Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958

Author: Dwight D. Eisenhower  | Date: February 19, 1958

Special Message to the Congress on the Mutual Security Program.
February 19, 1958

To the Congress of the United States

The State of the Union message this year set forth an eight-point program required to focus the resources of America upon the urgent tasks of security and peace. As an essential element of that effort, I recommended the vigorous continuation of our Mutual Security Program. I now ask enactment of the legislation that will accomplish this.

It is my duty to make clear my profound conviction that the vigorous advancement of this Program is our only logical course. An alternative there is—to discontinue or sharply reduce the Program—but the consequences would be:
—a severe dislocation and basic impairment of free world power;

—a certain crumbling, under Sino-Soviet pressures, of our strategic overseas positions and a forcing of these positions progressively back toward our own shores;

—a massive increase in our own defense budget, in amounts far exceeding mutual security appropriations, necessitating increases in taxes;

—a heavy increase in inductions of American youth into our own armed forces; and

—ultimately a beleaguered America, her freedoms limited by mounting defense costs, and almost alone in a world dominated by international communism.

Those who would consider this alternative to support of our Mutual Security Program must measure well these consequences.

Since the Mutual Security Program was initiated ten years ago, its essentials have remained the same: Its means are military, economic and technical cooperation with other nations. Its object is to preserve peaceand freedom for our nation and for other nations of the free world. Its achievement is what its name declares—the mutual security of our own and other free nations.

It is easy to forget our fears of only a decade ago that France, Italy, and other nations of Europe devastated by war would be engulfed by the Red tide. Due in major measure to this great program, these and other nations of Asia and the Middle East are free today and stand with us against Communist domination.

It is also our Mutual Security Program which has afforded the critical margin of assistance required by still other nations, great and small, in order to make the economic progress essential to their survival.

The accomplishments under this program in building the military strength of the free world have been dramatic. Since 1950, when the military assistance program was inaugurated, the ground forces of countries associated with us for collective defense have grown to include nearly 5 million well trained and equipped fighting men situated at strategic locations around the world. Naval forces have increased by over 100%, and the air forces of these nations now include 39,000 aircraft, of which over 14,000 are jets. In the build-up of their forces, the nations associated with us have spent over five times as much as we have expended on military assistance.

The value of the Mutual Security Program to our national safety and to freedom throughout the world is many times greater than its cost.


The United States will keep its own military forces strong and ready. But we must not allow concentration on our military might to divert us from other essential objectives of our national security program.

The major objectives of our security effort are to provide opportunities for the advancement of peace and freedom: First, by deterring general nuclear war; Second, by preventing local Sino-Soviet aggression; and Third, by forestalling Communist subversion or massive economic penetration of other nations.

In achieving these major objectives of our national security effort, the Mutual Security Program is indispensable.

Deterring Total War
All mankind has a revulsion against nuclear war. We prayerfully hope that this sentiment will ultimately persuade the Soviet Governmentto participate in a plan of genuine disarmament. Until then, however, we must maintain the deterrent power of our armed forces. This power is immeasurably increased by the cooperation of nations friendly to us-in Europe, Africa, the Near East, and Far East, and in our own hemisphere—and by the forward bases there maintained.

The Mutual Security Program plays a direct part in the availability of bases from which strategic striking forces can be staged and fueled. Similarly, it makes possible the logistic, warning, and defense facilities essential to the operation of these bases.

The importance of these facts increases as intermediate range ballistic missiles provide this supplement to our striking power

Preventing Local Aggression
Our defensive power must be directed as well toward deterring local aggressions which could lead to global war or to piecemeal absorption of the free world by Communist imperialism. It is imperative that the free world maintain strong conventional forces capable of dealing effectively with such aggressions whenever and wherever they may occur. America alone cannot maintain such forces on the scale required. They must be developed by the threatened nations themselves.

Those nations are anxious to provide for their own defense. They can supply the men and much of the needed facilities and support. But many of them lack the modern industries necessary to provide military equipment or they lack the economic strength needed to bear the full burden of the agreed military effort. To maintain this effort they must have help.

We provide this help—arms through military assistance and economic aid through defense support.

In short, our own military strength, great as it is, is vastly increased by the power of our allies, by the bases we have jointly established and by the whole fabric of our collective security system.

Prevention of Communist Subversion and Penetration
It is not enough, however, that our military assistance and defense support help to prevent Communist expansion by force of arms. We are equally concerned by the danger of Communist absorption of whole nations by subversion or economic penetration.

Military strength alone is not an adequate barrier to this insidious process.

To defeat the spread of Communism by these means, economic progress is essential.

