It was 50 years ago on August 31st when President Dwight Eisenhower joined with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan for a historic TV/radio broadcast presentation.
The two leaders met in London at Number 10 Downing Street. They had much on their minds with the tensions of the Cold War. Only months earlier, when Macmillan visited Eisenhower at Camp David, there was fear of possible war with the Soviet Union over Berlin.
And during the broadcast what do you think Ike said was the greatest long-term challenge facing Western civilization? Not the Cold War, but rather the hunger and poverty facing developing nations.
Ike said. “I believe in a sense that the problem of the underdeveloped nations is more lasting, more important, for Western civilization than is this problem of the Soviet-Western differences and quarrel. There are….seven hundred million people that today are living without sufficient food, shelter, clothing, and health facilities. Now they are not going to remain quiescent. They are learning something about their own lot, and they are comparing their lot with ours, sitting here this evening. They are just going to have an explosion if we don’t help. I believe the biggest cooperative job that all the world that calls itself civilized, including the Soviets, ought to address themselves to is this problem.”
Today, the Cold War is long behind us while the struggle to end global hunger and poverty goes on. The number of people suffering from hunger is over 1 billion. How will the United States and the international community respond? Will Congress pass the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation?
Eisenhower, in his memoirs, continued along the same theme noting, “underprivileged populations are certain to grow less and less tolerant of wastefulness on the part of those productive and more fortunate peoples who could, relieved of paying for the weapons of destruction, be of greater help in providing the tools for life.“
Ike’s atoms for peace, open skies and nuclear test ban proposals were meant to reverse this dangerous trend. They failed to do so during the Cold War. But today with hopes of continued nuclear arms reductions with Russia and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, there are new opportunities for cooperation. For instance, the Global Security Priorities Resolution introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and Daniel E. Lungren of California calls for diverting savings from nuclear disarmament to help fight child hunger.
Global Security Priorities Resolution:
Recognizing the paramount need to address the threat of international terrorism and protect the international security of the United States by reducing the number of and accessibility to nuclear weapons and preventing their proliferation, and directing a portion of the resulting savings towards child survival, hunger and universal education, and calling on the president to take action to achieve these goals.
Read the full text here.
Click here to listen to an excerpt from Eisenhower and Macmillan on August 31, 1959.
Click here to listen to President Eisenhower’s Food for Peace speech on September 1st, 1960.
Also, in September, 1960 Eisenhower would propose an international food for peace effort which would eventually become the United Nations World Food Programme.
article originally published at Examiner.com on September 1st, 2009