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Dwight Eisenhower, "State of the Union, 1958"
It is again my high privilege to extend personal greetings
to the members of the 85th Congress.
All of us realize that, as this new session begins, many
Americans are troubled about recent world developments which they
believe may threaten our nation's safety. Honest men differ in
their appraisal of America's material and intellectual strength,
and the dangers that confront us. But all know these dangers are
The purpose of this message is to outline the measures
that can give the American people a confidence--just as real--in
their own security.
I am not here to justify the past, gloss over the problems
of the present, or propose easy solutions for the future.
I am here to state what I believe to be right and what I
believe to be wrong; and to propose action for correcting what I
There are two tasks confronting us that so far outweigh
all others that I shall devote this year's message entirely to
The first is to ensure our safety through strength. As to our strength, I have
repeatedly voiced this
conviction: We now have a broadly based and efficient defensive
strength, including a great deterrent power, which is, for the
present, our main guarantee against war; but, unless we act
wisely and promptly, we could lose that capacity to deter attack
or defend ourselves.
My profoundest conviction is that the American people will
say, as one man: No matter what the exertions or sacrifices, we
shall maintain that necessary strength!
But we could make no more tragic mistake than merely to
concentrate on military strength.
For if we did only this, the future would hold nothing for
the world but an Age of Terror.
And so our second task is to do the constructive work of
building a genuine peace. We must never become so preoccupied
with our desire for military strength that we neglect those areas
of economic development, trade, diplomacy, education, ideas and
principles where the foundations of real peace must be laid.
The threat to our safety, and to the hope of a peaceful
world, can be simply stated. It is communist imperialism.
This threat is not something imagined by critics of the
Soviets. Soviet spokesmen, from the beginning, have publicly and
frequently declared their aim to expand their power, one way or
another, throughout the world.
The threat has become increasingly serious as this
expansionist aim has been reinforced by an advancing industrial,
military and scientific establishment.
But what makes the Soviet threat unique in history is its
all-inclusiveness. Every human activity is pressed into service
as a weapon of expansion. Trade, economic development, military
power, arts, science, education, the whole world of ideas--all
are harnessed to this same chariot of expansion.
The Soviets are, in short, waging total cold war.
The only answer to a regime that wages total cold war is
to wage total peace.
This means bringing to bear every asset of our personal
and national lives upon the task of building the conditions in
which security and peace can grow.
Among our assets, let us first briefly glance at our
Military power serves the cause of security by making
prohibitive the cost of any aggressive attack.
It serves the cause of peace by holding up a shield behind
which the patient constructive work of peace can go on.
But it can serve neither cause if we make either of two
mistakes. The one would be to overestimate our strength, and thus
neglect crucially important actions in the period just ahead. The
other would be to underestimate our strength. Thereby we might be
tempted to become irresolute in our foreign relations, to
dishearten our friends, and to lose our national poise and
perspective in approaching the complex problems ahead.
Any orderly balance-sheet of military strength must be in
The first is the position as of today. The second is the
position in the period ahead.
As of today: our defensive shield comprehends a vast
complex of ground, sea, and air units, superbly equipped and
strategically deployed around the world. The most powerful
deterrent to war in the world today lies in the retaliatory power
of our Strategic Air Command and the aircraft of our Navy. They
present to any potential attacker who would unleash war upon the
world the prospect of virtual annihilation of his own country.
Even if we assume a surprise attack on our bases, with a
marked reduction in our striking power, our bombers would
immediately be on their way in sufficient strength to accomplish
this mission of retaliation. Every informed government knows
this. It is no secret.
Since the Korean Armistice, the American people have spent
$225 billion in maintaining and strengthening this overall
This is the position as of today.
Now as to the period ahead: Every part of our military
establishment must and will be equipped to do its defensive job
with the most modern weapons and methods. But it is particularly
important to our planning that we make a candid estimate of the
effect of long-range ballistic missiles on the present deterrent
power I have described.
At this moment, the consensus of opinion is that we are
probably somewhat behind the Soviets in some areas of long-range
ballistic missile development. But it is my conviction, based on
close study of all relevant intelligence, that if we make the
necessary effort, we will have the missiles, in the needed
quantity and in time, to sustain and strengthen the deterrent
power of our increasingly efficient bombers. One encouraging fact
evidencing this ability is the rate of progress we have achieved
since we began to concentrate on these missiles.
