"The Quest for Peace"

Philadelphia, PA | October 4, 1972

For peace is not only the absence of war. Peace must be more...Peace must mean mutual respect and harmonious interchange. Peace must mean removal of the causes which move men to war. Peace must mean furthering the dignity of man and the sanctity of life.

Tomorrow, Senator McGovern will present a comprehensive statement on the substance of our foreign policies.

Today, I want to talk about a concept of the Quest for Peace -- of a new vision of our State Department and its part in that quest.

I know of no more appropriate city from which to speak. Here, we proclaimed "Liberty Throughout The Land And To All The Inhabitants Thereof." Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin called the American cause, "The cause of all mankind." Here, Thomas Jefferson served as our first Secretary of State, and wrote of America's "decent respect for the opinions of mankind."`

Now, almost 200 years later, we must ask how it is that this nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to justice, finds itself allied with repressive regimes all over the world -- with a junta in Greece, with dictatorships in South America, with a corrupt and repressive General Thieu in South Vietnam?

How is it that a nation with our heritage and our ideals finds itself engaged in a barbaric war on the other side of the world?

How is it that our nation should become, for the people of Indochina, the steel bomb splinters that tear the flesh of their children... the ashes of a village devastated so efficiently and impersonally from 40,000 feet? How is it that we should become no longer the symbol of hope, but of violence? Why is it that our nation, once admired for the force of its ideals -- now is feared for the force of its arms? Where once we were a peaceful refuge from violence, now violence is the main instrument of our foreign policy. Where once we served "The cause of all mankind," we now subserve people to power.

How did we lose our way? And how can we find it again?

There are no easy answers, of course. But America cannot even begin the return to our traditions of humanity until we understand what peace really means and are prepared to earn it.

When we speak of peace, we must speak also of justice. For peace is not only the absence of war. Peace must be more. We cannot, as Tacitus said, create a desert and call it peace. Peace must mean not only the absence of war among governments, but also the creation of social justice among peoples. Peace must mean mutual respect and harmonious interchange. Peace must mean removal of the causes which move men to war. Peace must mean furthering the dignity of man and the sanctity of life.

The quest for such a peace will require two fundamental changes in America's approach to the world. We must get away from an obsession with power which excludes attention to peoples' lives. And we must reform a foreign policy bureaucracy which is a mechanism for war instead of a ministry for peace.

Today, I charge Richard Nixon with having failed the cause of peace. He is preoccupied with power. And he has strengthened the hands of those in the bureaucracy who prefer power politics to the pursuit of America's ideals.

I shall discuss these failures today and tell you also of the vision George McGovern and I have of changing Nixon's defeats for peace into American victories for peace.

The indictment of Mr. Nixon's failures in the Quest for Peace must begin with his passion for power.

Of course, power cannot be ignored in diplomacy. Power, properly used, can be a stimulant to peace; it can help insure peace; it can serve as a guardian of peace.

But when power becomes its own end, when power becomes the purpose, then we have lost our way.

Clausewitz once said that war is diplomacy by other means. After World War II, we regarded diplomacy as war by other means.

In a cold war, as well as in a hot war, foreign policy becomes substantially military in character, and so ours was. But under Richard Nixon, concern with power has become obsession.

Mr. Nixon's obsession with force and power runs deep in his record. He was an admirer and supporter of the power policies of John Foster Dulles, whose dangerous and. misguided concepts encompassed "massive retaliation" and "brinksmanship."

As long as eighteen years ago, Nixon called for American ground troops in Indo-China. Eight years ago, he called for military strikes in North Vietnam and Laos. Seven years ago, he advocated a step-up in attacks on North Vietnam, and even hinted at retaliation against China. Six years ago, he urged a 25% increase of American ground troops in Saigon and said that a "military justification for the bombing of irrigation dikes in the Red River Delta might be arrived at."

These oft-repeated and deeply ingrained views remained with Nixon as President. And in Nixon's 1971 State of the World Message, we hear again the echoes of John Foster Dulles' strategy of power, force and retaliation.

The consequences of this obsession with power are tragic. They have resulted in Richard Nixon's continuing the war in Vietnam during his entire term of office -- a period longer than this nation's engagement in World War II.

