Page 4, 23rd June 1961

23rd June 1961
Page 4
Page 4, 23rd June 1961 — DISARMAMENT

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People: Khrushehev
Locations: Geneva


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Years ago Russia refused the prize she has fought for ever since

By Lt. Col.

A. J. E.



counter-march in disarmament negotiations of the past 15 years have been so bewildering that it seems urgent at this time to attempt a summary of what has been done and where we now stand.

On V.E. Day, 1945. there were

nearly 5,000,000 Br i t is h. Canadian and American troops in Europe. A year later, the figures were down to 900,000. The West had carried out a major act to unilateral disarmament. while the Soviet had not significantly reduced its forces.

On the other hand. the West had a monopoly of atomic power and a system of bases encircling the Soviet bloc. while the Soviet had no fleet of long range bombers, In 1946. the West proposed the Baruch Plan. whei chi, an international authority was to own in trust for the whole world all fissionable material. and supervise its use. If Russia had accepted the Plan, it would have amounted to surrender by the West of its only real counter to the East's vast superiority in mobilised man power. But Russia refused it, and In doing so refused the prize she

has struggled for ever since, •

The early warning

RUSSIA insisted that. to show good faith, the West should abandon its atomic weapons and dismantle its system of air bases. The West. on the other hand, pressed for an efficient control organisation to supervise any disarmament measures agreed on by the two sides.

The Soviet saw in this an effective defensive weapon for the West, since it would supply to the West early information of Soviet military preparations.

To be forewarned was to be fore-armed, particularly when the West was relying on a specialist, expensive, lirnited weapon against a numerically larger enemy. The West, working on "exterior lines", needed early information to reinforce threatened areas. With that information available to the West, the Soviet Btoc. working on "interior lines", could never mount a sudden and decisive surprise attack.

Losing the monopoly

FROM thc start. there have been two main obstacles to disarmament: I) the difficulty of agreeing about control and inspection; (2) the Soviet insistence that the Western bases should be dismantled bel ore any other steps are taken; the West is not prepared to do this until the balance of power in conventional arms is corrected.

When the Soviet exploded its first nuclear device in 1953. the West lost its nuclear monopoly. while Soviet superiority in conventional arms remained unchallenged.

Various disarmament plans were proposed in 1954 and in 1956, The 195( Soviet plan envisaged reduction of convential forces to agreed limits, the banning of nuclear tests, and the withdrawal of atomic weapons from forces in Germany. It conceded the need for control. but rejected aerial inspection. The reason for this rejection is clear. Specialising in the development of large liquid fuel rockets. the Soviet is very vulnerable to air reconnaissance, because the instal lations for launching these weapons are very difficult to hide from the air (hence the Russian fury over the U2 incident last year).

Shift of emphasis

TN 1957, the emphasis shifted from comprehensive to partial schemes for disarmament, apart from Mr. Khrushehev's 1959 proposal for total disarmament within four years. But this was so vague as to method and international inspection considerations, that it could not commend itself to the West, though its propaganda value -representing the Soviet as the great peacemaker — may have been high, particularly in the more hackward a n d uncommitted nal ions.

Another objection to this plan.

as indeed to the pre-war Litvirow Plan, was that it excluded the Soviet's "internal security forces", a kind of super-Police, but equipped with heavy arms.

Since 1957, various plans have been put forward by Britain. America and Russia for nuclear (as opposed to comprehensive) disarmament. In June, 1957, the Soviet accepted the principle of control and proposed test suspensions for two or three years under supervision, with control posts in Britain. America, and the USSR.

The West accepted this, subject to precise agreement on the establishment and location of control posts. Argument arose as to whether the suspension of tests should precede the working out of control aystem (as the Soviet contended), and as to the relation of this measure to reductions in conventional arms and forces. In November, 1957, talks broke down.

Up to the Summit

THE. whole subject switched to "Summit" level in the following year. The Soviet called for a declaration of renunciation of all nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all overseas bases, and the establishment of an atom-free zone in Europe. Western emphasis was laid upon the work ing out of a truly effective control system. On March 31, 1958, the Soviet declared a unilateral suspension of tests, After a conference of experts, a draft treaty was prepared by 1961, and 17 out of the 24 articles have been agreed. Rut agreement on the question of effective control, on Which everything else depends as the preamble to the draft shows, continues to be elusive. Both East and West see their security directly affected by the control problem.

The Soviet's weapon is limited compared to that of the U.S., and, given timely information to an enemy, is vulnerable to attack, as we have seen. The Soviet also fears that foreign observers might learn too much about Russia's internal stresses and strains.

The West. conscious of its conventional force inferiority, and that it no longer enjoys clear nuclear superiority. depends so much on timely intelligence of Soviet intentions that it remains anxious to preserve the present order. It is. in fact, on the defensive, and has had to allow the initiative to pass to the Soviet which. by its compact dispositions and centralised organisations, is so well disposed to launch sudden and decisive attack wherever it sees weakness or the chance of easy success. It is hard to see how either side can modify its attitude until

the Soviet abandons its object of establishing universal Communism

Essential need

PLANS fur guarding against "war by misadventure" emerged in the Rapacki and Kennan proposals for atomfret zones in Central Europe. But their recommendation were, in both cases, too prejudical to Western security, and "disengagement" has come to he seen as the modern Communist variation of the Trojan Horse.

So the disarmament conference drags on at Geneva. It is good propaganda for the Soviet. Knowing that the Western deterrent forces are too big to be knocked out even by a massive surprise attack. Russia is not very likely to mount an all-out nuclear offensive. The more favoured form is the war of attrition. carried out by local revolutionary movements under protection of Soviet ground forces and the ultimate threat of Soviet nuclear power.

The answer is more Western ground forces and conventional forces of all kinds to provide adequate overseas garrisons to deal with minor incidents and hold major ones in check pending the arrival of reinforcements from the stategic reserves. The next few months will see probably great efforts to increase the size, efficiency and mobility of NATO conventional forces.

But the greater importance of the nuclear deterrent remains. Without a strong credible nuclear shield to cover their deployment. conventional forces would be destroyed before they could engage the enemy, and their homelands shattered or forced to capitulate.

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