My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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SAN MATEO, Calif., Friday —And now let us talk about Mr. David Lawrence's article entitled "The Missing UN." His first paragraph suggests that speakers are making misleading statements about the United Nations, and he names me and then says a host of others go up and down the country "telling people to put their faith in the United Nations."

It is clear that Mr. Lawrence has never listened to a speech that I have made because I think I have emphasized that the United Nations is machinery and machinery will only work when we, the people, make it work. Some of the people Mr. Lawrence calls "naive ," but I would prefer to say that they are the people who greatly desire peace. They tried to make themselves believe that having written a charter and ratified it and now having 60 countries members of the United Nations, this organization can keep us at peace.

This, of course, is impossible. We have to change the age-old habits of human beings who have to learn and form habits of depending on reason and negotiation rather than force to bring about peace. This takes patience and perseverance and there will be failures.

Even had it been possible to immediately build force within the United Nations, as was originally hoped before the cold war developed between the United States and the USSR, that would not have meant that peace would have been immediately assured. As it was, because we could not agree on how to build force in the U.N. we were obliged to go on building military strength individually. Within the United Nations, however, we discovered that wars could be averted by negotiation and the pressure of world public opinion. And when the Security Council on a voluntary basis declared war in Korea and announced that the U.N. would not permit aggression, 17 nations furnished military aid and 45 nations gave other types of aid. This was probably one of the actions which has prevented World War III, and wholesale aggression throughout Asia.

If, as Mr. Lawrence says, the United Nations will have nothing to do with the peace, then the U.S. Government is at fault, for we have an armistice and the conference in Geneva has been called pursuant to a resolution of the U.N . It may be that our government is shutting the United Nations out. If so, the present Administration is gravely at fault, for it always has said that it believed in the U.N. and would uphold it.

The United Nations cannot fail "as an enforcement body" because we the people have never made it that. If Mr. Lawrence believes that a moral code is needed, perhaps he might suggest it, for all nations must subscribe to it since we are pledged to uphold the U.N . If he thinks only governments that agree with us should be members of the U.N. , then what he wants is a group of slave states, not a group of free peoples who have their differences but always believe that peace can eventually be obtained by development of understanding and cooperation among all nations.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • San Mateo (Calif., United States [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 3, 1954

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.