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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MANKATO, Minn.—The resolution offered at the U.N. by Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Canada, Norway and Sweden last week presents a challenge to that world organization. The six nations, with Pakistan as an additional sponsor, want the U.N. to ask the Soviet Union to cancel the 50-megaton bomb explosion that will end its current series of tests in the atmosphere. They also ask that this resolution be given absolute priority before the General Assembly.

India at once objected because its own resolution, proposing that all nations end nuclear tests, is before the assembly. India's resolution, however, does not provide for inspection. Great Britain and the U.S. have previously asked for an end to testing, but with international inspection, and these two propositions will be assessed together. Yet it is obvious that this cannot be done, with effective implementation carried out, in the brief period left before the scheduled explosion of the Soviet 50-megaton bomb at the end of the month.

It does not seem possible in this particular instance that the neutrals should not vote on the rights and wrongs of the case, for the matter at hand affects the whole human race. The Soviets will eventually demand a moratorium on all tests, but that will be only after they have completed their current series and done what the U.S. has not done. It is the continued testing in the atmosphere by the Soviets which has forced us to announce that we will be compelled to resume our own above-ground tests unless a treaty is signed forthwith banning all such tests.

I understand very well the desire of the neutral nations to be neutral when it comes to questions which merely affect the Soviet Union and the U.S. But on a matter which also affects the entire human race, it seems to me that no nation can afford to stay aloof from the final decision. Thus it is ridiculous for Guinea to consider that Sweden, which has always been a neutral, is part of a "military bloc." Certainly she cannot fear that Denmark, Canada, Iceland, Japan or Norway can any of them contribute very greatly to building up Western military strength, and everyone of these countries has been most anxious to stop all kinds of atomic tests in the atmosphere for a long time.

The U.S. has shown great self-control, I think, in not responding to the Soviet challenge of tests in the atmosphere before this, and at no time has the U.S. suggested trying to intimidate the world by exploding a 50-megaton bomb. There is no point in such an explosion except as intimidation, and Mr. Khrushchev and the neutrals should know that instead of awakening fear they are creating deep resentment. Perhaps it would be well for the smaller states, including some of the African states like Guinea, to contemplate whether this is the way they can strengthen the U.N., which is their great safety, or whether it will not in the long run weaken the U.N., making it more of a debating society and less able to take any action.

We should be trying more and more to put these forces of evil in the control of the U.N. and not in the hands of individual nations. An international control would take this power out of the hands of both the Soviet Union and the U.S. and give all the nations of the world equal control. I cannot understand why there is not a willingness on the part of the neutrals to work for these ends in preference to allowing an arms race to continue which in the end must be harmful to the world as a whole. This seems to me to be a question in which there can be no neutrals, because everybody is affected by it. No one knows how harmful to the human race as a whole the Soviet 50-megaton explosion will be. Hence, last week's six-nation resolution should have top priority. It should not be looked upon as levelled against the Soviet Union but as a measure of prevention which could make it impossible for any nation to engage in tests which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they increase in size.

E. R.

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

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Mankato (Minn, United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 23, 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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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.