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

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NEW YORK—Sometimes I wonder if Premier Khrushchev in his statements has the faintest idea that most of us in the world are fairly logical people. When he announces—as he did the other day—that the continuance of nuclear testing is up to the West because if we test he will continue to test, he completely ignores the fact that it was he who broke the moratorium on testing. At the time we were still honorably negotiating for the cessation of testing. Nevertheless he began his preparations to resume testing and then broke off negotiations.

We made no preparations, and so far have only countered his recent series of tests in the atmosphere with a few minor underground explosions. Tests in the atmosphere are the real danger to the human race. Yet Khrushchev calmly puts the blame on the West for what he himself has done. He must know that the rest of the world is looking on with more logic than he is evidently willing to acknowledge.

Granted that some of us are able to understand his anxiety in face of the fact that American bases in different parts of the world surround him. Granted that he is afraid of the West's strength, not only in a military way but in power of production. Some of us may feel, too, that he has some justification for urging measures which would give greater acceptance of central Europe's present boundaries, as well as a reduction of the threat of armaments near the satellite borders.

But these are all negotiable questions, so, too, is the recognition of East Germany. The threat of poisoning the atmosphere and harming the whole human race, however, is something that even his own people may deeply resent once they learn what is being done by their government, for they are apt to be equally affected by these tests. Of course, in totalitarian countries the people can be kept in ignorance for a long time. But eventually information does leak out; and then even the best indoctrinated, the most disciplined and trained, will certainly protest at being exposed to future danger through their own country's actions.

Nations that do not have the bomb but must rely on the big powers for their protection are understandably anxious that some kind of understanding on tests should come about quickly. Yet I think even they will come to realize that it would be foolish for the U.N. to accept a resolution which simply asks for the stopping of tests without making provision for verifying what is actually being done by those countries with the power to make the tests. They may accept such a resolution because of their great anxiety, but it would mean nothing in real safety unless it carried assurance of inspection.

As the days go by I begin to feel more and more that our one real safety is in the initiation of discussions on comprehensive disarmament. Of course I feel quite sure that Mr Khrushchev, despite the constant reiteration of his belief in disarmament, will be unwilling to pay the price—namely, inspection and verification that all of us are living up to our promises under disarmament agreement. Nevertheless I think negotiation must begin, and it must be done by skillful, patient men who have shown their success in the past, chief among these being Adlai Stevenson. Even in the first stages of disarmament, one of the important things to be done will be the establishment of a U.N. police force to enforce U.N. decisions. The concept of such a police force is already in the charter, but we have never been able to implement it. Now we and the Soviets must face this need for our own protection. It is therefore to be hoped that, very soon after negotiations are begun, the organization of this force will be undertaken as a safeguard to both the USSR and the U.S.A.

E. R.

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

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 13, 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 June 30, 2008.

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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.