The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
JUNE 25, 1955
HYDE PARK—We are watching one of those peace offensives by the Kremlin, which has been exemplified by the speeches made by the Soviet representatives in San Francisco and in their personal attitude toward delegates from other countries.
This, then, is the time to read with care the memorandum written by Gen. David Sarnoff, chairman of the board of the Radio Corporation of America for the President of the U.S. General Sarnoff has said certain things in the memorandum which we must not for one minute forget.
We welcome the changed attitude of the Soviets, but we welcome it not because we are fooled into believing that it means their ultimate objectives for a Communist world have changed. I give them full credit for believing that a Communist world is the best kind of world to live in. If they are ever really troubled about whether the people whom they rule are happy under this domination, they salve their consciences with slogans and words with which we are very familiar. The Russians say: "The people are not as yet ready to know what is really best for them. The government cannot afford to allow them freedom as yet, though that is our ultimate objective. First we must be sure that all the benefits of a communist world, however, will come to them eventually. So we must extract from them the funds to fight the capitalist world by keeping them at a low standard of living. They must sacrifice temporarily, for their future prosperity, security and happiness."
The picture of the world in which all will share and share alike is constantly kept before the people who do the sacrificing. And we know that, given a few signs of progress—education, for instance—which the Kremlin has emphasized in these first years, people will continue to live on hope for a very long time, and will continue to believe that something marvelous is just around the corner if only they trust their leaders and do as they are told.
General Sarnoff points out that the Soviet leaders are constantly fighting on two fronts, at home and abroad. His memorandum gives a clear picture of the situation as it is today and he confronts us with facts that many of us have realized for sometime. He points out that the Soviets realize, as we do, and have for a long time past, that nuclear war would be so destructive that many of the objectives they wish to achieve could not be achieved through all-out war.
If they are to reap any benefit by controlling the U.S. and the West, General Sarnoff stresses, it is advisable not to destroy the people with know-how and the installations the Soviets would like to use and could not reproduce except at incalculable expense.
The Russians have been very clever so far in making their gains without all-out war. In the cold war they have continued to reach their objectives, so why should they want a nuclear war any more than we do? Unless we recognize this, however, and realize that without being actually at war we are still fighting a war, whether you choose to call it hot or cold. I fear we will not use this time to strengthen ourselves and increase our power so that the world will achieve freedom and not be led by soft words and deceit into slavery.
This is the first thing General Sarnoff's memorandum tries to make clear to us and I think he does it admirably. He makes a number of suggestions as to what should be done. But there are one or two approaches that I think he neglects and in another column I should like to talk to you about them.
(Copyright, 1955, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 25, 1955
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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