Our technical assistance and economic development programs serve this larger purpose. They are addressed for the most part to the less developed countries of the free world, because it is in these countries that freedom now hangs most precariously in the balance.

More than one billion people live in these newly developing nations. These people want economic as well as political independence; they want education and the enriched life it will bring; they want a voice in world affairs; and they want urgently to have the material advances made possible by modern technology.

The governments of these newly developing countries are now under pressure from within to fulfill the hopes and needs of their people for education and economic betterment. They are exposed to Communist enticements and threats. Against a background of massive social and economic problems, solid steps toward solving these problems have been taken.

But even with the most determined local effort, in many countries the prospects for economic growth—unassisted—are not promising. If free institutions are to survive in these countries they must have external help. They must have technical assistance to train their manpower, to explore their resources and use them productively. They must have supplementary capital from abroad for investment in agriculture, power, transportation, and industry. They must have help to tide them over economic difficulties that threaten their stability and cohesion. They must have increasing trade with availability of necessary imports and growing markets over a long term.

It is the purpose of our economic and technical assistance programs to enlarge the community of nations that can meet the aspirations of their people for economic and social improvement. We can help to demonstrate that growth can be achieved more readily in conditions of freedom, that it is not necessary to sacrifice liberty for bread.

It is also in our interest to establish a sound basis for effective international cooperation. Poverty is a divisive force in the world. Working together with the people of less developed countries in a common attack on poverty, we talk a common language that all men understand andwe help to establish the basis for better relations and more enduring cooperation among free nations.

We also have an economic interest in promoting the development of the free world. In the years to come, the increased economic strength of less developed countries should prove mutually beneficial in providing growing markets for exports, added opportunities for investment, and more of the basic materials we need from abroad.

The leaders of the Communist bloc are acutely aware that the economic needs of many independent Nations offer Communism a valuable opportunity to influence the political direction in which those Nations will move. for the past three years, the Soviet Union, Communist China and the satellite nations have been offering increasing amounts of economic and technical aid to countries of the free world, often under conditions that, on the surface, are appealing. They have already concluded agreements for aid involving substantial sums, and additional offers are outstanding. In several free nations, the aid pledged by the Communist bloc equals or exceeds that made available to them from free world nations in the same period.

If the purpose of Soviet aid to any country were simply to help it overcome economic difficulties without infringing its freedom, such aid could be welcomed as forwarding the free world purpose of economic growth. But there is nothing in the history of international Communism to indicate this can be the case. Until such evidence is forthcoming, we and other free nations must assume that Soviet bloc aid is a new, subtle and long-range instrument directed toward the same old purpose of drawing its recipient away from the community of free nations and ultimately into the Communist orbit.

The newly independent countries will not knowingly choose subordination. They are proud of their sovereignty. They know recent history which shows plainly that whenever the opportunity has arisen, the Soviet Union has swallowed up its neighbors and is willing to use tanks to crush attempts to gain freedom from Soviet domination.

Yet if newly developing countries are forced to choose between abandoning development programs demanded by their people or achieving them through Communist bloc assistance, the opportunity for Communist economic penetration will be greatly enhanced.

The United States provided economic and technical help for development for many years before the Soviet economic offensive began. It isnow all the more important that we and other developed nations of the free world should continue and increase effective programs of aid which may be relied on by the less developed countries to give them timely and substantial help.

So long as the uncommitted countries know that the rest of the free world shares their aspirations and is prepared to help them achieve economic and social progress in independence and freedom, we can be confident that the cause of the free world will prevail.


The Mutual Security Program which I recommend for FY 1959 contains essentially the same component parts as authorized by the Congress last session. To carry out this program I request $3,942,100,000.

Military Assistance
Military assistance continues to be the essential program by which we join with our allied and associated nations in maintaining well-armed forces in NATO, the Baghdad Pact, the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and in other key nations in the far East and Southeast Asia. Through this program we also supply advanced weapons to our allies in Europe and elsewhere for their effective defense.

The mutual defense assistance which we have furnished, and are proposing to furnish, to nations, organizations, and areas of the free world will continue to make them more able to defend themselves, and will thereby strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.

I ask for $1800 million for military assistance. This sum will be sufficient to maintain during FY 1959 the level of deliveries carried out in FY 1957 and projected for FY 1958.

Defense Support
for defense support I request $835 million to go to twelve countries that are supporting substantial military forces. These funds are needed to enable the recipient countries to make a mutually agreed contribution to our common military effort. This amount is substantially what I requested last year for support to these same twelve countries. Of the total amount, 70% would be used in four countries—Korea, the Republic of China, Viet-Nam, and Turkey.

