Eleanor Roosevelt: My Day:
NEW YORK, Tuesday—I hope that both Russia and Marshal Tito are being fully informed of the reaction of the people in this country toward Yugoslavia's unwarranted and cruel attack upon American transport planes and toward Russia's backing up of the Yugoslav Government. To us, it seems a flimsy excuse to say that a number of planes, no matter how many, had flown over and taken pictures. It would be more than stupid to use transport planes for aerial photography. And if pictures were taken, what do either the Russians or the Yugoslavs think we would do with them that could be harmful to those countries?
It is now being said that Great Britain is pleased that our people have become irritated and will stiffen their attitude of antagonism to Russia. It is said they hope that, as a result, we will back British policy on questions in the Near and Far East. I doubt if that will be the effect on a great number of our people. But the effect which I already sense is one which I deeply deplore because, if it grows, it will remove a disinterested and therefore a stabilizing factor for the settlement of problems among nations.
I have already heard people say, "Why do we bother spending our money to send food and medicine and other relief needs to the rest of the world?" "Why do we keep our men in dangerous places?" "Why don't we stay home where we belong and deal purely on a trade basis with the rest of the world? If we have products to sell which they want, they will buy. And there are enough friendly people with whom to develop trade relations so that we don't have to bother with the unfriendly."
This is an attitude which is all too familiar among the American people. We have heard it in times past and we will probably hear it many times again. And now the Yugoslavs and Russians have given it great impetus.
Those of us who believe that it is possible to be friendly with all the world have fought this attitude and tried to be understanding toward all other nations. But we do not take easily or blandly the shooting down of unarmed planes and the death of American men.
I have always wanted cooperation with Russia. But I fight the American Communists within the United States for the simple reason that I believe we have greater power under our present form of government and under our present economic system to advance the well-being of our people as a whole. If we find that we need changes, either in our form of government or in our economic system, we can achieve our objectives more quickly under our setup than can the people who live under what they euphemistically call a democratic dictatorship. They have the right, however, in their own country to their own ideas, and the right to grow in their own way.
I believe we can work side by side, but we cannot do so if they uphold the kind of action taken by Marshal Tito when he meets our formal demands with the protest that all he did was right! We have an obligation to meet other nations halfway in friendliness and understanding, but they have that obligation, too—and these latest developments show no realization of their responsibility.