May 31, 2016

1959. Walt Kelly on McCarthyism

"A Pied Piper for Know-Nothingism"
Walt Kelly's character "Simple J. Malarkey," a caricature of Senator Joseph McCarthy created during the Second Red Scare, as featured in Pogo in 1953 and 1955 (source)
Cartoonist Walt Kelly, the creator of the seminal comic strip Pogo, was known for his vocal criticism of Senator Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism in the 1950s. He satirized the era in Pogo with the wildcat "Simple J. Malarkey," a clear caricature of McCarthy. In the excerpt below, Kelly reflects on the McCarthy years.

From "Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue Eyed Years With Pogo" by Walt Kelly (1959)
There was a time in the proud days between 1948 and 1956 when a great many of us in this land of the free and home of the brave were anything but either. In these latter (1959) more or less golden days of happy preoccupation with other greeds and other envies we should remember this. We confounded our friends abroad and dumbfounded our enemies at home. None of them expected that we were so soft in the head or hard in the heart.

Those years were our own fault, not the fault of any one individual or group, and years like them will be our fault again. As I stand here on this platform I hold between thumb and forefinger a nose that remembers a list of many, many more than 205 belly-whopping heroes who sledded out of sight in the yellow gloom of that gathering wintry dark. Properly pressed, we can all remember individual contributors to the shame of the years. We blame several advertisers for withdrawing their support of TV shows that protested against our un-American activities; we blame certain dismal desert stretches of the Press. And we can forget much of our Sweet Alice Congress and Administration who were with delight when Joe gave them a smile and trembled with fear at his frown. Who can forget, Ben Bolt? Most of us, Ben.

A few of us gave out bitter cries to prove through the night that our flag was still there and that the reasons you went to jail did not include deriding a demagogue. But most took tongue in teeth and ran.*

"You were skating on thin ice when you had that guilt-by-assumption trial of Albert for eating the Pup-dog. But now, with this Malarkey stuff, you've broken through."

It didn't seem to me then, nor does it now, that a comic version of Senatorial low-jinks was dangerous. Of my then three hundred and fifty editors, not one objected. They'd be the last to think they'd been courageous in running the material. In short, the whole situation might be termed "over-evaluated."

At about this time a student in an audience at the department of journalism at the University of Michigan leaped to his feet with a question which implied that the Senator from Wisconsin was doing great good for his country and Kelly was not aware of it. I rallied a counterthrust in which I agreed with the young man inasmuch as the Senator was making the country newly aware of its rights; rights are for everybody, including privileged Senators, but liberty was not to be construed as license; and one of our rights still included freedom of speech, even against Senators. It was a surprise to learn later from members of the faculty that this mild piece of horse sense was a bold statement.

Returning to New York, somewhat saddened by this, I was immensely cheered when I visited Mr. Tim Costello's establishment for the Arts on Third Avenue. As I came to the door, he spied me and hurried forward.

"You'll have to speak to the little woman," he said. "She's remembered some damn thing thing that plagues her and she's breaking glasses. Our glasses."

I asked if this meant that she had had a drink. "Devil a drink she's had," he said. "She orders a Manhattan and waves it a bit. Then she says, 'That damn CBS loyalty oath!' Then she slams the glass down on the bar, spilling the drink, which is bad enough, mind you, but she snaps off the stem every time. She's not missed once." Tim sighed and looked admiringly at my wife. "CBS has done much for temperance tonight."

Those of us who had reason to question the loyalty oath could not help but be cheered by a reverse side of the coin. Bill Downs made a blistering radio attack over CBS on the cloak-and-dagger activities on Capitol Hill. "Things were just going too far," he said to me. "I couldn't take it anymore." Ed Murrow followed him over CBS-TV with a public dissection of the Pied Piper.

The Piper dealt himself a sort of coup de grâce when he took advantage of "equal time" on CBS-TV to put on such an incredible performance, complete with toupee, that Jo Coppola in the Long Island Newsday ran two pictures of Joe. One was before make-up, one after. The caption read: "Which Twin Has the Phony?" That CBS free time was the beginning of the end. With such a display of integrity, I wonder why private enterprise ever got into the gumshoe business.
* There has been a lot of talk about who compromised the fifty per cent of the people who professed themselves in favor of amateur demagoguery in the polls of the period. People want to be liked, and when they answer poll questions they tend to give answers they hope are popular. One of the noisiest and most militant groups we ever had in this country was the large bunch of us which, envious of others all the time anyway, found this in the early Fifties a Pied Piper for Know-Nothingism. These self-pitying few, when on the march, made a lot of flash, and many of the rest of us, having hit the dirt and crawled into the bushes, had difficulty counting the enemy as they went by. This last craven crowd, by adding up the bugle calls and the firecrackers, decided to join what seemed to be a majority. That's where the heavy poll count came from. And that, in my opinion, is exactly where to put the blame, Mame.

May 27, 2016

1966. Security in the Cold War World

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's Montreal Speech
S-75 Dvina missiles on parade in Moscow's Red Square, November 7th, 1957 (Sovfoto - source)


Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense
before the American Society of Newspaper Editors

Montreal, Canada, May 18th, 1966
Any American would be fortunate to visit this lovely island city, in this hospitable land. But there is a special satisfaction for a Secretary of Defense to cross the longest border in the world and realize that it is also the least armed border in the world. It prompts one to reflect how negative and narrow a notion of defense still clouds our century.

There is still among us an almost eradicable tendency to think of our security problem as being exclusively a military problem—and to think of the military problem as being exclusively a weapons-system or hardware problem.

The plain, blunt truth is that contemporary man still conceives of war and peace in much the same stereotyped terms that his ancestors did.

