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To this new proposal Vishinsky made his famous reply: "I could hardly sleep all last night. I could not sleep because I kept laughing." The stalemate was broken again by the U.S. last December, when, before the U.N., President Eisenhower suggested private conversations on control, and proposed the creation of an international pool of fissionable material for peaceful purposes. This plan thus far has borne no tangible results. Last week the U.S., France and Britain proposed a new meeting of the U.N. Disarmament Commission for resumed closed-door discussion.
All the good reasons that the U.S. and its allies had for making these proposals have been multiplied by the existence of the H-bomb. But the one reservation held by them has also been multiplied. Any international law controlling atomic weapons must be enforceable and it must be enforced. To disarm the non-Communist world and leave the Communist world armed with atomic weapons is not, on the record, a likely road to peace.
What the legal question boils down to is the Communist willingness or unwillingness to accept international restraint against aggression. Such acceptance is not impossible. Communism will not change, but Communists, being men, may change. The hope of a legal solution to the H-bomb lies in efforts, over a varied field, to change the minds of the Kremlin's leaders. Conceivably, even they may be made to realize that aggression will not pay.
The H-bomb's existence requires the U.S. to put much more strongly the case for international control of atomic weapons. Such control might impair unlimited national sovereignty as the world now knows it. It might imply a measure of world government. But the U.S. need not flinch at this prospect. Its own political history encourages the chance of a constitutional solution of a force so big that it calls for supranational control.
The Strategic Level. But there are no present signs that the Communists are moving toward acceptance of a legal solution. Meanwhile, the non-Communist world must protect itself, and in such a way as to exert maximum persuasion on the Communists to take the legal solution.
The H-bomb's existence does not vastly change the strategic situation. The U.S.'s resolve to maintain atomic superiority was reflected last week when the House increased appropriations to the AEC. The time may come when the race for superiority will be meaningless, but it has not come yet.
The Defense-Policy Level. President Eisenhower's New Look in national defense was shaped with full official knowledge of the H-bomb. That accounts for its emphasis on retaliatory striking power in the air. But the H-bomb does not lead to the conclusion that the U.S. must rely on H-bomb striking power alone. Secretary Dulles has repeatedly said that Red aggression in the future will be met with weapons chosen by the U.S. Some aggression might be met locally or countered elsewhere by non-atomic weapons. Such instruments of defense may be of special value in the political struggle which the U.S. must wage.