For the sake of argument

We must come to terms with Russia—or perish

CYRUS EATON March 29 1958
For the sake of argument

We must come to terms with Russia—or perish

CYRUS EATON March 29 1958

We must come to terms with Russia—or perish

For the sake of argument


I believe we can trust the Russians.

I am equally convinced that we must trust the Russians, must find common ground for agreement with them. Our present American course of provocation, insult and threat can lead only to one terrible outcome: the final world war.

I call it that because the top scientists of a dozen nations who met last summer at Pugwash, N.S., left no doubt of its finality. They computed chilling statistics for a nuclear war if it were launched next month or next year with weapons already in existence — indeed, weapons at this moment poised, aimed or airborne.

The British and Polish, American and Russian, Canadian and Chinese scientists, given a unique opportunity for comparing and combining their data, agreed with amazing unanimity on the outcome of such a war: hundreds of millions killed outright; more hundreds of millions doomed to delayed death; the rest of mankind sentenced to precarious existence in a ravaged poisoned world.

In short, they agreed that another war would end civilization as we know it.

The very real possibility that mankind may be about to destroy everything it has created is understood by an increasing number of people — not only scientists, but businessmen, teachers, students and average men and women. Strangely, it does not seem to be understood by the very men responsible for making or avoiding war—men in government. Twelve years of unremitting cold war, of living on the brink of disaster, surely is prima facie evidence that statesmen, politicians, diplomats have been unable to find (if indeed they have been sincerely seeking) a basis for peace between the West and Russia and her allies.

Can the answer be found elsewhere? Since Pugwash, scientists from all major countries have been

asking for another conference. Russia’s scientists have offered to meet their colleagues “anywhere, anytime.” With the co-operation of the English philosopher, Bertrand Russell, and the blessing of such men as Albert Schweitzer, I have invited a larger group of scientists, from even more nations than were represented at my Pugwash place last year, to mee at another conference.

This time the chief item on the agenda will be the most critical question that faces mankind: what specific steps can he taken to avoid the final world war and establish common ground for friendly relations among nations?

I)o scientists have the answer?

I believe the scientists will come up with practical workable plans, or, as one of them assured me, “We’ll make recommendations that will make the politicians sit up!”

As for the qualifications of scientists to deal with international affairs:

Certainly no groups from opposite sides of the cold war have shown a better ability to think and speak alike than the scientists and that includes professional politicians and diplomats.

Scientists are acutely aware of the ability of nuclear weapons to wipe out humanity, and are quite as acutely aware of their own responsibility in creating the instrument of extinction. This sense of responsibility is not recent nor an outcome of hindsight. Fifteen years ago when atomic power was converted from a laboratory experiment into a weapon, one of the physicists concerned said ruefully: “We have put dynamite into the hands of children ...”

It was actually that greatest of all scientists, Albert Einstein, who inspired the meeting of scientists at Pugwash. Einstein’s theory had opened the continued oil page 52


For the sake of argument continued from page 8

“The U. S. thinks everything American is worthy, everything Russian evil. History won’t agree”

way for nuclear research in the first place, and that troubled him. He said, “Can’t we scientists who have produced the weapon do something to persuade the statesmen of the world and people who influence public opinion how deadly is the danger?” He died before the idea could take hold, but we have carried out his wishes.

Although India, Sweden and the West Indies have been considered for the meeting, Canada provides a particularly good climate for such a meeting of minds. Not only has Prime Minister Diefenbaker offered Canada as the site of a summit meeting, but he and other political leaders have been actively interested in the scientists’ meeting. Canada’s refusal to panic at the thought of letting in Communist visitors stands in sane contrast to the United States’ frenzied “keep out” policy.

Ironically, the only country where a peace-seeking meeting of world scientists could not be held is the United States, leader of the democratic w'orld. The State Department’s dictates would exclude delegates from China outright, and place almost insurmountable obstacles in the way of Russians, Poles and Czechs.

This sorry circumstance—coupled with the State Department’s equally arbitrary policy of barring newspapermen and other observers from China—indicates a lack of wisdom that borders on madness in our handling of fateful problems.

What Americans need is a re-appraisal, not only of their foreign policy but of their place in the whole scheme of world affairs and particularly in relationship to that other great power, Russia. For years Americans have been drilled in the

self-deluding doctrine: “Everything American is worthy and good. Everything Russian is crooked and evil.”

I do not think that will be the verdict of history.

Another delusion that Americans have fondly embraced is that our own scientists invented the atom bomb by themselves. In our arrogance we have chosen until lately to forget that the bomb represented the combined work of Italians, Germans, Danes, Hungarians, Britons, Canadians and Americans.

True, the atom bomb originally was in the sole possession of the United States because it was developed in our laboratories and proved on our testing grounds under the cloak of secrecy enforced by threat of the death penalty. Furthermore, in a last-ditch effort to end World War II the U. S. demonstrated the potency of the new weapon by dropping it on two Japanese cities where scores of thousands of defenseless and unprepared women and children were wiped out.

Then the State Department converted the bomb into an instrument of foreign policy. We alone had the bomb, we alone had the know-how to make the bomb, and therefore we didn’t have to try to find common ground with Russia: we could take care of the Russians if they started anything.

The shock that hit most Americans recently when they learned that they were not ahead, but actually behind. Russia in the possession of terrible weapons, could have been avoided. All they needed to do was accept the fact that pride had caused them to put out of their minds— the fact that the atom bomb was devised, in reality, by the combined work

of the scientists of many nations.

