AUGUST 22, 1957
HYDE PARK—The President's efforts to have restored in the Senate some of the House cuts in the foreign aid bill are, I hope, going to be at least partially successful.
Even one of the New York Congressmen who has always advocated strict economy, Representative John Taber, is willing to increase military aid. From my point of view, military assistance is false economy, but it shows that even Mr. Taber realizes that the cuts have been too drastic.
Being old-fashioned, he still believes that our best defense against communism is trying to build up allies with military strength. He does not seem to realize that we probably never will equal the Russians in what we give our allies in a military way. But we might make the people of many countries more willing to fight for their country if we give them economic aid to improve their living conditions.
It is uneconomical to add to military aid, but it would be economical—and, in the end, profitable—to raise the standards of living in many countries of the world.
As soon as you give people the wherewithall to buy some of the comforts of life, they become your customers. A great productive nation like the United States needs more customers. So, in the long run, through economic aid we improve our own economy.
Whatever is given in a military way is nonproductive, and I believe it would pay us to let all the nations of the world purchase their own weapons and confine ourselves to building up the well-being of the peoples in areas of the world that might well become our best markets.
It has been of great interest to me to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lash, who returned home Monday from several weeks in Europe and Israel.
Mr. Lash has been writing some interesting articles on Israel, Yugoslavia and Poland in the New York Post. But talking to people brings out so many little things that give added color to their stories.
For instance, in Yugoslavia Mrs. Lash's daughter met a young man—a student—who invited the whole family to his home for a day. Mrs. Lash and her daughter tried on native costumes. They explained to me hose with rich embroidery and much gold thread cost at least $250 and that they are heirlooms in a family, handed down from mother to daughter.
The women in the area around Dubrovnic are very handsome, tall and slim, but their waists are emphasized by a very stiff belt worn under the costume.
I remember driving through a country village in this area just at sunset and seeing these beautifully dressed women out for an evening parade, which on a holiday is the favorite form of recreation. Many of the men sat on their heels at the edge of the road or sidewalk, watching the women go by.
In talking to Mr. and Mrs. Lash, the thing that struck me was that they emphasized the drabness of life for the people as a whole, and both seemed to feel that communism, with its emphasis on conformity, created an atmosphere which was rather dull and unexciting, particularly among intellectuals. The free exchange of ideas seemed to be practically impossible.