710.H Continental Solidarity/2

Radio Bulletin No. 267

White House Press Conference

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A correspondent inquired whether anything could be said with regard to the study being made of national defense needs. The President referred to a White House conference yesterday afternoon attended by Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau, Works Progress Administrator Hopkins, Solicitor General Jackson, Assistant Secretary of War Johnson, the Chief of Staff and other War Department officers, and went on to speak of the nature of the study being undertaken. He said that world events during the last few years and scientific advancement in methods of waging war had required a change in the whole orientation of this country with relation to the continent on which we lived—from Canada to Tierra del Fuego. He said that [Page 39] there existed today a continental solidarity among the twenty-one American republics and Canada which was more definite and unanimous than had ever before been the case in the one hundred and twenty years since the Latin American republics were struggling for independence. There was now substantial unanimity in the belief that as a continental doctrine we must be prepared to carry on the outline of continental solidarity established at Buenos Aires, and it was accordingly necessary to see what steps might be required to maintain this continental solidarity against any threat from outside. The first thing realized was that possible attack had been brought infinitely closer than it was twenty or even five years ago. One of the several reasons for this fact was the development of aircraft. The President said that a study was therefore being made of national defense and continental solidarity with the possibility of an attack from other continents in mind. He said that the study had not yet reached the point where figures could be cited, but that it might be said that continental safety today was far too low. Steps to remedy the situation would be taken with the resources already at the disposal of the Government, and Congress would be asked for legislation to place the defense of the continent against attack from any other continent on a safe basis.

A correspondent inquired whether this meant that national defense had now become a question of continental defense. The President replied that this was the case, in cooperation with the other American republics and with Canada. Asked whether the possibility of a defection from continental solidarity had been taken into consideration, the President said that he anticipated no such defection. Asked whether study was being given to the construction of a fleet sufficient for the defense of both coasts simultaneously, the President replied in the negative. In reply to an inquiry as to what steps would be necessary to finance the program involved, the President said that it was not yet possible to say. A correspondent inquired whether revision of the neutrality legislation was included in the program. The President replied in the negative, saying that what was under study was measures of national defense. A correspondent asked whether the Philippine Islands were being taken into consideration. The President replied that the American flag still floated over the Philippines.

A correspondent asked what it was that had made it necessary to undertake the national defense study at this particular time. In reply, the President advised the correspondent to read the newspapers for the last five years.

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