SEPTEMBER 12, 1956
HYDE PARK—It may seem important only to England and France today what happens in the Suez Canal situation. But while the oil supply in the Near East, which is in the background of the whole Suez question, is vital to France and Great Britain, it also means something to the United States.
Anything that weakens our two European allies weakens us. If France and Great Britain are less able to meet their share of world responsibility, then the United States alone would have to carry the burden of convincing the Soviet Union that it would be unwise to try to control the whole world.
This is something which would add enormously to the burdens of the United States. Yet it is something we cannot very well avoid, because Western Europe is all that stands between us and the Soviet Union.
It must be difficult for people in this country to realize how closely our future is tied to such questions as this that seem so remote. But what happens to the Suez Canal must be of great concern to us in the U.S.
While in Geneva, Switzerland, from where I returned Sunday, there seemed to be much confusion over a statement by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser saying that President Eisenhower seemed to agree with him on control of the Suez. The impression was that our President was paying little attention to the French and British and that we would agree with the Indian plan for settlement of the crisis.
Purely as an outsider looking at her country from a distance, I wondered whether we were not just deferring difficult decisions in the hope that we might do nothing to antagonize the Arab states, with whom we wished to remain friendly. We forget that they already are antagonized and that, when we take no clear stand, we simply are misleading them.
In the end we will have to stand with the British and the French, and the Arab countries, faced finally with this disagreeable reality, will like us less.
I cannot help but feel that this habit of not stating clearly where we stand is a bad one, for it misleads people and, in this case, might lead us into war. There comes a time when giving in is not possible, and at that point war becomes inevitable. It may well be that everyone feels that this can be another small war without the use of atomic weapons, but then again it might not be.
Our meetings of the World Federation of United Nations Associations closed in Geneva Saturday and, through it all, I was impressed with the friendly spirit that can be engendered among individuals, even if their governments look upon each other with suspicion.
Our delegation at the conference had the expert help of two of our best staff people, Miss Estelle Linzer and Miss Margaret Olson. Miss Linzer came to Europe last summer and visited many of the associations. Miss Olson did the same this summer.
Our party, including my two grandsons, flew from Geneva to Paris Saturday, changing planes there for the flight to New York's Idlewild Airport. Three weeks and two days went by since I left New York, and I must say it seemed far longer than that. The boys were gone more than four weeks, since they came over by boat.
I wonder, as they look back, whether they will remember all the things they have seen. My last week in Geneva was a busy one and I did not have anywhere as much time with the young people as I would have liked. But they planned things very well for themselves and many people were more than kind to them.
I did not see many new things on this trip, but I renewed memories of many things, adding new impressions of people and places.
A change of scenery, together with visiting many new interesting things and people, is in many ways just as good a rest as spending one's time in one place for the purpose of relaxing. At least, I found that to be true on my trip and I returned home with a great zest for the work that awaited me.