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

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NEW YORK—An amendment to the foreign aid bill in Congress, which has been introduced by Senator Mike Mansfield (D., Mont.) and will have bipartisan support of some leading Senators, is of vital importance. These leaders feel strongly that in a bill carrying billions for foreign aid it seems shortsighted, indeed, to cut appropriations for United Nations technical assistance from $15,500,000 to $10,000,000, or a cut of more than one-third.

Since our contribution to technical assistance in the United Nations is on a voluntary and matching basis, this cut could mean to the United Nations program a loss, not of five and a half million, but of 11 million dollars. This is a sizeable enough sum to make a real difference in the whole program.

There are, of course, arguments made against technical assistance administered by the United Nations. I have heard people say, "Why should we contribute to a program in which the Soviets also have a part and, therefore, may share in influencing how the money is spent?"

I think it can be proved that the Soviet influence is small, since out of 1,000 experts, only five are from the Soviet Union. So I do not think that we really need to worry about carrying out any programs that are inimical to the interests of the United States.

Secondly, I have heard it said that it is better to give technical assistance directly to a country and control it entirely ourselves.

Anyone who has traveled throughout the world will, I think, agree with me that there are many countries that are suspicious of aid that is given by one country alone. But they are more than glad to receive this aid through the United Nations, since it makes them feel that they have a part in the U.N.

It is like a club, and there is no reason why the club members should not help each other!

Frequently our direct aid to a nation can be used in conjunction with the technical assistance program of the United Nations. In this way we accomplish more and get more gratitude, because the collaboration with the United Nations program removes some of the fear that, as a nation, we would want to dominate those who are receiving our technical assistance.

The third reason given me for cutting down our contribution to the U.N. is that last year the other nations failed to match our gift and one million of our appropriation remained unused. It was unfortunate that the United Nations was not able to get the full amount, but it lost only a million dollars, not 11 million dollars.

Technical assistance also is of actual value to every one of the U.N.'s specialized agencies. These agencies, of course, carry out their own particular projects and have specialists in the field. But very often, through collaboration, they can extend their own program by cooperating with the technical assistance projects and getting additional help from them.

We in this country know full well that progress is made largely by having men who have the "know-how." And that is what technical assistance is trying to provide and encourage.

A program which seeks its workers in many nations provides an incentive for those nations to train good technicians. So the United Nations is not only providing an incentive to all member nations to train technicians over a wide field, some of which may be used by the United Nations, but it is giving wherever it is most needed the assistance of men's "know-how."

These men have inventive brains, are well trained and can carry on their shoulders the problems of developing new programs or improving old ones.

I hope very much that the people of this country will tell their Senators at once that they want to reinstate the cut of $5,500,000 made in the foreign aid appropriations bill.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 19, 1956

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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