SEPTEMBER 26, 1946
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—The very brief excerpts given in the newspapers from the recent speech delivered by Anthony Eden certainly made me wish I could read it as a whole. The suggestion that all of us seem to have reached an impasse in our foreign affairs, and that it might be well to start all over again, makes me wonder whether the British are beginning to recall the fact that, in both our countries after World War I, we vigorously berated our representatives in Paris for not having written a peace at the end of three months.
Of course, the situation is very different now. After World War I, we did not occupy other countries so extensively. We had troops along the Rhine for a short time, a few of our troops had to return from Russian soil, and a number of the British who had spent quite a while in Archangel were finally brought home. But our men in France were brought back as soon as transportation was available. Also, though mixed populations made boundary questions equally difficult then, still there did not seem such a vast field to cover. Everything is harder today, and one can only hope that the long-drawn-out period of settlement will eventually bring more satisfactory results.
The number of men we have to keep in service to occupy different parts of the world seems in itself to make the writing of a peace hard, but I begin to think we should hurry, since none of the problems that bedevil us today will grow any easier as time drags on.
I do not like to think of what our armed forces are costing us, because I know that, until a peace is signed, no change can be made, but so much expenditure for men in uniform means less for the well-being of people at home.
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One thing which used to haunt me after World War I is beginning to bother me again. I travel up and down the Hudson River very frequently. At one particular spot, there are rows upon rows of merchant ships tied up, one against the other. Such ships were there after the first World War—and here they are again.
Is there nothing these ships might do? It seems to me that, since so many merchant vessels were destroyed in the war, these could be sold to countries that need them. If nothing else can be done with them, they could be broken up, since materials are so hard to get these days. There must be any amount of good planking and trim of all kinds in every one of those ships.
I do not know to whom they belong. I do not know who put them there. But every time I go by, I feel the same resentment as I did after World War I at the waste which they represent.