BECAUSE the Berlin issue is acute, it requires your prompt attention, but no President of the United States should ever enter any negotiations under the threat of a time limit. If we can come to a compromise over Berlin that will abate the Soviet Union's justified fears over a third invasion by a united Germany, it may well set a precedent that can be used elsewhere.
If Russia were a parliamentary democracy, its government would be compelled to insist on a divided Germany as a precaution against a third invasion. Americans must bear in mind that the Russian people have twice within a generation suffered terrible invasions by the Germans. Not for decades can any Soviet government give up East Germany.
American policy today is mistaken in insisting on a united Germany. Such a Germany would soon be demanding the return of its "lost provinces" to the east. Any competent observer can continually hear expressions of that ambition in West Germany. The Russians feel safer with a divided Germany, and so do our allies Britain and France. When we call for a united Germany, we play into the hands of the German chauvinists.
We could properly compromise by recognizing the government of East Germany with the provision that we, France, and Britain will continue to maintain our forces in West Berlin with free ingress and egress. This provision we must back with all of our might and power. If the Soviets really want peace, they will agree to it, because to do so will further their own interest.
Of course, Chancellor Adenauer will rage and threaten, and the American people will demur. There is where you will have to speak out and explain that it is to America's self-interest to bring this about. The Germans have caused the United States plenty of trouble in the past forty-five years. If the recognition of the East German government will lessen the armament race and promote the chances of peace, why should the American people object? Once they understand the realities, they will support recognition, provided our interests in Berlin are maintained.
If the agreement provided for the gradual withdrawal of the armed forces of all countries from both Germanys, it would require that the people of East Germany and West Germany look after their own defense and pay for it themselves. NATO should be maintained as a deterrent power, along with our nuclear capabilities on the seas and in the air.
The case of Germany provides you with an opportunity to test not only the sincerity of the Soviet's professed peaceful intentions but also the willingness of the American people to promote a more peaceful world. Unless the rigid stand of the American people, which has been reflected in the diplomatic deadlock of the outgoing Administration, is modified by the skill and courage of your own persuasion, negotiations are doomed to failure.
The case of Germany is significant because it may help to establish two basic principles that should at all times guide our diplomatic conduct. The first is that of self-interest. Treaties that do not respect self-interest of both parties are bound to be violated. Closely associated with this principle is that of respect for the primary interests of the other side. If we want the Kremlin to respect our primary interests in Cuba, the Western Hemisphere, Berlin, Korea, Japan, Formosa, and the Philippines, we must respect Russia's primary interests in eastern Europe.
For more than two hundred years, every Russian government has asserted a primary interest in that area and has been willing to defend it. If the Soviet Union were a parliamentary democracy, its government would have to do the same thing, because national security is at stake in the minds of its people and leaders.
I know that the American people will always respond to the defense of their own self-interest. And I feel sure that they will unite to make effective any policy that reflects that principle.
The stakes on both sides are tremendous, and the dangers ominous. The population experts forecast a doubling of our own population and that of the world in the next thirty-nine years. All of these three billion additional people will be compelled to seek means of sustenance. We have maintained an equilibrium between the crowded areas and the areas of abundance through our foreign aid program. And we must continue on a greater scale, as population increases, to maintain this equilibrium, working, when possible, through the United Nations, without which there cannot be a peaceful world.
Whereas in the past foreign aid has served principally to restore war-exhausted Europe and Japan, its emphasis should be shifted, particularly in the case of economic aid, to supply funds to make the undeveloped areas of the world productive. It will take enormous aggregations of capital to build roads, schools, harbors, railroads, electric plants, water supplies, and other necessities, to educate and help these masses of illiterate people to make their jungles, mountains, and deserts yield their hidden wealth. It will take American engineering, administrative, and teaching ability to do this job.
If successful diplomacy can abate the armament race, funds from it can be diverted to making the world productive. If your diplomacy fails, your whole domestic and foreign program will fail. It cannot succeed unless you prepare the people of our country to make peace. If you can do that, you will have a united nation behind you.