Address by the President of the United States to the Congress, March 17, 1948


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At the very moment I am addressing you, five nations of the European community, in Brussels, are signing a 50-year agreement2 for economic cooperation and common defense against aggression.

This action has great significance, for this agreement was not imposed by the decree of a more powerful neighbor. It was the free choice of independent governments representing the will of their people, and acting within, the terms of the Charter of the United Nations.

Its significance goes far beyond the actual terms of the agreement itself. It is a notable step in the direction of unity in Europe for the protection and preservation of its civilization. This development deserves our full support. I am confident that the United States will, by [Page 55] appropriate means, extend47 to the free nations the support which the situation requires. I am sure that the determination of the free countries of Europe to protect themselves will be matched by an equal determination on our part to help them to do so.

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The recommendations I have made represent the most urgent steps toward securing the peace and preventing war.

We must be ready to take every wise and necessary step to carry out this great purpose. This will require assistance to other nations. It will require an adequate and balanced military strength. We must be prepared to pay the price of war.

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  1. For complete text, see Department of State Bulletin, March 28, 1948, p. 418, or Public Papers of the Presidents, Harry S. Truman, 1948, p. 182.
  2. See editorial note on Brussels Treaty, supra.