The intermediate ballistic missiles, Thor and Jupiter,
have already been ordered into production. The parallel progress
in the intercontinental ballistic missile effort will be advanced
by our plans for acceleration. The development of the
submarine-based Polaris missile system has progressed so well
that its future procurement schedules are being moved forward
When it is remembered that our country has concentrated on
the development of ballistic missiles for only about a third as
long as the Soviets, these achievements show a rate of progress
that speaks for itself. Only a brief time back, we were spending
at the rate of only about one million dollars a year on long
range ballistic missiles. In 1957 we spent more than one billion
dollars on the Atlas, Titan, Thor, Jupiter, and Polaris programs
But I repeat, gratifying though this rate of progress is,
we must still do more!
Our real problem, then, is not our strength today; it is
rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength
What I have just said applies to our strength as a single
country. But we are not alone. I have returned from the recent
NATO meeting with renewed conviction that, because we are a part
of a world-wide community of free and peaceful nations, our own
security is immeasurably increased.
By contrast, the Soviet Union has surrounded itself with
captive and sullen nations. Like a crack in the crust of an
uneasily sleeping volcano, the Hungarian uprising revealed the
depth and intensity of the patriotic longing for liberty that
still burns within these countries.
The world thinks of us as a country which is strong, but
which will never start a war. The world also thinks of us as a
land which has never enslaved anyone and which is animated by
humane ideals. This friendship, based on common ideals, is one of
our greatest sources of strength.
It cements into a cohesive security arrangement the
aggregate of the spiritual, military and economic strength of all
those nations which, with us, are allied by treaties and
Up to this point, I have talked solely about our military
strength to deter a possible future war.
I now want to talk about the strength we need to win a
different kind of war--one that has already been launched against
It is the massive economic offensive that has been mounted
by the communist imperialists against free nations.
The communist imperialist regimes have for some time been
largely frustrated in their attempts at expansion based directly
on force. As a result, they have begun to concentrate heavily on
economic penetration, particularly of newly-developing countries,
as a preliminary to political domination.
This non-military drive, if underestimated, could defeat
the free world regardless of our military strength. This danger
is all the greater precisely because many of us fail or refuse to
recognize it. Thus, some people may be tempted to finance our
extra military effort by cutting economic assistance. But at the
very time when the economic threat is assuming menacing
proportions, to fail to strengthen our own effort would be
nothing less than reckless folly!
Admittedly, most of us did not anticipate the
psychological impact upon the world of the launching of the first
earth satellite. Let us not make the same kind of mistake in
another field, by failing to anticipate the much more serious
impact of the Soviet economic offensive.
As with our military potential, our economic assets are
more than equal to the task. Our independent farmers produce an
abundance of food and fibre. Our free workers are versatile,
intelligent, and hardworking. Our businessmen are imaginative and
resourceful. The productivity, the adaptability of the American
economy is the solid foundation-stone of our security structure.
We have just concluded another prosperous year. Our output
was once more the greatest in the nation's history. In the latter
part of the year, some decline in employment and output occurred,
following the exceptionally rapid expansion of recent years. In a
free economy, reflecting as it does the independent judgments of
millions of people, growth typically moves forward unevenly. But
the basic forces of growth remain unimpaired. There are solid
grounds for confidence that economic growth will be resumed
without an extended interruption. Moreover, the Federal
government, constantly alert to signs of weakening in any part of
our economy, always stands ready, with its full power, to take
any appropriate further action to promote renewed business
If our history teaches us anything, it is this lesson: so
far as the economic potential of our nation is concerned, the
believers in the future of America have always been the realists.
I count myself as one of this company.
Our long-range problem, then, is not the stamina of our
enormous engine of production. Our problem is to make sure that
we use these vast economic forces confidently and creatively, not
only in direct military defense efforts, but likewise in our
foreign policy, through such activities as mutual economic aid
and foreign trade.
In much the same way, we have tremendous potential
resources on other non-military fronts to help in countering the
Soviet threat: education, science, research, and, not least, the
ideas and principles by which we live. And in all these cases the
task ahead is to bring these resources more sharply to bear upon
the new tasks of security and peace in a swiftly-changing world.
There are many items in the Administration's program, of a
kind frequently included in a State of the Union Message, with
which I am not dealing today. They are important to us and to our
prosperity. But I am reserving them for treatment in separate
communications because of my purpose today of speaking only about
matters bearing directly upon our security and peace.
I now place before you an outline of action designed to
focus our resources upon the two tasks of security and peace.
In this special category I list eight items requiring
action. They are not merely desirable. They are imperative.
