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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Tuesday—In the past few weeks I read two speeches, one made in England and one made in the United States.

The English speech was made by Lord Strang in the House of Lords during the foreign policy debate of July 28. It is an analysis of the present situation that confronts the world.

Historically, Lord Strang shows that the situation was foreseen long ago by Alexis de Tocqueville, the French student of politics in the middle of the last century, who said of the United States and Russia:

“These two stride forward easily towards a boundless destiny.... the principal instrument of America is freedom, of Russia, slavery.... Their points of departure are different. They follow different paths. Nevertheless, each of them seems intended through some secret design of Providence to hold in its hands the destiny of half the world.”

Lord Strang does not try to give us a solution of the present-day situation. He asks questions, after stating the background of the situation, and he does state that he believes "peaceful coexistence" is possible. He says, "But the term must be rightfully understood, otherwise it may raise delusive hopes. If peace means simply the absence of major war, then 'peaceful coexistence' in our time is, I think, not only possible but probable, provided—and only provided—that the non-Communist powers maintain their collective strength.

"The hazards of war, if the contestants are evenly matched, are now more than ever terrible and incalculable. Like any other state, the Soviet Union must be preoccupied, first of all, with her own survival. She would be unlikely to commit her forces prematurely, or to risk a world war for Communist purposes unless she could expect an easy victory. We must see to it that no such easy victory would be achieved.

“If, however, peace is something more than the mere absence of total war; if it is understood to mean a positive spirit of harmony and concord, then I think that 'peaceful coexistence' is not to be hoped for.”

This is no solution, it is just a facing of present realities and an acknowledgement that much has to be done. Therefore, the end of this speech is a series of questions. Questions that are in the minds of all of us today.

It is interesting to find an American citizen, Ernest T. Weir, chairman of the Board of the National Steel Corporation, making a speech before the governing body of the National Industrial Conference and analyzing the situation as it is at present in a rather similar way.

Mr. Weir acknowledges that he, too, has no complete answer, but he feels that the pooled thinking of many groups should be bent on finding ultimate solutions. He says that for the present, we must seek calmness and strength within our own country. He hopes this will ward off World War III until the normal changes, which long-continued negotiations may bring about, can point the way to a better situation for a peaceful world.

I wish that all Americans would read Mr. Weir's speech. Since we are apt to grow irritated when certain public men in the United Kingdom do things and say things with which we are not in entire agreement, I hope Americans will also read Lord Strang's speech and reflect on the fact that there are differences of opinion among men in high places in the United States as well as in other areas of the world.

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, September 1, 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.