Did the discovery that Russia, the chosen enemy of our propaganda, was stronger than us induce a spell of humility? No, on the contrary it has led to greater follies, to madder frenzy. Now we must catch up with Russia. Give us three years, five years and we’ll draw level with Russia even if it means bankrupting the country by putting an even greater proportion than the present sixty percent of government revenue into arms.

And while we’re catching up, John Foster Dulles, U. S. Secretary of State, will continue to re-declare the cold war, continue to foment Americans against Russia. 1 think Mr. Dulles is a thoroughly sincere man, but I think he is filled with a fanaticism against everything Russian. He disapproves of the Russians so thoroughly, he distrusts them so completely. that I believe he would go so far as to risk all that civilization produced, in the hope that he might kill off Russia and the Communists.

But we can’t kill off Russia and the Communists. That’s another dose of humility that Americans need to swallow —the realization that we simply do not now possess the military pow'er, the economic strength, the diplomatic resources, to overthrow communism in Russia, in China or in the satellites.

We cart catch up. our U. S. statesmen heep assuring us. What they do not tell us is w'hat Russia will be doing while we’re catching up. The answer is obvious: they will be devising new and more terrible things. Supposing we do catch up by exhausting, superhuman effort . . . anyone who has seen a car and a train race to a tie at a railroad crossing has a small inkling of the inevitable result of an armament race that ends, literally, in a dead heat.

Perhaps the most important question that could be asked at this crucial moment in history is: what do the Russians think about, looking toward the West from their side of the Iron Curtain? How would we feel if we were Russians and lived in the realization that every minute of the day and night American planes carrying nuclear weapons were airborne w'ithin flying distance of our cities? That our country was being progressively ringed by missile bases? That the United States political leader directly responsible fer relations with Russia was making a career of stirring up enmity and distrust between the two nations?

The answer is simple: the official attitude of the United States toward Russia has done more to unite that country, to stimulate both its military and industrial progress, than any motivation within the country itself. Let us ask ourselves honestly: what reason has any Russian got for liking, respecting or admiring us? For more than forty years, ever since the founding of the Soviet Union, we have been antagonistic or negative toward Russia, except for a brief, feverish and guarded military comradeship in World War II.

In early days we simply took the attitude that Russian Bolshevism was evil and that providence would not permit it to exist. Left alone it w'ould collapse of its own iniquities. We refused to recognize that behind the evils was a mass protest against generations of oppression by the Czars, a stirring of people who above all possessed a great willingness to work and a strong love of country.

Since the w'ar our attitude has become more truculent. Our statesmen were willing to march to the brink of war, time after time, to keep Russia cowed. Mr. Dulles did not invent this policy. He inherited it intact from his predecessor, Dean Acheson. it is impossible to dis-

tinguish between Democratic and Republican foreign policy in relation to today’s most important issue: Russia.

It is there, I think, that our great danger lies: in the inference that the American foreign policy of implacable enmity to Russia is a fixed permanent policy.

If we persuade the Russians that we are prepared to run the incredible risks of nuclear war, if we give them the impression that once we catch up with them we will promptly attack to prevent their getting ahead again, then we are inviting them to decide that the logical

thing is for them to move first. And surely Russia knows that a war that starts slowly, giving both sides time to mount its devastating attack, is a war that can only be lost by both sides. In other words, if we give the Russians cause to believe sincerely that we in the West are plotting to destroy them, can we refuse to believe that they might be panicked into a surprise attack—an apocalyptic Pearl Harbor that would be the most horrible thing in history?

Those are the reasons why I think we must change our attitude toward Russia.

Heaven know's, I’m no Communist or fellow traveler. 1 don’t suppose you’d find anyone in the world more dedicated to capitalism and democracy than 1 am. But I know that the surest way to destroy those two institutions, along with everything else that man has worked for since the dawn of civilization, is to get into a war with Russia.

As 1 said earlier, I believe we can negotiate with the Russians to find a basis for peaceful coexistence. People have asked, “What if the Russian offers to hold meetings—including your confer-

ence of scientists—are only for propaganda purposes, to lead the West into a false sense of security?”

My answer is that I do not believe that is the case. But even if it is, it’s still better to hold talks and reach any degree of agreement than to continue hellbent toward the suicide of civilization.

One piece of propaganda that we must clear out of our minds is the proposition that Russians do not hold dear the same things as we do—family life, personal comforts, culture and luxuries. We have been indoctrinated with the idea that the average Russian is somehow subhuman, a zombie who will eagerly go to his death on the order of a soulless superior.

That is not true. Anybody who is even slightly acquainted with Russian plans for the nation’s tomorrow—such as the education of fifty million children, to name only one aspect — would realize that Russia, quite as much as the United States, has everything to gain and nothing to lose by avoiding nuclear war.

I have made a conscious effort to become acquainted with as many Russians as possible. In addition to Soviet diplomats and officials 1 have met, talked, eaten, worked and played with visiting

scientists, touring newspapermen (the latter declined the Sunday afternoon baseball game on their Cleveland agenda and demanded to be faced with a “real live capitalist” and we got along famously), and a group who shared one of my occupations, farming.

When I think of Russians I cannot help thinking of the journalists who spent a day at my home.

I had obviously been described to them as a man with interests in coal, iron and steel. I think they had an idea that 1 was probably fomenting war in order to sell my products. But when they arrived at my farm most of my thirteen grandchildren were waiting to greet them, and in no time grandchildren and Russians were on the friendliest terms.

"Those children arc my real wealth," 1 told the visitors, and that was something they could understand.

"We have children like them.” they said eagerly, and began pulling out photographs. I believe they became convinced that no man with children like mine would want a war. For my part, I feel that these writers and parents belonged to a country that we can come to understand and live peaceably with.