SEPTEMBER 30, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—President Truman, addressing the cadets at West Point yesterday, spoke about peace and said not only that our objective in this country was to obtain permanent peace, but that he thought we could attain our objective.
Some people might wonder that he chose West Point to make an address of this kind. Here were boys being trained for the business of war, so why talk to them of peace? Yet it is highly significant, I think, that he felt they were the ones who should understand that in the future their job might not be to prepare for war, but to keep their nation at peace.
These boys may be called upon to keep the peace of the world under the United Nations. They will certainly form a nucleus of a well-disciplined group among the civilians of our nation, and they will serve as a constant reminder that each individual can either bring about war by his selfish actions or he can work for peace by taking an interest in the world as a whole.
I have been surprised and somewhat shocked to find how casually certain groups of people seem to take it for granted that another war is inevitable. These people, of course, must also take it for granted that the use of the atom bomb as a means of destruction will be outlawed.
But it cannot be outlawed unless we set up strength enough under the United Nations to keep peace in the world. As long as it is not outlawed, and as long as all other methods of waging war against one's neighbors are not kept under joint control, to be used only against an aggressor, none of us will ever be really secure. We can, of course, live from day to day, resolutely putting out of our minds the disagreeable facts which any intelligent person faces and accepts today. If we choose not to face the facts of a new scientific and physical world, we can drift to our own destruction; but we will do it because of stupidity and lack of courage.
No one of the big powers and certainly none of the small powers is going to be really secure until collective force is an actual reality. When we once accept the fact that recourse to war is self-destruction, we will also accept the fact that all problems must be negotiated and that solutions must be found. If the majority makes a decision, the minority will have to abide by the decision which has been reached. The appeal to force by a minority group must be recognized as completely futile.
Keeping peace in the world is going to require great intelligence, because it is going to mean a real understanding of world economy and of the use of economic weapons to make peace so worthwhile that there will be no temptation to go to war. Many people say that all of this is useless unless human nature undergoes a radical change. That may be quite true, but becoming a better human being is an individual achievement and one which even governments can do little about! You and I will have to do that job, and probably we will have to keep on doing it day in and day out all of our lives.