JANUARY 3, 1957
NEW YORK —When I first read about the President's Middle Eastern plan, I was troubled about the military part of it. But as I examined it, it did not seem to be anything very new.
We already have pledged military aid in the event of Soviet aggression against Greece, Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran. To say that we will defend any Middle Eastern country that asks our help against similar aggression is not committing ourselves to very much more than that to which we are already committed. And I doubt whether the Soviets will try open aggression. What they are doing in Syria is much more likely to be the line followed in other places, and there is nothing we can do about that, because it was done with the consent of the country itself.
Personally, I would like to see a real effort made to come to an agreement with the Soviet Union in which neither they nor we would attempt to gain control in any country in the Near East and that arms would not be provided to any country in that area.
This would, I think, serve notice that as far as we are concerned, we do not care to control any of these countries and we are more than happy to see them developing along their own lines in peaceful ways, without any military aid.
Economic development, I think, could be enormously useful. I am not foolish enough to think that this would not bring about rivalry, but this is a kind of rivalry we can always bear up under.
It may well be, however, that even where economic aid is concerned, we should consider giving it through the United Nations. This might bring about less bad feeling between the Soviets and ourselves, and the Arab states then might feel a greater freedom.
We must not forget that these countries have a great fear of colonialism and, while they need aid for development and people to help them train their own experts along many lines of administration and organization, it is not strange that they look with considerable anxiety on help coming from any one of the great powers.
Their national spirit is aroused, and there is a tendency to encourage a religious union among these countries. Nothing, it seems to me, should be done to consolidate groups of people along religious and racial lines, for this creates blocs of nations which, on the whole, are not healthy to the development of the individual countries nor to an atmosphere whereby they would take their place as individual states in the family of nations.
I am glad that the President has put forward his plan. I hope, too, it will be widely discussed and that something really constructive will come out of it. But I believe it should be carefully examined.
(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 3, 1957
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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