brute forces
of poverty and need.
The peace we seek, rounded upon decent trust and
cooperative effort among nations, can be
fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat
and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and
by timber and by rice. These are words that
translate into every language on earth. These
needs that challenge this world in arms.
This idea of a just and peaceful world is not
new or strange to us. It inspired the people of
United States to initiate the European Recovery
Program in 1947. That program was prepared to
treat, with like and equal concern, the needs of
Eastern and Western Europe.
We are prepared to reaffirm, with the most
concrete evidence, our readiness to help build a
in which all peoples can be productive and
This Government is ready to ask its people to
join with all nations in devoting a substantial
percentage of the savings achieved by
disarmament to a fund for world aid and
The purposes of this great work would be to help
other peoples to develop the undeveloped areas
of the world, to stimulate profitable and fair
world trade, to assist all peoples to know the
blessings of productive freedom.
The monuments to this new kind of war would be
these: roads and schools, hospitals and homes,
food and health.
We are ready, in short, to dedicate our strength
to serving the needs, rather than the fears, of
We are ready, by these and all such actions, to
make of the United Nations an institution that
effectively guard the peace and security of all
I know of nothing I can add to make plainer the
sincere purpose of the United States.
I know of no course, other than that marked by
these and similar actions, that can be called
highway of peace.
I know of only one question upon which progress
waits. It is this:
What is the Soviet Union ready to do?
Whatever the answer be, let it be plainly
Again we say: the hunger for peace is too great,
the hour in history too late, for any government
to mock menís hopes with mere words and promises
The test of truth is simple. There can be no
persuasion but by deeds.
Is the new leadership of the Soviet Union
prepared to use its decisive influence in the
Communist world, including control of the flow
of arms, to bring not merely an expedient truce
in Korea but genuine peace in Asia?
Is it prepared to allow other nations, including
those of Eastern Europe, the free choice of
own forms of government?
Is it prepared to act in concert with others
upon serious disarmament proposals to be made
effective by stringent U.N. control and
If not, where then is the concrete evidence of
the Soviet Unionís concern for peace?
The test is clear.
There is, before all peoples, a precious chance
to turn the black tide of events. If we failed
strive to seize this chance, the judgment of
future ages would be harsh and just.
If we strive but fail and the world remains
armed against itself, it at least need be
longer in its clear knowledge of who has
condemned humankind to this fate.
The purpose of the United States, in stating
these proposals, is simple and clear.
These proposals spring, without ulterior purpose
or political passion, from our calm conviction
that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of
all peoples--those of Russia and of China no
of our own country.
They conform to our firm faith that God created
men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the
and of their own toil.
They aspire to this: the lifting, from the backs
and from the hearts of men, of their burden of
arms and of fears, so that they may find before
them a golden age of freedom and of peace.