My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK—I have just received a copy of a letter sent to the editor of The Wall Street Journal by a gentleman with law offices in San Francisco, who criticizes my stand on Herbert Hoover's recent proposal to reorganize the United Nations. This was a good magazine to choose, of course, but there are readers of The Wall Street Journal who, I am sure, will not be in agreement with the gentleman from California.

In his letter, he says: "Mrs. Roosevelt, and others, seem to disagree violently with Herbert Hoover's recent suggestion as to reorganization of the United Nations.

"A league of nations, or a united nations organization, is a fine idea, but there must be some practical common sense applied to its creation and operation to make it workable." (I wonder what all the nations that met in San Francisco thought they were doing.) "Woodrow Wilson missed the boat when he sponsored a league of nations where the United States had no more votes and no more power than any small nation."

Woodrow Wilson was a historian and a man of wide and deep learning. He undoubtedly remembered the discussions that attended the transforming of the thirteen colonies into the United States of America. Some people today feel that it is a mistake for Rhode Island, for example, to have two members in the Senate and for New York to have the same number. Our lower house has representation according to population, but Woodrow Wilson realized that there had to be a balance whereby the big states did not overshadow the smaller states. In any organization where large and small countries come together as they do in the United Nations, it is essential that there be a balance of power which does not leave the smaller nations entirely at the mercy of the great nations.

The gentleman who wrote this letter does not realize how great the influence is of the larger nations. There is a pressure that can never be done away with which comes from economic power and potential military power. Further along in this letter from which I am quoting, the gentleman says: "The United Nations will never be a success until Russia's wings are clipped." A number of small nations would say that today about both Russia and the United States. If the war had not curtailed the strength of Great Britain, they would say it about Great Britain; and they still probably think it about the empire as a whole.

The gentleman goes on to say: "Some idealists think, that Russia's wings can be clipped when she blows up internally." (When or if that happens, of course, there will be a period of comparative political weakness.) "Mr. Hoover suggests an organization without Russia, as a practical matter, to deal with conditions as they are, so that we may have some world security for the present and thus forestall Russia from growing stronger at the expense of free nations."

If this type of organization were built, we would have no security and would be spending more than we now are on armaments; and in the end would have to fight to prove which of us was more powerful. I still believe things can be settled without war. When I cease to hold that belief, then I will be with Mr. Hoover and his friend in San Francisco.

PNews, NSJ, 10 May 1950