FEBRUARY 13, 1948
HYDE PARK, Thursday—I do not know how other people feel, but I personally am wondering on what theory the Arab leaders are so lightly flaunting defiance of the United Nations. They should know that, in the long run, the existence of the United Nations is of importance to them. If the United Nations is wiped out and we return to the condition of each individual nation looking out for itself, the great nations are the ones that will have the easiest time. The small nations will live in continual uncertainty.
Had the Arabs protested but then accepted the U.N. majority decision on Palestine—and tried to work it out even though it was not agreeable to them—they would have earned respect and sympathy throughout the world. As it is, they are daily creating a greater sense of irritation among many people who have no special sympathy for the Jews but who do believe that the existence of the U.N. is important to the world.
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To whom will the Arabs sell their oil if not to the great nations, and if they do not sell their oil, how will they live? It seems to me their policies are short-sighted in a world where oil may seem all-important today but where, the day after tomorrow, a new invention may have made it quite immaterial.
I have been wondering for a long time why some of our own defense officials do not put more emphasis on finding a good substitute for oil and worry less about where more oil is to come from. Our people are ingenious. New discoveries are all around us, and when we have to make them, we nearly always do.
For instance, if the war had not made them important, the sulfa drugs and penicillin might still be undeveloped, because it was expensive to do the necessary experimentation. But when these drugs became essential, the expense made no difference. If it is essential to find a substitute for oil or rubber or any other material, I have faith that it can be done, because it has been done in the past.
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The Arabs are not using their oil to develop their own countries—to bring water to the desert and make the land support their people in greater comfort. All they do is sell their oil, and only a few people profit. That is short-sighted, for widespread and expanding well-being, which can be brought about by reclaimed land and greater productivity, would be a much surer foundation on which to build future strength.
I do not understand how any people facing an atomic world can want to pull down the United Nations, but for a people who are not on the whole too strong, it seems to me almost suicidal foolishness.