The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
AUGUST 1, 1962
HYDE PARK—In a release put out by the Soviet U.N. mission, the following paragraph occurs:
“Anyone who cherishes the sense of justice, any unbiased person cannot but agree that since the U.S. was the first to start nuclear weapon tests and has held many more of them, with its allies, than has the Soviet Union, the other side, the Soviet Union, which has invariably held its nuclear tests only in reply, has the right to be the last to hold nuclear tests in the world.”
This approach to the disarmament question would seem logical if there were any way of knowing how many tests either side had actually made and just how much value either side has derived from these tests. But as far as I know, there is no mathematical way to gauge what either of us has learned in the course of our tests. One thing only seems to me to stand out plainly: Unless we choose some date on which both of us stop testing, we could keep on with the merry-go-round—so many U.S. tests, so many Soviet tests—forever. The suggestion now coming out that there be a time and place when all testing ceases, and from then on information be placed in the U.N. and shared by all governments, is hence an ideal solution.
The Russian release intimates that all innocence is on the side of the Soviet Union and all perfidy on the side of the U.S. For instance, they say the U.S. "does not hide that it has undertaken this new series of nuclear weapon tests, and especially tests in outer space, to try to achieve a military supremacy over the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union would not justify the trust of the Soviet state, if it did not draw appropriate conclusions. No, the Soviet Union will not give this satisfaction to those who harbor aggressive designs against our country, who threaten us and our allies with preventive war."
This could be turned around to say instead that the U.S. is forced to recognize the fact that the Soviet Union has made tests to gain military supremacy over the U.S. The President of the U.S. by his oath of office is therefore obliged to take the advice of his experts and military advisers since he is responsible for the safety and security of the country and its people. This is true really of any head of state. In fact, the military people in every capital of the world, including China, all argue that they must be fully prepared at any given moment to meet defense objectives.
"The Soviet government," the release concludes, "subscribes to the appeal which the World Congress on General Disarmament and Peace addressed to the peoples of all countries to strengthen peace, to fight for disarmament, to deliver mankind from the threat of nuclear annihilation. This appeal embodies the will of the peoples, and this will is the supreme law of history. Struggle for the ending of nuclear tests, for disarmament, for peace continues and it must be crowned with victory for the cause of peace."
This is a beautiful paragraph of generalities which, again, could be written for any country. The important thing is to agree on a date on which all nuclear tests will be stopped, and to make concrete proposals embodying action toward disarmament. I have been making the same one repeatedly, but I don't find that anyone else takes it up. I would like to see our government make plans for the change-over to peacetime production. It would then be impossible for anyone to say that because disarmament would bring a financial crisis, we are only giving lip service and are not really working for it. Once the plan were made and labor, industry and the government had its part laid out, we could then go with clean hands to the other nations of the world and say: "We are completely ready. The change-over from military production to peacetime production is all arranged for and will not upset our economy in the least."
This is only one concrete proposal. But there must be other things we could be doing, and I wish we could come forward with some new disarmament plans that would be a challenge to the other countries to follow suit. Certainly, I would like to see the Soviet Union and any other nation come forward with a step-by-step plan for preliminary action leading toward disarmament.
(Copyright, 1962, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, August 1, 1962
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
- Brick, Christopher (Editor)
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