Last week, with the most ticklish problems of post-war reconstruction still unresolved, President Truman stated that he felt his making a trip abroad to confer with the heads of the other Big Three Powers would not be worth the trouble involved. This rather categorical assertion raises the whole question of the relation between Big Three amity and world peace.
It is difficult to fathom Mr. Truman's reasoning unless he simply feels himself inadequate to cope with Premier Stalin and Prime Minister Attlee in a free-for-all give and take. He mentioned the need for his presence on the domestic scene, but if this be his only reason for not wishing to make the trip overseas, it is inadequate in view of the fact that domestic problems can only be resolved within the framework of international developments.
It may be that he prefers to see Big Three squabbles settled within the United Nations rather than in tri-lateral conferences. This is a commendable position, for the people of the world have placed their hopes for peace in the United Nations; but for the next few years the U.N. will be playing Goldilocks in a small corner of the stage while the three bears gambol madly in front of the footlights. If the jealous stars should allow their misunderstandings to lead to open violence, their fury would destroy the stage, theater, and all, and little Goldilocks would never have a chance to strut her stuff.
An overabundance of frictions has arisen since the adjournment of the General Assembly. Military manuevers in the Arctic by the United States and Russia have created nervousness in both nations. The questions of atomic control and disarmament are as yet unsettled. With the writing of the German peace treaty and the World Economic Conference in the near offing, there is reason enough for the Big Three to make every effort possible to adjust their strained relations. The most effective way of doing this is for the respective leaders of the powers concerned to sit down with their advisors and discuss their various grievances. The value of high level discussions is evidenced by the optimism that enveloped the world last fall--an optimism created not by specific accomplishments but by the reasonable, conciliatory atmosphere which prevailed around international conference tables.
As long as the United Nations is the ward of the big powers, frequent personal meetings of the leaders of the United States, Britain, and Russia are an almost indispensable part of a considered program for eliminating unnecessary squabbles, and settling the disputes that will unavoidably arise wherever there is a conflict of interests.