The fact that these ancestors, both recent and remote, were conspicuously unsuccessful at avoiding war, and enlarging peace, doesn't seem to dampen our capacity for cliches.

We still tend to conceive of national security almost solely as a state of armed readiness: a vast, awesome arsenal of weaponry.

We still tend to assume that it is primarily this purely military ingredient that creates security.

We are still haunted by this concept of military hardware. But how limited a concept this actually is becomes apparent when one ponders the kind of peace that exists between the United States and Canada.

It is a very cogent example. Here we are, two modern nations, highly developed technologically, each with immense territory, both enriched with great reserves of natural resources, each militarily sophisticated; and yet we sit across from one another, divided by an unguarded frontier of thousands of miles, and there is not a remotest set of circumstances, in any imaginable time frame of the future, in which our two nations would wage war on one another.

It is so unthinkable an idea as to be totally absurd. But why is that so?

Is it because we are both ready in an instant to hurl our military hardware at one another? Is it because we are both zeroed in on one another's vital targets? Is it because we are both armed to our technological teeth that we do not go to war? The whole notion, as applied to our two countries, is ludicrous.

Canada and the United States are at peace for reasons that have nothing whatever to do with our mutual military readiness. We are at peace—truly at peace—because of the vast fund of compatible beliefs, common principles, and shared ideals. We have our differences and our diversity and let us hope for the sake of a mutually rewarding relationship we never become sterile carbon copies of one another. But the whole point is that our basis of mutual peace has nothing whatever to do with our military hardware.

Now this is not to say, obviously enough, that the concept of military deterrence is no longer relevant in the contemporary world. Unhappily, it still is critically relevant with respect to our potential adversaries. But it has no relevance what ever between the United States and Canada.

We are not adversaries. We are not going to become adversaries. And it is not mutual military deterrence that keeps us from becoming adversaries. It is mutual respect for common principles. Now I mention this—as obvious as it all is—simply as a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the concept that military hardware is the exclusive or even the primary ingredient of permanent peace in the mid 20th century.

In the United States over the past 5 years, we have achieved a considerably improved balance in our total military posture. That was the mandate I received from Presidents Kennedy and Johnson; and with their support, and that of the Congress, we have been able to create a strengthened force structure of land, sea, and air components with a vast increase in mobility and materiel and with a massive superiority in nuclear retaliatory power over any combination of potential adversaries.

Our capabilities for nuclear, conventional, and countersubversive war have all been broadened and improved; and we have accomplished this through military budgets that were in fact lesser percentages of our gross national product than in the past.

From the point of view of combat readiness, the United States has never been militarily stronger. We intend to maintain that readiness. But if we think profoundly about the matter, it is clear that this purely military posture is not the central element in our security. A nation can reach the point at which it does not buy more security for itself simply by buying more military hardware. We are at that point. The decisive factor for a powerful nation already adequately armed is the character of its relationships with the world.

In this respect, there are three broad groups of nations: first, those that are struggling to develop; secondly, those free nations that have reached a level of strength and prosperity that enables them to contribute to the peace of the world; and finally, those nations who might tempted to make themselves our adversaries. For each of these groups, the United States, to preserve its intrinsic security, has to have distinctive sets of relationships. First, we have to help protect those developing countries which genuinely need and request our help and which, as an essential precondition, are willing and able to help themselves.

Second, we have to encourage and achieve a more effective partnership with those nations who can and should share international peacekeeping responsibilities.

Third, we must do all we realistically can to reduce the risk of conflict with those who might be tempted to take up arms against us.

Let us examine these three sets of relationships in detail.

The Developing Nations

First, the developing nations. Roughly 100 countries today are caught up in the difficult transition from traditional to modern societies. There is no uniform rate of progress among them, and they range from primitive mosaic societies fractured by tribalism and held feebly together by the slenderest of political sinews to relatively sophisticated countries well on the road to agricultural sufficiency and industrial competence.

This sweeping surge of development, particularly across the whole southern half of the globe, has no parallel in history. It has turned traditionally listless areas of the world into seething cauldrons of change.

On the whole, it has not been a very peaceful process.

In the last 8 years alone there have been no less than 164 internationally significant outbreaks of violence, each of them specifically designed as a serious challenge to the authority, or the very existence, of the government in question. Eighty two different governments have been directly involved.

What is striking is that only 15 of these 164 significant resorts to violence have been military conflicts between two states. And not a single one of the 164 conflicts has been a formally declared war. Indeed, there has not been a formal declaration of war anywhere in the world since World War II.

The planet is becoming a more dangerous place to live on, not merely because of a potential nuclear holocaust but also because of the large number of de facto conflicts and because the trend of such conflicts is growing rather than diminishing. At the beginning of 1958, there were 23 prolonged insurgencies going on about the world. As of February 1, 1966, there were 40. Further, the total number of outbreaks of violence has increased each year: In 1958, there were 34; in 1965, there were 58.

The Relationship of Violence and Economic Status

But what is most significant of all is that there is a direct and constant relationship between the incidence of violence and the economic status of the countries afflicted. The World Bank divides nations on the basis of per capita income into four categories: rich, middle income, poor, and very poor.

The rich nations are those with a per capita income of $750 per year or more.

The current U.S. level is more than $2,700. There are 27 of these rich nations. They possess 75 percent of the world's wealth, though roughly only 25 percent of the world's population.

Since 1958, only one of these 27 nations has suffered a major internal upheaval on its own territory. But observe what happens at the other end of the economic scale.

Among the 38 very poor nations those with a per capita income of under $100 a year not less than 32 have suffered significant conflicts. Indeed, they have suffered an average of two major outbreaks of violence per country in the 8 year period. That is a great deal of conflict.

