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

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NEW YORK—It is disappointing news that, in spite of the conciliatory attitude on the part of both Great Britain and the United States on their nuclear testing plans, the Soviet Union has not been willing to move toward agreement on any of the proposals. It is quite evident that Mr. Khrushchev wants to go on testing.

Apparently the Soviet Premier does not care whether we resume testing, so long as he has a free hand and no interference. The kindest thing one can say is that he is being pushed by his military advisers and scientists even harder than ours are pushing our President. And with conditions as they are as regards other Communist countries, Mr. Khrushchev is not able to resist the pressure.

He should realize, however, that the President of the U.S. will be forced to resume tests if no agreement is reached. No matter how much President Kennedy would like, as an individual, to stop this ridiculous spiraling he cannot in good conscience ignore his advisers and risk the security of our country.

If both countries resume testing again, the chances are that we will keep very nearly equal in any military value that comes out of such tests. Therefore, someone should ask Mr. Khrushchev where this spiral is to end. At some point, either by intent or by accident, something is bound to happen, and who knows how serious it will be.

Sometimes one wonders if Mr. Khrushchev has time to sit down and really work at the 20-year plan he talks so much about. Some of the things he is doing might make it impossible ever to achieve that 20-year plan!

He probably thinks he can hold out longer than the U.S. because his people can be forced to sacrifice and they are so well disciplined that they will not refuse to comply. And he undoubtedly calculates that in the U.S. our very preponderance of resources is against us, because it gives our people so much ease of life that they will resent any change in the way in which they like to live. He fails to understand that our greater resources are a great strength and our people, when once aroused, are capable of a great amount of sacrifice.

Since Mr. Khrushchev seems never to want to be entirely uncooperative, I notice that he is accepting the bid for cooperation in space. Most of us will wait anxiously to see how much cooperation actually takes place.

I want to register here my shock and disappointment in the speech made by Senator Henry Jackson of Washington on the importance of the United Nations to the U.S.

It was a shortsighted speech. Our closest contacts with the nations of the world are in the U.N. and when our Senators speak they should realize that every word they say is now heard by the delegates who are now permanently in the U.S. from so many countries of the world.

The Senator would have found a cynicism about the U.S., if he had heard some of the delegates talk after reading his speech, and I am sure it would have astonished him. Many of them felt, even if they did not say it, that our attitude had destroyed the League of Nations, which one of our Presidents had practically given his life to bring about. Now we are trying to do the same with the U.N.

It may be true—though I doubt it—that temporarily we might gain by giving less support to the U.N. But in the long run we would lose because this is the only machinery we have through which to try to mobilize the good that is in the world to keep the world as peaceful as human beings are now capable of doing.

Differences between nations are not going to disappear. The essential thing is to try to improve the machinery through which we deal with them. The stronger that machinery is, and it cannot be strong without the full backing of the U.S., the more chance we have of developing a system of world law and an increasingly strong atmosphere in the U.N. against the use of force in the world.

I realize that some of our representatives, and probably Senator Jackson, think that the use of force is still possible in the world today. But those who believe it have been refusing to recognize the actual conditions under which we live.

We can destroy our world, and unless we develop and strengthen machinery to prevent this there is every probability that by mistake, or by intention, this is what this generation will do.


(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 23, 1962

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.