October, 1987


It now seems possible that the U.S. and the Soviet Union may actually conclude a treaty in which both agree to dispose of all short and intermediate range nuclear missiles. Both sides seem to have recognized the futility of continuing to expend the vast sums necessary to build, ship, deploy and maintain the constantly growing number of these mutucidal devices, and both sides would like to quit. However, neither side dares to do it unless the other is also doing it at the same time and in the same proportion. This inevitably raises some problems which are not easy to solve. One of these is, exactly how the disposal of the missiles is to be accomplished. The present plan seems to be that each side will first remove the nuclear material from the missile to be destroyed, and the delivery system, usually a rocket, will then be destroyed in the presence of observers from the other, side, to insure that they were, in fact, destroyed. The problem is that, since neither side, as yet, really trusts the other, and because nuclear material, whether it be the plutonium of simple bombs or the deuterium and tritium used to boost the bang in hydrogen bombs, is fairly readily adaptable to any form of delivery system, the present plan of disposal will inevitably raise questions that will become more pressing as the time for signing and implementation of the treaty nears. Each side is certain to say to itself, “This treaty allows us to watch the destruction of the rockets, but how can we know that the nuclear material taken out of them, will not be used to arm new missiles now being developed, or perhaps already built? How can I know that it will not be used to increase the number of I.C.B.M.s, which are not mentioned in the treaty?

Since it is highly unlikely that either side could or would tolerate a continuous monitoring of their nuclear stockpile by agents of the other side, it seems likely that the only solution acceptable to both sides would be the establishment of nuclear banks, located in each of the countries, but under the observation and, if necessary, the supervision of representatives of neutral nations, whose job it would be to record and to publish periodically, the total amount and nature of newly created nuclear material, as well as that recovered from discontinued systems, and also to record and publish the amount of nuclear material installed in new systems, as well as the nature and purpose of the systems in which it had been installed.

All of this may seem to be an extreme of openness reachable only in the wildest flight of fancy. A few years ago it would have been. Today however, the leaders of the major countries appear to be awakening to the realization that the danger of human extermination is real and present and unless there is some willingness to compromise by both sides, may come about sooner than we think!

In the past, both sides have made great efforts to keep secret the number and capability of their weapons, with the result that each side developed the phobia that the other side was ahead, and, like a dog chasing its tail, began a desperate race to catch up with the other, even though the ‘overkill’ had long passed the point where additional weapons could have any real significance.

If, on the other hand, each side could know, at all times, exactly what weapons the other side had, 90% of the tension would disappear and both could probably get along nicely with one tenth of the weapons they now have. In any event, the leaders of both sides seem agreed that it is not logical to continue spending themselves and each other into total insolvency, solely to make certain that, in case of war, both sides will be totally destroyed.

(signed Daniel W. Fry)


‘Tis written that the serving angels stand

Beside God’s throne, ten myriads on each hand,

Waiting, with wings outstretched and watchful eyes,

To do their Master’s heavenly embassies.

Quicker than thought His high commands they read,

Swifter than light to execute them speed,

Bearing the word of power from star to star

Some hither and some thither. near and far,

And unto these naught is too high or low.

Too mean or mighty, if He wills it so;

Neither is any creature, great or small,

Beyond His pity, which embraceth all,

Because His eye beholdeth all which are,

Sees without search, and cometh without care;

Nor any ocean rolls so vast that He

Forgets one wave of all that restless sea.

Edwin Arnold.


My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;

So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men.
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among

The green mounds of the village burial-place:
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,

Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,

Pass the green threshold of our common grave.
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart.

Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and, trembling, I forgave!

John Greenleaf Whittier