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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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PARIS, Wednesday—Monday was Ambassador Austin's birthday and, as is our annual custom in the delegation, we sang "Happy Birthday" to him and put a flower in his buttonhole.

I think he had really forgotten that it was his birthday, but he looked pleased. It always gives us great pleasure to tell him how much we enjoy working with him and that we wish him many happy returns of the day.

No one who works with the Ambassador can fail to admire his integrity and devotion to the cause of international understanding. One doesn't develop an affection for him merely because he is such a nice person.

Monday morning in the plenary session at the Palais de Chaillot was very interesting.

Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden's speech was, of course, the event most anxiously awaited, and it was well worth waiting for. It was a reasoned, temperate speech that, point by point, showed up the lack of either temperateness or reason in the Soviet answer to Secretary of State Dean Acheson's speech of last week.

Mr. Eden made no attack on Russian delegate Andrei Vishinsky or the Soviets. He simply remarked that Mr. Vishinsky seemed to have been laughing too hard to give any serious thought to the proposals being made, and these proposals were new, he pointed out. The Soviets were responsible themselves for the criticism on dividing armaments and not considering them together, and therefore this change had been made. Conventional armament and atomic weapons would henceforth all be considered as one package.

Lester B. Pearson, Canadian External Affairs Minister, was the next most forthright speaker and perhaps a little blunter than Mr. Eden. He pointed out that, as a young nation, there were many things they wanted to do in Canada to develop their country that had to be put aside when over 45 percent of their budget had to be devoted to rearming. He pointed out that those of us who had disarmed had done so in good faith, and it was because the Soviet Union had not done so that the present difficulties had arisen.

Certainly, no one can imagine that Great Britain with her financial and political problems really wants to spend her sorely needed income on armaments. I was glad to have it pointed out clearly to the Soviets that when they assured us that no one need fear aggression on their part, the hard and stubborn facts could not be forgotten. Where are the countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Esthonia today?

Who finds Poland and Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Roumania and Bulgaria free countries today? A whisper against the present administration and your condition would be indeed precarious.

The Soviets call this liberation, but to many of us it certainly spells aggression. They call the North Korean action and the Chinese "volunteer" action liberation and not aggression. Yet, the South Koreans are strangely unwilling to be liberated in this particular way. The South Koreans want a unified Korea—but not a unified Korea dominated by the Soviets.

I surmise they do not want to be dominated by the U.S.A. or even by the U.N. They just want a unified Korea that would govern itself. The Soviets, however, have a way of confusing terms which makes their meanings somewhat obscure.

After the morning session I spoke at the American Women's Group and I was struck by how many American women are actually living in Paris and how different the so-called American colony is today from what it once was. These women are here because their husbands are in the Army, in ECA or in the Embassy.

They still are close to the U.S. however. They came from there recently and they are going back there. I think they will succeed in giving the French a real idea of what the U.S. really is and I am glad we have this big group of ambassadors of good will.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Paris (France) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, November 15, 1951

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.