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

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NEW YORK, Friday—A whole day yesterday without going out to Lake Success seemed almost too rich a gift of free time for me. But I will have to go out Saturday morning, so I imagine that is why they gave us the day off during the week!

I have been reading the arguments on our defense problems with growing concern. This dragging out into the open the differences among the armed services may be healthy for us, but I wonder if it has made a very good impression on the other governments throughout the world. I wonder whether, in throwing brickbats at each other, we don't unknowingly give away information that might better be kept in the hands of the people entrusted with the defense of our nation.

I was brought up by my husband to have a great affection for the Navy. As he had been much influenced in his early days by Alfred Thayer Mahan's books, he naturally thought that a strong Navy was essential to defense.

There was a time when navies were not considered so important. Armies were more important. Later, the navy came into its own and now perhaps air forces have superseded both armies and navies. But no one will deny, I think, that the proper combination of all three is what really safeguards a nation.

The decision as to the relative power and kind of power to be given to each one of the services must rest with our military chiefs. There must be a joint decision arrived at by the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This is one place where personal jealousies, either for yourself or for your particular branch of the service, cannot be allowed to supersede the overall good of the nation. I doubt whether the airing of the present discussions is valuable except that the particular services wish to gloat over our weaknesses.

I have always wanted to see a gradual disarmament of individual nations and a strengthening of a collective force within the United Nations, and I hope someday we will achieve that end.

It cannot be achieved, however, until the Russians lose their distrust of the rest of the world, open their country to casual interchange in the same way that the other countries of the world do, and meet us all on the same basis that we meet the other nations, so that fear and suspicion gradually die down. When this happens we will be able to have a collective force in the U.N. and an international inspection force that will assure every nation of its safety. No nation then will be able to build up secret forces unknown to that inspection group.

The Russians say they want peace. This is the way it can be assured for them and for all of us. Until, however, they are willing to go along with us on this I think it is probably the duty of the United States to remain strong from the military point of view.

I trust the people of the United States and their real desire for peace. I feel sure they will never want to use their force in aggressive action against another country. I do not blame some other nations for lacking this complete confidence in us, because both in our newspapers and among certain groups in this country things have been said and done that might lead to fears on the part of other people. There has never been, since the last war, however, any action on the part of our government that justified the suspicion that responsible government officials would for a minute countenance a war of aggression. I feel quite sure that our people as a whole would look with horror upon any such action.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 15, 1949

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.