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  • "There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university," wrote John Masefield,

  • in his tribute to English universities--and his words are equally true today. He did not

  • refer to spires and towers, to campus greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty

  • of the university, he said, because it was "a place where those who hate ignorance may

  • strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see."

  • I have, therefore, chosen this time and this place to discuss a topic on which ignorance

  • too often abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived--yet it is the most important topic

  • on earth: world peace.

  • What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced

  • on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of

  • the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth

  • worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a

  • better life for their children--not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women--not merely peace in our time but peace for all

  • time.

  • I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when

  • great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to

  • surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single

  • nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all of the allied

  • air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons

  • produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the

  • far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

  • Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose

  • of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely

  • the acquisition of such idle stockpiles--which can only destroy and never create--is not

  • the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

  • I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that

  • the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war--and frequently the words

  • of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

  • Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament-and

  • that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened

  • attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we

  • must reexamine our own attitude--as individuals and as a Nation--for our attitude is as essential

  • as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war

  • and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward--by examining his own attitude

  • toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the

  • cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.

  • First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible.

  • Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion

  • that war is inevitable--that mankind is doomed--that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

  • We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade--therefore, they can be solved

  • by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human

  • beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable--and we believe

  • they can do it again.

  • I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of

  • which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams

  • but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

  • Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace--based not on a sudden

  • revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions--on a series

  • of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned.

  • There is no single, simple key to this peace--no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one

  • or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It

  • must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For

  • peace is a process--a way of solving problems.

  • With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within

  • families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love

  • his neighbor--it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their

  • disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between

  • nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes

  • may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations

  • between nations and neighbors.

  • So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining

  • our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all

  • peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.

  • Second: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think

  • that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging

  • to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after

  • page, wholly baseless and incredible claims--such as the allegation that "American imperialist

  • circles are preparing to unleash different types of wars ... that there is a very real

  • threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet

  • Union ... [and that] the political aims of the American imperialists are to enslave economically

  • and politically the European and other capitalist countries... [and] to achieve world domination

  • ... by means of aggressive wars."

  • Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Yet it is sad

  • to read these Soviet statements--to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it

  • is also a warning--a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the

  • Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict

  • as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an

  • exchange of threats.

  • No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking

  • in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal

  • freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements--in

  • science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture and in acts of courage.

  • Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger

  • than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique, among the major world powers, we have

  • never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered

  • more than the Soviet Union suffered in the course of the Second World War. At least 20

  • million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and farms were burned or sacked.

  • A third of the nation's territory, including nearly two thirds of its industrial base,

  • was turned into a wasteland--a loss equivalent to the devastation of this country east of

  • Chicago.

  • Today, should total war ever break out again--no matter how--our two countries would become

  • the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the

  • two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would

  • be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and

  • dangers to so many countries, including this Nation's closest allies--our two countries

  • bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons

  • that could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both

  • caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle in which suspicion on one side breeds suspicion

  • on the other, and new weapons beget counter-weapons.

  • In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have

  • a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements

  • to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours--and even the most hostile

  • nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty

  • obligations, which are in their own interest.

  • So, let us not be blind to our differences-but let us also direct attention to our common

  • interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot

  • end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in

  • the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.

  • We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

  • Third: Let us reexamine our attitude toward the cold war, remembering that we are not

  • engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame

  • or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it

  • might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different.

  • We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes

  • within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us.

  • We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists' interest

  • to agree on a genuine peace. Above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear

  • powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a

  • humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would

  • be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy-or of a collective death-wish for the

  • world.

  • To secure these ends, America's weapons are nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed

  • to deter, and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and

  • disciplined in self-restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants

  • and purely rhetorical hostility.

  • For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we

  • do not need to use threats to prove that we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign

  • broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any

  • unwilling people--but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any

  • people on earth.

  • Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems,

  • to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world

  • security system--a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring

  • the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can

  • finally be abolished.

  • At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations,

  • all of them our friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western unity, which invite

  • Communist intervention or which threaten to erupt into war. Our efforts in West New Guinea,

  • in the Congo, in the Middle East, and in the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent

  • and patient despite criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an example for others--by

  • seeking to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in Mexico and

  • in Canada.

  • Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear. We are bound to many nations

  • by alliances. Those alliances exist because our concern and theirs substantially overlap.

  • Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, stands undiminished

  • because of the identity of our vital interests. The United States will make no deal with the

  • Soviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples, not merely because they

  • are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge.

  • Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom, but

  • in pursuing the paths of peace. It is our hope--and the purpose of allied policies--to

  • convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each nation choose its own future, so

  • long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist drive

  • to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension

  • today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering

  • in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.

  • This will require a new effort to achieve world law--a new context for world discussions.

  • It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding

  • will require increased contact and communication. One