What is worse, it has been predominantly conflict of a prolonged nature. The trend holds predictably constant in the case of the two other categories: the poor and the middle income nations. Since 1958, 87 percent of the very poor nations, 69 percent of the poor nations, and 48 percent of the middle income nations have suffered serious violence.

There can, then, be no question but that there is an irrefutable relationship between violence and economic backwardness. And the trend of such violence is up, not down.

Now, it would perhaps be somewhat reassuring if the gap between the rich nations and the poor nations were closing and economic backwardness were significantly receding. But it is not. The economic gap is widening.

By the year 1970 over one half of the world's total population will live in the independent nations sweeping across the southern half of the planet. But this hungering half of the human race will by then command only one sixth of the world's total of goods and services. By the year 1975 the dependent children of these nations alone children under 15 years of age will equal the total population of the developed nations to the north.

Even in our own abundant societies, we have reason enough to worry over the tensions that coil and tighten among underprivileged young people and finally flail out in delinquency and crime. What are we to expect from a whole hemisphere of youth where mounting frustrations are likely to fester into eruptions of violence and extremism?

Annual per capita income in roughly half of the 80 underdeveloped nations that are members of the World Bank is rising by a paltry 1 percent a year or less. By the end of the century these nations, at their present rates of growth, will reach a per capita income of barely $170 a year. The United States, by the same criterion, will attain a per capita income of $4,500.

The conclusion to all of this is blunt and inescapable: Given the certain connection between economic stagnation and the incidence of violence, the years that lie ahead for the nations in the southern half of the globe are pregnant with violence.

U.S. Security and the Newly Developing World

This would be true even if no threat of Communist subversion existed is it clearly does. Both Moscow and Peking, however harsh their internal differences, regard the whole modernization process as an ideal environment for the growth of communism. Their experience with subversive internal war is extensive, and they have developed a considerable array of both doctrine and practical measures in the art of political violence.

What is often misunderstood is that Communists are capable of subverting, manipulating, and finally directing for their own ends the wholly legitimate grievances of a developing society.

But it would be a gross oversimplification to regard communism as the central factor in every conflict throughout the underdeveloped world. Of the 149 serious internal insurgencies in the past 8 years, Communists have been involved in only 58 of them—8 percent of the total—and this includes seven instances in which a Communist regime itself was the target of the uprising.

Whether Communists are involved or not, violence anywhere in a taut world transmits sharp signals through the complex gangli of international relations; and the security of the United States is related to the security and stability of nations half a glob away.

But neither conscience nor sanity itself suggests that the United States is, should or could be the global gendarme. Quite the contrary. Experience confirms what human nature suggests: that in most instances of internal violence the local people themselves are best able to deal directly with the situation within the framework of their own traditions.

The United States has no mandate from on high to police the world and no inclination to do so. There have been classic case in which our deliberate non-action was the wisest action of all. Where our help is not sought, it is seldom prudent to volunteer. Certainly we have no charter to rescue floundering regimes who have brought violence on themselves by deliberately refusing to meet the legitimate expectations of their citizenry.

Further, throughout the next decade advancing technology will reduce the requirements for bases and staging rights at particular locations abroad, and the whole pattern of forward deployment will gradually change.
But, though all these caveats are clear enough, the irreducible fact remains that our security is related directly to the security of the newly developing world. And our role must be precisely this: to help provide security to those developing nations which genuinely need and request our help and which demonstrably are willing and able to help themselves.

Security and Development

The rub comes in this: We do not always grasp the meaning of the word "security" in this context. In a modernizing society, security means development.

Security is not military hardware, though it may include it. Security is not military force, though it may involve it. Security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development. Without development, there can be no security. A developing nation that does not in fact develop simply cannot remain "secure." It cannot remain secure for the intractable reason that its own citizenry cannot shed its human nature.

If security implies anything, it implies a minimal measure of order and stability. Without internal development of at least a minimal degree, order and stability are simply not possible. They are not possible because human nature cannot be frustrated beyond intrinsic limits. It reacts because it must.

Now, that is what we do not always understand, and that is also what governments of modernizing nations do not always understand. But by emphasizing that security arises from development, I do not say that an underdeveloped nation cannot be subverted from within, or be aggressed upon from without, or be the victim of a combination of the two. It can. And to prevent any or all of these conditions, a nation does require appropriate military capabilities to deal with the specific problem. But the specific military problem is only a narrow facet of the broader security problem.

Military force can help provide law and order but only to the degree that a basis for law and order already exists in the developing society: a basic willingness on the part of the people to cooperate. The law and order is a shield, behind which the central fact of security—development—can be achieved.

Now we are not playing a semantic game with these words. The trouble is that we have been lost in a semantic jungle for too long. We have come to identify "security" with exclusively military phenomena, and most particularly with military hardware. But it just isn't so. And we need to accommodate to the facts of the matter if we want to see security survive and grow in the southern half of the globe.

Development means economic, social, and political progress. It means a reasonable standard of living, and the word "reasonable" in this context requires continual redefinition. What is "reasonable" in an earlier stage of development will become "unreasonable" in a later stage.

As development progresses, security progresses. And when the people of a nation have organized their own human and natural resources to provide themselves with what they need and expect out of life and have learned to compromise peacefully among competing demands in the larger national interest then their resistance to disorder and violence will be enormously increased.

Conversely, the tragic need of desperate men to resort to force to achieve the inner imperatives of human decency will diminish.

Military and Economic Spheres of U.S. Aid

Now, I have said that the role of the United States is to help provide security to these modernizing nations, providing they need and request our help and are clearly willing and able to help themselves. But what should our help be? Clearly, it should be help toward development. In the military sphere, that involves two broad categories of assistance.

