Biographies & Memoirs

5. The Way Out

THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE atom bomb has brought about the effect that all the people living in cities are threatened, everywhere and constantly, with sudden destruction. There is no doubt that this condition has to be abolished if man is to prove himself worthy, at least to some extent, of the self-chosen name of homo sapiens. However, there still exist widely divergent opinions concerning the degree to which traditional social and political forms, historically developed, will have to be sacrificed in order to achieve the desired security.

After the First World War, we were confronted with a paradoxical situation regarding the solution of international conflicts. An international court of justice had been established for a peaceful solution of these conflicts on the basis of international law. Furthermore, a political instrument for securing peace by means of international negotiation in a sort of world parliament had been created in the form of the League of Nations. The nations united in the League had further outlawed as criminal the method of solving conflicts by means of war.

Thus the nations were imbued with an illusion of security that led inevitably to bitter disappointment. For the best court of justice is meaningless unless it is backed by the authority and power to execute its decisions, and exactly the same thing is true of a world parliament. An individual state with sufficient military and economic power can easily resort to violence and voluntarily destroy the entire structure of supranational security built on nothing but words and documents. Moral authority alone is an inadequate means of securing the peace.

The United Nations Organization is now in the process of being tested. It may eventually emerge as the agency of “security without illusion” that we so badly need. But it has not as yet gone beyond the area of moral authority as, in my opinion, it must.

Our situation is rendered more acute by other circumstances, only two of which will be presented here. So long as the individual state, despite its official condemnation of war, has to consider the possibility of engaging in war, it must influence and educate its citizens—and its youth in particular—in such a way that they can easily be converted into efficient soldiers in the event of war. Therefore it is compelled not only to cultivate a technical-military training and type of thinking but also to implant a spirit of national vanity in its people in order to secure their inner readiness for the outbreak of war. Of course, this kind of education counteracts all endeavors to establish moral authority for any supranational security organization.

The danger of war in our time is further heightened by another technical factor. Modern weapons, in particular the atom bomb, have led to a considerable advantage in the means of offense or attack over those of defense. And this could well bring about the result that even responsible statesmen might find themselves compelled to wage a preventive war.

In view of these evident facts there is, in my opinion, only one way out.

It is necessary that conditions be established that guarantee the individual state the right to solve its conflicts with other states on a legal basis and under international jurisdiction.

It is necessary that the individual state be prevented from making war by a supranational organization supported by a military power that is exclusively under its control.

Only when these two conditions have been fully met can we have some assurance that we shall not vanish into the atmosphere, dissolved into atoms, one of these days.

From the viewpoint of the political mentality prevailing at present, it may seem illusory, even fantastic, to hope for the realization of such conditions within a period of a few years. Yet their realization cannot wait for a gradual historical development to take its course. For, so long as we do not achieve supranational military security, the above-mentioned factors can always and forcibly lead us into war. Even more than the will for power, the fear of sudden attack will prove to be disastrous for us if we do not openly and decisively meet the problem of depriving national spheres of power of their military strength, turning such power over to a supranational authority.

With due consideration for the difficulties involved in this task, I have no doubt about one point. We shall be able to solve the problem when it will be clearly evident to all that there is no other, no cheaper way out of the present situation.

Now I feel it my obligation to say something about the individual steps which might lead to a solution of the security problem.

1. Mutual inspection by the leading military powers of methods and installations used for the production of offensive weapons, combined with an interchange of pertinent technical and scientific discoveries, would diminish fear and distrust, at least for the time being. In the breathing spell thus provided we would have to prepare more thorough measures. For this preliminary step should be taken with conscious awareness that the ultimate goal is the denationalization of military power altogether.

This first step is necessary to make any successive moves possible. However, we should be wary of believing that its execution would immediately result in security. There still would remain the possibility of an armament race with regard to a possible future war, and there always exists the temptation to resort once more, by “underground” methods, to the military secret, that is, keeping secret the knowledge about methods and means of and actual preparations for warfare. Real security is tied to the denationalization of military power.

2. This denationalization can be prepared through a steadily increasing interchange of military and scientific-technical personnel among the armies of the different nations. The interchange should follow a carefully elaborated plan, aimed at converting the national armies systematically into a supranational military force. A national army, one might say, is the last place where national feeling may be expected to weaken. Even so, the nationalism can be progressively immunized at a rate proportionate at least to the building of the supranational army; and the whole process can be facilitated by integrating it with the recruiting and training of the latter. The process of interchanging personnel would further lessen the danger of surprise attacks and in itself would lay the psychological foundation for internationalization of military resources.

Simultaneously the strongest military powers could draft the working papers for a supranational security organization and for an arbitration committee, as well as the legal basis for, and the precise stipulation of, obligations, competencies, and restrictions of the latter with respect to the individual nations. They could further decide upon the terms of election for establishing and maintaining these bodies.

When an agreement on these points shall have been reached, a guarantee against wars of world-wide dimensions can be assured.

3. The above-named bodies can now begin to function. The vestiges of national armies can then be either disbanded or placed under the high command of the supranational authority.

4. After the cooperation of the nations of highest military importance has been secured, the attempt should be made to incorporate, if possible, all nations into the supranational organization, provided that it is their voluntary decision to join.

This outline may perhaps create the impression that the presently prevailing military powers are to be assigned too dominant a role. I have tried, however, to present the problem with a view to a sufficiently swift realization that will allow us to avoid difficulties greater than those already inherent in the nature of such a task. It may be simpler, of course, to reach preliminary agreement among the strongest military powers than among all nations, big and small, for a body of representatives of all nations is a hopelessly clumsy instrument for the speedy achievement of even preliminary results. Even so, the task confronting us requires of all concerned the utmost sagacity and tolerance, which can be achieved only through awareness of the harsh necessity we have to face.

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