JANUARY 16, 1961
NEW YORK—I was interested to see that in his testimony before the Senate committee last week Dean Rusk stated the belief that there was nothing really wrong when a nation adopted a policy of neutralism in international affairs. No one knowing our own early history can believe anything different, and I hope Mr. Rusk's statement will sink into the consciousness of the American people.
Many countries in the world are in a position where they need help from all possible sources. Anyone aware of this must acknowledge that it would be a very foolish plan for such a nation to line up with one of the great powers and thereby identify itself as permanently opposed to another great power. These states should be able to take what they need from anyone who will give it without strings. Their first interest therefore is to remain as neutral as possible, since freedom from political control is the thing for which they have fought.
It was obvious from Mr. Rusk's testimony that he would declare peace to be the great issue in the world today. It was also reassuring that he will as yet take no positive, specific stand on basic questions, since it seems equally obvious that most of the questions before the U. S. today require careful study. A background and a knowledge of what has gone on in the past is essential. At the same time, since the world changes so fast, a willingness to wait for a final decision until one knows the exact circumstances in which that decision has to be made is wise.
President Eisenhower's final State of the Union message is of course of greater interest as a document giving his own assessment of his term of office. The President noted an advance in the U. S. position since 1952, but he did say that many problems remain to be solved.
I cannot myself see very much difference in the situation in Europe, in the Far East or the Near East. We seem to be as much at odds with the Soviet Union as ever, though I think we can say that in dealing with Mr. Khrushchev and the dominant group in the Soviet today we have succeeded on both sides in establishing somewhat better methods of communication. This may lead to more trade and eventually to better understanding in our interchange of people.
Our scientists seem to feel that when they discuss purely scientific questions with Soviet representatives they have a most useful and informative interchange. But political questions lead to no better understanding than in the past, and I don't think they will until we are honest enough to say to each other that both of us are fighting for the minds and hearts of the people in the uncommitted parts of the world; that we are going to do it differently but will try to do it openly and not misrepresent each other in this effort to win other people to our beliefs. This will be a difficult achievement, but I think we must aim toward it. Otherwise we talk honestly neither to each other nor to the rest of the world, and our mutual suspicion prevents us from working together on things of benefit to all.
We can see the difficulties that arise here in the U. S. from this constant suspicion. For example, a group works on some project which they believe in and which is generally acknowledged to be of value. Let even a few Communists join with them, and at once the whole project becomes suspect. It is still a perfectly good project, but immediately two different suspicions arise. One is that the Communists have joined in order to prevent the project from being accomplished, knowing that it will be suspect as soon as it is known that they are working for it. The other is that the good people who started the project and believe in it are in favor of Communism. All confidence in them is thereby destroyed and they cannot achieve something which might have been of great value.
The same thing can happen in international affairs, and it even causes difficulties in the U. N. Our U. S. delegation, for example, would feel obliged to oppose a suggestion by the Soviet Union or any of the Communist satellites without even examining it to find out if it had any merit. This is the kind of suspicion we must somehow find ways of allaying. But if the new State Department team of Dean Rusk, Chester Bowles and Adlai Stevenson can find these ways they will be magicians—which is what most of us are expecting them to be!
(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
Names Mentioned or Referenced
- [ index ] New York (N.Y., United States)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 16, 1961
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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