We should help the developing nation with such training and equipment as is necessary to maintain the protective shield behind which development can go forward.

The dimensions of that shield vary from country to country, but what is essential is that it should be a shield and not a capacity for external aggression.

The second, and perhaps less understood category of military assistance in a modernizing nation, is training in civic action. Civic action is another one of those semantic puzzles. Too few Americans and too few officials in developing nations really comprehend what military civic action means. Essentially, it means using indigenous military forces for nontraditional military projects, projects that are useful to the local population in fields such as education, public works, health, sanitation, agriculture—indeed, anything connected with economic or social progress.

It has had some impressive results. In the past 4 years the U.S. assisted civic action program, worldwide, has constructed or repaired more than 10,000 miles of roads, built over 1,000 schools, hundreds of hospitals and clinics, and has provided medical and dental care to approximately 4 million people.

What is important is that all this was done by indigenous men in uniform. Quite apart from the developmental projects themselves, the program powerfully alters the negative image of the military man as the oppressive preserver of the stagnant status quo.

But assistance in the purely military sphere is not enough. Economic assistance is also essential. The President is determined that our aid should be hardheaded and rigorously realistic, that it should deal directly with the roots of underdevelopment and not merely attempt to alleviate the symptoms. His bedrock principle is that U.S. economic aid—no matter what its magnitude—is futile unless the country in question is resolute in making the primary effort itself. That will be the criterion, and that will be the crucial condition for all our future assistance.

Only the developing nations themselves can take the fundamental measures that make outside assistance meaningful. These measures are often unpalatable and frequently call for political courage and decisiveness. But to fail to undertake painful, but essential, reform inevitably leads to far more painful revolutionary violence. Our economic assistance is designed to offer a reasonable alternative to that violence. It is designed to help substitute peaceful progress for tragic internal conflict.

The United States intends to be compassionate and generous in this effort, but it is not an effort it can carry exclusively by itself. And thus it looks to those nations who have reached the point of self-sustaining prosperity to increase their contribution to the development and, thus, to the security of the modernizing world.

Sharing Peacekeeping Responsibilities

And that brings me to the second set of relationships that I underscored at the outset; it is the policy of the United States to encourage and achieve a more effective partnership with those nations who can, and should, share international peacekeeping responsibilities.

America has devoted a higher proportion of its gross national product to its military establishment than any other major free-world nation. This was true even before our increased expenditures in Southeast Asia. We have had, over the last few years, as many men in uniform as all the nations of Western Europe combined, even though they have a population half again greater than our own.

Now, the American people are not going to shirk their obligations in any part of the world, but they clearly cannot be expected to bear a disproportionate share of the common burden indefinitely. If, for example, other nations genuinely believe—as they say they do—that it is in the common interest to deter the expansion of Red China's economic and political control beyond its national boundaries, then they must take a more active role in guarding the defense perimeter. Let me be perfectly clear. This is not to question the policy of neutralism or nonalignment of any particular nation. But it is to emphasize that the independence of such nations can, in the end, be fully safeguarded only by collective agreements among themselves and their neighbors.

The plain truth is the day is coming when no single nation, however powerful, can undertake by itself to keep the peace outside its own borders. Regional and international organizations for peacekeeping purposes are as yet rudimentary, but they must grow in experience and be strengthened by deliberate and practical cooperative action.

In this matter, the example of Canada is a model for nations everywhere. As Prime Minister Pearson pointed out eloquently in New York just last week: Canada "is as deeply involved in the world's affairs as any country of its size. We accept this because we have learned over 50 years that isolation from the policies that determine war does not give us immunity from the bloody, sacrificial consequences of their failure. We learned that in 1914 and again in 1939. . . . That is why we have been proud to send our men to take part in every peacekeeping operation of the United Nations in Korea, and Kashmir, and the Suez, and the Congo, and Cyprus."

The Organization of American States in the Dominican Republic, the more than 30 nations contributing troops or supplies to assist the Government of South Vietnam, indeed even the parallel efforts of the United States and the Soviet Union in the Pakistan-India conflict these efforts, together with those of the U.N., are the first attempts to substitute multinational for unilateral policing of violence. They point to the peacekeeping patterns of the future.

We must not merely applaud the idea. We must dedicate talent, resources, and hard practical thinking to its implementation. In Western Europe, an area whose burgeoning economic vitality stands as a monument to the wisdom of the Marshall Plan, the problems of security are neither static nor wholly new. Fundamental changes are under way, though certain inescapable realities remain. The conventional forces of NATO, for example, still require a nuclear backdrop far beyond the capability of any Western European nation to supply, and the United States is fully committed to provide that major nuclear deterrent.

However, the European members of the alliance have a natural desire to participate more actively in nuclear planning. A central task of the alliance today is, therefore, to work out the relationships and institutions through which shared nuclear planning can be effective. We have made a practical and promising start in the Special Committee of NATO Defense Ministers.

Common planning and consultation are essential aspects of any sensible substitute to the unworkable and dangerous alternative of independent national nuclear forces within the alliance. And even beyond the alliance we must find the means to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. That is a clear imperative.

There are, of course, risks in nonproliferation arrangements, but they cannot be compared with the infinitely greater risks that would arise out of the increase in national nuclear stockpiles. In the calculus of risk, to proliferate independent national nuclear forces is not a mere arithmetical addition of danger. We would not be merely adding up risks. We would be insanely multiplying them.

If we seriously intend to pass on a world to our children that is not threatened by nuclear holocaust, we must come to grips with the problem of proliferation. A reasonable nonproliferation agreement is feasible. For there is no adversary with whom we do not share a common interest in avoiding mutual destruction triggered by an irresponsible nth power. Dealing With Potential Adversaries

That brings me to the third and last set of relationships the United States must deal with: those with nations who might be tempted to take up arms against us.

