Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 24, No. 15. 1961.
The Western Objective
The Western Objective
In the face of Soviet pressure, President Kennedy requested an increase in American military capacity, asking Congress to approve: (1) $3.4 billion more for defence, in addition to $44.1 billion already requested and (2) an increase in military manpower of 225,000 men which would boost the Army strength from 875,000 to 1,000,000 men, and the Air Force and Navy by smaller amounts. The American armed forces now number 2,473,000 men, compared to 3,500,- 000 in the Soviet military forces. The Soviet Army includes about 150 active divisions, 20 of them in East Germany, as contrasted to an American ground force of 17 divisions, five of them with Nato forces in West Germany.
While warning that the build-up in American forces was necessary to meet the Soviet threat, Mr. Kennedy, in his special address to the American people on July 25, re-stated America's readiness to engage in diplomatic negotiations with the Soviet Union. "If they (the Soviets) have proposals, not demands," the President said, "we shall hear them. If they seek genuine understanding, not concessions of our rights, we shall meet them ... we shall ... be ready to search for peace — in quiet exploratory talks, in formal or informal meetings."
The West seeks at this time only to maintain the present arrangement in Berlin against the Soviet attempts to alter it by force and threats. (It is significant that the Soviet Premier would "free" — that is, demilitarize — only West Berlin, not the Communist controlled East Berlin section).
What is the situation in Berlin?
As President Kennedy pointed out on July 19:
|1.||Today there is peace in Berlin, in Germany and in Europe. If that peace is destroyed by the unilateral actions of the Soviet Union, its leaders will bear a heavy responsibility before world opinion and history.|
|2.||Today the people of West Berlin are free. In that sense it is already a "free city"—free to determine its own leaders and to enjoy the fundamental human rights reaffirmed in the United Nations Charter.|
|3.||Today the continued presence in West Berlin of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, is by clear legal right, arising from war (World War II), acknowledged in many agreements signed by the Soviet Union and strongly supported by the overwhelming majority of the people of that city. . . They cannot be affected by a so-called peace treaty, covering only a part of Germany (East), with a regime of the Soviet Union's own creation—a regime which is not representative of all or any part of Germany . . . The steady stream of East German refugees is eloquent testimony to that fact.|