OCTOBER 16, 1958
NEW YORK—I read an extremely interesting article by former President Harry S. Truman in Tuesday's newspaper, in which he discussed the necessity for a unified country back of the Administration's foreign policy.
Mr. Truman says that any criticism of this policy gives comfort to the Soviet Union and to Communism.
He does, however, state that there must be free and open discussion of these policies before they are decided on, and that the Administration is obligated to consult with the leaders of Congress both on the Democratic and the Republican sides. Otherwise, it should not expect support for its policies.
It is quite evident that the Administration has not always consulted with the Democratic leaders nor has the Administration had these leaders together with the Republican leaders, so that there could be a joint discussion and a real meeting of minds.
I am wondering whether there might not be something more that is really essential to the creation of a sound foreign policy. It seems to me that particularly when there is a majority of the opposition party in the Congress that there should be alternatives placed before the people by the leaders on both sides. In this case it would have to be done by the Congressional leaders.
The Democrats now have a narrow margin of votes. They may have a wider margin after Election Day. That would seem to indicate that the people would like to have from the Democratic party a clear-cut statement of policy. During the current campaign the voters have indicated that they are more interested at the present time in our foreign policy and the preservation of peace in the world than they are in any of the local questions that are being discussed, important as those are in our daily lives.
We have finally come to realize that unless we have peace the solution of all other questions is unimportant.
Mr. Truman says: "I would hope that partisan political considerations would not influence the Administration in the course it takes to guard the peace in the face of continuing threats and intrigues of the Communists."
As I look back over the policies in the foreign field of the present Administration I find it very hard to put the blame entirely on the Communists for the world situations which have arisen. Mr. Truman says he hopes that our allies will stand by us in whatever policies we decide to pursue. In that case he assumes that the Administration has also kept our allies informed of our policies and that they agree with us.
On the whole, I think Mr. Truman assumes a good many things in his article that most of us know are not true.
Going back as far as the Suez crisis we know that our allies had not been talking with us at all. Now we are told that close cooperation has been reestablished.
I question some of the real understanding in many areas but particularly in the Far East.
I think that it is our own stupidity which has brought about some of the "Communist threats and intrigues," and at the present time I think it is up to the Democratic party to offer the nation some really constructive programs in our foreign policy in various areas of the world.
We constantly blame the Communists for failure in the area of disarmament. But, as I review the situation, I think there are steps which possibly we might have suggested had we had more imagination and had we clarified and presented our own proposals in many ways. We might have done these things, having in mind the situation of other nations and the appeal that we must make to them, as well as understanding what the Communists undoubtedly were proposing to them.
We must present a unified nation's opinion on foreign policy. But this nation needs to be better informed and to know more about the actual realities of the world situation before it blindly backs an Administration stand, even if our Democratic leaders acquiesce with it for patriotic reasons of unity alone.
(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 16, 1958
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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