AUGUST 4, 1949
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Monday night I went down to Vassar College to speak at an all-day meeting of the Vassar Summer Institute. It was held in cooperation with Dr. Phoebe Morrison, International Relations Associate of the American Association of University Women.
I have spoken every year for Dr. Mary S. Langmuir, director of this summer institute, because I think it is such an interesting group. Parents come to spend several weeks, and bring their children. They turn the children over to experts, spending only a short time daily with them. The parents may attend classes and observe the children in some of their activities in order to illustrate points in the courses on child care or child psychology.
The institute gives parents the opportunity to study community activities and take a number of courses which will enable them to be more useful citizens.
This day was devoted to international relations. It was an effort, through lectures and discussions, to find better ways of international cooperation and understanding. It pointed up for each individual his own responsibilities and opportunities for participation on this level.
I spoke primarily on the Human Rights Commission and also on United Nations activities as a whole. I hope I made clear what I feel so strongly, namely, that on this level people have great power and great responsibility.
No policies will be made by responsible officials unless they think public opinion is behind them. Certainly, Congress, both in the House and in the Senate, will try in every possible way to keep in touch with the thinking of the people on international affairs.
* * *
I thought General Marshall's statement yesterday was particularly significant on the question of the foreign military assistance program. No one knows better than he how much was the cost of our lack of preparedness before the last war. We honestly wanted to show the world that we were a peace-loving nation. Yet, we did not realize that the people we were dealing with understood no peaceful gesture. Force was all important to them.
You might have made them pause in their plans for world conquest if they had known that the combined force against them was actually more than they could handle successfully. If our efforts had cost us only money we would not now be very regretful, but they cost us precious human lives. General Marshall is very conscious of that.
I asked him one night whether he wanted to see a very remarkable play in New York City called, "Command Decision."
His answer was: "I have had to make too many of those decisions. I never want to see anything that reminds me of them."
It was of men he was thinking. I think his advice at present is given because he feels the importance of doing something which he believes may save human lives.