A CONVERSATION I HAD with three students of the University of Chicago has made a strong impression on me. It showed me that a sense of responsibility and initiative is at work in the young generation of this country. These students are aware of the fact that the destiny of the new generation, will be decided in these few years. They are determined to influence the pace of events within the framework of their possibilities.
What is the situation? The development of technology and of the implements of war has brought about something akin to a shrinking of our planet. Economic interlinking has made the destinies of nations interdependent to a degree far greater than in previous years. The available weapons of destruction are of a kind such that no place on earth is safeguarded against sudden total destruction. The only hope for protection lies in the securing of peace in a supranational way. A world government must be created which is able to solve conflicts between nations by judicial decision. This government must be based on a clearcut constitution which is approved by the governments and the nations and which gives it the sole disposition of offensive weapons. A person or a nation can be considered peace loving only if it is ready to cede its military force to the international authorities and to renounce every attempt or even the means, of achieving its interests abroad by the use of force.
It is apparent that the development of political relations in the year which has elapsed since the conclusion of the second world war, has brought us in no way nearer to the achievement of this goal. The U. N. as it stands today has neither the military force nor the legal basis to bring about a state of international security. Nor does it take account of the actual distribution of power. Real power is at present in the hands of few. It is no exaggeration to say that the solution of the real problem is linked solely to an agreement on a grand scale between this country and Russia. For, if such an agreement would be achieved then these two powers alone would be able to cause the other nations to give up their sovereignty to the degree necessary for the establishment of military security for all.
Now many will say that fundamental agreement with Russia is impossible under the present circumstances. Such a statement would be justified if the United States had made a serious attempt in this direction during the past year. I find, however, that the opposite has happened. There was no need to accept fascist Argentina into the U. N. against Russia’s opposition. There was no need to manufacture new atomic bombs without letup and to appropriate twelve billion dollars for defense in a year in which no military threat was to be expected for the nearest future. Nor was it necessary to delay the proposed measures against Franco-Spain. It is senseless to recount here the details which all show that nothing has been done in order to alleviate Russia’s distrust, a distrust which can very well be understood in the light of the events of the last decades and to whose origin we have contributed no little.
A permanent peace cannot be prepared by threats but only by the honest attempt to create mutual trust. One should think that the wish to create a decent form of life on this planet and to avert the danger of unspeakable destruction would tame the passions of responsible men. You cannot rely on that, my young friends. May you succeed in activating the young generation in this sense, so that it will strive for a policy of peace on a grand scale. Thus you can not only defend yourself successfully but you can serve your country and your descendants in a degree as was not given to any previous generation.