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

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PARIS, Wednesday—How strange it is for the Soviet press to think it a sign of confusion that President Truman should have suggested sending the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to talk to Premier Stalin, and then have changed his mind at the suggestion of Secretary of State George C. Marshall.

It was not a sign of confusion. It simply was a sign that the President of the United States is always anxious to show his good will . He felt that no one would doubt that his intentions were good if he sent someone whom he had named to such an important post in his own government to talk over our mutual difficulties. But he also realized that if his Secretary of State thought this was not the moment to make such a gesture, then he must follow the Secretary's advice.

General Marshall has been in Europe. He naturally would be the one to be consulted even before such a gesture of good will actually would have been undertaken.

The problem, as I see it at present, is that the Soviet Union will try to make the rest of the world believe that the Russians are not the ones who are to blame for any of the trouble in Berlin. It is the wicked United States, they claim, in cahoots with the United Kingdom and France, that tried to wreck the Soviet economy in their zone in Germany, and that, of course, the Soviet government could not allow.

The Russians are the ones who are asking for the destruction of the atom bomb. On this problem we are unreasonable, they say; not the Soviets. However, the fact that after all the months of work by the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission Deputy Foreign Minister Vishinsky blandly can forget that no plan can be worked out before some settlement has been reached on a plan for the control of atomic energy at the source is proof that the Russians think the rest of us are so gullible that they can make us believe anything, if they repeat it often enough.

Naturally, there would be no security for anyone unless there was inspection during all operations where atomic energy is concerned. Once this plan is agreed upon and we are all in the same boat so far as supervision is concerned, then it would be easy to agree on the amount of disarmament and to know that everybody was complying. It is out of the question for one part of the world to be open for inspection while another would not be.

The Russians have claimed that such an inspection group would be dominated by the United States. But there is no reason for that to happen. Everyone on the group would want to be very sure that everyone else was acting in good faith; no one would look with favor upon the nation that might be caught breaking its agreement.

Sometimes I think that if the Russians, who call themselves realists, would just face the fact that the next war—if there is one—will be just as harmful to them as it would be to the rest of the world they might learn to accept the democratic principle of majority rule. They go right on voting a certain way no matter how often the majority vote indicates to them that their point of view is considered wrong.

On domestic questions, everyone would concede that they would have every right to stick to their point of view in spite of the opposition of the whole world. In situations where they come into contact with the rest of the world, however, they must learn, as all of us have, to how to the will of the majority. If we are going to live in a peaceful world ruled by the law, this will of the majority must be accepted without recourse to force.

The Russians probably think because we have stood firm on having the inspection plan accepted before we could go on to discuss any of their other ideas that we are as obstinate as they are. But they forget that the majority has been with us. And they may be sure that the majority would not be with us if it were not convinced that this is the right procedure.

If we could have a truce on the hard words that have been exchanged and an acceptance of the majority rule, I believe that once the inspection plan was accepted, the details of control of atomic energy and then disarmament could be worked out. Business then could flow easily in Europe from east to west, and this talk of war and the jittery state of mind would come to an end.

The peoples of the world need a sense of security and their free, full energies to allow them to regain their economic and political stability.

The stories that one hears and reads in the Soviet press seem as far-fetched as some of the things that one heard in Germany after World War I. I remember hearing the statement that it was strange the United States did not enter the war on the German side, because 40 percent of the U.S. population was of German extraction. No one could persuade them that this figure was wrong. It is probably nearer 12 or 14 percent, and, at any rate, almost all of them are completely Americanized and looking at all questions from the American point of view.

It would be better all around if fairy tales such as these were not spread in the press. They are almost as misleading as the statements made by our Russian colleagues that describe us as "warmongering" and creating "incitement that leads to war."

I deplore anything of the kind and I think the only safe journalism is that which tries to give the truth as nearly as possible in all situations.

* * *

I was given a birthday party Monday afternoon to which many of the staff of the U.S. delegation came. The party had been going on for some time before my arrival because instead of our committee adjourning at six o'clock, as it sometimes does, we adjourned at 10 minutes past seven and I didn't reach the hotel until nearly seven thirty.

However, the party was gay and I proceeded to cut my birthday cake and feel duly grateful for having reached the advanced age of sixty-four. One should be grateful for the accumulated experience and knowledge that comes with the years. At least, one knows, in addition, that one must say one's prayers daily that what one has acquired in knowledge may translate itself into wisdom and tolerance, which can make old age useful to the rising generation.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]
Other Terms and Topics
  • Atomic bomb
         [ LC | FAST ]
  • Democracy, Principles of
  • Disarmament
         [ LC | Wikidata | FAST ]
  • Nuclear energy
         [ LC | FAST ]
  • Press
         [ LC | FAST ]
  • Soviet Union--Government
  • Soviet Union--politics
  • United States. Delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations
         [ LC | VIAF | FAST ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, October 14, 1948

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.