These relationships call for realism. But realism is not a hardened, inflexible, unimaginative attitude. The realistic mind is a restlessly creative mind, free of naive delusions but full of practical alternatives. There are practical alternatives to our current relationships with both the Soviet Union and Communist China.

A vast ideological chasm separates us from them and to a degree separates them from one another. There is nothing to be gained from our seeking an ideological rapproachment; but breaching the isolation of great nations like Red China, even when that isolation is largely of its own making reduces the danger of potentially catastrophic misunderstandings and increase the incentive on both sides to resolve disputes by reason rather than by force.

There are many ways in which we can build bridges toward nations who would cut themselves off from meaningful contact with us. We can do so with properly balanced trade relations, diplomatic contacts and in some cases even by exchanges of military observers. We have to know when it is we want to place this bridge, what sort of traffic we want to travel over it, an on what mutual foundations the whole structure can be designed.

There are no one cliff bridges. If you are going to span a chasm, you have to rest the structure on both cliffs. Now cliffs, generally speaking, are rather hazardous places. Some people are afraid even to look over the edge. But in a thermonuclear world, we cannot afford any political acrophobia.

President Johnson has put the matter squarely: By building bridges to those who make themselves our adversaries, "we can help gradually to create a community of interest, a community of trust, and a community of effort."

With respect to a "community of effort" let me suggest a concrete proposal for our own present young generation in the United States. It is a committed and dedicated generation. It has proven that in its enormously impressive performance in the Peace Corps overseas and in its willingness to volunteer for a final assault on such poverty and lack of opportunity that still remain in our own country.

As matters stand, our present Selective Service System draws on only a minority of eligible young men. That is an inequity. It seems to me that we could move toward remedying that inequity by asking every young person in the United States to give 2 years of service to his country whether in one of the military services, in the Peace Corps, or in some other volunteer developmental work at home or abroad.

We could encourage other countries to do the same, and we could work out exchange programs much as the Peace Corps is already planning to do.

While this is not an altogether new suggestion, it has been criticized as inappropriate while we are engaged in a shooting war. But I believe precisely the opposite is the case. It is more appropriate now than ever. For it would underscore what our whole purpose is in Vietnam and indeed anywhere in the world where coercion, or injustice, or lack of decent opportunity still holds sway. It would make meaningful the central concept of security a world of decency and development where every man can feel that his personal horizon is rimmed with hope. Mutual interest, mutual trust, mutual effort those are the goals. Can we achieve those goals with the Soviet Union, and with Communist China? Can they achieve them with one another?

The answer to these questions lies in the answer to an even more fundamental question. Who is man? Is he a rational animal? If he is, then the goals can ultimately be achieved. If he is not, then there is little point in making the effort.

All the evidence of history suggests that man is indeed a rational animal but with a near infinite capacity for folly. His history seems largely a halting, but persistent, effort to raise his reason above his animality. He draws blueprints for utopia. But never quite gets it built. In the end he plugs away obstinately with the only building material really ever at hand his own part-comic, part-tragic, part-cussed, but part-glorious nature.

I, for one, would not count a global free society out. Coercion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him.

May 24, 2016

1966. Defense Secretary McNamara on the War on Poverty

McNamara's Project 100,000
"Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara at a news conference at the Pentagon in 1965" (source)

August 23, 1966

Secretary of Defense McNamara today made the second of what might be called his "philosophical lectures on the sad—but not hopeless—state of struggling mankind."

In the first such lecture, made in Montreal this spring, Mr. McNamara warned Americans that true national security lies above and beyond the tremendous military power in US armament and our nuclear arsenals.

In his speech today, the Secretary expanded on this idea—equating the dangers that the poverty-stricken nations pose to world peace, with the cancer of poverty concealed in the midst of America's apparent plenty.

Essentially, he declared, international poverty and domestic poverty—plus all the evils of ignorance, exploitation, hopelessness, and brutality that goes with them—are the same thing.

McNamara tried to emphasize that he was addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in New York—not as a political spokesman for the Johnson administration, which he was—but as the Secretary of Defense, the man responsible for the military protection of the nation.

So, if the New York speech fails to make the impact of the earlier "McNamara lecture," it will be because that all things domestic, no matter how military, are also political in this election year. And President Johnson's controversial "War on Poverty" is a major campaign issue now and will continue to be through 1968.

Nevertheless, Secretary McNamara's basic point—that the very existence of the pockets of poverty which scar the nation makes the United States less secure—this is a valid thesis. One only has to read the headlines about violence in the streets in every major American city for confirmation.

Thirty-two million Americans are now trapped in a substandard way of life, McNamara pointed out, in this richest country in the world. The fact that, since World War II, the governors of our states had to call out combat-equipped National Guard troops no less than fifty-nine times to put down civil disorders, he said, might alter the general conception that ours is a "stable, well-ordered society, dedicated to the rule of law."

So what's to be done about it? Mr. McNamara did not claim to have all the answers, but what he did propose will have a major impact on the American society.

In brief, the Secretary announced that the military services will take in hundreds of thousands of young men who fail to meet the mental and physical fitness standards of the Army, Navy, or Air Force—and, where possible, provide educational and medical rehabilitation for what he called "productive military careers and later for productive roles in society."

The Defense Department's humanitarian enlistee salvage program—or whatever it's called—will start with 40,000 during the next ten months, and be expanded to include 100,000 next year. McNamara said that the training and rehabilitation program can be financed under the present military budget and carried on by the Pentagon's educational facilities which he called "the largest single educational complex that the world has ever possessed."

