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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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BANGOR, Maine —Everyone in the U.N. seems to accept the fact that there is going to be great difficulty in the Security Council in naming the next Secretary–General, and hence it is clear that a person of world stature is needed to fill the gap left by the almost irreplaceable Dag Hammarskjold.

Mr. Hammarskjold had courage, imagination and remarkable diplomatic finesse and style. He knew well the dangers each time he took action, and particularly when he took action in the Congo. There he was trying to give the Africans control in their own land and to prevent either East or West from putting over their particular political and economic ideas.

It was the fact that Khrushchev and the Soviet Union were not allowed to control developments in the Congo which made them hate the Secretary–General. But Mr. Hammarskjold did not intend either that the Western powers should control in the Congo. He was trying to help an unprepared people to learn to govern themselves. This is the role for the U.N. to play, but it is not a role which will be looked upon always with favor by either the East or West.

Premier Khrushchev, in his recent letter to Prime Minister Nehru, states that he is ready to talk at any time. This he has said over and over again. The question still remains whether talking will have any value.

President Kennedy has insisted from the very beginning that he is ready to talk also, but that these talks should be carefully prepared and that the Foreign Ministers should have an agenda on which there is a reasonable possibility of coming to some form of understanding. Khrushchev does not like the tough attitude taken by the West, but that is probably the attitude which has brought him to the point of being anxious to talk.

Actually, the West is ready to negotiate on many questions. The unpleasant situation which Khrushchev has to face is that there will be no blanket capitulation favoring his particular desires. Both sides in any negotiations have to give up some of the things they would like to see achieved, but this cannot be an entirely one-sided operation. That is the thing which is very hard for Khrushchev to accept, and yet it is the only basis on which negotiations in Berlin can be carried out.

I am inclined to feel Mr. Khrushchev is right in contending that only complete disarmament will bring us to the point where we really are forced to consider all the questions that come up as having to be settled around a table. But complete disarmament requires acceptance of the fact that all nations must be members of the U.N. and be covered by the same agreements. It also requires the acceptance of strengthening the U.N. itself. The U.N. cannot be just a debating society. It must have the power of enforcing its decisions. It must be an independent body representing the world as a whole, with a courageous head. These decisions are part and parcel of any agreement on disarmament as a whole, and many of them are not going to be palatable either to the East or the West.

Rep. Otto E. Passman, chairman of the House group of conferees, is employing his usual delaying tactics in his effort to see as little as possible restored to the foreign aid appropriations. Of course the House, as usual, restored more military aid. This seems to be always easier for our representatives to vote for than the much more valuable economic development aid.

I am glad to see, however, that Fowler Hamilton, new head of the agency which will administer the foreign aid program, seems to have been able to satisfy the Foreign Relations Committee as to his program and qualifications. Certainly if he can initiate a program which allows countries receiving aid to plan for a number of years ahead instead of for one year only, he will have a far better chance to see results on a more satisfactory scale than has been possible in the past.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Bangor (Me., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 25, 1961

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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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.