Died 9 February 1995 – J. William Fulbright, former United States Senator from Arkansas and the longest serving chairman in the history of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Fulbright was a brilliant and principled man with a global vision, and in consequence he was nearly always on the right side of history in his judgments. He opposed McCarthyism, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. He supported the creation of the United Nations and established an international educational exchange program for students, scholars, and teachers that bears his name – The Fulbright Program. Our nation today badly needs men and women like Senator Fulbright to provide leadership for America during a time when so many intellectual, ethical, and cultural pygmies presume themselves to be worthy candidates for political office, including and especially the Presidency.
Below are a few quotations from J. William Fulbright. I suggest that readers ponder them in light of both past and current events.
“I’m sure that President Johnson would never have pursued the war in Vietnam if he’d ever had a Fulbright to Japan, or say Bangkok, or had any feeling for what these people are like and why they acted the way they did. He was completely ignorant.”
“In our excessive involvement in the affairs of other countries, we are not only living off our assets and denying our own people the proper enjoyment of their resources; we are also denying the world the example of a free society enjoying its freedom to the fullest.”
“In the name of noble purposes men have committed unspeakable acts of cruelty against one another.”
“Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God’s work.”
“The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust our own government statements. I had no idea until then that you could not rely on them.”
“There is an inevitable divergence between the world as it is and the world as men perceive it.”
“What they fear, I think rightly, is that traditional Vietnamese society cannot survive the American economic and cultural impact.”
“When we violate the law ourselves, whatever short-term advantage may be gained, we are obviously encouraging others to violate the law; we thus encourage disorder and instability and thereby do incalculable damage to our own long-term interests.”
“The price of empire is America’s soul, and that price is too high.”