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One World: The 1943 Perspective

How much have U.S. foreign policy challenges changed over the past 60 years?

October 18, 2002

How much have U.S. foreign policy challenges changed over the past 60 years?

At the end of the last war, not a single plane had flown across the Atlantic. Today, that ocean is a mere ribbon, with airplanes making regular scheduled flights. The Pacific is only a slightly wider ribbon in the ocean of the air. And Europe and Asia are at our very doorstep.

America must choose one of three courses after this war: narrow nationalism, which inevitably means the ultimate loss of our own liberty.

International imperialism, which means the sacrifice of some other nation's liberty. Or the creation of a world in which there shall be an equality of opportunity for every race and every nation.

I am convinced the American people will choose, by overwhelming majority, the last of these courses. To make this choice effective, we must win not only the war, but also the peace. And we must start winning it now.

After centuries of ignorant and dull compliance, hundreds of millions of people in Eastern Europe and Asia have opened the books. Old fears no longer frighten them. They are no longer willing to be Eastern slaves for Western profits. They are beginning to know that men's welfare throughout the world is interdependent.

They are resolved, as we must be, that there is no more place for imperialism within their own society than in the society of nations. The big house on the hill surrounded by mud huts has lost its awesome charm.

Our Western world — and our presumed supremacy —are now on trial. Our boasting and our big talk leave Asia cold. Men and women in Russia and China and in the Middle East are conscious now of their own potential strength. They are coming to know that many of the decisions about the future of the world lie in their hands.

And they intend that these decisions shall leave the peoples of each nation free from foreign domination, free for economic, social and spiritual growth.

Economic freedom is as important as political freedom. Not only must people have access to what other peoples produce, but their own products must in turn have some chance of reaching men all over the world.

There will be no peace, there will be no real development, there will be no economic stability, unless we find the method by which we can begin to break down the unnecessary trade barriers hampering the flow of goods.

Our present standard of living in America cannot be maintained unless the exchange of goods flows more freely over the whole world. It is also inescapably true that to raise the standard of living of any man anywhere in the world is to raise the standard of living by some slight degree of every man everywhere in the world.

Finally, when I say that this world demands the full participation of a self-confident America, I am only passing on an invitation which the peoples of the East have given us. They would like the United States and the other United Nations to be partners with them in this grand adventure.

They want us to join them in creating a new society of independent nations, free alike of the economic injustices of the West and the political malpractices of the East.

But as partners in that great new combination they want us neither hesitant, incompetent nor afraid. They want partners who will not hesitate to speak out for the correction of injustice anywhere in the world.

Our allies in the East know that we intend to pour out our resources in this war. But they expect us now — not after the war — to use the enormous power of our giving to promote liberty and justice.

Other peoples, not yet fighting, are waiting no less eagerly for us to accept the most challenging opportunity of all history — the chance to help create a new society in which men and women the world around can live and grow invigorated by independence and freedom.