Let there be no doubt on this: Whatever the misguided reasons that propelled us into the Vietnam war long ago -- during the past four years, no leqitimate basis has existed for perpetuating that war. That war does not serve the cause of democracy; it does not serve the cause of humanity; it does not serve the cause of American security. It is nothing more than a naked exercise of raw power for the sake of power. Nixon justifies it on the grounds that withdrawal from Vietnam would make us seem a "pitiful, helpless giant." On the contrary, our continued presence in Vietnam shows us to be a pitiless giant unable to right our wrong. The fact is that this war has done more damage to the United States throughout the world than any event in our history. The war must end. It must end now -- and George McGovern will see that it ends.

The tragedy in Indo-China is only the most dramatic example of the end to which the obsession with power has taken Richard Nixon. There have been many others. We all saw the catastrophe last year in South Asia; the savage military suppression. of East Pakistan, the exodus of ten million refugees into cholera-ridden camps in India, and then the war between India and Pakistan which ended the nightmare in still more death.

And where did the United States stand in all this?

When our diplomatic mission in East Pakistan reported what it called "selective genocide," we kept sending arms to Pakistan's dictatorship and said nothing about it. When India was flooded with ten million refugees it could no longer tolerate, the White House offered no word of condemnation of Pakistani barbarity in Bangladesh.

And so, the Administration's policy became a cruel mockery of the purposes they claimed. They talked of territorial integrity -- and they sided with a regime that tore Pakistan apart.

They talked of relieving suffering...and an American equipped army was driving millions from their homeland... American supplied bullets were killing Bengali children...American supplied tanks were shelling defenseless villages. When it was over, we had earned the bitterness and hatred of the 550 million people of India and the 70 million of the new nation of Bangladesh.

And to what imaginable end? To cater to Pakistan, a friend of China, at a time when the President was secretly arranging his trip to Peking? Or so that the Nixon Administration could prove the "credibility" of our obsolete military alliance with Pakistan? While we were demonstrating that tough credibility, incidentally, the Soviet Union was supporting India and gathering influence the Russians have been after for centuries. In that sense, I suppose, Messrs. Nixon and Kissinger can claim fame. They may have done more for Russia in South Asia than any Tsar, including Peter the Great.

We've seen it before, of course, this bureaucratic indifference to tragedy.

What distinguishes Bangladesh in the end is the unprecedented human toll. As many as three million people died in this agony...the greatest single human catastrophe since the murder of six million Jews in World War II.

What kind of government do we have, that our leaders find "diplomatic" reasons for ignoring the ultimate unreason of mass killing and suffering?

The American people don't expect their government to declare war on other countries every time there is evil in the world. But Americans have always expected their government to declare us on the side of life and justice.

At the very least, we can stop interveninq in favor of the despots...stop our pose of benign neglect toward outrages of the human spirit.

--No one would want the United States to attempt force against the USSR. But we can expect our government to speak out forcefully in every world council to denounce the Soviet Union's violations of the Right to Leave which confines Jewish citizens against their will. And the Russians should be held accountable before they gain trade advantages from us.

--No one is calling for the U.S. to invade Greece and overthrow the Junta. But we don't have to send millions in arms...and our Vice President to Athens...to embrace a regime that took power by force... suspended legal rights…imprisoned and brutalized thousands... and summarily refuses any return to Constitutional rule.

--No one proposes that we send an expeditionary force to rescue the tortured political prisoners in Brazil. But we can stop sending hundreds of thousands of dollars in "aid" for some of the same police who hold the electrodes...wield the rubber truncheons...and administer the body-ravaging drugs in the nightmarish jails of that land.

--No one suggests that we should send forces to remedy the soul-destroying oppression of the black majority in Southern Africa. But no American government should be in the business -- as the Nixon Administration is -- of quietly agreeing to the sale of aircraft which can be used by Portuguese and South African military or police. And no American President should have silently condoned -- as Nixon did -- the unilateral breaking of U.N. sanctions against white-ruled Rhodesia, just to satisfy some big chrome interests.

But for millions in Africa, Latin America and Asia, we have become blind pursuers of power and patrons of oppression. No one -- anywhere in the world -- should have cause to think of us in this way.

To find our way to peace, we must, however, do more than put our concern for the world of power into its proper place. We must also reform the very machinery of foreign policy so that it serves the President as an advocate for people as well as an adviser on power.

