OCTOBER 23, 1947
NEW YORK, Wednesday—As I listened the other day to Soviet delegate Andrei Y. Vishinsky's speech in the General Assembly against the United States resolution to set up a permanent Balkan committee, I could not help being impressed first of all with the manner in which this very able prosecuting attorney speaks in the United Nations. Suddenly you feel that you are in a court room and that he is delivering the indictment against the defendant. His use of adjectives and similes is somewhat redundant but decidedly picturesque.
He started his case by discrediting all of the witnesses for the other side—which is, of course, a valuable trick of lawyers. Then he made it appear that anyone who did not agree with him must have been "a child born blind."
The only thing Mr. Vishinsky really lacks is a knowledge of the psychology of the people of the United States, who in this case are the judges of their delegates' position. The people of this country are anxious to cooperate with the USSR, as is shown by the fact that our representatives do all they can to bring about cooperation. But this speech of Mr. Vishinsky's destroyed the belief of our people that conciliation is either wise or possible in dealing with the representatives of the Government of the USSR.
* * *
We had agreed to certain modifications of our original resolution—not because, as Mr. Vishinsky said, we were convinced that we were wrong, but because other nations felt that the wording was somewhat harsh and that we could achieve the same ends without putting certain nations under outright accusations, as we had originally done. Being more than willing to cooperate, we agreed. But instead of understanding our actions, Mr. Vishinsky attacked us for having taken a position originally which, according to him we really did not believe in.
So our gesture of goodwill was misunderstood. And we learned a lesson which perhaps Mr. Vishinsky did not mean to teach us—namely, that no modification should ever be made in a position once taken; that no conciliation should ever be attempted; and that, since the USSR is unable ever to modify its position, it looks upon anyone else who makes a modification as doing so purely from weakness and a feeling of guilt. We have learned our lesson well, but from my point of view it is unfortunate, because it will mean more votes against the USSR and a greater antagonistic feeling.
I suppose it would not be possible for Moscow to give its representatives sufficient leeway so that wordings and minor positions might sometimes be changed. If this could be done, it might lead occasionally to agreement instead of these constant long-drawn-out battles in which the only solution is to vote your opponent down.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 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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