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


HYDE PARK, Tuesday—It is hard indeed for us to accept the fact that Universal Military Training is insurance against war. It has been the feeling for so long among our people, many of whom came from European countries where they had to give two or three years to military service, that one of our safeguards against war was that we did not prepare to wage war. It is, therefore, a complete turnaround in our thinking when we find ourselves forced to prepare to wage war as our only hope to preserve peace.

This situation has been brought about by two factors. First, we are no longer a potentially great nation. We are a great nation. Second, we must be prepared always to defend ourselves and protect others, and we are not now prepared physically, mentally or spiritually.

In the past, the strong nation through its power has insured protection for other nations in the world. For a long time Great Britain, with its navy, performed this type of policing for us, and we had a fairly long period of peace.

Now the threat of Soviet Union expansionism has alerted the people of the world and it happens that we today are the strong nation. Therefore, the free nations are turning to us for defense.

This is a new role for us and we do not like it very much. Our representatives in Congress dislike accepting this new responsibility and they fight against it. They try to get assurances from other nations that they will contribute more than we do to their own defense, and they cry aloud when any nation seems unwilling to do so. Some of them maintain that this is all a waste of money on our part and that we should let the Soviets expand. Of course, we might do that if Soviet expansionism would affect only the other nations, but, unfortunately, in the long run it would affect us, too.

Here we must return to the argument of whether we will accept UMT or not. For the time being at least, it seems to me essential to accept it because we are going through a period known as the war of nerves. To win through this period and still have peace, the Soviets must be convinced that we are calmly and quietly going about the business of strengthening ourselves as rapidly as possible.

On my television program last Sunday Paul Hoffman and Nelson Rockefeller stressed that this waging of the peace must be done on four fronts simultaneously. Three of these fronts—economic, political and propaganda—will cost us much less than the military front, but if we win on them it may well mean that our financial budget will be balanced in the future in spite of the necessarily high military expenditures.

Everyone who knows the situation as it exists today, however, is convinced that never for a moment must the Russian government believe that we are not preparing ourselves and increasing our maximum military strength as rapidly as possible. So I hope we will accept UMT and get arms for ourselves and for our allies as quickly as possible, but that at the same time we will be developing the economic, political and propaganda fronts.

We will be content again when the Soviet Union is ready to allow the United Nations to stand guard for the world against all aggression. This would allow all of us to reduce our military preparations and devote ourselves to the thing that is nearest our hearts, namely, the bettering of life for every human being.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 11, 1951

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.