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

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NEW YORK—It seems that a new mood comes over Premier Nikita Khrushchev when he is host at a party. At the Soviet Embassy early this week he greeted with much warmth the man he is trying to destroy, Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold, and this behavior must have been most surprising to Dr. Hammarskjold. Also, the Soviet Premier took this occasion to talk amiably with newspaper writer Marguerite Higgins, even though he said her articles were written "under instruction" and are "misguided."

This party cordiality does not mean, however, that the pressure to oust the Secretary General will be lessened in any way.

It boils down to this: Mr. Khrushchev does not have a majority vote in the United Nations and he is striving for a majority influence.

His real lack is in the power of persuasion, for it is not natural to the dictator mentality to persuade. Mr. Khrushchev prefers to order, and you cannot order a majority of votes in the General Assembly.

To gain votes in the U.N. you have to be sure that you are suggesting now what is good for you alone, but what actually represents the interests of others as well. Mr. Khrushchev is convinced that what is good for the Soviet Union and its satellites is good for the whole world. And, unfortunately for him, that is not the way the whole world feels.

The majority in the General Assembly has upheld Dr. Hammarskjold and actions in the Congo, which were strictly in accordance with the charter of the U.N. They were neither in favor of Mr. Khrushchev nor in favor of the United States or any "imperialist" nation.

Colonialism is on its way out, and it will go little by little. But it should not go at the instigation of Mr. Khrushchev or of the U.S. or of any other country. When there has to be action by the U.N. to restore order anywhere it should be done with complete impartiality, and that is what I think was done in the Congo. And that is what will be done by the U.N. as long as the Secretary General is Dr. Hammarsk-jold.

Also, Mr. Khrushchev's suggestion that there should be three secretaries, each representing a separate bloc, would destroy the U.N. One Secretary General must represent all the nations, and all the nations must abide by the majority decision.

In regard to Mr. Khrushchev's other suggestion that the U.N. be moved from New York, I understand that Switzerland, for one, has no desire to have the main international organization there. Moreover, the important consideration is that in New York little by little facilities to meet the growing organization's needs have been established. New York is a center where all the means of communication are more available than they are in almost any other city in the world, and they are completely free. Even in London and Paris facilities such as are available here would not be any better, and in the case of Paris they might not be quite so good. Moscow, which was suggested by Mr. Khrushchev in jest, I am sure, could not approximate either the freedom or the facilities that are available here.

The work being carried on by the organization needs to go on without interruption, and it is a heavy load. And this could not be done if there were a major move.

For these reasons both the suggestion to move and the idea of a three-headed secretariat are not aimed at a more efficient and stronger organization but at a lesser organization and perhaps a destroyed organization, which was the fate of the League of Nations.

The horrible tragedy in Boston Harbor, with the loss of so many young men in the airplane explosion, touches those of us who are older. It makes us hope that we all will live with a sense of the imminence of death and of gratitude for life, so that we may use what time is available in the best possible way.


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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 7, 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.