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

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HYDE PARK, Sunday—In the United States Technical Survey mission's report on Indo-China, it is interesting to find at last a recognition of the fact that economic conditions frequently underlie the easy conquest made in certain countries by the Communists. Here is a report suggesting the underwriting of a public health program for Indo-China and the supplying of hand tools to poor farmers in the war-devastated Viet Nam.

Wherever we give merely arms and political aid, we are open to the accusation of interference with the will of the people of the country in managing of their own government. But where we recognize the real need of the people and try to give them such assistance as will help them to gain greater security, and therefore independence, we strike at the root of their suspicions of us, and nothing the Soviet agents can say will change the facts experienced by the people.

That is why it seems to me that our economic assistance is more important than our military assistance, and that is why the Point Four program is important. It is foolish, I think, to believe that any good will come of private negotiations between the USSR and the U. S. A., or even among the USSR, the United Kingdom and the U. S. A. I think we have reached a point where whatever is done must be done through the United Nations.

It is only as we bring to bear a great majority of opinion on the Soviets that we can hope to persuade them that they are wrong. We repeat to them, day in and day out, that we do not want war. They repeat to us and to the world that they do not want war. But we think it essential to arm the democracies that are on our side, and they think it essential to dominate in as many countries as possible. Each time they win a country, we lose a point in the cold war. Each time we strengthen one of the democracies and cut down the chance of Communist supremacy in a country, they lose a point in the cold war. Nothing decisive is done, however, which we can feel is actually leading us to a constructive building up of confidence, even to the point of agreement that neither of us wants war, that both of us believe in our own methods of government and ways of life but that we think we may be able to refrain from intereference with each other and therefore find some ways of working together.

These ways must be mutually advantageous, so they probably must be in the realm of economics; and there must be an agreement on both sides not to resort to force, nor to use hidden methods to undermine the other nation. In other words, there must be a sitting down around the table and a careful negotiation point by point. This the U. S. A. has stated it is willing to do, but when it comes to the point the USSR is never willing to do it. Whenever the USSR can not have its own way, it withdraws—as it is doing at the present time at every meeting of the U. N. Yet in the interests of peace, it is obviously essential that the USSR and the U. S. A. come to an understanding.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 27, 1950

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.