International atom control urged

At the end of World War II , the American people and their government hoped that the wartime cooperation between the Soviet Union and the western democracies would continue in the building of a secure and peaceful world. The United States played an active role in creating and financing several United Nations agencies dedicated to economic reconstruction and the alleviation of suffering in war-torn areas of Europe, Asia and Africa. Large quantities of American aid went to needy peoples in communist as well as non-communist countries.

One important area in which the United States had high hopes for international agreement was the control of the atom bomb. This dread weapon had been developed by the United States during World War II after scientists established that the Germans had been trying to create such a bomb. It was used to bring about Japan's surrender because the only alternative seemed to be a massive invasion of the Japanese islands with the probability of more than a million casualties on both sides. The United States recognized that the spread of atomic weapons could endanger the very existence of mankind. In June 1946, therefore, U.S. delegate Bernard Baruch presented a proposal to the United Nations calling for the outlawing of atomic weapons and the international control of all atomic materials. As the only nation in possession of the bomb at the time, the United States offered to give up its supremacy by destroying its stock of bombs and revealing all nuclear secrets. The Baruch Plan had one prime condition: that the international agency exercising authority for inspection and enforcement not be subject to veto by any single nation.

The U.S. proposal was supported by 9 of the 10 members of the U.N. Security Council, but was vetoed by the Soviet Union. The Soviet counterproposal, while also calling upon all nations to renounce atomic weapons, did not provide an inspection system to uncover violations or an enforcement system to punish violators. One result of the rejection of the Baruch Plan has been the development of weapons many times more destructive than the atom bomb. Similar differences on the questions of inspection and the veto were to stalemate later conferences on general disarmament.

Mounting concern was felt in the United States as the Soviet Union used the presence of its troops in Eastern Europe to help minority communist parties destroy or infiltrate non-communist groups and set up pro-Soviet governments. Less than two years after the war's end, communist-dominated regimes were in control of Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, and the Russian-occupied zone of Germany. (Czechoslovakia fell to the communists the following year.) In the spring of 1947, the danger of further communist expansion was dramatized by Soviet support of communist guerrillas in Greece and Soviet threats against Turkey's control of the Dardanelles. President Truman appeared before Congress to declare that "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures." This policy-which became known as the "Truman Doctrine" led to an initial Congressional authorization of $400 million for economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey. Within two years order had been restored in Greece, Turkey's territorial integrity had been assured, and the communist drive to the Mediterranean had been halted.