My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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ST. NAZAIRE, France —Reading in Paris the statement issued by our Secretary of State on landing in the U.S. after the conference in London, I could not help wondering how it is possible for 18 nations to be practically held up by four.

John Foster Dulles said that, by the Treaty of 1888, the Suez Canal was internationalized in perpetuity.

Does that mean that any of the surrounding nations can, at their pleasure, do away with that provision in a treaty they once agreed to? If it does, then treaties are again no more than scraps of paper and it is dangerous for such a situation to arise between nations.

There can be no peace in the world unless there is confidence in the given word, and when governments break their word, confidence in their integrity is lost, just as when an individual breaks his word.

Eighteen nations at the conference in London agreed on operational principles needed to restore confidence that the canal would serve its intended purpose. And Mr. Dulles said:

"We hope that the Government of Egypt will respect the opinions thus soberly but firmly expressed and responsibly make its own indispensable contribution to the peaceful solution which is enjoined by the principles and purposes of the U.N. "

It seemed to me a little late to be mentioning the United Nations. This whole question could have been dealt with, in even greater strength, had it originally been put up to the U.N. More nations would have been involved. The proportion might have been much the same as in the small group of 22 nations, but there would have been a larger number of nations acting objectively, since not so much of their trade would be involved.

The 22 nations are nearly all vitally concerned, because the shipping passing through the canal from these countries represents about 95 percent of the total tonnage. Naturally, they cannot be as objective as nations that were not so deeply involved.

I think we really should impress upon the great nations of the world that to appeal to the principles and purposes of the U.N. is not enough. We must really use the U.N. and take the problems there as quickly as possible so that questions can be discussed in a calmer atmosphere than now surrounds the Suez Canal question.

The Soviet Union must be chuckling to itself as it looks at the Egyptian President practically stymying 18 nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The Soviets seem able to create situations where they risk nothing themselves and yet manage to embarrass other nations by simply holding themselves in the background. They leave us to wonder if they will support with their full strength the weaker nations that they have set up to make life difficult for the Western powers.

We had great luck in having good weather Sunday afternoon and seeing the Petit Trianon at Versailles and Marie Antoinette's little farm village, then walking up through the Gardens of Versailles as the fountains were turned on.

It was really quite lovely and the colors in the flower beds, perhaps because of all the rain, were remarkably bright and fresh. They say these beds are planted just as they were in days of the kings and queens who walked through these shady paths and admired the fountains and the flowers.

E. R.

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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • St. Nazaire (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 31, 1956

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.