When news of McNamara's new program reached Capitol Hill today, a lot of Congressional eyebrows popped to new altitude records. But for once, very few of the professional politicians popped off at the mouth. However, Mr. McNamara had better prepare his defense, for just about anything that comes out of the Pentagon seems to fire opposition in this Congress.

Last year, I think it was, McNamara included in the defense budget an educational pilot project called STEP, or Special Training and Enlistment Program. STEP would have taken only 15,000 volunteers and enlistees who failed to pass mental and physical qualifications and put them in a special training camp to see what would be needed to rehabilitate these young men for military service. Congress blue-penciled the project, arguing that the Pentagon had no place in the education business.

Secretary McNamara today pointed out that the US Armed Services have been in the educational business for decades, a Congressional oversight which will not further enhance affections on Capitol Hill.

There are valid questions to be answered about McNamara's executive action projecting the Defense Department into a new field of selective education, no matter how much it may be needed. One of them is: what safeguards will there be that Defense education cannot be turned into political indoctrination?

And there will be plenty of political and military Colonel Blimps who will protest that "all the good fighting man needs only to know is which way the enemy lies. All further education is superfluous and a waste of time and money."

Secretary McNamara has an answer for that one too, but it's unprintable.

This is Bill Downs substituting for Edward P. Morgan saying good night from Washington.

May 23, 2016

1943. News Update from Russia

Little News from Moscow as Spring Approaches
Soviet Red Army women sniper team on the Eastern Front during World War II (source)
The parentheses indicate text that did not pass Soviet censors for military security or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

April 14, 1943

There's no big news here in the Soviet Union tonight. All of us here, from the government leaders in the Kremlin down to the correspondents in the Metropol hotel, are waiting for developments from North Africa.

(With the spring thaws bogging things down on the Russian front—after the Red Army's tremendous winter drive, the feeling here is that it's just about time someone else made history for a change. And it's exceedingly interesting to the Soviet Union that the American, British, and French troops in Tunisia have grabbed the opportunity.)

As I said, the news from Russia right now is pretty dull. Since neither Stalin nor Mr. Molotov nor Marshal Voroshilov rang me up to give me a story, I can't give you any big news. But I can give you some little news.

For example, I took off my long underwear today. My Soviet friends say I am rushing the season. It seems that the day when the entire nation molts its winter underwear is May 1. From the frigid breezes that have whistled around my goose-pimples, I'm beginning to understand why.

Another item of the little news from Russia tonight is that, if you walked down almost any street in Moscow, you could buy the season's first spring flowers. Actually, they're bouquets of pussy-willows tied in a bundle with sprigs of evergreen to set them off.

Everyone's been too busy to work on flower gardens this year, and outside of the dandelions, these pussy-willows will be the only early spring "flowers" around town.

(But the Moscow people are snapping them up. The Russians are long on flowers. It's a little pitiful the way they fight even to buy artificial ones when new batches are available in the stalls.)

The only other item of the little news from Moscow tonight is that the lady policeman who guards the door of the radio station has changed into summer uniform.

I thought that the coming of spring might soften her heart. However, she still makes me show my pass to get in the studio. She's seen me at least a hundred times. I've walked past her so many times she knows the pattern on all three of my neckties by heart.

But every time I try to get past that door, the militia girl makes me dig up that propusk.

(It's beginning to become more clear to me how Russian women join the Red Army and become officers. I think our lady policewoman is brushing up her discipline so she can be a general some day.)

May 19, 2016

1945. Bill Downs Opposes Help to Defeated Axis Countries

The Axis Annihilated in Europe
"Infantrymen of the US First Army in Belgium's Ardennes Forest as they advance to contact German forces at the start of the Battle of the Bulge." Associated Press (source)

Excerpt from the Kansas City Kansan, June 1945:



Both Were Crushed to Whip Germany and Deserve Aid in Rebuilding, C.B.S. Observer Asserts.
Msgr. Luigi Ligutti, Italian-born priest, who yesterday told members of the National Civic League that he believes the Allies should spend another dollar for every war dollar spent in destruction in the conquest of Axis countries, can have his own ideas, but C.B.S. correspondent Bill Downs, Jr., visiting in Kansas City, Kansas, thinks the priest would have a difficult time finding any backing from the Allied forces who fought the war and wrought the destruction.

Those men would be far more inclined to spend that extra dollar in rebuilding Belgium and France that they were forced to tear up in order to destroy the Axis powers, Downs believes.


Downs, who spent eighteen months in Europe, returned to the United States six weeks ago. He has been visiting at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Downs, [address], Kansas City, Kansas, and is to leave today for Washington where he will receive an assignment to the Pacific theater.

"I really want to get in on that big invasion of the Japanese mainland," he says.

It isn't that Downs really likes beachheads, although he says the one he took part in was a comparatively easy one. He landed with the British 50th Infantry Division in Normandy on D-Day. He served with British and Canadian forces on the northern sector, and in the Ardennes bulge was with the United States First Army headquarters.

Our forces found out how little they were prepared so far as winter equipment was concerned in the Battle of the Bulge, Downs said.


"It was bitter cold, and we weren't equipped with warm enough clothes or with proper camouflage," he said. "Consequently there was a rush for anything that would do for camouflage and substitute for warm clothing. The greatest casualties of the whole thing were the numbers of frozen feet."

Because evacuation of casualties from the mountainous regions in the Ardennes bulge was a difficult and slow procedure and necessitated the use of too many men, husky dog teams were flown from Alaska to the scene. The idea was a good one and would doubtless have eased the situation considerably had the weather not taken a hand.

"No sooner had the dogs and their sleds reached the bulge area than a thaw set in and their value never was proved," Downs said.

