My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Thursday—At the plenary session of the General Assembly of the United Nations Wednesday afternoon we had been told that only Brazil and the United States would be heard. But immediately following Secretary of State Dean Acheson's speech, to our surprise it was announced that Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky would make his speech.

Secretary of State Acheson had stated, not in violent language but very honestly, what he feels has been the real obstacle to peace in our time. And there is certainly no chance to misunderstand what his feeling is about Soviet policies. What he said represented the thinking of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the United States.

In getting up to speak, Mr. Vishinsky was remarkably restrained. He said that later we would deal with the rude remarks made against the Soviet Union by our Secretary of State, but in his speech he made no violent or vituperative attacks.

He cited the fact of the large increase in the military budget of the United States and the additional expenditure in aid to rearm other countries. He failed entirely to give us a breakdown of the Russian budget for its war expenditures and for the help furnished satellite countries.

He stated again that atomic weapons should be outlawed and labeled the first nations to use atomic weapons as war criminals. Then he proceeded to advocate the international control of atomic energy and some kind of assurance through international means that no nation was making atomic weapons.

Again he failed to indicate that what has held up agreements on atomic energy control has been the refusal of the Soviet Union to accept the kind of inspection other countries have deemed necessary for protection. Finally, he called for every great nation to reduce its armaments in every branch by one-third. Of course, he failed to say that this would leave the Soviet Union in a position of complete mastery since it now has a far greater army than any other nation or combination of nations in Europe.

In other words, Mr. Vishinsky's appeal was not entirely truthful. That is the real basis of our difficulty. To accomplish any kind of effective international negotiation there must be a feeling on both sides that agreements, once made and accepted, will be kept.

I am willing to believe that the Soviets actually fear that the rearmament which is being forced upon us now in order that we may feel secure against aggression is a threat to their safety. They should realize that the way to allay their fears is to speak the truth and try accepting a plan for real inspection. I think they would be surprised at how much cooperation they would get if those two steps were taken.

Mr. Vishinsky is right. The things said about the Soviet Union were hard. But it also is right to speak what one deems to be the truth, since otherwise no one has a basis for clear understanding.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL