The world is now passing through a very critical stage of its existence. Clouds of war have been hovering over the world-horizon for several years, threatening the existence of man. On several occasions, shooting wars have occurred and severe fighting has been reported, endangering the life of mankind. The problem of Cuba, German unification, the conflict between Iraq and Iran, the Congo and the former problems of Korea, Anglo-Egyptian Suez crisis and similar others, have often presented a great worry to human beings all over the world. In order to ensure peace and tranquility to the world, several ways and means have been discussed and devised. One of these is known as disarmament.
Disarmament means a general reduction in the numerical strength of the armed forces in different countries of the world. The strength of naval and air forces is to be, cut down. It also means a stop to the manufacture of nuclear weapons and utilizing atomic energy for peaceful purposes. It goes to suggest a large reduction in the defence budgets of the various nations so as to use the savings for welfare purposes. It aims at a drastic cut in the armory of war weapons. In other words, the idea is to disarm the powerful countries so that they may not commit aggression.
The horrors of the two world-wars and the destructive potentiality of the latest weapons of war have convinced one and all of the futility of armament. The tragedy which a war brings in its wake has compelled the nations of the world to think of the ways and means that will put an end to this venomous monster, called war. The problem of global peace has been cherished by almost all the nations. This is so because the world has already witnessed the devastating and destructive side of war. The specter of war is haunting the minds of scholars, philosophers and politicians.
The production of weapons of war is in itself a tremendous waste. It has been calculated that the world spends a very large amount of money on arms annually. Moreover, some sixty million workers throughout the world are engaged in the production of arms. Tremendous quantity of valuable raw material is used for armament production. This is simply a wastage keeping in mind the fact that the proper use of this might lead to greater prosperity and welfare of the peoples of the world. The huge amount spent for this purpose can be made available for feeding the teeming millions who remain starved or half-starved.
The brief history of disarmament can be traced to the treaty of Versailles. It was Lloyd George who for the first time, appealed to the western countries to discourage the practice of armament. The First All Europe Disarmament Conference held in 1919 emphasised the reduction of armed forces. The League of Nations endorsed the decision of this conference in 1920. But the decisions and agreements were never put into practice. Another disarmament conference was held in Geneva on November 9, 1933. It was attended by the representatives of the twelve states of Europe. Efforts were made to find out ways and means for disarmament. But the conference ended in smoke and Germany left the conference as well as the League of Nations. By the beginning of 1935 disarmament had ceased to be a problem as countries like Germany, Japan and Italy began to re-arm themselves. There was again a mad race for armament which ultimately led to the Second World-War.
The invention of nuclear and other lethal weapons has added a new dimension to the danger of waging a major war. But complete and effective ban on nuclear tests is a very difficult job. Moreover, the mere ending of nuclear test does not avoid the threat of an atomic war. Besides this, complete inspection would require abrogation of national sovereignty for which no country is prepared. Many conferences were held for the purpose of controlling the production of nuclear weapons, but at every new proposal complications came in the way of finding out a solution. However, the Moscow conference held in July 1963 arrived at some conclusion. Later, the NPT and the CTBT have produced some hopes.
Disarmament has many advantages to offer to the strife torn world. Chiefly, it will lead to an end of all wars, thus ensuring peace and friendliness among the different nations. It. will also result in the utilization of nuclear energy for highly beneficial purposes, factories, etc. and go a long way in supplementing the resources of energy in the world. Besides that savings made from the defence budgets will be utilised for public welfare activities. Disarmament will cut down international tension. Human conflicts will end or decrease and peace will reign in the world generally. Disarmament will, thus be a great blessing to mankind.
But disarmament will not be without demerits too. Primarily, many nations will secretly and stealthily pile up underground weapons and thus pose a threat to the entire world, with the sole desire of establishing control over the whole world. It will also mean mutual suspicion and distrust which is something actually worse than active warfare. Over and above this, disarmament will tend to make the world slack and lazy. It is only through fear of aggression that one keeps oneself fully active and ready. The rate of progress in other fields of life may also come down considerably. Moreover, disarmament is to be carried out by any country without waiting for the other country to do it. Thus the country which disarms itself may lose its strength while others may gain more strength.
However, whatever may be the merits or demerits the utility or futility, the practicability, or impracticability the sense or non-sense of disarmament the fact remains that it is a bit hollow idea. War is actually a ‘mast’ for mankind. The entire human history running into millions of years cannot, perhaps, be suddenly reversed. But if the countries of the world become absolutely sincere and honest in their intentions disarmament can succeed. This means that no country should have any dispute with any other country in future. It is doubtful if such a situation can arise.