There is good news in the United Nations Assembly's decision to consider Russian and American proposals for world arms reduction. Not only are these two nations the only ones practically concerned with disarmament, but the proposals, themselves, are welcome for two reasons. First, arms reduction is inherently valuable because the huge economic burdens on the American and Russian peoples can be shifted from war machines to more worthwhile objectives. And second, and perhaps more important, the discussion of world problem is got in the open dealing with the difficulties of nationalism. Perhaps the misty allusions to "the international Red menace," and "capitalistic encirclement" have been abandoned to the tabloids.
The centuries old phenomenon of nationalism with all its manifestations, remains the chief obstacle to lasting world peace. Deeply engrained in institutions and men, nationalism cannot be abolished by creating a world organization or plan of any species. Certainly, the framers of the United Nations never envisioned it as vanishing national prides and interests, but, rather, hoped that the new organization might weaken the foundations of old habits and start nations along the road to one world.
Those conflicts that have plagued the UN to date, disputes over territorial and economic expansion, atom bombs and free elections are, reduced to their simplest forms, offshoots of the mutual fear of two groups of nations, and are not the result of one hard-to-define ideology's incompatibility with another equally vague concept. Nations have feared other nations in the past, and our present uneasiness over Russian armies, or Russian apprehension of our plans and bombs fit into this historical pattern.
Gradual reduction of the causes behind these fears, then, is the United Nations prime job. world disarmament, for example, even with inspection safeguards, is no ultimate end in itself, for recent history has shown that nations can change their minds or break their word. But weapons reduction is good, nevertheless for nationalist fears and doubts are chiseled down, and something closer to an ultimate end--a world police force to replace all national armies--is brought a niche nearer in history. Similarly, any agreements on economic, political, and social levels accomplished by hard work lessons the need to fall back on nationalism and loosens the grip of nationalist thinking on the world. Now charters and rules can help only superficially. A true realization of the magnitude of the problem can accomplish much more. END TWO--