Department of State
Foreign Policy Briefing
March 27, 1962
Afternoon Session: 4:17 - 4:45 p.m.
The President of the United States
A: Well, what we hope is that as these societies become stronger - and it's a very difficult task because they are all in a period of transition, and most of them, lost of them are former colonial powers who have only had a few months or years of independence.
But while this containment goes on, the communist world is faced with very serious divisions - the division between Russia and China, to which I referred. Other examples are splits within the communist world itself.
I think it's quite obvious that national individuality, national sovereignty is really the greatest historic force of our time. I think that is felt behind the Iron Curtain as well as on this side. And it is our feeling that as time goes on, this force will be strongly felt within the communist world, and, secondly, as the Soviet Union builds a more stable system, and there is a more vested interest which is really one of the reasons why they are having difficulty with the Chinese themselves, this will also bring tensions which will lessen their ability effectively to push their power out.
I don't think we can say that there is any new magic potential which is going to abolish communism, other than the basic desire of peoples and nations to be independent, and we have to give that time. We have to give that time.
Q: A question about the logic of disarmament. It has been stressed here for two days that we are going to maintain our military superiority until disarmament is achieved.
Now, if we assume that the Russians want to catch us, want to match our superiority or surpass us, how is it logically possible to even talk of disarmament? How could this be achieved?
A: Well, the Soviet Union, the first place, when you talk about our "superiority," you have to, it seems to me, qualify as to what the - Russia and China together have many more people than we do, and they have close lines of communications.
In the case of Viet-Nam, we operate at 10,000 miles; China operates, or Viet-Nam communists operate at a few hundred miles.
So that we have - what we may gain in one area of arms and weaponry, we lose in another. In addition, they have a much larger conventional capacity than we do.
They can put a hundred divisions into Western Germany in a comparatively short time. We couldn't possibly do it. We stretched putting five-and-a-half divisions in there. We may be able, we could, in a moment of crisis, be able to double that figure, but not much more.
So when people say about our superiority, it seems to me they have to introduce all of the elements which go into national strength. In addition, we have commitments in countries which are particularly and peculiarly susceptible to guerrilla action, and we have no superiority in counter-insurgency as yet, and the communists have a superiority, as I said before, in maintaining their police control, as they could in North Viet-Nam, once they are in power.
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