JULY 23, 1957
HYDE PARK—In this column I want to consider just what really constitutes the safest kind of defense for the United States, with the conditions that exist in the world today.
We want to avoid nuclear war, if possible—but we know we must be prepared for one and must remain stronger in that field than any other country in the world. To do this we must have a small professional army; it must be mobile, and it must be highly trained because it will handle and continue to handle the most modern kind of nuclear weapons.
If we can come to an agreement to stop the tests of nuclear bombs, it will benefit all of us. But that agreement will not mean that we shall discontinue our development of the use of nuclear power in other ways and in other types of weapons, so a small, highly trained, career army is essential.
We are living in a world where a police force is, I think, an essential. Therefore, we should bend all our influence in the United Nations to get a permanent U.N. police force established. Meanwhile, however, we must still be able to fight a conventional war with conventional weapons, when and if necessary—for the Soviet policy will probably try to bring about small wars, to create embarrassment for the West.
To maintain our defensive strength, we need first of all to stop wasting our human material. We should ask our doctors to devise methods to give all of our children the best possible medical care, from pre-natal days on, so that both boys and girls are able to give service to their country when they reach the age when this service is called for.
Secondly, we should see to it that all of our young people, regardless of economic situations in individual families, should get the best possible education, and where they show ability this should extend through higher education.
These are two essentials to a really satisfactory security for the United States. When these steps have been taken, we shall have a much larger group of healthy and intelligent young people to call upon. All of them, boys and girls alike, should be required to give a short period for intensive training—the boys in military service, the girls in whatever is deemed most essential to the needs of the community in time of emergency.
A training period of, say, four to six months would not interfere with their education or their plans for the development of their lives. It would ensure for the country a large prepared group of citizens at all times, since both boys and girls should be required, during a period of probably ten years, to return every year for two weeks of refresher training. Of course, business and industry employing these young people would be required to give them four weeks vacation with pay, allowing them to do their service and still have two weeks of paid vacation.
In the long run this plan would cost us less than the present haphazard one with a draft system which gives no such security. It would give us the greatest security that any nation can have.