Academic journal article Parameters

Eisenhower's "Chance for Peace" Speech

Academic journal article Parameters

Eisenhower's "Chance for Peace" Speech

Article excerpt

On 16 April 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered an extraordinary speech titled "The Chance for Peace." Weighing the tensions of the time, Ike spoke of a dark future and enumerated the real costs of expenditures on arms:

 
   In this spring of 1953 the free world weighs one question above all 
   others: the chance for a just peace for all peoples.... To weigh 
   this chance is to summon instantly to mind another recent moment of 
   great decision. It came with that yet more hopeful spring of 1945, 
   bright with the promise of victory and of freedom. The hope ... in 
   that moment too was a just and lasting peace.... This common 
   purpose lasted an instant and perished. The nations of the world 
   divided.... 
 
   What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is 
   found on this dread road? The worst to be feared and the best to be 
   expected can be simply stated. The worst is atomic war. The best 
   would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of 
   arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples.... 
 
   Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired 
   signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and 
   are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in 
   arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its 
   laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. 
 
   The cost of one modem heavy bomber is this: a modem brick school in 
   more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving 
   a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped 
   hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. 
 
   We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. … 
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