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

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NEW YORK—It seems extraordinary that the House of Representatives should be so falsely economical on foreign aid. It must mean that the House members are counting on the Senate to restore what is really necessary in the appropriations they have cut; otherwise I cannot imagine them being so irresponsible.

At present they have slashed so much from the United Nations appropriations, insisting on 33 1/3 percent everywhere along the line, and from all the other appropriations, that everybody familiar with the foreign aid problem is bemoaning the cuts. If these cuts remain, we shall have to reduce all our programs to the point where they will lose much of their value.

Real economy is something all of us want, and I think we could economize on military aid to freedom-loving nations if the money thus saved were actually given to them as economic aid. Much of our military aid will never be of value for the purpose for which it is intended.

We always say military aid is essential to strengthen friendly nations against possible attack by the Soviet Union, but at the moment, at least, the Soviet Union does not seem to be threatening any countries. Where they are giving arms, it is because they have been asked to give them.

Our only real defense is to help build up the standards of living in those countries, so that their governments will not need to ask the Soviets for arms.

For instance, in the Near East the troubles are largely due to the fact that the standard of living of the people in all the Arab states is so poor. As long as the standard remains so low, the armies in those states will not have a real fighting spirit, and to believe that any of them could stand up against a real attack by the Soviet Red Army is wishful thinking of a most dangerous kind.

We give military aid, foolishly thinking that it will keep these now friendly countries from turning to the Soviets. Why not help them build up their business economy, and so their standard of living, to the point where they can buy their own arms as they need them? Then the Soviets would not have the excuse that we are doing just what they are doing.

I see that Senator William F. Knowland of California, the Republican minority leader, says the Senate cannot restore the cuts in foreign aid made by the House, without Democratic support. I feel sure that he will get this support, since Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas and Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana both know that this is a question where the good of the country must be put above the party. It is ironical that the President always has to count in large part on the opposition party to put through his own Administration's programs!

I do not blame the Democrats for wanting to force the Republicans into a position where they will do foolish and harmful things, and where they will appear to be what they are—shortsighted and more interested in the well being of business interests than in the safety of this country in the world. In a case like this, however, I think the Democratic party cannot afford to indulge in anything but wise statesmanship. But we certainly should point out that it is the Democratic party that shows the statesmanship, not the Republicans.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 20, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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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.