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Henry Judd

UN Talks Disarmament, Does Nothing

(23 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 51, 23 December 1946, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The General Assembly of the United Nations has finally adjourned and the delegates have gone home. In next week’s Labor Action we shall present an over-all analysis of the work of this Assembly. Here we concern ourselves only with the dispute over the issue of disarmament, which often led to sharp exchanges during the last week at Flushing Meadows.

For six weeks the debate on disarmament dominated the Assembly meetings. What were the final results? Will there now be a universal disarming of the Powers, great and small? The answer is a flat NO. Not a single practical result was obtained, beyond the further revelation of the deep conflicts that divide the great ‘powers, particularly Russia and America.

The final resolution, adopted by unanimous consent, referred the entire question to a special meeting of the General Assembly, to be held some time in the future. This special Assembly is to consider practical proposals for disarmament, elimination of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction, plans for withdrawals of foreign troops from abroad, control of atomic energy, etc. But the point is that each one of these questions has already been considered and at great length. The issues have been thoroughly discussed, and are well known to all.

Unanimous Bankruptcy

In effect then, the resolution finally adopted merely affirmed that the great powers are today prepared to do nothing whatever toward disarmament, and are incapable of getting together on any common program. They therefore postponed the whole matter until some indefinite future when the futile and aimless process will begin all over again. The unanimous vote is a vote expressing the unanimous bankruptcy of the General Assembly and all the powers, big and small. Armament (production of atom bombs, warships, machines of war, investigation and experimentation into new methods of mass murder, etc.) will continue exactly as before. The League of Nations tale repeats itself unanimously. The disarmament debate occurred over three specific issues:

(a) The question of outlawing the atomic bomb, and control of atomic energy. This was not even on the agenda of the General Assembly, and was only discussed in special committee – whence came nothing, not even a final report and recommendations. This matter still rests with the Atomic Energy Commission, while work at Oak Ridge proceeds and stockpiles grow.

(b) The question of a census of troops at home and abroad. Russia’s spokesman, Molotov, began this cynical and demagogic game with a proposal that only troops in friendly, non-enemy countries be listed – thus giving Russia a chance to hide its troop strength both in Russia proper and in Poland, Germany and , other occupied ex-enemy nations. All week long, Molotov and Vishinsky disputed with the British spokesman, Sir Hartley Shawcross, and the American windbag from Texas, Senator Connolly. Each outdid the other in attempts to embarrass and connive.

At the end, the British and Americans joined in agreement to drop the entire matter and then the General Assembly by 36 to 6 voted to reject the idea of an immediate troop census. The Russians had partly gained their objective of revealing the hypocrisy, of their opponents, but had themselves revealed their unwillingness to have any direct check made by on-the-spot commissions of THEIR armed forces. Matters stand where they stood six weeks ago with the great powers occupying huge sections of the world. (Does it make any difference whether a small, helpless country is ruled by 10,000 foreign troops armed to the teeth, or only by 5,000 of the same?)

(c) The question of actually disarming and reducing weapons and means of waging warfare. As indicated above, nothing was accomplished on this matter. Many hopes and desires were expressed, particularly by the smaller nations, but the opinions of these nations meant nothing. Here, again, the issue has been deferred to negotiations between the big powers.

The debate over disarmament – or, why we must remain armed to the teeth – again emphasizes two major characteristics of the United Nations:

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