My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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WASHINGTON—Gov. Nelson Rockefeller seems to be moving toward a greater conciliation with the powers that be in the Republican party, but it was interesting that he was honest enough to say that the balance of power in the world had now shifted to the Soviet Union.

He appears to base this belief on the fact that Premier Nikita Khrushchev has been making threats to use military power in Cuba while we did not consider doing this during the Hungarian crisis.

This is true and an interesting point, but I think there is a difference. When our leaders speak, they have to give some thought to whether the people of the United States will back them up, because through Congress and otherwise the people can make themselves heard. The American people do not exert this influence very often, but the one thing they feel strongly about is peace.

Everywhere I go in this country I realize that the majority are most concerned with remaining at peace with the world. This probably is the desire of the people of the Soviet Union, too, but they have no way to speak out, so the Soviet leaders can say what they wish without fear of any comeback from the people.

The Soviet attitude today is really, as one man put it to me only the other day, a gigantic game of poker. For while the Soviets do not want war any more than we do, their leaders assert their power in the world, saying things that we feel might lead to war.

We are not playing this game anywhere nearly as cleverly as the Soviets because our people would not approve of the risks that the Kremlin is willing to take and they would be quick to reprove Washington for any irresponsible talk.

Now that in spite of Arkady Sobolev's long speech in the United Nations the question of U.S.-Cuban relations has been referred to the Organization of American States, the Soviets probably will say that we, through economic means, control the CAS.

It ought to begin to be more and more apparent that we do not control any South or Central American country, and that whatever power we have is one of persuasion and not of force.

I hope that Cuba will come to realize that what it needs is some technical assistance in government and will ask the U.N. to help. If this is done and we sensibly back up such U.N. aid, the internal affairs of Cuba may improve to the point where Castro's tirades against us and accusations by us in return will cease.

The whole Cuban situation would be ludicrous if it were not so serious. The Soviets could deliver supplies and men to Cuba only under great difficulty, just as we would have been under handicaps in doing the same in the Hungarian crisis. So the Communist threats are empty, although making them is dangerous because suddenly someone might take them seriously and a third world war might break out by "mistake" with the same devastating effects as one started intentionally.


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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 22, 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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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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MEP edition publlished on 2008-06-30

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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.