Letter to Harold Macmillan

From: World Council of Peace Presidential Committee, Chairman's Office
Written by: John Bernal of Birkbeck College Research Laboratory, 21 Torrington Square, WB1;
To: The Rt.Hon. Harold Macmillan, PC, MP, of 10 Downing Street, SW1;
Sent: 6th January 1960;
HTML Markup: Pierre Marshall.

Dear Prime Minister,

For the first time for many years there now seems a real possibility of some practical steps being agreed on disarmament: public opinion is favourable, and increasingly governments are recognising not simply that disarmament is desirable but that it is both necessary and possible. This new atmosphere is reflected in the unanimous resolution on general and complete disarmament presented at the United Nations and by the agreement reached for a summit meeting in May.

However, no one can imagine that it will be easy to reach agreement or be sure that the atmosphere will autocratically continue favourable. It is particularly important that public opinion should not merely be for general disarmament – it must push for it firmly and continuously; showing clearly that strength of purpose so graphically recognised in President Eisenhower's remark to Mr. Macmillan: 'I think that the people want peace so much that one of these days Governments had better get out of their way and let them have it'.

But this calls for consistent help and advice from leaders of opinion in all countries. The goal of general disarmament under effective international control, and the complete abolition of the cold war which this demands, is common to the majority of people in all countries. However, we need to know much more of how this objective can be achieved, what are the reactions to existing proposals (such as the very comprehensive plan for general and total disarmament with the international control put before the General Assembly of UNO by Mr. Khruschov) and how the questions affect the individual countries. In particular, we need to ensure that the Summit Conference meets in an atmosphere which will help towards solutions. In order to help clarify and strengthen world opinion on these questions, we believe it important that many leaders of opinion should now give their views on them and that these views should be widely publicised.

It would be of great interest if, in spite of the very heavy burden on your time, you could let me have your comments on these questions. A statement by you at this time would inform and encourage peace-lovers in many countries and help to fortify public opinion in favour of disarmament.

I have the honour to be,
Yours sincerely,
John Bernal's signature

J.D. Bernal F.R.S.