Two Scorpions in a Bottle
W ITH A CROWD OF about three thousand on hand that afternoon, the Presidential party, marked by a long fleet of limousines, pulled up at the north esplanade of the United Nations. The Chief Executive, tanned from the Bermuda sun, emerged from his car. He waved his gray hat and grinned toward those behind the police barricades and walked to the entrance, where he shook hands with Dag Hammarskjöld. Then, before entering the Hall of Assembly, he went to the Meditation Room, better known at the UN as the "prayer room," in accordance with his special request that the schedule permit additional time for a brief visit to the small chamber. Then, stepping to the lectern before an audience of 3,500, he received a notably warm reception.1
For those few hours on December 8, 1953, the President was neither the leader of a political party nor a conciliator. More truly he represented the morality of mankind appealing to the aspirations of the "free world." His mission had thus given him the kind of opportunity he had long anticipated. With the British and the French still at Bermuda, the Columbine had taken him to New York City's La Guardia Field.
In August the Russians had detonated a hydrogen bomb. That news increased the urgency of the President's desire to respond to demands that he show what the United States was willing to do about the dangerous atomic race. Even before the unsettling development, during the early days of the Administration, an advisory group headed by Dr. Oppenheimer (who, by December 8, was being separated from security information by a "blank wall") reported that some solution had to be found for the possible consequences of the mindless drive toward nu-