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THE NATION: The First Testing

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In a low-ceilinged chamber, small and square, in the basement of the U.N. Headquarters in Manhattan, representatives of the Big Powers last week put to its first testing the euphoric spirit of Geneva. In grey, upholstered chairs behind their microphones sat the delegates to the U.N. Subcommittee on disarmament: the U.S.’s Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. and Harold Stassen, Britain’s Anthony Nutting, France’s Jules Moch, Canada’s Paul Martin and the Soviet Union’s Arkady A. Sobolev. Before them on the U-shaped table lay the problem that had teased and baffled the subcommittee through 50 gainless sessions in twice as many gainless months: how to control the production and the use of arms.

Above and beyond the technical problems of limiting armaments hovered the question that has dominated world politics since Nikolai Bulganin and Dwight Eisenhower sat down together, smiling, at Geneva: What, operationally, did the smiles mean?

As befitted the spirit of Geneva, the demeanor of the delegates in the U.N.’s basement was hopeful. Ambassador Lodge believed that “mankind’s yearning for a lessening of the tensions which flow in part from huge growing armaments can be achieved.” Russia’s Sobolev said that he was ready “to cooperate … in the solution of these important tasks which brook no delay.” But when the Russians were asked to say whether they would accept or reject the U.S. plan, smiling and agreement ceased.

That was the other side of the spirit of Geneva.

Early Warning. Heart of the U.S. proposal was President Eisenhower’s offer to exchange military information and to impose an effective ground-air inspection system (TIME, Aug. 29). The U.S. hoped to set up a “network of alarm” designed to provide early warning of a surprise attack, of the comprehensive mobilization and deployment that would almost surely have to precede it.

U.S. Delegate Stassen spelled out the details of the U.S. plan: “The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. will exchange all data relative to military forces and installations … in progressive steps as mutually agreed upon . . . Among the elements of information … are … weapons and delivery systems . . . transportation and telecommunications, armed forces structure and positioning.”

Stassen proposed that less sensitive data be exchanged, and verified by an operative network of controls, before the U.S. and the Russians proceed. “Arrangements will be made for the posting of on-the-spot observers with operating land, sea and air forces, at their supporting installations, and at key locations as necessary . . . Aerial reconnaissance will be conducted by each inspecting country on an unrestricted but monitored basis . . . Each inspecting country will utilize its own aircraft . . . Liaison personnel of the country being inspected will be aboard.”

Belated Questions. After a couple of days, the Russians again displayed the stalling tactics characteristic of their policy in disarmament negotiations. Instead of replying directly to the U.S. proposal, Arkady Sobolev put six qualifying questions to the West. Did the West agree that conventional arms must be limited, as the Russians wanted—the U.S., Russia and Red China to 1,500,000 men each, France and Britain to 650,000, all other nations to 200,000? Did the West agree that a ban upon nuclear weapons should come into force after 75% of this reduction was completed? Did the West agree that, pending such a ban, no country should use nuclear weapons except in defense against aggression, that all countries should agree to stop nuclear weapons tests? “If so,” said Arkady Sobolev, “there would be a more expeditious atmosphere for considering other questions.” As Bulganin had managed to do at Geneva and in effect thereafter, the Russians had slipped past the substance of the Eisenhower proposals on inspection and control, given no reply whatever.

At week’s end the West prepared to reply to the Soviets, mindful of the thesis of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles: “The important thing to remember is that the Geneva Conference was never looked upon as an end, but only as a beginning … It was hoped that Geneva would generate a new spirit, but it was never felt that that spirit was an end in itself … It was hoped that a new spirit . . . would there be established for the purpose of bringing about practical results [such as] limitation of armament, unification of Germany and the like . . . If it does not achieve results, then . . . the spirit of Geneva will turn out to be spurious and not genuine.”

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