From Yalta to Disarmament: Cold War Debate

By Joseph P. Morray | Go to book overview

12
Disarmament Commission

The opening speech of the United States representative on the Disarmament Commission, Mr. Benjamin Cohen, included passages that seemed more in harmony with Soviet than with United States tunes in their enthusiasm for the disarmament road to security. He devoted the first part of his speech to a text from President Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech of January 6, 1941. Roosevelt had proposed that freedom from fear be achieved through disarmament. He had advocated:

A world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor, anywhere in the world.

This quotation was an echo from a period, now nearly forgotten, when the United States and the U.S.S.R. were closer together on the disarmament issue, both urging it on all powers against German opposition and Anglo-French equivocation. Cohen thus began with an auspicious memory. He then proceeded to declare his view that drastic disarmament might be the best way to relieve the dangerous world tensions of 1952:

We meet here to discuss disarmament as nations are building up their armed strength because of their fears of each other's armed strength. The fear of armaments has led not to disarmament but to increased armaments, increased suspicion and profound distrust. Armaments have not only been growing in volume; they have so grown in destructive power that another total war might conceivably destroy the whole civilized world.

Nations' fears have multiplied their arms and nations' arms have multiplied their fears. The people of the world look to this Commission to find a way to reverse this process, to achieve balance by reduction instead of by production of armed forces and armaments. The people look to us for guidance away from this wasteful approach to security and towards a constructive approach, a systematic plan for getting out from under the burden and the fear.

Ours is, in truth, a terrifying responsibility. As we value what is left of our common peace, our common civilization, our common humanity, we must not fail.

-179-

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