APRIL 23, 1949
NEW YORK, Friday—A neat little rebuke was handed to us in our discussion on Freedom of Information in Committee #3 the other day. The Yugoslav delegate, who is a newspaper man, said he found it hard to get accustomed to our papers over here.
"In Yugoslavia," said he, "the headlines tell of what is being rebuilt in our country; of what new developments the government is planning; of how we can improve agriculture. In short, the papers are devoted to the problems of making life better for all our citizens.
"Here we read about new military inventions; new measures for defense and aggression. The greater part of a newspaper is taken up with questions that impinge somewhere on preparation for war. Then you wonder that we feel the United States is preparing a war."
His remarks were echoed by the delegate from the USSR and the delegate from the Ukraine. One of them quoted from some recent articles, in a popular magazine. I had not read the articles, but I am told the quotations were accurate and that a writer did say that our best pilots were trained to fly to certain industrial targets in Russia and that they knew the shortest way to get there.
One cannot blame the military people of any nation for planning for the defense of the nation, but the best defense may sometimes include planning for possible aggression and even in training regular military people to fit into these plans. That is the job of the defense strategists in the military groups of any country.
It is just because this has to be true that many people hope the day will come when we will have joint force in the United Nations and be able gradually to cut down on the force which individual nations now have to have.
Perhaps we are getting so accustomed to ignoring things we read in our papers and magazines that we cannot realize how they strike a newcomer to the country. It might be well now and then to look more objectively at some of the sensational things that are written and that we hear over the radio and try to decide how we would feel about them if we were the man from Mars.
Wednesday night I went to see "Two Blind Mice" in which Melvyn Douglas is starring. I don't suppose it would be as funny to anyone who had not lived in Washington, but the four people in our party all knew Washington well and we enjoyed every minute of the show.
It is a delightful satire on Washington, but it is kindly humor and leaves no bitterness behind it. Mr. Douglas is always entertaining, and I like seeing him on the stage rather than on the screen. The story of "The Office of Seeds and Standards" should live a long time in all our memories and one can smile not only at bureaucracy but also at the newspaper people who are always looking for something that is hidden, and do occasionally read into the most harmless things a beautifully imaginative mystery.