APRIL 30, 1947
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I have seen very little comment on a decision of the United Nations Military Staff Committee which has troubled me a great deal, and I am waiting anxiously to read something further to clarify it. I understood it in the following way—that the proposed international police force would be large enough and strong enough to coerce any of the smaller nations which might become aggressive, but would not be strong enough to take action against one of the great powers.
This difference between the treatment to be accorded great and small powers seems to me a very dangerous doctrine. One might say, of course, that the use of the veto in the Security Council would make it practically impossible ever to take action against one of the great powers. But I have always taken it for granted that, if the United Nations decided that a nation had committed an aggressive act, no use of the veto could protect that nation in wrong-doing, whether the nation was large or small. I think this decision of the military committee should be clarified for the general public, and should receive careful study before it is accepted.
Yesterday, the United Nations General Assembly met in its first emergency session. This meeting is going to find the eyes of the world focused upon it, for it is not just the fate of the Jews in Palestine which is at stake. Many people feel that, beneath the surface, other interests are stirring which will make this Assembly's decisions of great moment in the whole history of the Near East.
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Having had a successful Safety Conference under Maj. Gen. Philip B. Fleming's guidance, President Truman has now asked him to undertake a Fire Prevention Conference in Washington from May 6th to 8th. My husband was always very conscious of the danger of fire. He had seen a number of fires start in old houses when he was a boy, and he always inquired whether all precautions had been taken to prevent a fire in any house where we might be.
Until one sees the total figures of the property loss in this country in 1946, it is hard to imagine that individual catastrophes can mount up to such tremendous figures. In 1946, our loss by fire amounted to $560,000,000. The average annual death toll taken by fire in this country is 10,000.
Many organizations and individuals will have to cooperate in making a success of this new drive against fires, because we must not only plan a program to prevent fires, but the people must be educated so that they will organize their communities and carry out whatever program is presented to them. There is no question but that the fire-fighting services of many communities can be improved. Water supplies can be checked everywhere. One of the big sources of loss every year—forest fires—can be controlled by the careful issuing of permits for hunting and fishing, and the insistence that the fire laws be enforced everywhere.