DECEMBER 20, 1957
NEW YORK —I think there are a few of us who have been watching the moves leading up to and at the NATO conference who are not profoundly anxious about the position of the United States. We find ourselves again lagging behind.
We could have changed the situation by being the nation who sent proposals to the other nations, outlining what few practical steps could be taken toward peace and disarmament. Instead, we have been reluctant to even look at the note from the Premier of the Soviet Union.
Now we see, apparently with some surprise, that certain European nations are not in accord with just discussing armaments and thinking out a plan to create a better defense. They probably feel that the time may come when they may not need defense. The attack may go right over them and land in the U.S.
Will they then have to help defend us by taking part in a war which at the moment would not apparently involve them? We can well answer this by saying that our destruction would mean theirs in the long run.
But the position is changed from the one which made it inevitable that they were the first line of defense, and our concepts do not seem to have changed with the situation.
It is no longer a question of strengthening our defenses or of negotiation. Yes, it is imperative that we strengthen our defenses for the short-term situation, but we must understand the fact that there must be a policy which looks far into the future and that the framework of that policy must be fixed though there may be flexibility within it.
Instead of being just an anti-Communist policy, it should be one advocating democracy and freedom, voicing the real ultimate objectives which we hope to save for our NATO partners and ourselves and which we hope to be able to give to the uncommitted areas of the world, many of which have not known freedom or security in the past.
We should be mapping out and suggesting priorities for the work which we hope we can inaugurate and help others inaugurate. This work should have nothing to do with the horrid possibilities of war. Health is one of the things in many areas of the world which has to have priority.
And NATO would do well to think, not only of the necessary temporary defenses until we learn to trust each other, but of the much greater objective of convincing the Soviets that a Communist world is not possible, that they must be content with having only some areas of the world committed to their particular ideas and that co-existence is possible with peaceful competition if we work along lines that will benefit mankind and not destroy all human life.
If we show our understanding of these facts, I think NATO may bring us some real benefits. Otherwise I see little hope of anything but increased tensions.
(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 20, 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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