Prof. M. VENKATARANGAIYA, M.A.
It is in a divided world that we are living and this is the reason why even on matters of life and death it has not been possible to arrive at unanimous decisions. This is best illustrated by the controversy over nuclear tests.
Three opinions are being expressed to-day on these tests. There is the opinion that they must be stopped immediately. This is the opinion held by the Prime Ministers of India, Japan, Burma and Ceylon and a few other statesmen. Expression was recently given to it in the joint communiques issued after Pandit Nehru’s visit to Ceylon and the Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Kishi’s visit to India. The first of these communiques stated as follows: “The Prime Ministers regret that despite the declared intentions of all nations not to embark upon war, and the mounting opinion and anxiety in the world in regard to the grave and growing menace of these tests to the present and future of mankind, the Great Powers concerned have not yet decided to refrain from their hazardous ventures in this field which have already proved injurious to populations in lands near to the location of such tests, dangerously polluted the world’s air and water and threatened the present and future generations with both known and unknown risks and consequences. The Prime Ministers, therefore, make an earnest and urgent appeal for the immediate suspension of these nuclear and thermo-nuclear test explosions pending their abandonment. Such suspension would not only limit the dangers that have already arisen and help in easing international tension, but would also lead to an effective consideration of the problem of disarmament.” Similar views found a place in the joint statement of Pandit Nehru and Mr. Kishi and of U Nu of Burma and Kishi. All these are agreed on the disastrous effects of H-Bomb tests wherever they might occur–in the Pacific, or Siberia or Nevada or Australia. As Mr. Krishna Menon observed in moving his resolution in the Lok Sabha on the suspension of the tests there is no force whatever in the contention that the explosions of the Soviet Union were conducted in their own territory as the atmosphere of the world could not be partitioned. Apart from the views of responsible statesmen like these there are the views of experts on the subject. The latest to express them are some of the leading French doctors and physicians and one of them observes: ‘No increase of radiation is tolerable from the genetic point of view. The hereditary effects of radiation involved blindness, idiocy and haemophilia. At the present rate of the growth of radio activity we may in the space of a generation see the incidence of these catastrophic effects doubled;’ and another of them said: ‘Our unanimous desire is that these explosions should cease. But we are not the ones who decide.’
Among those who have the power to decide are the dictators of the Soviet Union. They are in favour of suspending the nuclear tests provided that the United States also suspends them. This is the second school of opinion on the subject. But it has no practical effect whatever as these dictators are not prepared to take unilateral action. Pandit Nehru had them in mind when he pointed out in the Lok Sabba that while putting forward various proposals they simultaneously carried out a chain of test explosions without waiting for the consideration of such proposals by the other parties concerned. Views like these have only propaganda value.
The third set of opinions have been expressed by the spokesmen of the United States and Britain. They are determined to stockpile nuclear weapons. This necessitates continuous research in new and more effective weapons and in their being tested when once they are manufactured. They naturally minimise the harmful effects of increasing radio activity following the test explosions. Their standpoint is purely political. Their policies are rooted in the belief that the U. S. S. R. is aiming at world domination, that this would mean the triumph of communism and the destruction of human freedom and all the spiritual values associated with it and that as it is not possible to oppose the U. S. S. R with conventional armies of the old type based on superior man-power they have no other alternative than to rely on nuclear weapons in the manufacture of which they have still a superiority over the Soviet Union. They also have scientists to support them. There is, for instance, Professor Marcus Oliphant, a noted Australian atomic energy authority who said that mankind need have no fear of harm from nuclear tests for at least fifty years if the tests continued at the present rate. Another noted American Scientist Dr. W. F. Libby while answering a warning by Dr. Schweitzer that radio activity was a catastrophe for the human race said that the risk to human beings from nuclear test explosions was extremely small compared with other risks which ‘persons everywhere take as a normal part of their lives.’ The policy aspect was recently made clear by the British Prime Minister and the British Foreign Secretary. The former observed: ‘The government’s policy is to work for the abolition of nuclear tests within the framework of a comprehensive disarmament agreement...Both conventional and unconventional disarmament are connected and I am not prepared and I do not believe any British Prime Minister is prepared to put this country in a permanently weaker position.’ It was more emphatically explained by the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, who said, ‘Another world war, whatever weapons are used, would be fall to civilisation. To imply that another world war fought with conventional weapons would be comparatively respectable was absolute nonsense; another war would mean destruction and with any weapons it would mean the end of us. The H-Bomb was the greatest deterrent to war that the world had ever known. We in the West want to settle matters peaceably. We want a comprehensive disarmament involving a drastic reduction of conventional weapons and the abolition of nuclear weapons. Until we get such an agreement the H-Bomb is an essential deterrent, really a necessary defence of the freedom which we enjoy...If the United States had not possessed the nuclear deterrent during the past ten years we might already have had another war. Russia might have taken advantage of her superiority in conventional weapons.’
