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Blackwelder, Eliot, August 21, 1947

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August 21, 1947

The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists Room 28, 90 Nassau Street Princeton, New Jersey

Gentlemen: In response to Dr. Einstein's circular letter of August 6, I have recently sent you a small contribution, as requested. The following remarks suggested by the letter are submitted for the consideration of your committee, but they require no reply. While agreeing with Dr. Einstein that the gulf between Russia and the West is growing wider, and that little cooperation is to be expected between these two in the near future, I am not al all sure that another world war must be the result. Just now the danger to which we need to address our earnest attention is the skillful attack, by fifth column methods, that is being made against us, not only in this country but all over the world. It is against this less familiar type of war that we must now defend ourselves effectively. It seems to me that this kind of warfare may prove to be quite as dangerous as the more familiar variety from which we have lately emerged. I doubt if there is much use, at the present time, in trying to convince the Russian people of our own good intentions. We cannot reach them, and even if we could, they have little power to influence the policies of their own despotic rulers. So far as I can see, the only thing we can do is to restrain the Soviet hierarchy by whatever measures may seem to be most effective. With your opinion that security for all nations demands a supra-national solution I heartily agree. SInce it is evident that we cannot attain it in the near future, it seems to me that the next best thing is to form a partial union or federation of the more democratic nations, designed for the prevention of any type of world aggression. While this will not be easy of attainment, it does seem possible; and it may prove to be temporarily adequate, until a comprehensive world union can be established. This, I understand, is essentially the opinion of Dr. Urey. While it is but natural that a committee of atomic scientists should emphasise the terrors of atomic warfare, I believe that the more imminent danger is the fifth column attack. This may be so skillfully and effectively used that the issue will be decided without war; but we may then find ourselves in the position of the fly caught in the spider's web and unable to use the wings on the fly caught in the spider's web and unable to use the wings on which he ordinarily relied for escape. At present I am even more deeply concerned about this ruthless struggle in which we are already engaged than in the danger of an atomic war for which we alone are likely to be equipped within several years.

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