The purpose of a law court is to admit evidence and fix the guilt of the past. The ostensible purpose of an international conference is to reach constructive agreement upon future settlements. Recognizing this functional distinction, the U. N. charter-makers at San Francisco separated the International Court of Justice from the Security Council and the General Assembly. The most discouraging and barren aspect of the current Paris U. N. meetings is that the delegates of East and West have sat as a grand jury rather than as diplomatic plenipotentiaries.
The spirit of international conferences should be that of a showdown poker game, not of a court of inquiry: You turn a card, and I will turn a card, rather than upsetting the table and calling you a fraud. While the Russians propose control of atomic energy, our response cannot only be that Bernard Baruch already has offered a fine plan which you nasty people ruined, so that you are clearly not making your offer in good faith now. If this is the adamant attitude of the West, the Russians can counter legitimately (from a point of pure logic) that the capitalist nations can never be forgiven for their support of Admiral Kolchak in 1917, when he tried to overthrow the revolution and re-establish ezarism. The outcome of such charge and counter-charge must eventually reduce into whether Cain was a 100 percent American or a mystic Slavic soul when he murdered Abel.
Last week, the British delegation at Paris presented a so-called "countermove" to the Russian one-third-in-a-year disarmament proposals. The resolution, handed to the Political Security Committee, called for a verdict from the entire Assembly that the Russians had obstructed arms-reduction negotiations. On the same day, the big three Western Power's reaffirmed their refusal to negotiate with the Russians on Germany until the Berlin blockade has been lifted. The real issue here is not whether or not the West is justified. It probably is. But justification is an empty satisfaction at the risk of stalemate and eventual war.
Clarity of objective within the Western bloc is essential before we can ask for the same virtue from the Russians. Recent developments indicate that the Western forces, including the United States--with the abandonment of the Vinson mission--are in fact presenting a unified front. We must above all continue to present that front in areas where we have commitments, such as in the Marshall Plan countries, and in Borlin. Unfortunately, however, we must also be prepared to expect the same from Russia in Czechoslovakia and in Poland. Any discussions must begin with acceptance, however regretful, that the Russians just now have as much right in Prague as we have in Rome. Making the best of existing conditions, we must abandon the fruitless line of condemnation and recrimination, and start to deal honestly in terms of solutions rather than verdicts.