1. DEFENSE REORGANIZATION
The first need is to assure ourselves that military
organization facilitates rather than hinders the functioning of
the military establishment in maintaining the security of the
Since World War II, the purpose of achieving maximum
organizational efficiency in a modern defense establishment has
several times occasioned action by the Congress and by the
The advent of revolutionary new devices, bringing with
them the problem of overall continental defense, creates new
difficulties, reminiscent of those attending the advent of the
airplane half a century ago.
Some of the important new weapons which technology has
produced do not fit into any existing service pattern. They cut
across all services, involve all services, and transcend all
services, at every stage from development to operation. In some
instances they defy classification according to branch of
Unfortunately, the uncertainties resulting from such a
situation, and the jurisdictional disputes attending upon it,
tend to bewilder and confuse the public and create the impression
that service differences are damaging the national interest.
Let us proudly remember that the members of the Armed
Forces give their basic allegiance solely to the United States.
Of that fact all of us are certain. But pride of service and
mistaken zeal in promoting particular doctrine has more than once
occasioned the kind of difficulty of which I have just spoken.
I am not attempting today to pass judgment on the charge
of harmful service rivalries. But one thing is sure. Whatever
they are, America wants them stopped.
Recently I have had under special study the never-ending
problem of efficient organization, complicated as it is by new
weapons. Soon my conclusions will be finalized. I shall promptly
take such Executive action as is necessary and, in a separate
message, I shall present appropriate recommendations to the
Meanwhile, without anticipating the detailed form that a
reorganization should take, I can state its main lines in terms
A major purpose of military organization is to achieve
real unity in the Defense establishment in all the principal
features of military activities. Of all these, one of the most
important to our nation's security is strategic planning and
control. This work must be done under unified direction. The defense structure
must be one which, as a whole, can
assume, with top efficiency and without friction, the defense of
America. The Defense establishment must therefore plan for a
better integration of its defensive resources, particularly with
respect to the newer weapons now building and under development.
These obviously require full coordination in their development,
production and use. Good organization can help assure this
In recognition of the need for single control in some of
our most advanced development projects, the Secretary of Defense
has already decided to concentrate into one organization all the
anti-missile and satellite technology undertaken within the
Department of Defense.
Another requirement of military organization is a clear
subordination of the military services to duly constituted
civilian authority. This control must be real; not merely on the
Next there must be assurance that an excessive number of
compartments in organization will not create costly and confusing
compartments in our scientific and industrial effort.
Finally, to end inter-service disputes requires clear
organization and decisive central direction, supported by the
unstinted cooperation of every individual in the defense
establishment, civilian and military.
2. ACCELERATED DEFENSE EFFORT
The second major action item is the acceleration of the
defense effort in particular areas affected by the fast pace of
scientific and technological advance.
Some of the points at which improved and increased effort
are most essential are these:
We must have sure warning in case of attack. The
improvement of warning equipment is becoming increasingly
important as we approach the period when long-range missiles will
come into use. We must protect and disperse our striking forces and
increase their readiness for instant reaction. This means more
base facilities and standby crews.
We must maintain deterrent retaliatory power. This means,
among other things, stepped-up long range missile programs;
accelerated programs for other effective missile systems; and,
for some years, more advanced aircraft.
We must maintain freedom of the seas. This means nuclear
submarines and cruisers; improved anti-submarine weapons; missile
ships; and the like.
We must maintain all necessary types of mobile forces to
deal with local conflicts, should there be need. This means
further improvements in equipment, mobility, tactics and fire
Through increases in pay and incentive, we must maintain
in the armed forces the skilled manpower modern military forces
We must be forward-looking in our research and development
to anticipate and achieve the unimagined weapons of the future.
With these and other improvements, we intend to assure
that our vigilance, power, and technical excellence keep abreast
of any realistic threat we face.
3. MUTUAL AID
Third: We must continue to strengthen our mutual security
Most people now realize that our programs of military aid
and defense support are an integral part of our own defense
effort. If the foundation of the Free World structure were
progressively allowed to crumble under the pressure of communist
imperialism, the entire house of freedom would be in danger of
As for the mutual economic assistance program, the benefit
to us is threefold. First, the countries receiving this aid
become bulwarks against communist encroachment as their military
defenses and economies are strengthened. Nations that are
conscious of a steady improvement in their industry, education,
health and standard of living are not apt to fall prey to the
blandishments of communist imperialists.
Second, these countries are helped to reach the point
where mutually profitable trade can expand between them and us.
Third, the mutual confidence that comes from working
together on constructive projects creates an atmosphere in which
real understanding and peace can flourish.
