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HYDE PARK—I was considerably disturbed earlier this week by the announcement that the Big Four powers had decided to set up new machinery for disarmament negotiations that would, in effect, take over from the United Nations Disarmament Commission. It does not seem to me that whatever success was achieved by the Big Four powers during the meetings of the foreign ministers makes it any more hopeful for ultimate disarmament to have the negotiations removed from under the aegis of the U.N.

Disarmament is vitally important to every nation in the world—unless we believe that war is inevitable and, therefore, have made up our minds to go on and on with our old theories of competitive armament. Here in the United States this would mean continuing the policies started under former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and former President Harry Truman for containment of the Soviet Union and communism. But years have passed since that time, and there have been great changes in the world. Those policies were inevitable at that time, but no longer are comprehensive enough.

We need all the skill and techniques available in the U.N. if we are going to save ourselves from destruction. Those who think any differently had better find out what the power of destruction now is.

Almost without its being discussed in Congress, and certainly without the knowledge of our people as a whole, we are giving much of this know-how to many small nations on the side of the West. And we may be sure that the Russians are giving it to all their allies, also. So, the whole question of disarmament has become a vital question to many different countries.

The Soviets, of course, demanded parity in this new 10-nation setup on disarmament that would by-pass the U.N. And as the lines are drawn now the side of the West would include the U.S., Great Britain, France, Canada and Italy. The Communist side is to consist of the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Albania. We know from long experience that the Soviets oblige their satellites to vote as a unit. This will not be true on the side of the West—and should not be true—but in any negotiations it immediately puts the West at a disadvantage.

The Republican party always insists that it is on the side of peace and that the Democrats are not as interested. This is one time where I would like to see our Democratic leaders in no uncertain terms bring before the people this by-passing of the U.N. and the make-up of the groups that are going to discuss disarmament. At the present time this whole question is probably the most important one for the survival of the world.

It seems to me that no small group of supposedly powerful nations has the right to arrogate to itself the decisions of what shall be done in the one field that promises the possibility of survival.

I am deeply troubled by this situation and hope that the people of our country are going to awaken to the seriousness of it—first, what it means to give atomic information to any number of Western European peoples, and then what it means to take disarmament out of the U.N. and put it in the hands of a small group of nations, no matter how powerful they think they are.

An effort should be made to redouble efforts within the U.N. and to come to real conclusions, for more fruitless talk outside the U.N. is a waste of time.

E.R.

(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)


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  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States)


About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 14, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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