The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

My Day

-- I received the news on my plane flight from Los Angeles Thursday night that Sen. Lyndon Johnson would be the Democratic party's Vice-Presidential nominee.
Senator Johnson's selection was logical, of course, for he was the second strongest Presidential candidate at the convention, he comes from Texas, and his nomination should please the South. He is an old enough politician to know that platforms rarely mean a great deal and that as good as the Democratic platform is, its implementation is dependent upon the future.
Although I would have thought the Senate leadership more important, I am happy that Senator Johnson accepted, because as Vice-President he certainly can exert great influence.
I note with interest the report that the New York Democratic party chiefs have received assurances from our Presidential nominee that he "will neither sponsor nor authorize the creation of any organization to run his campaign except the Democratic State Committee." This should help the New York machine[1] financially to build an organization in the state -- an organization that is necessary if the state is to be found in the Democratic column in November.
All Democrats should begin at once, I think, to organize and prepare to do what they can in their localities. The Republicans may be as quick and as unanimous in their choice of a Presidential candidate as were the Democrats, and if this is the case, the most important thing for the Democrats will be an organization that reaches down to the grass roots. This is necessary so that when the candidates make appearances in different states they will be assured of preparation and follow-up.
* * * *
I was greatly disturbed by the fact that the United States postponed its talks with the Soviet Union on a civil airline agreement.[2]
With the new disorders that are breaking out in almost every part of the world, inspired if not actually aided by the Communists, and with the reaffirmation of the Monroe Doctrine[3] in reply to Premier Nikita Khrushchev's threats, we seem to be in a dangerous world situation.
If we decide to protest in Cuba the arrangements that Castro may make with the Soviets,[4] some rather important developments may occur just at the time when we would be arguing in the United Nations as to whether or not our planes have been crossing Soviet borders. We seem, therefore, to be facing trouble on many fronts.
* * * *
I am happy that the U.N. is taking affirmative action in the troubled Congo.[5] I have great confidence in Dr. Ralph Bunche's diplomatic ability.
I would like, however, to see the U.N. move, and move quickly, for an agreement against the use of atomic weapons and for the creation as soon as possible, within the U.N. organization, a body to bring together for negotiation the parties to disputes that now are threatening the peace in so many parts of the world.
The Soviets contend we have been "violating the sovereignty of the Soviet Union" as a persistent policy. I cannot believe this is true, but as far as I can see the only way to clear up the situation is through the U.N. In continuing with the talks in Geneva without the Soviets,[6] we would seem to recognize the inability to reach any future agreements with them, and this is where the tension lies.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)
     [1.] When ER makes reference to the "New York machine" in her column, she is referring to the New York State Democratic organization. She is not using the term "machine" to mean the political bosses and New York's Tammany Hall, the machine then run by Carmine De Sapio.
     [2.] July 15, 1955, in the midst of the Geneva Summit, President Eisenhower, after presenting "his open skies" proposal calling for mutual inspection of Soviet and American military installations by air, also called for the development of commercial air service between New York and Moscow. In January 1958, the two countries signed an "agreement in principle" to begin negotiations on the air service. Negotiations were set to begin July 18, 1960. Despite the almost complete break in American-Soviet relations the U-2 crisis fostered, the Soviets still planned to negotiate. Eisenhower canceled the meeting after the Soviets downed a U.S. RB-47 reconnaissance plane flying over international waters and arrested its crew. [Hans Heymann, Jr., The U.S.-Soviet Civil Air Agreement From Inception to Inauguration: A Case Study Prepared for the Department of State. R-1047-DOS (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, July 1972), pp. v-11.]
