THE end of the American monopoly on atomic bombs and the President's decision to develop the hydrogen bomb advance the timetable of the world crisis. Those who say that "nothing has been changed" merely flee reality.
One atomic explosion in Russia does not mean, of course, that the Soviet Government is ready to attack the western world. But it does mean that from now on we must reckon on Russia's ability to use the A-bomb, and on the fact that as the years pass the number of bombs in the Russian stockpile will increase. How long it will be before this stockpile becomes strategically significant is anybody's guess. At the least, however, we shall have to assume that the Soviet Union will possess from 10 to 100 A-bombs within about a year to two years from October 1949. And, if we do succeed in developing the more terrible hydrogen bomb, Russia will certainly do so.
We can take small comfort from our ability merely to maintain a lead in the manufacture of bombs. The time is bound to come when the Russian stockpile of bombs will neutralize ours in a political sense, and perhaps strategically also. This will be even more emphatically the case when Russia is in a position to deliver her bombs to objectives in Western Europe and the United States. This she surely will be able to do. Even before the "atomic explosion" of last summer the U.S.S.R. had created a "Long Range Air Force," composed of three Long Range Air Armies, independent of the regular Soviet air force command. At the present time of writing, she is estimated to possess from 100 to 250 B-29 type aircraft, and others are being manufactured. So far as we know, there still are no other planes in the world equal in range to our B-36. The Russian B-29 nevertheless has ample range to reach Britain and all parts of Western Europe and Asia. Moreover, it could easily reach important centers in the
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