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

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NEW YORK—There is no American who does not regret the necessity for landing soldiers in Lebanon and Jordan. But the coup in Iraq was evidently totally unexpected and was a lesson to the West.

There will be much debate for a long time as to whether fomenting uprisings within a country can be called aggression under the United Nations Charter.

I think what will emerge eventually will be the recognition that a genuine movement on the part of a people wishing to change its government is rarely brought about through the initiative of the army. If it is the desire of any nation of the civilized world to change its government, then that change must be made by legal and democratic methods.

We, having founded our nation through revolution and having had to fight a war to remain an undivided nation, know that, given proper safeguards, a nation can express its wish to change through a secret ballot. My husband always said that a nation could remain free as long as it preserved its secret ballot.

All of us were shocked by the murder of young King Faisal II and two of the other Iraqi leaders. This is no way for a civilized people to come to power within a nation. This is the way despots behave. One cannot help but believe that under this military regime there will be less freedom for the people of Iraq than under their King.

One must also reckon with the fact that the Soviets have told us that they intend to have a Communist world, and if you read the writings of the Soviet leaders you discover that subversion is one of the primary tools in achieving Communist success.

So you must not be surprised at the pattern of influence exerted over a leader such as President Nasser of Egypt by the Soviet Union.

Nasser wishes power and thinks that with his ex-Nazi advisers he can safely accept aid from the Soviet Union and later serve his own ends and not theirs. We feel he is mistaken, but we should not be surprised by his actions.

He certainly does not hope to be controlled eventually by the Soviets. But, for the time being, the help they will give him is very welcome. The pattern of subversion that they suggest fits in with the Nazi type of mind which is prevalent among his close advisers.

The General Assembly of the United Nations will have to decide whether the type of subversion from the outside, which we are watching today, is aggression or not.

I believe that it is.

I think both the United States and the United Kingdom did the only thing that was possible. They moved in quickly to prevent the overthrow of other existing governments by force and subversion.

They also have made it plain that as soon as the United Nations forces are adequately set up, these U.N. forces should move in and guard the borders of these countries. This will bring our men home, and there is nothing that will be more welcome in either Britain or the United States.

But I think there is a step further we must go. We must insist that part of the obligation of the United Nations is to supervise free elections so that the people of these countries have an opportunity to express themselves as to the government they wish to have without fear of any reprisals.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 21, 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.