To help bring these multiple benefits, our economic aid
effort should be made more effective.
In proposals for future economic aid, I am stressing a
greater use of repayable loans, through the Development Loan
Fund, through funds generated by sale of surplus farm products,
and through the Export-Import Bank.
While some increase in Government funds will be required,
it remains our objective to encourage shifting to the use of
private capital sources as rapidly as possible.
One great obstacle to the economic aid program in the past
has been, not a rational argument against it on the merits, but a
catchword: "give-away program."
The real fact is that no investment we make in our own
security and peace can pay us greater dividends than necessary
amounts of economic aid to friendly nations.
This is no "give-away."
Let's stick to facts!
We cannot afford to have one of our most essential
security programs shot down with a slogan!
4. MUTUAL TRADE
Fourth: Both in our national interest, and in the interest
of world peace, we must have a five-year extension of the Trade
Agreements Act with broadened authority to negotiate.
World trade supports a significant segment of American
industry and agriculture. It provides employment for four and
one-half million American workers. It helps supply our ever
increasing demand for raw materials. It provides the opportunity
for American free enterprise to develop on a worldwide scale. It
strengthens our friends and increases their desire to be friends.
World trade helps to lay the groundwork for peace by making all
free nations of the world stronger and more self-reliant.
America is today the world's greatest trading nation. If
we use this great asset wisely to meet the expanding demands of
the world, we shall not only provide future opportunities for our
own business, agriculture, and labor, but in the process
strengthen our security posture and other prospects for a
prosperous, harmonious world.
As President McKinley said, as long ago as 1901:
"Isolation is no longer possible or desirable. . . . The period
of exclusiveness is past."
5. SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION WITH OUR ALLIES
Fifth: It is of the highest importance that the Congress
enact the necessary legislation to enable us to exchange
appropriate scientific and technical information with friendly
countries as part of our effort to achieve effective scientific
It is wasteful in the extreme for friendly allies to
consume talent and money in solving problems that their friends
have already solved-- all because of artificial barriers to
sharing. We cannot afford to cut ourselves off from the brilliant
talents and minds of scientists in friendly countries. The task
ahead will be hard enough without handcuffs of our own making.
The groundwork for this kind of cooperation has already
been laid in discussions among NATO countries. Promptness in
following through with legislation will be the best possible
evidence of American unity of purpose in cooperating with our
6. EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
Sixth: In the area of education and research, I recommend
a balanced program to improve our resources, involving an
investment of about a billion dollars over a four year period.
This involves new activities by the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare designed principally to encourage improved
teaching quality and student opportunities in the interests of
national security. It also provides a five-fold increase in sums
available to the National Science Foundation for its special
activities in stimulating and improving science education.
Scrupulous attention has been paid to maintaining local
control of educational policy, spurring the maximum amount of
local effort, and to avoiding undue stress on the physical
sciences at the expense of other branches of learning.
In the field of research, I am asking for substantial
increases in basic research funds, including a doubling of the
funds available to the National Science Foundation for this
But federal action can do only a part of the job. In both
education and research, redoubled exertions will be necessary on
the part of all Americans if we are to rise to the demands of our
times. This means hard work on the part of state and local
governments, private industry, schools and colleges, private
organizations and foundations, teachers, parents, and--perhaps
most important of all--the student himself, with his bag of books
and his homework.
With this kind of all-inclusive campaign, I have no doubt
that we can create the intellectual capital we need for the years
ahead, invest it in the right places--and do all this, not as
regimented pawns, but as free men and women!
7. SPENDING AND SAVING
Seventh: To provide for this extra effort for security, we
must apply stern tests of priority to other expenditures, both
military and civilian.
This extra effort involves, most immediately, the need for
a supplemental defense appropriation of $1.3 billion for fiscal
In the 1959 budget, increased expenditures for missiles,
nuclear ships, atomic energy, research and development, science
and education, a special contingency fund to deal with possible
new technological discoveries, and increases in pay and
incentives to obtain and retain competent manpower add up to a
total increase over the comparable figures in the 1957 budget of
about $4 billion.
I believe that, in spite of these necessary increases, we
should strive to finance the 1959 security effort out of expected
revenues. While we now believe that expected revenues and
expenditures will roughly balance, our real purpose will be to
achieve adequate security, but always with the utmost regard for
efficiency and careful management.
This purpose will require the cooperation of Congress in
making careful analysis of estimates presented, reducing
expenditure on less essential military programs and
installations, postponing some new civilian programs,
transferring some to the states, and curtailing or eliminating
Such related matters as the national debt ceiling and tax
revenues will be dealt with in later messages.
