APRIL 20, 1948
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Monday—Two headlines in a Paris paper seem to me contradictory. One says: "Communist Party of France Proclaims Defense Program. Adopts Plan to Defeat Yankee Capitalist Aim to Ruin France and Turn It into American Colony." The other, referring to the pact between the Marshall Plan countries, says: "Sixteen Nations Sign Pact for Council. Permanent Board to Rule Economy."
The United States is not on this council, and the article goes on to say: "The organization thus finds its origin in the United States but not its limits. Its objective also is to continue coordination of Continental trade beyond ERP lifetime and to conclude economic agreements with other countries or international associations for the most effective use of European resources and manpower."
If we intended to ruin the economy of any nation and make it dependent exclusively on the United States, approval of the formation of an organization of this kind would seem a strange way to go about it!
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Communist propaganda against the European Recovery Program goes on day in and day out, but the facts, I hope, will belie their arguments, in which case we will have built up goodwill in Europe. But we will have to count on our ability to produce what people want at a price and of a quality which attracts them. That challenge American business men and craftsmen have long accepted. Domination of Europe and the use of this period of recovery to enslave other people is far from the thoughts of any American.
As a matter of fact, for the USSR to speak slurringly of imperialism at this time must make everyone smile, for an imperialistic nation is one that extends its control over weaker nations—and who, pray, at the present time has done the most extending? Certainly not the United States or Great Britain or France or China. The finger of imperialism points at the USSR.
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The other evening, prior to the meeting which I had come here to address, I was filled with apprehension lest my French would not be sufficiently fluent to express my thoughts. I don't flatter myself that my speech was as effective as it should have been, but the audience was both kind and attentive.
M. Henri Rolin, president of the Belgian Senate, introduced me and reviewed what my husband had meant to Europe in the dark days that they had all been through. The welcome accorded me was largely due to the fact that everyone had sensed in my husband a kindness and affection for all peoples throughout the world, and this evoked in return affection and respect from all peoples.
After my speech, I sat with Her Majesty Queen Mother Elizabeth to watch a showing of the film, "The Roosevelt Story." At one point, the narrator says: "How did it come about that one man had so many friends?" I think that is a point that should be driven home in the various countries where this film is shown, because in the present state of the world it is important to remember the qualities and policies which brought this sense of friendship to so many peoples of the world.
Not only in the English-speaking countries did this feeling penetrate, but even in countries like Belgium where, during the war, to listen to a broadcast from the United States was to risk death. One young woman who was introduced to me as one of the most valiant of the underground fighters, with a wonderful war record, spoke of the courage given by my husband's broadcasts. Incidentally, it was hard even to associate this young woman with war when you looked at her charming young face and pretty evening dress!
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When I arrived here, a group of war orphans were at the airport to present me with a bouquet of flowers and to sing the "Star Spangled Banner." I learned later that they were from a home run under the foster-parents plan and supported by American gifts. The children are clothed entirely with garments sent from the United States.
As there are a great many people of Belgian descent in our country, they probably contribute very generously when any appeal is made for real needs, particularly where children are concerned. I must say that the little boys and girls I saw looked healthy and sturdy, but it made one sad to realize that they were victims of the war and would have to grow up without the care of their own parents.