Special Assistance
Several of our mutual security needs, some closely related to our collective security effort, cannot be met through other categories of assistance. for these we shall need to provide Special Assistance. I request $212 million for Special Assistance. This will serve two main interests:

First, Special Assistance helps maintain political and economic stability in certain nations where we do not support substantial military forces. Among such nations are Morocco and Libya where we have Strategic Air Command bases of great importance. In FY 1958 assistance of this nature was included within the category of defense support. It will help clarify the purpose of this assistance if it is now provided as Special Assistance.

Second, Special Assistance supports another group of activities not falling properly under other categories of the Act, for example, a continuation of the world-wide malaria eradication program, the European technical exchange program, and a program in Latin America to provide training and civilian type equipment to military engineer units for construction of useful public projects.

Development Loan Fund
This Congress in its first session established the Development Loan fund to help friendly nations strengthen themselves by encouraging the development of their economies on the basis of self-help and mutual cooperation.

This action was taken to place our economic development assistance on the long-term basis essential for sound planning and execution of development programs. The Congress appropriated initial capital of $300 million. The fact that the fund has already received applications totalling well over one billion dollars is a measure of the hopes which these newly developing nations place in it.

I request that the $625 million already authorized to be made available beginning in FY 1959 be appropriated in full. This full amount is needed as additional capital for the fund in order that its basic objectives may be realized.

The fund’s long-term character set it apart from economic assistance elsewhere provided in the Mutual Security Program. I believe it is wise,therefore, to identify the fund as a separate entity. I am accordingly requesting incorporation of the fund with a Board of Directors which will both act as the governing body of the fund and assure coordination with our foreign policy objectives, with other mutual security activities and with lending activities of the Export-Import Bank and the International Bank.

Technical Cooperation
Our technical cooperation program is well established and has wide support of the American people. It should be gradually increased as additional able, well-trained technicians can be prepared to work abroad. for this program I ask $ 142 million for FY 1959.

I also ask $20 million for the U. S. contribution to the United Nations Technical Assistance Program. At the recent meeting of the General Assembly, the United States took the lead in proposing an expansion of this program, including the establishment of a special projects fund, in order to meet repeated and urgent requests from the newly developing nations for forms of technical development not now available from the United Nations. The proposal, if fully implemented by contributions from United Nations members, would ultimately result in a United Nations program of $ 100 million a year. I anticipate that an appropriation of $20 million will be sufficient to meet our obligations under this arrangement during the coming fiscal year.

In addition I request $1.5 million to continue our contribution to the work of the Organization of American States.

Contingency fund
Past experience has proven time and again that, as the fiscal year develops, contingencies will arise for which funds will be needed. Some of these can be foreseen but without certainty as to the amounts; some cannot now be foreseen. Considering the turbulent state of the world today, I believe a fund of $200 million for contingencies is the minimum that will be needed for these purposes. funds in the same amount were requested for FY 1958 as a clearly distinguished part of Special Assistance. The important need for such funds can more clearly be identified through a separate appropriation to be used as required under the established categories of assistance.

Other Programs
For other programs I ask the appropriation of $106.6 million. As in past years these funds will provide for our contribution to the United Nations Children’s fund, certain refugee programs, the Atoms-for-Peace program and for the cost of administering the economic programs. This administrative cost includes initial funds for bringing about an increase in the training of employees to speak the language of the countries in which they will serve. This is increasingly important because many of the newly independent nations speak languages in which we have few experts.


In recommending to you the vigorous continuation of our Mutual Security Program, I am conscious of the feeling of some that desirable developments should be accomplished in this country before funds are used for development abroad.

This feeling springs in large part from the kind of misunderstandings typified by the name so often attached to this program: "foreign aid." This name is often used as though the program were some sort of giveaway or handout to foreigners, without benefit to ourselves.

For all the reasons I have discussed, the very opposite is true. Our Mutual Security Program is of transcendent importance to the security of the United States.

No one would seriously argue that funds for our own military forces should be denied until desirable civilian projects had been provided for. Yet our expenditures for mutual security are fully as important to our national defense as expenditures for our own forces, and dollar for dollar buy us more in security.

For the safety of our families, the future of our children and our continued existence as a nation, we cannot afford to slacken our support of the Mutual Security Program. The program I have recommended represents the smallest amount we may wisely invest in mutual security during the coming year.


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Chicago: Dwight D. Eisenhower, "32 Special Message to the Congress on the Mutual Security Program.," Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.870 161–167. Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2024,

MLA: Eisenhower, Dwight D. "32 Special Message to the Congress on the Mutual Security Program." Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.870, pp. 161–167. Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2024.

Harvard: Eisenhower, DD, '32 Special Message to the Congress on the Mutual Security Program.' in Public Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.870, pp.161–167. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2024, from