Over the past 25 years, military thinking has come to dominate our foreign policy machinery. When Presidents or their staffs looked for advice, the largest and best prepared staffs were the military and intelligence. When the Presidents looked for options, there was a richer variety of military options than any other. It is, therefore, understandable that in any crisis the President was forced to rely first on his most prepared and most available resources: the military.

And this situation fed on itself. As more reliance was placed on the military, their claims for more budgetary allocations became stronger and they entered into all other areas of foreign policy, justifying the expansion by the very fact that they had achieved a significant foreign policy role.

In this ambience, the State Department became a tail to the military beast, wagging at its master's command. Today, for example, it is a startling fact that the CIA has far more people in U.S. diplomatic missions abroad than does the State Department.

Subservient to the military, the State Department is unequipped for the demands of this age. To restore the ability of our Presidents to plan for peace rather than war, reform must begin with the State Department. On October 14, 1968, Richard Nixon pledged that he would "clean house" in foggy bottom. After four years of neglect, that house is falling down.

We have a Secretary of State who acquiesces silently in military solutions and who emerges only to demean his office by engaging in political attacks.

We have a State Department with so complicated a structure that it spends its time coordinating with itself and is unable to give the President the information and counsel he requires.

We have a top heavy and closed foreign service which rewards caution over competence.

We have a State Department which is treated with contempt by the White House and, therefore, cannot control the actions of the CIA, the USIA, the Pentagon, and all of the other agencies which usurp foreign policy functions for their own ends.

George McGovern will clean house. And he will convert the State Department from a passive handmaiden of the military pursuit of power to a true ministry of peace.

To do this, we must make major reforms in our foreign policy machinery. We must make the State Department the President's agent for policies of peace. We must have these policies presented openly and honestly to the American people. And we must have these policies developed in a constitutional fashion.

A State Department which serves as a ministry of peace will be:

--A Department which has a strong Secretary of State enjoying the President's confidence and willing to take charge of all of our civilian foreign activities.

--It will be a Department in which the policy positions are staffed with imaginative men and women who care about the world of people - and who act with the authority of the President.

--It will be an instrument for understanding foreign societies rather than a grapevine for diplomatic gossip.

Newcomers who have been trained in such disciplines as cultural anthropology and in the theologies and philosophies of other nations would be welcome. And the service will be made more attractive as a career by reforming promotion procedures and by lowering the retirement age to fifty, with pensions, thus inducing retirement of superfluous senior officers.

--It will be a streamlined department. Before World War II, it had 6,000 employees. Today, that staff has more than quadrupled. It is not doing four times the work.

--It will be a department with a Foreign Service which fulfills its function of serving our nation in other countries.

In 1948, 86% of our Foreign Service officers were stationed abroad; in 1962, only 66%; and by 1970, only 58% were at our foreign missions. We will reverse this trend. And we will let these officers serve longer terms at each post, so they can become truly expert. The average tour of two or four years in a country is simply not enough.

After this reconstruction, we will give the State Department authority over all our civilian foreign policies and programs.

Even our embassies today are not under real control of the State Department. Today, there are more CIA and Defense Department personnel in our embassies than there are Foreign Service officers. The CIA even controls most of the communication equipment to Washington. All of this should be changed.

--The U.S. Information Agency, the foreign activities of our domestic departments such as the Treasury, Commerce, Labor and Agriculture -- and, most important, the CIA -- should be under the direct control of the State Department.

A President needs a strong State Department -- to curb the impulses of our national security bureaucracy towards military intervention; to stop uninformed meddling abroad; to coordinate our efforts toward peace so that the nations of the world know that peace is our end, not power for the sake of power.

A President needs a strong State Department -- to help him understand the world of people, as well as the power relationships described in his daily military intelligence briefings. As Albert Einstein once wrote, "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding."

Beyond reforming the structure of our foreign policy machinery, it is time that our government presented our foreign policy to the American public with truth -- a scarce commodity in this Administration.

Albert Camus once wrote a letter to a German friend in which Camus described the difference between Nazi youth and French youth of the Resistance. "This is what separated us from you," Camus said. "You were satisfied to serve the power of your nation, and we dreamed of giving ours her truth."

Today, our leaders no longer dream of giving our nation her truth.

