JULY 18, 1962
HYDE PARK—I had an opportunity the other day to ask a responsible Congressman who has been in office many years what Representative H. R. Gross, Republican of Iowa, really meant when he introduced his amendment barring all American contributions to the U.N. until all other countries had paid up their dues.
I have wanted to ask for some time because it seemed to me not only Rep. Gross but all those who voted for this amendment must either have misunderstood what they were doing or else they must really have wanted to play into the hands of the Communists. I cannot quite believe that this last is true. But if these men did not know that the Communists would never pay—and that the Gross amendment would weaken the U.N. and give the Communists what they could not possibly get for themselves—then they seem to me not very perceptive. We would not deliberately vote to have the Soviets control the U.N., but that is virtually what we have done by voting for this amendment.
The United Nations itself has no police force. Even if we set up such a permanent force, it could probably never control the U.S. or the Soviet Union by force. What the U.N. tries to do is to use the power of world opinion to bring about such measures as will remove all dangerous weapons from the hands of nations. So far, the Soviets and the U.S. have agreed on nothing which shows any real advance in disarmament. This, however, is our constant aim and objective. The U.S. and the Soviets are the two great nations that control atomic weapons, and both of us know enough about their power of destruction so that the chances are neither of us will use this power. The day is drawing constantly nearer—and our friend, General de Gaulle, is doing his best to bring it about as rapidly as possible—when many small nations will have the same knowledge we have but not the same amount of nuclear power. That they will, however, be able to use these atomic devices if the temptation is great enough seems likely.
It seems to me that our legislators ought to be the first to look at this picture as a whole and to realize that the Soviets always profit by confusion and chaos. If the U.N. had not been able to restore some order in the Congo and was not able now to keep other areas peaceable, we would be constantly facing the danger of encroachment by the Soviets in new and more dangerous fields. We know very well that the main objective of the Soviets is to have the Communists control the world. They have never changed this objective. What has changed is their belief that it can be accomplished only through military power.
They now think they can accomplish this through economic and cultural power. But here—and doubtless our legislators will argue if they will take a clear look at the U.S.—I think we have the capacity for meeting the challenge. In democracy we believe we have something to offer the peoples of the world in their daily lives that will mean more than the Soviets can ever offer. The Soviet objective is the improvement of the citizen's life so he can better serve the state; and hence a constant increase in material things is advanced with very little emphasis on the values that made us come to these shores and start a democracy with what we hoped would be freedom and justice for all. Out of this came our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, embodying the concepts accepted by peoples all over the world who had never had the hope of freedom and justice before.
We are not a perfect democracy, and there is still much work to do at home. But in spiritual ways, in social ways and in our government we have the means to work for the things which were promised by those who established this country. We therefore cannot allow our legislators to turn the world over to the Communists simply because we don't like the responsibilities which our present position puts upon us. I am not for one minute doubtful of the real patriotism of Representative Gross and his fellow Congressmen who, by voting for his amendment, worked to make the world a Communist world. I think they did not know what they were doing. But I hope they wake up to the realization of our great responsibility. This means careful study and understanding as well as a willingness to assume our responsibilities. In the last analysis, this is the only way we can hope to persuade the world that we have something which they really need and that they had better give some thought to where their policies are really taking us.
Nothing is perfect in this world. At least, I have yet to discover perfection. But I certainly far prefer the ideals of democracy to having the Soviet Union dominate the greater part of the world.
(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 18, 1962
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University Old Main Building, Suite 406 1951 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20052
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