The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Friday—I am very glad that we are beginning to think and talk about disarmament. This first move made in the United Nations to request all countries to give information on the number of men they have under arms, both at home and abroad, is purely preliminary, but I think it will have a very good effect and will fix attention on the fact that one of the objectives toward which we are working today is a step-by-step disarmament.

We know that this must be general. We know that no single country can disarm without inviting disaster. A weak country is always a temptation to a stronger one. But if all countries, great and small, disarm together and turn their policing powers over to the United Nations, they will find themselves in a far more stable world situation.

Working in the United Nations, one of the things which one is bound to run into, sooner or later, is the fear of the small nations as regards their relationship with the big ones. You will find them pathetically trying to please two or three of the big powers at once, a trick which is not always easy. Hence, the centralization of policing powers and the gradual disarmament of all nations is essential to bring freedom from fear of aggression.

* * *

People come to me constantly with admirable programs for improving good feeling throughout the world. Many of the programs deal with children and education. Some of them are economic and cultural and would make a difference in the normal living standards of people and in their enjoyment of life.

Almost invariably, however, these programs require money, and one finds oneself unconsciously trying to eliminate anything which is not completely essential. For instance, in the U.N., there have been established two specialized agencies which deal with essentials in improving the lot of human beings. One is the World Health Organization, the other the UNESCO. But their work will grow slowly and will be limited by the fact that money will have to be appropriated by different nations.

The nations which carry heavy military budgets are going to find it hard to meet their obligations for defense and for internal developments and administration, as well as their international obligations. Probably the biggest expense for all of the larger countries today is the cost of their defense armament, and yet these expenditures cannot be limited until all the other nations of the world are ready to do likewise. We learned our lesson, I hope, after the last war, and this time we all must attempt to stay together and to reduce our armament expenditures simultaneously.

Now that an answer is finally being found for the troublesome question of Trieste, let us hope that we have broken the deadlock in the Council of Foreign Ministers and that the rest of their negotiations will be comparatively easy. A spirit of cooperation and compromise on this level may increase the cooperation on every level within the United Nations.

E. R.


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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 30, 1946

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.