It is futile to discuss which of these three opinions embodies the truth. The holders of these opinions do not occupy the same position in the international world. Their approach to the subject of nuclear tests cannot therefore be the same. Each looks at it from his own standpoint. The stock-piling of nuclear weapons and the test explosions resorted to are necessitated by the continued recognition of war as the final instrument for settling international disputes. If war is abolished then all weapons of war–conventional and nuclear–will automatically be abolished. If war is recognised as legitimate then any and every means will be used for obtaining victory in it. The problem before mankind is the problem of the abolition of war and the use of force for settling international disputes. It is this that has to be tackled.
The League of Nations and the United Nations Organisation were brought into existence with a view to settle disputes by peaceful means and bring about the necessary changes in international relationships without recourse to arms. The League failed miserably and the U.N.O. is in no better position. When there is no stable government inside a country, and when in consequence disorder prevails, every one tries to arm oneself or to put oneself under the control of a stronger individual or a group which guarantees protection and security. He has no other alternative. In a world where war is still a possibility some steps will have to be taken to deter the aggressors and this is just what is going on in the world around today. The Soviet Union arms itself with the maximum amount of the latest weapons because it believes that it is the only way to prevent the United States from attacking its territory and power. The United States does the same thing because it believes that otherwise it would be destroyed by the U. S. S. R. Neither wants a world war as it would be suicidal. But each is afraid of a surprise attack and it is against such an attack that it wants a deterrent. For the time being the United States is stronger in respect of nuclear weapons and it does not want to lose this advantage. This is the reason why when the representatives of the two blocs meet in disarmament conferences they are unable to come to any substantial agreement. What the U. S. S. R. wants is the prohibition of atomic weapons in which the United States is superior; and what the United States wants is the reduction in conventional armaments in which the U. S. S. R. is superior. Each wants to maintain the relative superiority it possesses.
It is easy to enunciate principles which States should follow if world peace is to be maintained but it is very difficult to evolve a way or a method for seeing that those principles are adhered to. The real saviour is one who points out the way. The Prime Ministers of India, Japan, Burma and Ceylon have declared that the only right principle for the three atomic powers to adhere to is to suspend nuclear tests forthwith. But they have not so far been able to find an effective way of bringing pressure to bear upon the atomic powers to accept the principle in practice. In the discussions in the Indian Parliament and elsewhere some ways have been suggested. One is that India should leave the Commonwealth–the idea being that this will induce Britain to abandon her nuclear tests. Another is that India should convene a world conference for the purpose. But Pandit Nehru said: ‘A conference would not be feasible or desirable and will not help this cause except to produce irritation in regard to India and reduce our capacity of working for the cause we hold dear.’ Another suggestion is that persons of the eminence of Sri C. Rajagopalactari should undertake a tour of the U.S.S.R., the United States, and Britain, and create, through lectures and discussions, a strong public opinion against nuclear tests. Of course people forget whether he will be allowed to enter U. S. S. R. for a purpose like this or whether any one will be propelled to listen to him in a matter like this in Britain and the United States. The only hope lies in those who are principally engaged in nuclear tests and in the manufacture of nuclear weapons realising that they cannot indefinitely go on with their armaments race and they must come to some kind of understanding as to where they should stop and under what conditions. External pressure can do little to convince the two world powers of their folly. The light must come from within.
