JUNE 23, 1947
HYDE PARK, Sunday—The ambassador of the USSR told a group in Chicago the other day that it was "possible and desirable for the Soviet Union and the United States to embark on a policy of cooperation in world affairs." This is extremely interesting, since I can understand very well that at times it must seem to some of the USSR representatives in this country that we are unfair in our press and that we seek to create trouble instead of peace between the two nations. They do not always understand that the press in this country does not represent the government, nor does any one paper represent more than the policy of its owners.
Americans, when they read a certain paper, know exactly the kind of thinking and the group that is represented in its pages. But foreign representatives in this country, particularly those whose press is government-controlled, are apt to take the pronouncements that appear in the press much more seriously than do American citizens. This is unfortunate because it stirs up trouble between governments. Since individuals in this country can also express their opinions freely, regardless of how much backing they may have, that also creates difficulty and wrong impressions outside this country.
As people from other nations come here more often and talk more freely with our citizens, one can only hope that they will gradually learn not to take everything they hear or read as representing the views of either the government or the whole country.
Cooperation is based on negotiations. We must be able to give and take if we are going to work together. For that reason, it is important for the USSR to learn that when they have made a statement of policy, it is only the beginning of reaching an agreement. The final agreement can never be exactly what each individual nation suggested as a policy in the beginning. The policy must be modified by the suggestions of all the other nations. When that is done, then a joint policy can be agreed upon.
Too often, the USSR announces its position and then, though occasionally it changes the words, it never changes the position. That is not negotiation, nor cooperation. It presupposes that if you stick to your own position, you will wear the other people out and they will finally agree with you merely because they are too weary to go on with discussions. Fortunately, the Americans are not made that way. They wish to negotiate. They will willingly make concessions when they are convinced of the fairness and the wisdom of other suggestions. But they do not make concessions simply because they are being browbeaten.
I think it is not only possible but essential that the United States and the USSR learn to get on together, but I think there must be concessions on both sides.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 23, 1947
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
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