Evacuation of casualties really was a problem, according to Downs. At times it took as many as four men to remove one wounded man from the area. To facilitate matters they would put skis under litters.

"In my estimation, Germany is through waging war for a long time," Downs said. "Even if they were left alone to do what they wanted, it would take them at least twenty-five years to organize even a single industry on any scale. There just isn't anything left, at least not in the northern section."

May 6, 2016

1956. The Democratic and Republican Party Platforms Compared

The 1956 Issues
"Adlai E. Stevenson and President Dwight Eisenhower shake hands at the White House in Washington, Feb. 17, 1953, when Stevenson lunched with Eisenhower and a group of congressmen. A few months before, Eisenhower had defeated Stevenson in the presidential election" (source)
Below is a summary of the Democratic and Republican party platforms from WATCH: The Television Guide to the 1956 Conventions, the Campaign and the Election, Columbia Broadcasting System (New York, 1956), pp. 66-76. See also the 1940 party platforms compared.

The 1956 Issues
Foreign observers often profess to be puzzled by American politics. They say they can't see any difference between the two parties. If that were true, there would be no campaign issues. But, as you'll see, the next 10 pages of WATCH contain as lively a political argument as you'll come across this year. It's a debate between the Republican and Democratic National Committees, who don't seem to have any doubt that issues of vital importance are at stake in this 1956 election. The eight issues of greatest importance were picked by mutual agreement, and then the two parties went to work to give you, as precisely as they could, their respective positions on each. No matter how strong your own opinion already is, you'll find fresh ammunition here.

Foreign Policy

REPUBLICANS: The Administration's leadership in bringing West Germany into NATO, the developing co-operation under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the mutual defense treaties with Free China and South Korea, and the support of the Baghdad Pact exemplify our aim of building collective security through mutual agreements to take joint action against aggression and to supplement each other's economic and military strength. In Asia: We favor help to nations struggling against the threat of Communist subversion. In Europe: We wish to see increased not only the military strength of NATO, but also its unity of purpose and political cohesion. In the Near East: We will work tirelessly for a just solution of the dispute between the Arab States and Israel. The sum of our international effort is: the waging of peace, with all the resourcefulness, dedication and urgency we have mustered in time of war.

DEMOCRATS: In four years of the Eisenhower-Dulles foreign policy, the U.S. has suffered important losses and communism has made important gains in every part of the world. Indochina fell to the Reds; pro-Western governments in Indonesia and Ceylon have been replaced by pro-Communist governments; the NATO alliance, our first line of military defense in Europe, has been weakened; the Communists have penetrated the Middle East, and nation after nation has resumed friendly contact with Moscow. Our foreign policy has continually offended our Allies and has not kept up with the new tactics of aggression pursued by Soviet Russia. We have suffered badly from a lack of firm leadership; a tendency to bluff our way through world affairs; a dangerous complacency and false optimism; and an abandonment of the bipartisan policy of past Democratic administrations.

Natural Resources

REPUBLICANS: We adhere to three fundamentals: (1) to develop, wisely use, and conserve mineral, fuel, land, forest and water resources from generation to generation; (2) to develop these resources primarily by private citizens under fair provisions of law including proper restraints for conservation; (3) to treat resource development as a partnership in which the participation of private citizens and state and local governments is as necessary as is Federal participation. Where local enterprise can shoulder the burden, it should be encouraged. And where local action cannot or should not fully meet the need, we should have Federal support. In this way our people can reserve themselves as many of the basic decisions affecting their lives as possible.

DEMOCRATS: The Eisenhower power policy is called "partnership" by the GOP. But the "local" partner is almost invariably one of the absentee-controlled power companies of America, with rural electric co-operatives and municipalities left out in the cold. For example, at Hells Canyon on Snake River, a "local" partner, the Idaho Power Company of Augusta, Maine, has been issued an FPC license to construct three dams which would mean only half the power, generated at three times the cost. TVA, characterized as "creeping socialism" by Eisenhower, has been under consistent Republican attack since 1953, as witness the illegal Dixon-Yates deal. Perhaps the best example of the Administration's attitude toward natural resources was the nomination of one of conservation's worst enemies, Wesley D'Ewart, as Assistant Secretary of the Interior in charge of the nation's public lands.

Farm Problem

REPUBLICANS: The Republican Party has accepted the challenge of developing a farm program that will help American agriculture adjust to the conditions of peace. The Administration's new farm law will attack the surpluses which overhang the market and depress prices. It is making $750,000,000 available to farmers agreeing to withdraw land from crop production. An additional $450,000,000 is earmarked for diverting land to soil-conserving uses on a longer-term basis. Another provision authorizes an annual appropriation up to $500,000,000 to supplement price-support operations for certain perishable commodities, and the previous limitation on the value of surplus commodities that may be distributed abroad under various assistance programs has been raised from $300,000,000 to $500,000,000. The result: Since the beginning of the year farm prices have responded and are now (June) up 9 per cent.

DEMOCRATS: Since the Eisenhower Administration took over the farm program, farm prices have fallen 22 per cent. Sliding-scale price supports have failed. Production actually increased, adding substantially to the so-called surpluses. The farmers' share of each consumer's dollar dropped from 47 cents in 1952 to 38 cents, the lowest point since 1941. Besides deliberately reducing farm price supports, when the prices of things farmers have to buy have stayed up or increased, the Administration has failed to step in quickly with help in emergencies. The GOP Administration also has hobbled the soil-conservation program, failed to develop low-cost electric power and made it much harder for farmers to get crop insurance.

