Walter Cronkite on World Government - The Most Trusted Man in America
The speech below was delivered during October of 1999 by Walter Cronkite as he accepted the Norman Cousins Award for World Governance.
Cronkite was a broadcast journalist and served as the evening anchor for CBS News for many years - retiring in 1981. He carried the moniker, “The most trusted man in America” after being selected as such by a national poll.
A search on the web with the terms, “Cronkite Cousins” yields the purported text of his acceptance speech, but once compared with the currently available video, you can see much of the supplied text is different. The video is also intermingled with multiple edits - ie entire paragraphs are missing. If you watch the video closely, you can see glitches indicating where the edits are located.
A copy of the best available video can be seen here Walkter Cronkite and World Government.
The results of a transcription of the available video is displayed here. It's possible the textual version prevalent on the web is an official version distributed by the Norman Cousins group.
To fill in the gaps caused by the edits, the text from the “official version” is interwoven with the transcription where the clipped video occurs. These sections are indicated by the marks, <video skip> and <video resume>. The original text from the missing video cannot be validated since there's currently no video available.
If anyone has a copy of the original, unedited version of the video, please contact me at BLSkaggs@Outlook.com.
I am greatly honored, quite obviously, by the Norman Cousins Global Government, uh, Governance award. I'll try to get it right, since I will be referring to it frequently of course, from now on. First, well there are two reasons really why I'm particularly grateful and honored by this award. The first, I believe as Norman Cousins did, that the first priority of humankind in this difficult era is to establish an effective system of world law that will assure peace with justice among the peoples of all the world. Second, I feel rather sentimental about this award and this organization because half a century ago, Norman Cousins offered me a job as the spokesman and a Washington lobbyist for the really nascent organization called World Federalist. I was honored. He and Oscar Hammerstein met me in the Waldorf, and twisted my arm quite vigorously, to get me to take the job to take the place of Ted Waller, who was the first lobbyist and a noted supporter of the World Federalist movement.
I chose instead, it turned out, to continue in the world of journalism. For many years, I did my best to report on the issues of the day with as much fairness as I possibly could and in objective of a manner as possible to achieve. When I had my own strong opinions, I tried to put them aside for the moment in the interest of fairness. I didn't communicate them, I hoped, to my audience. Now however, now however, my circumstances are considerably different. I'm in a position to speak my mind, and by god, I'm gonna do it.
You know, those of us who are living today can truly influence the future of civilization. We can influence whether our planet is going to live or die. Whether it's going to drift into chaos and violence, or whether through a monumental educational and political effort, a monumental effort, we will achieve a world of peace under a system of law where individual violators of that law are brought to justice.
<video skip>For most of this fairly long life I have been an optimist harboring a belief that as our globe shrank, as our communication miracles brought us closer together, we would begin to appreciate the commonality of our universal desire to live in peace and that we would do something to satisfy that yearning of all peoples. Today I find it harder to cling to that hope.<video resume>
For how many thousands of years now have we humans been what we insist on calling “civilized”? And yet, in total contradiction, we also persist in the savage belief that we must occasionally, at least, settle our arguments by killing each another.
While we spend much of our time and a great deal of our treasure in preparing for war, we see no comparable effort in establishing peace. Meanwhile, emphasizing the sloth in this regard, those advocates who work for world peace by urging a system of world law and order, a world government if you please, are called impractical dreamers. Those “impractical dreamers” are entitled, it seems to me, to ask their critics, “What is so darn practical about war?”
<video skip>It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict we must strengthen The United Nations as a first step toward a world government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace. To do that, of course,<video resume> first, we Americans are going to have to yield up some of our sovereignty. That's going to be to many a bitter pill. It would take a lot of courage, a lot of faith, a lot of persuasion for them to come along with us on this necessity.<video skip> But the American colonies did it once and brought forth one of the most nearly perfect unions the world has ever seen. The circumstances were vastly different, obviously. Yet just because the task appears forbiddingly hard, we should not shirk it. We cannot defer this responsibility to posterity. Democracy, civilization itself, is at stake. Within the next few years we must change the basic structure of our global community from the present anarchic system of war and ever more destructive weaponry to a new system governed by a democratic U.N. Federation.