This is not surprising. A bureaucracy which is built for war will make truth its first casualty. Policies which emphasize power maneuverings invite the treatment of the American public as one more pawn on the international chess board. Public opinion is treated as an object for manipulation rather than a voice to be heeded.

Twelve years ago, we all were shocked when a President of the United States admitted our government had lied about the U-2 incident. Today, no one would be surprised. The intervening lies have destroyed faith in our government and ourselves. Richard Nixon is making us a nation of cynics.

Consider a few examples:

  • Three times in April, 1971, we were told that no military equipment was being delivered to Pakistan. And while the State Department spoke, U.S. military material was on its way to Pakistan. It took Senator Frank Church to tell the truth by showing the bills of lading on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • On June 30, 1970, the President told us that American planes would not fly combat support for Cambodian troops. U.S. reporters in Cambodia saw American planes doing just that in early August, 1970.
  • When South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos, last year, with American support, a blackout was imposed on American reporters who sought to cover the event.

Once lying to the public becomes a practice, it infects the government itself. Internal reports on the situation in Vietnam have been frequently falsified to show "progress" where none exists. We now even find that generals falsify reports to their civilian superiors as they defy their rules of engagement. How many more Lavelles will there be?

An Administration dedicated to peace will put a stop to this pattern of deceit. For peace depends on trust and trust depends on truth.

We must have our press spokesmen insist on the truth from the bureaucrats and put that truth before the people.

We must see that classified documents concern only the national security, and that classification will no longer be a cover for political or bureaucratic embarrassment.

We must drastically curtail the Pentagon's multimillion propaganda machine.

We must hold regular, open press conferences on our foreign and domestic policies. Unlike Richard Nixon, who has held only one such conference during this political campaign, George McGovern has been and will be accessible to the press and to the people.

Finally, it is time to end the unlawfulness of denying Congress its constitutional role on issues of war and peace and new foreign commitments.

  • Richard Nixon ordered the invasions of Cambodia and Laos -- without Congressional consultation.
  • He ordered the mining of Haiphong, and the intensified bombing of North Vietnam - without seeking the advice or agreement of the Congress.
  • He struck a bargain with colonialist Portugal which gave away $435 million in return for the use of bases or marginal military value in the Azores - without seeking the consent of the Congress.
  • His national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, acts as Mr. Nixon's Secretary of State - but refuses to appear before the Congress.

We will make our policies accountable to the Congress.

We support the Javits-Stennis war powers bill which requires that the President receive Congressional approval for military intervention abroad.

We will put a stop to the use of executive privilege to shield from the Congress the nature of American military actions abroad -- as the Nixon Administration did about its actions in Laos.

And we will not use executive agreements to evade the treaty powers of the Congress -- as the Administration has done in its dealings with Portugal and Spain.

With these reforms leading the way, America can carry out a foreign policy that is humane -- a policy that remembers the strength and power necessary to ensure our security, but doesn't forget people. We promise leadership that does not fall into the trap of bureaucratic indifference, but changes the bureaucracy to serve the cause of peace.

That means no more Vietnams, that is, no more sending American men to die and to kill when our own security is not at stake.

It means stopping our support and intervention on behalf of tyranny and force in so many corners of the world.

It means a policy in which one of our main weapons is the strength of our moral stand for what is right -- not because it earns us favor of concessions or imaginary security in a world largely beyond our truly vital interests -- but simply because it is right.

What I am describing, of course, is not just foreign policy. What we do abroad is only a reflection of what we are at home.

That is why the great chapters in American foreign policy -- under Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman -- have all coincided with decency at home.

And that is why, too, the Nixon inhumanity abroad mirrors our terrible failures at home.

I have talked of suffering children in Bengal. You don't have to go very far from where we meet today to find American children who are hungry, whose lives are stunted by poverty, who have forgotten how to hope.

I have talked of refugees in the world. Millions of Americans are refugees in their own land from a Nixon Administration that doesn't care about people.

George McGovern and I pledge also to end the outrages here at home, because we will never be secure in the world until we secure the hope and future of our own citizens. Because we will never find peace in the world until we find peace with ourselves.

I believe that our government -- with George McGovern as President -- will show again the moral leadership and purpose, the vision and the integrity which are at the heart of our heritage. - Then we will truly make the American cause once again "the cause of all mankind."