New weapons of destruction have always been called criminal, the first cannon as well as the recent unrestricted submarine warfare of World War I; yet habit soon made them unquestioned facts of life. The atom bomb of today is a fact novel in essence, for it leads mankind to the brink of self-destruction.
Experts say definitely that it is now possible for life on earth to be wiped out by human action. The scientists who brought the new fact into being have also publicized it. Neither they nor we laymen know how far atomic weapons manufacture has progressed, though each of us can apprehend that America and Russia, trailed by England, keep bending every effort to pile up more such bombs and to increase their destructiveness. The facts are shrouded in official secrecy. It is not publicly known whether--if all bombs in stock were dropped--the radioactive poisoning of the atmosphere would suffice to end life on this planet. One may be right in doubting that the day has come when all life on earth can be annihilated. But in ten years or less the day will come. This slight difference in time does not diminish the urgent need for reflection.
We may assume that the leaders of the two superpowers are informed --though nobody knows the extent to which secrets are guarded and compartmentalized, even among the leaders. Their plans are probably not clear to themselves. Not knowing what to do, they temporize, at the same time preparing for actions that seem inconceivable to all of them. The public is told nothing--except in such monstrous threats as Khru-