John Foster Dulles on Cold War policies (1957)

In April 1957, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles addressed journalists in New York and spoke on a number of Cold War issues and policies:


“On effort was made through the United Nations to create an armed force for use by the Security Council to maintain international order. But the Soviet Union vetoed that. However, the member nations still had the possibility of cooperating against aggression. For the charter, with foresight, proclaimed that all nations had the inherent right of collective self-defence.

The free nations have largely exercised that right. The United States has made collective defence treaties with 42 other nations. And the area of common defence may now be enlarged pursuant to the recent Middle East resolution… The Soviet rulers understandably prefer that the free nations should be weak and divided, as when the men in the Kremlin stole, one by one, the independence of a dozen nations. So… the Soviet rulers pour out abuse against so-called “militaristic groupings.” And as the free nations move to strengthen their common defence, the Soviet rulers emit threats…”

On deterrence:

“It is also agreed that the principal deterrent to aggressive war is mobile retaliatory power. This retaliatory power must be vast in terms of its potential. But the extent to which it would be used would, of course, depend on circumstances. The essential is that a would-be aggressor should realise that he cannot make armed aggression a paying proposition…

But we do not believe that the only way to security is through ever-mounting armaments. We consider that controls and reduction of arms are possible, desirable, and, in the last reckoning, indispensable…¬†Armaments are nothing that we crave. Their possession is forced on us by the aggressive and devious designs of international communism. An arms race is costly, sterile, and dangerous. We shall not cease our striving to bring it to a dependable end…”

On American aid:

“The United States, as the most productive and prosperous nation, assists other nations which are at an early stage of self-development. It is sobering to recall that about two-thirds of all the people who resist communist rule exist in a condition of stagnant poverty. communism boasts that it could change all that and points to industrial developments wrought in Russia at a cruel, but largely concealed, cost in terms of human slavery and human misery.

The question is whether free but undeveloped countries can end stagnation for their people without paying such a dreadful price. Friendly nations expect that those who have abundantly found the blessings of liberty should help those who still await those blessings… Just as our policy concerns itself with economic development, so too our policy concerns itself with political change…”

On communism:

“Communism in practice has proved to be oppressive, reactionary, unimaginative. Its despotism, far from being revolutionary, is as old as history. Those subject to it, in vast majority, hate the system and yearn for a free society.

The question of how the United States should deal with this matter is not easily answered. Our history, however, offers us a guide. The United States came into being when much of the world was ruled by alien despots. That was a fact we hoped to change. We wanted our example to stimulate liberating forces throughout the world and create a climate in which despotism would shrink. In fact, we did just that…

Let us also make apparent to the Soviet rulers our real purpose. We condemn and oppose their imperialism. We seek the liberation of the captive nations. We seek this, however, not in order to encircle Russia with hostile forces but because peace is in jeopardy and freedom a word of mockery until the divided nations are reunited and the captive nations are set free.”