War could be attributed to munitions makers or international
bankers. Peace conferences failed because we were duped by the
British or tricked by the French or deceived by the Russians.
It was not the presence of Soviet troops in Eastern Europe that
drove it to communism, it was the sell-out at Yalta. It was not a
civil war that removed China from the free world, it was treason in
high places. At times these fanatics have achieved a temporary
success among those who lack the will or the vision to face
unpleasant tasks or unsolved problems.
But in time the basic good sense and stability of the great American
consensus has always prevailed.
Now we are face to face once again with a period of heightened
peril. The risks are great, the burdens heavy, the problems
incapable of swift or lasting solution. And under the strains and
frustrations imposed by constant tension and harassment, the
discordant voices of extremism are heard once again in the land. Men
who are unwilling to face up to the danger from without are
convinced that the real danger comes from within.
They look suspiciously at their neighbours and their leaders. They
call for a 'man on horseback' because they do not trust the people.
They find treason in our finest churches, in our highest court, and
even in the treatment of our water. They equate the Democratic Party
with the welfare state, the welfare state with socialism, and
socialism with communism. They object quite rightly to politics'
intruding on the military - but they are anxious for the military to
engage in politics.
But you and I and most Americans take a different view of our peril.
We know that it comes from without, not within. It must be met by
quiet preparedness, not provocative speeches.
And the steps taken this year to bolster our defences - to increase
our missile forces, to put more planes on alert, to provide more
airlift and sealift and ready divisions - to make more certain than
ever before that this nation has all the power it will need to deter
any attack of any kind - those steps constitute the most effective
answer that can be made to those who would sow the seeds of doubt
So let us not heed these counsels of fear and suspicion. Let us
concentrate more on keeping enemy bombers and missiles away from our
shores, and concentrate less on keeping neighbours away from our
shelters. Let us devote more energy to organize the free and
friendly nations of the world, with common trade and strategic
goals, and devote less energy to organizing armed bands of civilian
guerrillas that are more likely to supply local vigilantes than
Let our patriotism be reflected in the creation of
confidence rather than crusades of suspicion. Let us
prove we think our country great by striving to make it
greater. And, above all, let us remember that, however
serious the outlook, the one great irreversible trend in
world history is on the side of liberty - and so, for
all time to come, are we.