Civil Rights

REPUBLICANS: The Republican Party has supported action to eliminate segregation in public schools. We fully concur in the decision of the Supreme Court and will work for and support its mandate. We have virtually eliminated discrimination and segregation in executive-branch operations throughout the nation. We have fully enforced Federal civil rights statutes. We have asked Congress to create a bipartisan civil rights commission with full authority to hold public hearings, to subpoena witnesses and to take testimony under oath. We have asked for the establishment of a civil rights division in the Justice Department. And we have asked Congress to give the Justice Department direct authority, subject to the Constitution, to bring civil rights actions against attempts to deprive citizens of the right to vote throughout the U.S.

DEMOCRATS: There have been loud partisan GOP claims that all advances in civil rights have been achieved since the Eisenhower Administration took office. Vice-President Nixon has falsely claimed, among other things, that this Administration brought about integration in the armed services. But an examination of the Eisenhower record on civil rights reveals that until this election year Eisenhower did not ask Congress to enact a single piece of civil rights legislation. Why didn't he support the Democratic program introduced last year on which hearings had already been held? Republican claims to the progress made under President Truman in civil rights do not take the place of a program.

National Economy

REPUBLICANS: Under the Republican Administration the American enterprise system has achieved unprecedented prosperity. This prosperity has been and will continue to be fostered by these Republican policies: removal of direct controls on prices and wages; assistance to small businesses to encourage competition; curtailment of governmental business that can be handled by tax-paying enterprises; restriction of public expenditures, while adding to the country's defensive strength and its public assets; lowering taxes when the fiscal situation permits; expansion of international trade; shielding the people against unemployment, old age, illness, and eliminating blighted neighborhoods, without impairing self-reliance; reinforcement of the workings of our fiscal system that offset income changes due to changes in economic activity; a forthright attack on fundamental weaknesses in the farm situation; and prompt action when either recessionary of inflationary influences are evident.

DEMOCRATS: In the first three years of the Eisenhower Administration, the increases in factory employment, industrial production, personal income and weekly factory earnings have been less than half what they were in the last three years of the Truman Administration. The average citizen is deeper in debt, has more bills and less savings than he had at the end of 1952. As a result of Republican favoritism, corporation profits have increased 34 per cent since 1952, while farm and small-business incomes have dropped sharply and the average person's take-home pay has increased only 8 per cent. It's the old Republican theory that if big business does well, the benefits will sooner or later trickle down to the rest of the people.


REPUBLICANS: The Republican Party favors improvements in the Labor-Management Relations (Taft-Hartley) Act, and will continue to make every effort to improve the wage-hour law. We have initiated legislation to assure adequate disclosure of financial affairs of each employee pension and welfare plan and to authorize the provision of Federal grants to states for industrial safety programs. In February, 1955, the American Federation of Labor published a statement that "wage increases in 1954 provided more of a gain in real wages than in any other postwar year." The record of labor peace and unparalleled prosperity during the past three years under the Republicans demonstrates our industrial maturity.

DEMOCRATS: The open hostility of the Administration to labor is symptomatic of its failure to serve the people in contrast to the privileged treatment of big business. A comparison between the corresponding periods in the Eisenhower and Truman Administration reveals that under the Truman Administration the wage earner received 50 per cent higher increases, plus invaluable fringe benefits—which means that under the Eisenhower Administration the worker has suffered a loss of more than $500 a year. In addition, the President has broken his pledge to bring about the 19-point amendment to the Taft-Hartley law, including eliminating the "union busting" provisions. The Administration has failed to fight unemployment, and it has opposed any improvement of social security.

Security Program

REPUBLICANS: The Republican Party believes that an effective defense requires continuance of our aggressive attack on subversion at home. FBI investigations have been reinforced by a new Internal Security Division in the Department of Justice. The security activities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service have been revitalized. The Department of Justice and the FBI have been armed with new legal weapons forged by the Republican 83rd Congress. Believing that employment in the Government is a privilege, not a right, we have established and will continue a security program which guarantees that all employees are loyal and trustworthy. While we guard against the threat of subversion, we are determined to protect the rights of every American citizen.

DEMOCRATS: The Eisenhower Administration has badly mismanaged the national security program, while failing to find a single Communist on the government payroll. The chairman of the Civil Service Commission has admitted that over 90 per cent of those people fired as "security risks" were not, in fact, fired under the security program. It has been estimated that up to 75 per cent of them actually were hired by the Eisenhower Administration itself, and many of them were later rehired by other agencies. In addition, the Republican security system has damaged the vital partnership between Government and private scientists. Contrary to the false charges of the Republicans, the Truman loyalty program rooted out bona-fide subversives and still protected the rights of loyal Government workers. The Eisenhower security program has done neither.

National Defense

REPUBLICANS: Under the Republican Administration the combat readiness of our forces has been improved by developing new weapons and by employing the latest scientific developments. We shall continue to push the production of the most modern military aircraft and the development of long-range missiles. We will keep moving as rapidly as practicable toward nuclear-powered aircraft and ships. Combat capability and mobility have been substantially increased. To strengthen our continental defenses the United States and Canada, in the closest co-operation, have substantially augmented early-warning radar networks. The Republican Party's defense policy emphasizes an effective, flexible type of power calculated to deter or repulse any aggression, retaliate against it and to preserve the peace.

DEMOCRATS: The Republican defense program has been developed not with just one eye on the budget, and the voters back home, but with both eyes there. One of the first acts of the new Administration in 1953 was to cut the Air Force budget by $5 billion. A Senate committee explored this question with Secretary of Defense Wilson and brought out the fact that it was the money men in the Treasury and Defense Departments who devised the cuts, not the military men. Now, three years later, we find that Russia has almost overtaken us in air strength and that some time between 1958 and 1960 the U.S. will have the world's second-best air force. We don't think the American people want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish on a matter of this vital importance.