NOVEMBER 18, 1953
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Last Thursday the college groups of the area interested in the United Nations had a dinner at the YWCA in San Francisco which was attended they told me by representatives of some 26 colleges. There are of course represented in these colleges foreign nations and I think the contacts that our young people are acquiring these days with other young people from distant lands are fruitful for better understanding in the future.
One of the questions asked me in this group was why the United States had not followed its traditional policy of standing for the freedom of people and had sided with France and Great Britain in the arguments over Morocco and Tunisia. I explained the fact, which I think many of us are apt to forget, that questions are not always as simple as they appear to be, namely that it is true that the United States believes in the right of people to be free and govern themselves but that this belief is conditioned by many other things.
When have people arrived at the point to undertake self-government? This is a frequent question that faces the Trusteeship Council, but in the case of North Africa the whole question was complicated by the evident desire to create a split between the allies. The Soviet Union has not proven by its actions in the past that it is particularly concerned for the right of people to govern themselves but they have argued for the rights of Morocco and Tunisia. Had they succeeded in causing a breach between the United States and the other Western powers it would certainly not have brought about better conditions in North Africa and would have weakened the world situation against communism. So many aspects of these: situations must be considered that one can never decide on one aspect but one must take into consideration many others.
After spending a little over an hour with the students we went to the auditorium for the public meeting. This was well attended and we did have a short period of questions afterwards. We had been so hurried all along the line that we had not had any dinner, so as I had remarked earlier that I hated to be in San Francisco and not have a meal at Omar Khayyam's we went there for a decidedly late dinner which was extremely delicious. I enjoyed again some of the specialties like jam made out of rose petals, and their particular kind of bread and pastries.
Their main course brought back to my mind that here was where I had dined with a young friend the night before he left for service in the Pacific area during World War II. How far away the emotions and the tensions of those days seem, and yet the work that all of us do for the United Nations is done in the shadow of those memories and in the hope that we can prevent even worse situations in the future.