Let's focus on a few specifics of what the leadership of the World Federalist movement believe must be done now to advance the rule of world law. For starters, we can draw on the wisdom of the framers of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The differences among the American states then were as bitter as differences among nation-states in the world today. In their almost miraculous insight, the founders of our country invented “federalism”, a concept that is rooted in the rights of the individual. Our federal system guarantees a maximum of freedom but provides it in a framework of law and justice.<video resume> Our forefathers believed that the closer the laws are to the people, the better. Cities legislate on local matters, of course; states make decisions on matters within their borders; and the national government deals with issues that transcend the states, such as interstate commerce, foreign relations. That's what we mean by federalism.
Today we must develop federal structures on a global level to deal with world problems. We need a system of enforceable world law, a democratic federal world government You know, what Alexander Hamilton wrote about the need for law among the 13 states applies today to the approximately 200 sovereignties in our global village: all of which are going have to be convinced to give up some of that sovereignty to the better, greater union. Hamilton said, and it's not going to be easy. Hamilton said, “To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages.”
Today the notion of unlimited national sovereignty means international anarchy. We must replace the anarchic law of force with a civilized force of law.
Ours is never going to be a perfect world for heaven's sake, we all know that. There can't be a world without some disagreement, probably occasional violence. But it will be a world where the overwhelming majority of national leaders will consistently abide by the rule of world law, if we have our way, and can sell our program. And those who won't obey the law, the international law with which will be governed, are going to be dealt with effectively, and with due process of the structures of that same world law. You know, we're never going to have a city without crime, we certainly would never want to live in a city without law, a law to deal with the criminals who are always among us.
The three suggestions with which I've been furnished for immediate action that would move us in the direction firmly in the American tradition of law and democracy are these.
First, keep our promises, for heaven's sakes. We helped create The United Nations of course. We helped develop the U.N. assessment formula, by which it is financed. Americans overwhelmingly, I think every poll shows it, wants us to pay our U.N. dues. Wants us to pay them with none of these crippling limitations that we, with our arrogance seem to want to impose. We owe it to the world. In fact, we owe it not only to the world, we owe it as well to our national self-esteem. How embarrassing it is to go among the peoples of the world, knowing what they know about our niggardliness, please get that word right if anybody quotes me, at The United Nations.
And second, ratify the treaty, ratify several treaties. Ratify the treaty, for goodness sakes, to ban land mines. Why can't we understand that? Our representatives worked hard and long to get The Law of the Sea Treaty, and we haven't ratified it even. Selfish interests that dictate not the national interest or the international interest. These are other treaties we haven't ratified, The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. A treaty with a catchy phrase, a catchy title, The Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The title may not be catchy, but the idea certainly is. And The Convention on the Rights of the Child. We haven't even done that. Most important, we should sign and ratify the treaty for a permanent international criminal court. That is now at the core of the World Federalist movement's drive. That court will enable the world to hold individuals accountable for their crimes against humanity.
And the third point, just consider, if you will, after 55 years, the possibility of a more representative and democratic system of decision making at the UN This should include both revision of the veto in the Security Council, and adoption of a weighted voting system in the General Assembly. Our organization, the World Federalists have endorsed Richard Hudson's Binding Triad Proposal. George Soros, in his recent book, The Crisis of Global Capitalism, has given serious attention to this concept, which would be based upon not only the one-nation-one-vote, but also on population and contributions to the UN budget. Resolutions adopted by majorities in each of these three areas would then be binding, enforceable law. Within the powers given it in the Charter, the UN could then deal with matters of reliable financing, a standing U.N. peace force, development, the environment, and of course, human rights.
Some of you may ask, although I think most of you know the answer, why the Senate is not ratifying these important treaties, and why the Congress is not even paying our U.N. dues? Even as with the American rejection, so many years ago now, of the League of Nations after World War I, our failure to live up to our obligations to the UN is led by a handful of willful senators who choose to pursue their narrow, selfish political objectives at the cost of our nation's conscience. They pander to and are supported by The Christian Coalition and the rest of the religious right wing. Their leader, Pat Robertson, has written in a book, a few years ago, that “We should have a world government, but only when The Messiah arrives.” He wrote and literally, “Any attempt to achieve world order before that time must be the work of the devil!” Well join me. I'm glad to sit here at the right hand of Satan. <video skip>This small but well-organized group has intimidated both the Republican Party and the Clinton administration. It has attacked presidents since F.D.R. for supporting the UN Robertson explains that these presidents are the unwitting agents of Lucifer.<video resume>
The only way we can do it is to organize a strong educational counteroffensive, stretching from the most publicly visible people in all fields to the humblest individuals in each of our communities. That's the vision and the program of The World Federalist Association. It begins with education, and it ends with success and hope.<video skip> The strength of the World Federalist program would serve an important auxiliary purpose at this particular point in our history. There would be immediate diplomatic advantages if the world knew that this country was even beginning to explore the prospect of strengthening the UN We would appear before the peoples of the world as the champion of peace for all by the equitable sharing of power. This in sharp contrast to the growing concern that we intend to use our current dominant military power to enforce a sort of pax Americana.
Our country today is at a stage in our foreign policy similar to that crucial point in our nation's early history when our Constitution was produced in Philadelphia.<video resume> Let us hear the peal of a new international liberty bell that calls us all to the creation of a system of enforceable world law in which the universal desire for peace can place its hope and its prayers. As Carl Van Doren has written, “History is now choosing the founders of the World Federation.” That was back there at the beginning. And he said, “Any person who can be among that number and fails to do so has lost the noblest opportunity of a lifetime.”
Walter Leland Cronkite (1916-2009): Broadcast journalist and longtime news anchor for CBS News.
Norman Cousins (1915-1990): American journalist, editor, and author.
CBS News: News division for the CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) Network. Website: http://www.cbsnews.com.
The World Federalist Association: Now named Citizens for Global Solutions. Started in 1947 under the name, United World Federalists. A Non-Government Organization (NGO) with a goal of world government. Website: http://www.globalsolutions.org.
Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein (1895-1960): An American composer and half of the musical partnership known as Rodgers and Hammerstein. Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and he forged a highly successful partnership as a musical writing team.
The Waldorf Astoria: A luxury hotel located in New York City. Website: http://www.waldorfnewyork.com.
Ted Waller: Lobbyist and early leader of The World Federalist Association.
Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804): Original U.S. Secretary of The Treasury.
The United Nations Convention on The Law of the Sea Treaty: Establishes regulations and administration of the world's oceans and underwater natural resources. Among other aspects, it calls for technology transfers and wealth transfers from developed to undeveloped nations. Website: http://www.unlawoftheseatreaty.org.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: Adopted in 1996, it seeks to ban all nuclear weapons testing by all military and civilian environments. It has not been ratified by all nations. Website: http://www.ctbto.org.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child: A United Nations treaty addressing issues of children. Criticism centers on claims the treaty would subvert decision making of parents in favor of control administered by The United States Federal Government and The United Nations. Website: http://www.unicef.org/crc.
The United Nations Security Council: A section of The United Nations charged with overseeing international peace and security. Website: http://www.un.org/en/sc.
The United Nations General Assembly: The voting body of The United Nations. Website: http://www.un.org/en/ga.
Hudson, Richard: Author of The United Nations Binding Triad Proposal.
The United Nations Binding Triad Proposal: Would alter the voting of the General Assembly to reflect more favorably nations who contribute large portions of the UN's budget and represent larger populations.
Dr. George Soros (1930-): Financial investor known for his support of liberal causes.
The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Commentary of global economics. Authored by Dr. George Soros. Published by PublicAffairs in 1998, ISBN-13: 978-1891620270, 288 pages. Website: http://www.publicaffairsbooks.com.
The League of Nations: Formed in 1920 and conceived as an attempt to foster world peace. An attempt at world government prior to the formation of The United Nations.
The Christian Coalition of America: Originally named The Christian Coalition. Founded in 1989 as a political organization focused on Christian issues by evangelist, Marion Gordon (Pat) Robertson. Website: http://www.cc.org.
Marion Gordon (Pat) Robertson (1930-): Evangelist, author, and broadcaster. Website: http://www.patrobertson.com.
William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton (1946-): The 42nd President of The United States. Served from 1993-2001.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945): The 32nd President of The United States. Served from 1933-1945.
Dr. Carl Van Doren (1885-1950): Biographer and advocate of world government.