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

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EN ROUTE TO LAS VEGAS —We are witnessing these days what it means to be the outstanding power in the non-Communist world. It is our libraries that are burned in Lebanon; it is our Vice-President who, on his goodwill tour, is attacked by students and mobs.

The reason is simple. It is not because the attackers dislike Richard M. Nixon personally. Nor is it because the Lebanese have any particular dislike for what our libraries have offered them.

It is because, to them, Mr. Nixon and our libraries stand as a symbol of that which opposes what they have been taught to believe is the great revolutionary movement for the "good" of the peoples of the world.

Our people are justly indignant, and since the kind of power we now possess is rather new to us, we may be inclined to say, "Well, they don't want us, so why do we bother to do anything for them or with them?"

This attitude, of course, is a sign that we have gained our power quickly and have not recognized the responsibility that goes with it. If this were to be our official policy, we would do just what the Soviets want and hope for. They would remain as the only ones ready and willing to help the revolutionaries.

I pray that our government, and we ourselves, have grown mature enough to look upon these demonstrations partly as recognition of what our world leadership means and must mean, to regret them but not to let them succeed to the point of forcing us to give the Communist element in the world exactly what it wants.

We believe in freedom and are trying to see that all people obtain freedom. We are not going to look at our interests from the financial viewpoint alone. We are not going to allow our recession to do things abroad that will ruin other economies.

We, of course, hold paramount our own interests, but we know that our interests are best served when we consider those of the world as a whole.

No country in our position is loved, but we should make ourselves respected and better understood. Our policy of giving military aid to foreign nations instead of actually raising the living standards in those countries has been a mistake.

This policy may be helpful at home, and it may bring greater financial support from Congress than any other type of foreign aid. For our people do not realize that these shipments of arms are not going to be used against the Communists and will be of no real value, whereas any help we may give in raising, even a little, other people's standards of living will win us friends.

If we now cut down on foreign aid because the Soviets have been successful in stirring up trouble in certain South American countries, in the Near East and in North Africa, we will make a great mistake and lose more friends instead of gaining them.

It may well be that this was not a propitious time for Mr. Nixon to go to certain South American countries. Our State Department should have known that. But we can now be glad that he and his wife have returned safe and sound. These special and spectacular tours had better be given up until we have brought about changes in the feelings of these countries.

I keep repeating that the Moscow challenge is not a military one alone. It is an economic, cultural and spiritual challenge, and sooner or later we will have to face this fact.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 16, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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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.