DECEMBER 28, 1957
HYDE PARK—I don't know how other people felt about the report given by the President and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles on the NATO conference, but I was not very happy about it.
It is reasonable to expect that the Russians give "clear evidence of integrity, sincerity and a spirit of conciliation," but their leaders might make that same statement about the West.
The President said that during the conference "not once did I hear any slightest hint of sabre rattling or of aggressive intent," and he added that the people of the West were ready "to make the necessary sacrifices to build their strength". Might that statement contradict the first statement?
It is true, I think, that we must have strength, but I think the less we talk about it and the less we stress our military preparations and our missile program, the less we will give the Soviets material for propaganda. Our words in this country have not been centered too much on the peaceful aspects of negotiating a peace.
It is we who have refused to negotiate with the Soviet Union. True, we think they need to show a clear evidence of integrity, but how do they do it? And how do we convince them that we really want to negotiate when we refuse to negotiate their latest offers?
It seems to me that the basic fact we have to face is that if we go on indefinitely arming for war, then war will be the inevitable result. And in this case war means annihilation for the peoples of the world.
Therefore, whether we trust each other or not, it seems to me there is only one thing to do, and that is to go on negotiating. It may seem at times that we are simply standing still, but the mere fact that we talk may bring about a little more understanding between us.
I personally would be happy to see this question discussed constantly in the United Nations. That need not prevent discussion outside of the U.N. as well, but it might mean a little more understanding among other nations of the world about the real intentions of both the United States and Western Allies and the Soviets and the Iron Curtain countries.
We had better face the fact that there is no chance for peace unless somewhere we begin to show confidence in each other, and I would agree that it is difficult to believe that the leaders of the Soviet government really want peace except on their own terms.
If we accepted their terms, they would certainly include recognition of a Communist world, which we cannot accept. If, however, we could agree that within the areas that are free or Communist we would make no effort to make any changes and that both of us would compete openly, not underhandedly and not by force but by persuasion, for the uncommitted areas of the world, then disarmament could really begin.
If either side was found not to be keeping its word and sending in undercover agents, the world would be the judge. Public opinion would be so strongly against the nation that violated an agreement of this type that we could really count on some years of peace and gradually achieve mutual disarmament.
Without continuing negotiation, however, I see very little hope, and I hope we will not wait until we build confidence, which neither of us can have at present.
(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, December 28, 1957
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
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