The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
SEPTEMBER 5, 1950
HYDE PARK, Monday—So many people that I meet are troubled about our policy on China. Some of them tell me that it is unthinkable to recognize a government that has accepted Communist doctrines. Others are so afraid that Communist China will suddenly decide that we, as a nation, have aggressive intentions in Asia, and that Korea is only a stepping stone to facilitate these intentions. They feel, therefore, that Communist China will aid the North Koreans and demand to know what we are doing to inform the Chinese people of our non-aggressive intentions. Furthermore, if this idea once takes hold of the minds of the Chinese people, they will be able to arouse the whole of Asia against us, and they will turn automatically for guidance to the USSR.
My husband had a very great affection for China and the Chinese people. He believed they were a great people with a very great past and a very great future. He wanted their friendship as an individual, but he wanted it very much more for his country, because he felt that a good mutual understanding in China meant a good understanding in the whole Far Eastern world.
I have no idea what he would have done in the course of the last few months, nor what he would do now at the present time. Those are things one can never know because the circumstances are different from what they were in the past, and it is on the present day circumstances that one is forced to make one's decisions.
I cannot help thinking that if, in the consideration of this whole question, we keep in mind the fact that we are dealing with a great nation, whose people are the product of a very old tradition, we may find that they have a great many things to teach us about life, and therefore we must approach them in a humble spirit.
Certain conditions that we have make life far pleasanter for us than it is for the average Chinese man and woman today, but we must not forget that material considerations are not the whole of life. The Chinese have gone through years of civil war, perhaps they are prepared to face many more years of struggle within their own nation in order to achieve their desires. None of us can judge for them. We can see to it, however, that they are given a clear statement of our present and future policies in the Far East, and such help as will enable them to make their future decisions without undue pressure from outside nations, either military or economic.
Many of the questions, of course, that are constantly being asked in our papers, are not questions which the United States should have to answer. The decision, for instance, as to what will happen once the Northern Koreans are back at the 38th parallel, is not a United States decision, but rests with the United Nations.
In his press conference a few days ago Secretary Acheson made some of these points clear.
It is because the United Nations is proving its vitality in Korea that one hopes the whole civilized world will support unified action, and try to prevent any individual aggression between nations in the future.
The building up of strength of the United Nations is our one great hope for peace. At present that has to be done by strengthening individual nations, making sure that they act only in cooperation with the United Nations, and not in their own individual interest. Someday one hopes that the strength to put down aggressors will lie in the hands of the United Nations only, which will permit the rest of us to do away with some of our individual force.
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1950, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 5, 1950
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
- Regenhardt, Christy (Associate Editor)
- Black, Allida M. (Editor)
- Binker, Mary Jo (Associate Editor)
- Alhambra, Christopher C. (Electronic Text Editor)
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