This is just what is taking place now. There is now a feeling that the disarmament talks which have been going on for so many years without producing any fruit are now taking a slightly favourable turn. This is because the cost of building up armaments has become unbearable even for the richest countries of the world. The Soviet Union finds it necessary to divert part of its man-power in the defence forces to industries and agriculture. The United States with all its resources finds it burdensome to simultaneously increase the strength of her conventional armaments and of the new nuclear weapons. The same is the case with Britain. She has already scrapped a great deal of her conventional defence forces and is concentrating her attention on atomic weapons. Apart from this a new factor has been influencing the United States and the U. S. S. R. At present they and Britain are the only atomic powers. But there is a possibility of other states manufacturing atomic weapons and using them in warfare. If the number of such states increases the dangers of atomic war will become greater and the regulation of the use of atomic weapons will become more difficult. It is therefore best for the three atomic powers of the present day to come to some understanding immediately. It is influences like these that have created a situation in which some disarmament seems likely. It is too soon to say what its precise nature will be. But, if this becomes an accomplished fact, it may pave the way for further disarmament later on and for the easing of tension between the two blocks.
Developments in the Middle East have as usual attracted world attention in recent months. One favourable development was the practical settlement of the Suez problem. Britain, France and the Western powers in general have become reconciled to the nationalisation of the Canal by President Nasser. When once the joint invasion of Egypt by the British, French and Israeli forces failed they had no other alternative before them. In a declaration which Egypt issued in the last week of April, Egypt agreed to operate the canal according to the spirit of the international convention of 1888. She undertook not to increase the tolls above one per cent per year, develop the Canal in accordance with the needs of modern shipping, and create a reserve fund to meet future contingencies. The declaration was found satisfactory by almost all the users of the Canal. Even Britain which thought of boycotting the Canal finally decided on using it. France alone continues to boycott it. She brought up the question before the U. N. Security Council but found little substantial support for the stand she took. It may therefore be regarded that the Canal crisis is over and that it has ended with a complete triumph for President Nasser. The Western powers are now thinking of other ways of lessening his prestige and bringing down the importance of the Canal as an international highway. There are proposals to construct oil-pipe lines by way of Iraq and Turkey into the Mediterranean ports without the need for using the Canal. Bigger tankers are also being built far carrying oil from the middle east to Europe by way of the Cape. This may affect the revenues which Egypt gets from the Canal. Apart from this it is quite possible that some difficulties will be created in the way of President Nasser getting financial aid for his economic projects unless he separates himself completely from the Soviet Union and adopts a strictly neutralist policy. Steps have already been taken to weaken his leadership in the Arab world and there are indications that Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon might form one group, leaving Syria alone to work along with Egypt.
This split in the Arab camp is the outcome of the developments in the small kingdom of Jordan. An attempt was made there to dispossess the young ruler Hussain of all power and to set up a military regime, pro-Soviet and pro-Communist in character. This was however frustrated mainly because of the threatened military intervention by the United States which moved her sixth fleet to the eastern coast of the Mediterranean with a view to put into operation the ‘Eisenhower Doctrine’ recently enunciated. According to this doctrine the United States is ready to help any state in the Middle East falling a prey to international communism and to extend substantial economic aid to such a state. During all these ten years of the cold war the United States has regarded international communism (identified by her with Soviet imperialism) as her worst enemy and she has devised the Truman Doctrine, the NATO, the SEATO, and the Baghdad Pact (though she has not become a formal member of this pact) to meet it. She does not want that, now that the British influence is completely destroyed in the middle east, Soviet influence should take its place. What the revolutionaries to Jordan tried to do was to establish this very influence. She was afraid that it would result in all the oil of the area being controlled by the U. S. S. R. and the prosperity and the defence strength of the NATO crippled in consequence. It was this that led to the enunciation of the ‘Eisenhower Doctrine’ and for the time being it may be said that she has succeeded in her 0bjective. King Hussain is safe on the Jordan throne. He has come to some kind of understanding with Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
But no one can say whether the conditions in the middle east have become completely stabilised. Though the United States is extending her economic aid to Jordan and other states there is a strong anti-American feeling among the people in the area. It is partly due to her supporting the feudal regimes which are not very much interested in improving the lot of the masses. It is partly due to the indirect support she has been extending to Israel whose very existence is detested by all the Arabs. Apart from this the whole area is subject to intrigues and counter-intrigues by the emissaries of the U. S. S. R. and the United States. It is an area where the cold war is being fought and no stability is possible until either of the two powers gets complete control over it or the two powers come to some kind of understanding as to the future of the area. No part of the world has escaped from the effects of the cold war. The difficulties in the way of the re-unification of Germany, of Korea and of Vietnam are the difficulties which are being experienced in the way of conditions becoming stabilized in the middle east. The struggle for power between the two giants–the U. S. S. R. and the United States–is at the root of the troubles in many parts of the world.
