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

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CHICAGO—There is a column by Joseph Alsop which gives us, I think, a very good description of the way the British people are reacting to the world situation at the present time. I think it is important that all of us should understand this situation because in the past it has always been true that in a crisis Great Britain and the U.S. stand together, and for a long time Great Britain had the major responsibility. Now the responsibility has shifted very largely to us, because we have had to assume the responsibility for any real action that must be taken in the world.

Great Britain now wants to talk with the Soviet Union and because she longs to to believe that things have changed in the Soviet Union under Mr. Khrushchev she is doing her best to accept the idea herself and to get the rest of the world to accept it. The reason there was such disapproval of Selwyn Lloyd's speech, says Joseph Alsop, is the fact that Lloyd would not look hopefully on the situation between the Soviets and the Western world but kept saying that the situation was just where it always had been. This the majority of people in Britain do not want to believe.

They want to talk with Russia because they don't feel able to do anything else. We don't want to talk because we still feel able to do other things.

As a matter of fact, however, I think we know quite well that we can only actually use war if we are prepared to face annihilation. I can imagine certain situations in which many of us would feel that annihilation was preferable to being subjected to alien rule, but I doubt that such a situation actually could be faced by our people as yet.

Even though sputnik did a good deal to wake our people up to the fact that the world is not the comfortable one they have lived in in the past, but a very dangerous world, still they are able to put that thought out of their minds so that as they go about their daily tasks they are able to forget it.

Perhaps the British have been waking a great effort to do precisely this for such a long time that they have reached the point where they can no longer make this effort. They must have a let up and that may well be why they are pushing onto us the responsibility for facing most of the disagreeable facts of present day life.

It doesn't help matters between the British and ourselves that we apparently are not ready to accept any suggestion made by the Soviets for the next summit meeting. I think it is well for us to prepare to hold these conferences, even though a great deal may not come out of them. But I would like to see a team of people chosen to go who by their past experience have proved themselves to be good negotiators, who do not just stand pat but who know how to give a little and how to push their adversary into the position where it seems wiser for him to give a little.

We might find a labor leader or two, an industrialist, a college professor, as well as our top politicians who have experience in negotiation and might serve us well. I would hope we would not leave this very important meeting just to our political leaders.

(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Chicago (Ill., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 11, 1958

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.