My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK, Wednesday—I do believe in strategic air power and in the value of the Navy, but I think that even the Air force will agree that it is important to use air power only where and when it is most effective and that there are certain things that air power cannot accomplish without supporting or cooperating ground forces.

Even though I do believe these things, I do not think it is for me or any other civilian to say what is needed for the defense of the United States here or in any part of the world. That is the business of the Department of National Defense in conjunction with the Chiefs of Staff. The President and the Congress have the benefit of being kept completely informed and Congress' reactions should represent the feelings of the people in such matters as civilians are qualified to make judgments. We also have responsibilities today within the North Atlantic pact and in the United Nations and we have the benefit of international consultation.

When members of Congress or private citizens undertake to decide what we shall or shall not do in a military way even before Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower has set up his headquarters and reported to the Atlantic powers on his plans, it seems to me we are working toward creating an extremely difficult situation for him and for the other North Atlantic pact nations. Aside from that we are inadvertently giving the Soviet Union information it must be delighted to have and are playing directly into its hands. If Russia is looking for any weakness in us and our allies we are showing it in a way that must please them.

Senator Wherry, Senator Taft and former President Hoover undoubtedly are sincere in all their proposals and recommendations, but perhaps their plans would lose lives instead of preserving them. These gentlemen will receive praise from many quarters from people who for varying reasons are willing to lend their support. It might just happen, however, that these people would be playing into the hands of the Communists and if the military authorities followed their advice we might find a superior force overrunning Europe, after which it could then concentrate on the United States.

It is convenient to believe that we can save ourselves through the efforts of the Western European countries, but two World Wars have proved to us that this cannot be done. Why shut our eyes to this fact? Why not, for once, be fully prepared and thereby possibly prevent the loss of life for both the Europeans and ourselves?

We also should be driving home to the Soviet Union and her satellites in every way the fact that two World Wars have now proved that even for the victors there is no real gain. The concept of communism, which would fight on until the whole world was communized, is utterly foolish today, since after any new war there would be so few people left that the ostensible objective of communism—the happiness of the masses of the people—would have no meaning any more. There would be no masses of people left after mass destruction had taken place.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL