NOVEMBER 14, 1949
HYDE PARK, Sunday—On Armistice Day last Friday, as I sat in Committee Three and heard representatives of several countries still saying none too kind things to each other, I could not help wondering whether Armistice Day meant a great deal to any of us. It is a day that should give us many sobering thoughts. As we pay tribute to the men who gave up their lives in the first World War, we should rededicate ourselves to the ideals of peace. True, our committee delegate from the Ukraine said he recognized that the people of the United States did not want war any more than did the people of any other country. He proceeded, however, to say that our government did want war, that there were elements of our press inciting to war and that groups of industrialists who had made large sums of money out of the last war were working feverishly to bring about the next one.
I hope I am right in believing that not even the greediest of men in this country really want war. There are a few, I think, who have become so frightened by Russia's power that they believe war is inevitable. But I think these are few in number, and even they believe that Russia will be the aggressor. The Ukrainian delegate on Friday cited the fact that we had encircled Russia with military bases—and for what reason, he suggested, except to attack her. Our budget for war and our production of war materials constantly go up, he claimed. Yet the USSR delegates do not seem to realize that they themselves have caused some of our people to be fearful that their intentions are not really peaceful.
It is true, of course, that our government—particularly the defense branch—must give some thought to the possibilities of attack upon this country, devising and carrying out plans which they believe necessary for our defense in case of attack. Naturally, defensive military bases, if war should come, would also be good for waging war. Yet I doubt whether the people of this nation could be persuaded to think of aggressive action.
That is the great safeguard of a democratic form of government. Even should the most powerful elements want to go to war, they would still have to persuade the people that it was essential to do so, for the people in a democracy rule their government. This is not so in a totalitarian country, of course, and that is probably why the Soviet representatives are so afraid of aggressive action on our part. They cannot conceive of a government which is really controlled by its people.
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News of a recent Supreme Court ruling has pleased me more than anything I have read in a long time, since it seemed a step forward in the field of conservation. The ruling, by upholding the power of the State of Washington to compel persons engaged in commercial logging operations to reforest cut-over areas, reaffirmed the concept that man is the trustee of the land for the general welfare.
Announcement of this decision was made by Fairfield Osborn at the annual meeting of the Soil Conservation Society of America, and strangely enough on the very same day I received from him the report of the Conservation Foundation, published July 1, 1949. This corporation was formed to "promote conservation of the earth's life-supporting resources, animal life, forests and other plant life, water resources and productive soil," and its report should be read by every American citizen, for it deals with subjects of vital importance to our ultimate survival.