Former Secretary of the Treasury John Connally warned that the U.S. must not take an isolationist stance in world affairs in the course of a speech to about 400 people at the Science Center last night. Connally said U.S. military superiority and American protection of other countries fosters free trade, promotes world prosperity, and helps to prevent a nuclear war.
"I am disturbed by those who say we should disarm," Connally said. He added that if the U.S. lost its military primacy, the Soviet Union would have no incentive to enter the SALT talks.
When asked whether he will run for president in 1980, Connally said it was too early to say. He added that he would not want to run out of personal ambition, saying "They've taken all the fun out of the job."
Connally noted that there had been periods of isolationism after both World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam wars. The Russian launching of Sputnik broke the isolationism of the '50s, he added, beginning a successful American struggle for technological superiority.
Connally also said he felt Americans were interested in "minding their own business and being left alone."
He added that after World War II, "We were in a position to subjugate other people," but we "disbanded our armies and came home."
The former governor of Texas said he favored free international trade. He noted, however, a world wide trend towards increased "nationalism" and economic "protectionism," because of unfavorable economic conditions such as the sharp oil price rises of recent years.
Protectionism is also on the rise in America, Connally said. The U.S. is importing large amounts of products such as steel, a policy that may deprive American workers of jobs, he added.
However, Connally said he opposed import tarriffs.
Connally said he was in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment, adding that women "won't like it as much as they think they would."
Connally came to Harvard as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Politics. Among his other activities were a press conference yesterday, and a lecture today at the Law School.