     [3.] In January 1957, President Eisenhower, concerned about Egyptian premier Gamal Abdel Nasser's increasing influence within the Middle East, asked Congress to support what would be called the Eisenhower Doctrine, authorizing the president to commit military and economic aid (and American military force if necessary) to any Middle Eastern nation asking for help in combating communist encroachment. Two months later, Congress, despite its misgivings about the president usurping congressional prerogatives, approved Eisenhower's request thus expanding the scope of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine (America would no longer be subject to colonization by European powers), the Roosevelt Corollary (President Theodore Roosevelt's interpretation of Monroe Doctrine to ensure U.S. sovereignty in Latin America), and Truman's National Security Council Resolution 56/2 ("United States Policy Toward Inter-American Military Collaboration"). By 1958, however, the administration's foreign policy team realized that its policy opposing Arab nationalism did not protect American interests in the Middle East and began to discard the Eisenhower Doctrine as it shifted to a "more accommodating" policy. [Stephen G. Rabe, Eisenhower and Latin America: The Foreign Policy of Anticommunism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), pp. 7, 22-23, 50-51; Paul S. Boyer, et al., eds., The Oxford Companion to United States History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 219; Richard B. Morris, ed., Encyclopedia of American History, 6th ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 487-488.]
     [4.] When Fidel Castro first assumed control of Cuba, after ousting the corrupt dictator Fulgenico Batista January 1, 1959, Eisenhower's foreign policy team hoped that Castro could reform Cuba without working with the Communists. However, within a month Castro legalized the Communist Party and February 28th he announced that he was suspending elections for two years. Although communists did not control Castro's government, Secretary of State Dulles reported that the communists were making inroads in labor and military organizations. By July 1960, the Eisenhower administration (which still was not clear on whether Castro was a communist), while unconvinced that Castro would sign a mutual security treaty with the Soviets, nevertheless implemented sanctions against Cuban sugar. Khrushchev responded by threatening to use Soviet rockets to defend Cuba. In October, Eisenhower further restricted trade with Cuba, limiting American trade to medicine and food. Castro responded by seizing American-owned properties. Eisenhower, although furious with the Soviet premier and fearful of the further damage the U-2 incident could inflict on U.S.-Soviet relations, rejected pressures from Nixon and Congress, refused to attack Cuba, arguing that "we could loose all of South America" if the U.S. did not handle this crisis "in precisely the right way;" and began plans to overthrow Castro. [Rabe, Eisenhower and Latin America, pp. 162-164; Stephen E. Ambrose, Eisenhower: The President (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), pp. 504-507, 582-585.]
     [5.] In 1959, native-born political activists challenged the Belgian colonial government of Zaire and forced the Belgian colonial government to help create and cede control to an independent, sovereign nation (to be called the Congo) the following year. The newly-elected government faced harsh challenges from the start: mutinies, secessions, retaliation against the Belgians, and rivalries within the elected leadership. President Joseph Kasavubu and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba requested the UN's assistance in reestablishing order through Ralphe Bunche, who tried to coordinate the ever-changing expectations the Congolese had for UN peacekeeping efforts. Lumumba's erratic behavior and inexperience exacerbated the East-West split on the UN Security Council. Although the Soviets had initially supported sending UN peacekeepers to the region, they recognized that the strategically-located Congo represented a potential foothold in Africa, and resisted any expansion of the pro-West Secretary-General's control over peacekeeping forces. [Joel Krieger, ed., The Oxford Companion to the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 180-181; Brian Urquhart, Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1993), pp. 299-336.]
     [6.] On June 27, 1960, just as members of the American delegation to the nuclear arms reduction talks prepared to announce new proposals, members of the Soviet, Bulgarian, Czechoslovak, Rumanian, and Polish delegations walked out of the Geneva conference, declaring that the U-2 incident proved that the United States "was more interested in espionage than disarmament." They further announced that they would lodge their complaints about American conduct with the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled to begin September 20th. The departure of the Eastern, communist delegates meant that the conference now only included delegates from the West, the United States, France, Britain, Canada and Italy. [A. M. Rosenthal, "Soviet Breaks Up Arms Parley, Refusing To Hear U.S. Plan," The New York Times, 28 June 1960, pp. 1, 10.]