MARCH 27, 1961
NEW YORK—I see from the news reports that General Eisenhower has backed President Kennedy in his stand on Laos. This may be difficult for the Soviets to understand, but the sooner they realize that in time of crisis all parties in the United States are united, the better it will be for our chances of understanding in the handling of this difficult question.
Mr. Harriman has delivered an appeal to Prime Minister Nehru in India to negotiate the end of hostilities in Laos, and the British have suggested a peace plan to Moscow which will certainly be taken up at the Moscow meeting of diplomats. The suggestion is that India, as chairman of the International Control Commission for Laos, shall oversee the proposed cease-fire in Laos and help to bring foreign interference there to an end. President Kennedy would like to remove Laos from the cold war if the Soviet Union will make it possible, and he would also like to promote conditions favorable to Laos' independent development. The U.S. has stated clearly that it has no intention of including Laos in any military alliance or of establishing military bases there.
It is understandable that some Asian countries should believe that this is one of the places where we would seek to establish bases. Perhaps the time has come for us to reconsider the whole question of foreign military bases. I have grave doubts as to whether under modern developments bases are of any real value, and they do cause great suspicion. They give the Soviets and the Communist Chinese a good excuse for believing that we are planning to be prepared to attack them at any time. Unless they have real value, therefore, it may be time for us to abandon the military aspects of most of these bases. Where we have responsibilities other than military, we should consider what our obligations are. But in our own self-interest, and in the interest of the peace of the world, we should now take a good look at the value of some of the things that may have formerly seemed necessary but which may not meet the need of the present situation.
I have a rather interesting communication from a Chicago businessman, Aaron Schienfeld, chairman of the board of Manpower, Inc., who writes that he undertook a trip with his wife to find out for himself "just how deeply our destiny, our fate, was intertwined with the peoples of the have-not lands and whether this terrifying problem of poverty was capable of solution."
Mr. Schienfeld made a very comprehensive study and has come up with some pertinent observations. For instance, he says: "Can a free world ever approach the effectiveness of a monolithic state capitalism and meet this challenge? This devoutly-to-be-wished objective is realizable if the free nations of the world will but work together toward one goal: world-wide prosperity with freedom . . . This economic war cannot be won by government alone nor by the businessmen alone of the free world. The time has come for a coalition between the two, for a partnership between the businessmen of the free world nations, backed by their respective governments. The have-not nations and their businessmen must also be brought in as active partners in this free world program, where human values will be mixed with money values."
If we study President Kennedy's suggestions for reorganization of foreign aid, we will see that they are somewhat along these lines. At least they would work into the plan outlined in the paper sent out by this intelligent businessman who traveled with a purpose, who talked to people in other parts of the world and who came back with constructive suggestions. Other American businessmen have also been talking with representatives of business in various countries and will doubtless have somewhat similar suggestions to make. What most impresses me is the fact that it is beginning to dawn on the practical businessmen that they are a part of the world struggle today, and that if we are to keep our free world we have to work together to achieve our ends.
(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
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About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 27, 1961
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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