My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MILWAUKEE Sunday —In his handling of the "spy flight" incident last week, Mr. Khrushchev seemed carried away by his orgy of words. If the U. S. were to start a nuclear war, we would certainly expect that there would be prompt retaliation. The same, of course, is true of Mr. Khrushchev: if he were to start a nuclear war, there would be prompt retaliation.

He knows as well as anybody else that flights of this type have been conducted by his government as well as by many other governments, and are not a threat to start a war.

This was no way for the Prime Minister of a great country to be talking—particularly on the eve of the summit conference. He sounded like a little boy who, having discovered he can say certain things with immunity, says more and more to see just how far he can go. I hope that President Eisenhower treats him with the gentle irony which any small boy deserves under the circumstances.

Admittedly, the timing for this particular flight was bad. Someone blundered, because no flights should have been allowed in the period before the summit conference. However, this should emphasize for Mr. Khrushchev the need for coming to an agreement on a practical control-system covering all types of armaments and nuclear tests. It points up the value of inspection openly done by the United Nations.

The incident has brought to the attention of most citizens the fact that all governments carrying on any intelligence must spy, but that most governments hesitate to acknowledge it because, on the whole, they are unhappy about using this method of gaining information essential to their safety. If we once establish disarmament and inspection satisfactory to all, we will do away with the need for a distasteful type of patriotic service which every country has asked of certain of its citizens.

The U.S. has nothing to be proud of in its timing or its early handling of this incident, but after all of Mr. Khrushchev's talking last week I think the shoe is now on the other foot. We have said what we had to say, we have shown that we were not belligerent. Mr. Khrushchev has shown that he is a belligerent person.

If the summit conference is to have any successful results, everyone, including Mr. Khrushchev, will have to conduct themselves in adult fashion. I realize that Mr. Khrushchev may have chosen to make so much of this flight because of internal difficulties within the USSR. If he cannot get all that he wants at the summit, it will be convenient to be able to tell his people that he could not get any more because the U.S. was so belligerent. While such a claim may serve his internal political situation, it will not fool the rest of the world.

Let us hope that the summit will give us some results that we can feel lead towards the beginning of a world in which we will know about each other, so that we will not need to spy on each other.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Milwaukee (Wis., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, May 16, 1960

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.