My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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CASTINE, Maine,Thursday—I am troubled, as are so many other people, by statements made in various responsible quarters which indicate that there is a growing feeling among United States officials that negotiation with the Communists is impossible and that, perhaps, the inevitable end to our present concentration on atomic military power is the use of these atomic weapons.

I think I must say that, for me, the H-bomb has always been something no nation could ever use because the destruction created in any country, which would include the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, would be too revolting to the human conscience. It seems to me that all we can do is hope that the possession of this weapon will never be anything but a deterrent to a great war.

I would not, therefore, cut down completely on other modern weapons which could be used in localized wars because, human nature being what it is, it will take a long time for people who have always turned to force to learn the ways of reason and peace. But in the United Nations we have the machinery for helping people in every corner of the globe to become educated, and if we live up to our pledges, the U.N. will grow stronger year by year.

I do not want to see us adopting the methods of the Soviets and their satellites—the method of just vituperating the United States and doing nothing actually to bring about disarmament or a better atmosphere in which peace can grow. I hope we can do something better than that. The Soviets have never operated only in this way. They have accomplished many of their ends by infiltration—which, too, I hope we shall never use.

I think we should turn to the question of how to accomplish our ends through methods which we can countenance and which are not methods of force. I believe we are in a rut. We seem to have neglected the arts of diplomacy and negotiation—and we had better revive them. Our brains and our ability in the United States are quite as good as those of the men in the Kremlin.

We have to have a program to offer. The Communists may not accept it but we can go on talking, and we must never lose our hope or our determination to succeed. It looks to me, as an outsider, as though we were talking sometimes in the U.N. disarmament conference, for instance, as though we did not think it possible to achieve any measure of disarmament.

Even the Soviets do not go this far. They try to build a picture before the world of wanting peace. Even though we know their actions do not coincide with their words, still they have made an impression of late while we have lost much that we have built in the past. Look around the world. We have fewer friends today who believe that we want peace and that we have the imagination to cope with our enemies and to find ways to peace through negotiation.

Let's concentrate less on atomic power. Keep it in the background. Let's not allow our ordinary military power to go down, but let's concentrate as we have never concentrated before on the ways by which we can regain the friendship of statesmen and people who have been drifting away from us. And let's negotiate with the Communists, with the assurance that we have more strength both economically and spiritually than they have, and more to offer to the peoples of the world.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Maine (United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 30, 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.