NEW YORK, Thursday—Tuesday afternoon I talked at some length with a Dutch publisher and his wife, whose family are Texans, and also with a representative of the press from Norway. All of them have been travelling in the United States and are on their way back to their own countries. They will arrive there in mid-winter. The best they can hope for in heating their offices is to keep a temperature of 48 degrees Fahrenheit. In their homes they can have enough coal to cook one hot meal a day, and that will be all the heat there will be in the whole house!
They cannot help being struck by how little we know of the daily discomforts which still are the familiar experience of all who live in a country where war has been on their doorsteps for the last five years, and where the results of war still are evident on every hand.
These people feel, quite rightly I believe, that the Allies who made a stand against Germany and Japan, are entitled to our help before we do anything beyond the mere subsistence level for our enemies. Of course, I entirely agree with them.
People, and especially children, who have lived through starvation and cold and fear for five years have reached the breaking point and must have help immediately. It is not our purpose to let the German people starve. However, in these past five years, they have had the food and coal taken from the other nations and they are therefore better able to stand the hardships of this winter than are the peoples of our Allies.
My visitors told me how much the American soldier has earned in admiration and respect wherever he fought. I think I detected a hope, though it was not expressed, that the American civilian would not by lack of understanding of the effort needed for peace, tarnish the record of our servicemen. I can hear some say: "The job is too big for the people of this nation. We cannot feed the world or put it on its feet. We must look after our own people."
The answer is, I think, that our own interests can be served successfully only if we do furnish the people who have been close to the war with the tools and the wherewithal to rebuild their own economy. We must not forget that our great domestic demands at present, once they are filled and once the savings made during the war are spent, will leave us a margin of productive capacity which requires markets in other prosperous countries.
We are concerned about the economy of the rest of the world, but it is not an unselfish concern. Whoever coined the phrase "enlightened self-interest" knew very well that human nature is always more easily touched by its own concern. World markets will be vital to our future well being.