One other centre of disturbance in the Arab world is Algeria. France is keeping an army of half a million for the purpose of suppressing the national movement in this land. She has not learnt any lesson from her failures in Indo-China. The situation of course is complicated here owing to a million Frenchmen having settled there and occupying some of the best lands in the country. In a free Algeria with about eight million Arabs the French will be a minority and they cannot hope to enjoy the privileged position which they have been enjoying for such a long time. The whole Arab world is in sympathy with the nationalists of Algeria and it will be a costly and impossible task for the French to suppress the national movement. It will be the path of wisdom for them to recognise facts and to do in Algeria what they have already done in Tunisa and Morocco. In the war between nationalism and colonialism the former is bound to win.
The conduct of the British is in this respect a happy contrast to that of the French. It shows their greater political maturity and statesmanship. It was in March last that out of some of their colonies in West Africa they created the independent republic of Ghana which has accepted membership of the Commonwealth. The new republic was admitted as a member into the United Nations. This is an event of great significance in the history of Africa. It is now proposed to confer independence on Nigeria–another British colony in Africa. Outside Africa too the British have been following more or less the same policy. Malaya is to become independent soon and the first steps have been taken in creating a self-governing Singapore. All this indicates how, as a consequence of the practical wisdom of the British, the area of the free world is expanding.
Countries which have attained freedom after a long period of colonial dependence have many problems to face in the contemporary world. There is the constitutional problem of the sort of governmental system to be established in them. And this problem becomes complicated when the country is large in size and when it is inhabited by different groups of people among whom the sentiment of nationalism is not yet deep-rooted. There is also the economic and social problem. Most of these countries are underdeveloped and they are in haste to have a higher standard of living immediately after the achievement of freedom. It is the presence of problems like these that is responsible for the unstable conditions found in some of them and this is best illustrated by the recent happenings in Indonesia.
This republic consists of a large number of islands scattered over South-East Asia. It has been found difficult to work a unitary and democratic system in the area though it was such a system that was established here after the withdrawal of the Dutch. The relations between the Civil and Military authorities have not been cordial and in some of the islands there have been military revolts with Army Commanders setting up independent authority. There is also the demand for a more decentralised system of government. Some of the islands feel that their interests are not properly looked after by the central government which is located in Java. In addition to this there are numerous political parties–some like the Muslim party belonging to the extreme right and some like the communists to the extreme left. With so many parties in the legislature it has not been possible to establish a stable government. As a consequence of all these factors–revolts in islands like Sumatra, agitation for more of local autonomy and disagreement among parties–all governmental authority has recently been transferred by the President to a body of experts and leaders outside the regular cabinet or council of ministers; and this has been found to work more satisfactorily than the usual instruments of democratic government.
The problem of re-unifying Germany continues to perplex the continent of Europe. President Tito of Yugoslavia continues to condemn the Soviet statesmen for the ideological warfare they are carrying on with him and for their dictatorial policies in Hungary, Poland and other Communist States in Central and Eastern Europe. There has been no change in the policy of Apartheid pursued by the ruling power in South Africa, a policy which, in due course, is sure to bring ruin upon the whites in the whole continent. South American republics continue to be the centres of revolutions in which one dictator tries to take the place of another–all in the name of democracy. The outbreak of anti-American riots in Formosa have attracted wide attention.