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

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LOS ANGELES—When you are on the West Coast, you feel far away, not only from the government in Washington but from the European scene.

In Los Angeles, it does not seem as though the newspapers carry as much news on foreign affairs as they do in New York City. But one thing today strikes me as particularly interesting—the account, as published here, of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles' return to Washington on December 15.

The story said that Dulles told the President the Atlantic Alliance is on the road back to unity. The story went on to say that Secretary Dulles told the President: "The Atlantic Alliance is showing renewed evidence of vigor and unity."

But in another article in the same paper a front-page headline read: "European defense left up to the U.S. NATO foreign ministers fail to act on primary emergency."

As you read this article, you found that both France and Great Britain, having depleted their forces in Europe for the attack on Suez as well as France having to fortify her position in North Africa, are not prepared to rebuild their strength in NATO at the present time.

Great Britain's papers are quoted as feeling "Germany's economic resurgence has reached a point where the unfair advantage Germany has through not bearing her proper share of NATO (defense) expenditures can no longer be endured."

Great Britain apparently explains that Germany currently enjoys a surplus of $688,000,000 in European payments against a deficit of $350,000,000 being suffered by Great Britain.

From all these reports, it looks as though Great Britain and France at least have decided that there must be more genuine cooperation, not only in the military sphere but in the economic and political fields.

Few of us realize that during the past 18 months five army divisions, which France had stationed on either side of the Rhine as her contribution to the NATO "shield," have either been removed or have been denuded of their combat-ready units. These were needed to put down rebellion in North Africa and, lately, in the Anglo-French move in the Suez area.

It is evident, I think, that the only real strength, as far as military preparedness is concerned, are the U.S. forces. And it is equally obvious that if the Soviets should decide at any time to resort to force, there would be no choice but to use atomic weapons.

The report in the Sunday newspapers that we are drastically reducing our own manpower and relying more on atomic weapons is something which, I think, should give us all pause. For this actually means that we are preparing to use the weapons which have the greatest power of destruction. If we do this, then other nations are going to use them also.

We have always said that the development of atomic weapons is being carried on as a deterrent to war, but we now are putting ourselves in a position of actually not being able to carry on a war without the use of these highly destructive weapons.

Do we really want to be in that position or do we want to devise a way in which we could at least be prepared with enough manpower and conventional weapons so that we could avoid the use of atomic weapons except as a last resort?

Tomorrow I would like to place before you the possible alternative to this policy of relying less and less on manpower and more and more on atomic force.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Los Angeles (Calif., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 18, 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.