JULY 17, 1961
NEW YORK—A newspaper article the other day stated that Allied military planners were considering proposal of an East-West agreement to avoid nuclear bombing of cities in another war.
Although this is an encouraging sign, such agreement on the part of the Eastern planners does not mean a great deal. The pointed need therefore is for some realistic disarmament discussion for both East and West. If the balance of nuclear weapons between the Russians and ourselves is growing closer both as to variety and power, and if the feeling on both sides is that the capacity to make war can be destroyed without destroying either the general power of production or the people of a country, then it seems to me very important that we begin to take the needed steps toward disarmament.
The same article said it was evident that Russia had no real interest in disarmament—yet I am quite sure that a Russian paper would say that the United States had no real interest in disarmament. In point of fact, I am quite sure that both the Russian and the American people have a very deep interest in disarmament. There is an understandable lack of confidence on both sides, however, which leads to a stalemate in action on the part of government.
This arises partly because those in responsible positions feel they must be very wary and even suspicious, since they must make the decisions which safeguard their people. It is easy enough for average citizens, who speak for themselves alone, to say they would like to take real steps toward disarmament and mean it. But for the President of the U.S.—or for the Premier of Russia, for that matter—it would be criminal negligence not to bear constantly in mind that the opposite side might not be living up to its word. Hence they must take many precautions, and this means that negotiation and action of any kind bogs down. In addition, there probably is a very natural desire on both sides to gain more for oneself than one is willing to see the other fellow get.
Human nature is never wholly good or wholly bad, and environment counts for a great deal. This is what gives us hope that a situation such as we live in today will force enough human beings to function on a high level of consience and integrity and to demand of their leaders that they find ways, even though the first steps are small, which will lead to greater security for the world as a whole.
All this, I believe, means that the people have got to begin to understand more clearly the problems of the world in which they live and to take a more active part in their solution on the national, state and local level. Here in New York City, for example, a number of candidates will compete in the primaries. The people must take an active part in outlining a program for their candidates so that the voters as a whole will know what each one has subscribed to. Otherwise, we the people should be blamed for not having a clear-cut understanding before the election. In addition, however, promises before election are not enough. Again, we the people must watch the performance after the election. If we endorse the program and a candidate who is elected, then we must be willing to put all the strength possible behind that candidate to see that he puts his program into operation.
At the moment, in New York, it is good to see the various candidates for Mayor united in protesting the use of paper ballots in the primary election on September 7. Fraud is very much easier to perpetrate where you use paper ballots, and the fight to use voting machines is not a new one. Bosses have never liked the voting machines, which make it more difficult to pull any fraudulent stunts.
Of course the various candidates are now blaming each other for the shortage of machines, and there is no question that the present Mayor could have been much more eager some time ago to get machines to accomodate all parties. But let us be grateful that the present situation at least forces everyone to be willing to see the money spent for voting machines.