8. WORKS OF PEACE
My last call for action is not primarily addressed to the
Congress and people of the United States. Rather, it is a message
from the people of the United States to all other peoples,
especially those of the Soviet Union.
This is the spirit of what we would like to say:
"In the last analysis, there is only one solution to the
grim problems that lie ahead. The world must stop the present
plunge toward more and more destructive weapons of war, and turn
the corner that will start our steps firmly on the path toward
"Our greatest hope for success lies in a universal fact:
the people of the world, as people, have always wanted peace and
want peace now.
"The problem, then, is to find a way of translating this
universal desire into action.
"This will require more than words of peace. It requires
works of peace."
Now, may I try to give you some concrete examples of the
kind of works of peace that might make a beginning in the new
For a start our people should learn to know each other
better. Recent negotiations in Washington have provided a basis
in principle for greater freedom of communication and exchange of
people. I urge the Soviet government to cooperate in turning
principle into practice by prompt and tangible actions that will
break down the unnatural barriers that have blocked the flow of
thought and understanding between our people.
Another kind of work of peace is cooperation on projects
of human welfare. For example, we now have it within our power to
eradicate from the face of the earth that age-old scourge of
mankind: malaria. We are embarking with other nations in an
all-out five-year campaign to blot out this curse forever. We
invite the Soviets to join with us in this great work of
Indeed, we would be willing to pool our efforts with the
Soviets in other campaigns against the diseases that are the
common enemy of all mortals--such as cancer and heart disease.
If people can get together on such projects, is it not
possible that we could then go on to a full-scale cooperative
program of Science for Peace?
We have as a guide and inspiration the success of our
Atoms-for-Peace proposal, which in only a few years, under United
Nations auspices, became a reality in the International Atomic
A program of Science for Peace might provide a means of
funneling into one place the results of research from scientists
everywhere and from there making it available to all parts of the
There is almost no limit to the human betterment that
could result from such cooperation. Hunger and disease could
increasingly be driven from the earth. The age-old dream of a
good life for all could, at long last, be translated into
But of all the works of peace, none is more needed now
than a real first step toward disarmament.
Last August the United Nations General Assembly, by an
overwhelming vote, approved a disarmament plan that we and our
allies sincerely believed to be fair and practical. The Soviets
have rejected both the plan, and the negotiating procedure set up
by the United Nations. As a result, negotiation on this supremely
important issue is now at a standstill.
But the world cannot afford to stand still on disarmament!
We must never give up the search for a basis of agreement.
Our allies from time to time develop differing ideas on
how to proceed. We must concert these convictions among
ourselves. Thereafter, any reasonable proposal that holds promise
for disarmament and reduction of tension must be heard,
discussed, and, if possible, negotiated.
But a disarmament proposal, to hold real promise, must at
the minimum have one feature: reliable means to ensure compliance
by all. It takes actions and demonstrated integrity on both sides
to create and sustain confidence. And confidence in a genuine
disarmament agreement is vital, not only to the signers of the
agreement, but also to the millions of people all over the world
who are weary of tensions and armaments. I say once more, to all peoples, that
we will always go the extra mile with anyone on earth if it will bring us
nearer a genuine peace.
These, then, are the ways in which we must funnel our
energies more efficiently into the task of advancing security and
peace. These actions demand and expect two things of the American
people: sacrifice, and a high degree of understanding. For
sacrifice to be effective it must be intelligent. Sacrifice must
be made for the right purpose and in the right place--even if
that place happens to come close to home!
After all, it is no good demanding sacrifice in general
terms one day, and the next day, for local reasons, opposing the
elimination of some unneeded federal facility.
It is pointless to condemn federal spending in general,
and the next moment condemn just as strongly an effort to reduce
the particular federal grant that touches one's own interest.
And it makes no sense whatever to spend additional
billions on military strength to deter a potential danger, and
then, by cutting aid and trade programs, let the world succumb to
a present danger in economic guise.
My friends of the Congress: The world is waiting to see
how wisely and decisively a free representative government will
I believe that this Congress possesses and will display
the wisdom promptly to do its part in translating into law the
actions demanded by our nation's interests.
But, to make law effective, our kind of
government needs the full voluntary support of millions of
Americans for these actions.
I am fully confident that the response of the Congress and
of the American people will make this time of test a time of
honor. Mankind then will see more clearly than ever that the
future belongs, not to the concept of the regimented atheistic
state, but to the people--the God-fearing, peace-loving people of
all the world.
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