My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Wednesday—The same Good Neighbor Policy which we have inaugurated in this hemisphere could and should be extended throughout the world.

In many cases, our people's only knowledge of other countries is gained through groups of their citizens who are now citizens of the United States. These groups should help us to realize conditions and needs which so far have been little understood here, and which, if we want peace in the world, we must cope with.

However, in getting this help from our citizens of foreign background, we have one difficulty, which points up how hard it would be for the average citizen clearly to define the trend which he wants our foreign policy to follow. Just as in this country there are crosscurrents and variations of opinion, so in every other country in the world the same situation exists. Therefore, one finds reflected among our groups of fairly recent foreign origin all the many different political shades that exist in their own countries—and these are even harder to grasp than our own geographic political differences.

Our average citizen can only decide, for instance, that he wants to help feed people in countries where they are hungry. Most of us want to feed all people, particularly women and children, regardless of the political parties to which they may belong. We feel that their political differences are their concern, and that our State Department should do the deciding, wherever there are claims and counterclaims, as to what side we are on.

* * *

Watching the special interests of different nations, understanding what motivates the policy of this nation or that—this is the business of the State Department. When they know something that would affect our feeling toward any nation or would shape our decision in any situation, we feel that it is up to the State Department to tell us the facts, and then it is up to us as citizens to make our opinions known.

Because we want facts, we have an interest in the kind of people who represent us in different parts of the world. They are not only responsible for carrying out the orders of our State Department in the country where they are stationed, but they are expected to know about the conditions in that country and to report on them truthfully. Otherwise, neither our State Department nor we the people can make any kind of valid decisions. We have had some representatives who accepted what government officials told them and never noticed anything about the life or the feelings of the people in the countries where they were stationed. We can have no basis for a sound foreign policy where such men or women represent us.

No foreign policy can be static. It has to change as conditions change. We have economic interests all over the world, and often these are our closest ties with other nations. We want to see our interests advanced in legitimate ways, but not at the price of exploitation of a weaker nation or in a way that would create ill-will toward us in the world.

These are the basic feelings which I think our people have on our foreign policy.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL