DECEMBER 3, 1956
NEW YORK—I heard over the air the other day that we are using economic sanctions against our allies, Great Britain and France, and refusing to give them oil until they agree to withdraw from Egypt. I have felt right along that for us to treat our friends this way is wrong. Even though we feel (and I feel it strongly) that they should have gone to the U.N. before taking action against Egypt, still they are our friends of long standing—and you help your friends when they are in difficulties even though you regretfully have to tell them that they were wrong.
Our attitude, on the contrary, seems to me to ignore our past friendship. England and France, besides, had already agreed to leave when they could see signs of a satisfactory solution of the Suez Canal question, and of a peaceful solution being negotiated between Israel and its Arab neighbors. If this much is not accomplished, then we are back where we were before anything was done, when everyone became so desperate that they forgot their obligations to the U.N.
Now it appears that the Soviet Union, with its usual inconsistency, is offering France oil even though it has castigated everyone, including little Israel, for daring to oppose Egypt and the Egyptian dictator. The people of France are without heat in their houses, and rationing for cars has already gone into effect. The same has happened in England, and the economy of the country is already being affected. The theatre business, I am told by one American theatre representative, has dropped 40 percent, for example, in the last few weeks. Our government blithely seems to ignore the fact that the collapse of the economy in Europe is going to have serious repercussions over here. I have often wanted us to be the leaders in wise policies, but it never seems to me wise to lead in making your friends suffer and in making it easier for your enemies to move in and fill vacuums because you will not help.
I have a long telegram from an editor in London asking if I am in favor of strong and active bonds with Britain and the Commonwealth and if I am unhappy over the present situation. I can answer with truth that I am most unhappy and that I want to see our old understanding and trust reestablished as soon as possible, for that is the only safeguard for freedom and justice in Europe and in the Middle East. I certainly favor the seeking by us of new friendships in Asia and Africa, but not to the detriment or the exclusion of our old friendships in England and France. Never did we need more wisdom and patience than we need at the present moment. Yet all that I hear from Washington leads me to believe that we feel we are the only virtuous people in the world today. It is a dangerous complacency at any time, and more so at the present.