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

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HYDE PARK, Monday—What Maj. Alexander de Seversky said on my television program yesterday afternoon left some people feeling that he was trying to make the world believe that the atom bomb is not as devastating as it really is.

I think that estimate of his thought would be highly inaccurate. The atom bomb is a weapon of great destruction. The reason that many people, such as Major de Seversky, do not want it used at the present time is that they feel the threat of its use is a greater weapon than its actual use. That is based on a psychological idea that what people do not know they always fear more than what they do know, no matter how terrible the truth may be.

The Russians are not threatening to use the atom bomb for the reason that their whole make-up is different from ours. When they decide the time has come for all-out war, they will not tell us beforehand any more than the Germans told the Poles when they went into Poland, or the Japanese told us when they attacked Pearl Harbor.

From the point of view of all these nations there was a great advantage to be gained by a devastating blow that was not expected. That is an advantage if you are dealing with a weak people. It is not true of the United States. If anything is ever done to us which we consider as underhand or unfair, we will become overnight a completely unified nation and nothing will be too hard for us to accomplish.

The Russians have masses of uninformed people whom they drive to obedience. We have fewer people, but each one of us knows what we can do and we will do it willingly if we are convinced we must fight for survival.

At this moment the people of the United States want peace. But as they watch the Russians let the Chinese soldiers die they wonder what truth or fair play there can be in a government of a nation that furnishes the weapons of war to a satellite but lets that satellite pay the price with the lives of its men. This keeps the Russians safely intact for what they will tell their own people is a purely defensive war.

If we are wise we will not be lured into being the aggressor. That is what the Russians and the Chinese want. We will strengthen to the utmost our own defenses and be constantly on the alert to prevent the slipping through of enemy planes.

I personally hope the United Nations will try what they have not tried so far—and this was the advice given yesterday by Major de Seversky. We feel that the U.N. should withdraw all its forces as quickly as possible where they will have to cover the shortest possible line and thereby leave an area free for our air forces to cover day in and day out by precision bombing.

It is, of course, up to the actual commanders and technicians to decide on the strategy of war. But it is obvious that this is only an air war and if our forces can be withdrawn while the enemy is trying to advance, the air forces of the world can be used to the greatest advantage.

This is not our war alone, though so many of the men involved are our men that it seems to many of us that it is only our war. Nevertheless, we must recognize that it is a war of the United Nations. General MacArthur is the commander of the U.N. forces. The strategy of the war must be the U.N. strategy, with the united commands working in every way together and at the same time. The governments within the U.N. at the same time must work together to bring that influence which united world opinion alone can bring to bear on Russia and its many satellites.

Our prayer should be that God will change the hearts of these men who seem so callous of the lives of men throughout the world, whether in their own nation or any other nation.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 5, 1950

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