Secretary’s memoranda, lot 53 D 444

The Under Secretary of State (Webb) to the President 1

Memorandum for the President

Subject: Congressional Debate on Foreign Policy during the Eighty-second Congress

It is clear that your State-of-the-Union message and Senator Taft’s announced statement on foreign policy will precipitate the full-scale debate on foreign policy which is brewing.2 Under the circumstances this is both inevitable and desirable.

Although the Administration policies are sound and are consistent with the natural inclinations of most Americans, dangerous confusion has been created in the public mind by persistent Republican attacks. The Republicans in Congress have been and are well organized to conduct this debate. The Democrats in the Congress have not been well organized to combat these attacks effectively. If they are to make a clear and convincing statement of policy which will be understood and supported despite Republican efforts to create confusion, it is now imperative that they be organized by the leadership. Your meeting with the new leadership on Monday morning is an ideal opportunity to start this organization, and in view of the urgency it should not be delayed beyond that time.3 Enclosed is a memorandum of suggested points which it is recommended you take up with the leadership at this meeting.


Notes for Conference With Leadership on Foreign Policy Debate4

1. Impress on leadership the vital importance to country of creating an understanding of our foreign policy and support for it out of the confusion which the Republicans have created during the last campaign and are still trying to create. Mention the particular importance of public support of the policy of collective security as contrasted with the isolationism being preached by Hoover, Taft, and [Joseph] Kennedy.

2. Point out that there is no common “Republican policy”—their entire effort has been to create confusion by attacking Administration [Page 16] efforts. They have been able to do this with great success because they are very well organized both in the Senate and the House and have an effective speech-writing machine.

3. Democratic foreign policy as carried out by the President and as enacted by the Congress during the last several years is fundamentally sound and is consistent with the natural sympathies of the American people. What we must do is to make it plainly understood despite the organized Republican efforts to spread confusion and doubt.

4. In view of the Republican organization, it is absolutely vital that the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the House create an even better organization to support the Democratic program. To do this it will be necessary to arrange for a group of able speakers to make speeches on the Floor in an organized program which the leaders personally keep on schedule.

5. The President’s State-of-the-Union message on Monday will open the debate. It is understood that Senator Taft is planning to make a full statement of his views on foreign policy immediately thereafter. The Democrats in the Senate and the House should therefore be prepared to start their speeches in the next day or so.

6. The President will depend on the leadership to make these arrangements with the Senators and Representatives whom the leadership feels are most appropriate and best qualified.

7. The President has reiterated Ms standing directions to the State Department to be available to the leadership on a day-and-night basis to help them and any of the members who are joining in this effort to clarify public understanding of the issues through furnishing materials, drafting speeches, and whatever else may be requested. They shall call upon Mr. Webb for this.

  1. Drafted by the Legal Adviser, Adrian Fisher.
  2. See editorial note, supra.
  3. No record has been found in the Department of State files of discussions between the President and Secretary or Under Secretary of State on this topic, but see editorial note, p. 22.
  4. The source text indicated that this paper was drafted by the Legal Adviser, Adrian Fisher, on January 4, 1951.