This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A reading copy and a press release of the speech exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. The two versions are substantially the same, although the press release has at least one significant omission. The transcription is based on the reading copy.
We meet today only a few blocks from the United Nations, where next week the eyes of the nation and world will once again be focused. We have seen the U.N. at its best this year when it took swift action to save the Congo from Chaos and tyranny. We may see it at its worst next week if Mr. Khrushchev chooses to use it as a propaganda platform.
But at its best or at its worst, the U.N. remains the symbol of mankind's deepest aspiration - our aspiration for peace - not a peace that is merely an interval between two wars - not a peace that teeters on the brink of war - not the peace of slavery or the grave - but a peace enforced and controlled by nations united against the common, universal danger of destruction.
We want a peace in which the funds now poured into the destructive forces of armaments may be channeled into the constructive results of disarmament - into great multi-nation efforts to eradicate disease, harness rivers, eliminate illiteracy and explore the frontiers of space. We want a peace in which we can truly beat our swords into plowshares, our bombs into reactors, and our rockets into space vehicles.
We are a great distance away from that kind of peace in the world today - and the distance is growing greater every day. We do not have that kind of peace when half our national income is spent for military purposes - or when the Soviet leader boasts that our children will grow up in a communist America.
We are, on the contrary, engaged in a great struggle, in a great contest. But we ought to know by now that it is not a war of words. It is not a struggle that can be won by arguments and debates. For words are not a substitute for action - and committee meetings are not a substitute for decisions.
I would hope that the American people would have learned this lesson from the sight of Soviet agents, Soviet technicians and Soviet salesmen worming their way into every corner of the free world. I would hope that they would have learned this lesson by the headlines from Cuba, by the headlines from the Congo, by the headlines from Laos, from Paris, from Moscow and from Tokyo. But, judging from their campaign speeches, I am not yet certain that our Republican opponents have learned the lesson at all.
How many Sputniks and Luniks and Castros and Lumumbas will it take to make us realize that we must be dynamic in something more than our public relations? How many more countries need to be penetrated by salesmen for the Soviet way before we wake up. How much closer must we drift to nuclear destruction?
I know of no single issue of greater concern to all the American people - men or women, Republicans or Democrats - than the issue of peace. No political party has a monopoly on the desire for peace. There is no 'party of peace' in this country - just as there is no 'war party' or 'party of appeasement.' The sooner we get these artificial labels out of the way, the sooner we can get down to discussing the real issues of peace.
For there are real issues. There are real differences in approach. And I want to talk about those differences today - about the steps which must be taken by the United States to put us back on the road to peace again.
First, peace requires an American defense posture strong enough to convince any potential aggressor that war would be a mistake - his mistake. A Democratic Administration will never negotiate with the Russians from a position of weakness. We must do what is necessary - and we must spend what is necessary - to convince the men in the Kremlin that an attack on us would be suicidal for them. And to obtain that kind of bargaining power, and make sure it will always be enough, requires two kinds of defensive strength:
** An invulnerable atomic striking force strong enough to persuade the aggressor that our force could survive his attack in sufficient number and capability to penetrate his defenses and punish his crime; and
** A modern conventional striking force of sufficient strength, firepower, and mobility to intervene quickly and effectively before any brushfire war became a holocaust.
Only when both of these objectives are secure - so secure that our enemies know it and respect our strength - can we talk more successfully with Mr. Khrushchev about peace. And the Democratic Party is dedicated to securing that kind of defense for our nation.
Secondly, peace requires an America that is planning, preparing and striving for disarmament and other steps toward peace. Disarmament today is just as complicated as armaments - involving complex problems of surveillance, reconnaissance, seismography, atmospheric sampling and testing stations. A successful blueprint for a safe disarmament is as difficult to devise as a successful blueprint for modern war.
But the hard facts of the matter are that we have fewer than 100 people in the entire Federal Government working on these problems. And the result has been that this country has not been prepared for any disarmament, arms control or atomic testing conference that has taken place since the end of the Korean War. After all these years, Republicans now talk of establishing a special arms control agency in the Executive branch. But the hour has grown late - the weapons are more deadly - atomic know-how has spread - and the next Administration must devote to the problems of peace the same resources and energies that are now devoted to the preparation of war.
Third, peace requires an America standing shoulder to shoulder with other free nations, united by close ties of friendship, commerce and mutual respect. In the last 7 1/2 years, the uncertainty of our NATO Alliance, the collapse of the Baghdad Pact and the limited value of our other pacts have all demonstrated that a common fear of communism is not a sufficient base for unity.
America cannot stand alone as a TINY minority in a hostile world - without friends and allies, without sources of supply and markets, without an international effort to stem aggression from any source. But if we want the support and cooperation of others, we must earn their friendship and respect. We must consider their problems as well as ours. And, joined by other free nations of the West, we must help strengthen the political and economical independence of those nations newly emerging on the bottom half of the globe - to prevent in those countries the chaos and despair on which communist expansion feeds.
If communism should obtain a permanent foothold n Latin America - if a new Soviet Satellite should be successfully established in Africa - or if Communist China should win her race with India for the political and economic leadership of all Asia - then the balance of power would move heavily against us - and peace would be even more insecure.
Our purpose is not to buy friends or hire allies - our purpose is to defeat poverty. Our primary weapons must be long-term loans, technical assistance and regional development plans. And our goal is to once again influence history, instead of merely observing it.
Fourth, peace requires positive American leadership in a more effective United Nations, working toward the establishment of a world-wide peace under law, enforced by world-wide sanctions of justice. In this age of jets and atoms, we can no longer tolerate a world that is like a frontier town without a sheriff or magistrate.
But the United Nations can be no stronger and no more imaginative than the nations which make it up. Unless we are willing to take the leadership in the U.N. - and that means next week as well as the years ahead - unless we are willing to channel more of our ideas, programs and delegable power to that body - then we may expect to see that one last hope for peace swallowed up in the oceans of hate.
Fifth and finally, peace requires an America that stands as a model of harmonious relations to all the world - a nation whose leadership is convincing because we practice what we preach. We can better unite the free world against poverty and injustice and racial discrimination when we have successfully eliminated them from our own system - when we have demonstrated that we are on the move in this country - when we have demonstrated that we are capable of progressive leadership at home as well as abroad.
These are five pathways to peace. Not one can be accomplished overnight. Not one can be accomplished without a break with the past, without a change in attitudes and a change in administration. Not one will be easy.
But I will not promise - as our opponents did the other day - that we will end the cold war. If any candidate believes this, he is deceiving himself. If he does not believe it, he is deceiving the American people.
For the facts of the matter are that there will be setbacks as well as progress - there will be harsh facts to face - and there is no point in continuing to describe our failures as triumphs.
All I can promise you is a tireless, ceaseless effort to rebuild our strength, our prestige and our image - to move this country forward again on the new frontiers of peace.
During the next four years, the office I seek - the Presidency of the United States - will be a hard and lonely job. But I am a candidate for that office because I want to get things done - because I want America to recover her purpose, her dreams, her vigor - and because I want your children and mine to grow up in a saner, safer world.
Are you willing to join with me in this task? Are you willing to serve as new pioneers on the new frontiers of peace? Alone, I can only promise you my best - but together, I know we can prevail.