16 OCTOBER 1953, Page 4

Operation Candour Called Off

When President Eisenhower said last week that " The Soviets now have the capability of atomic attack on us, and such capability will increase with the passage of time," he did no more than confirm what some of his subordinates had already told the public in terms much less laconic. But the implications of the statement, coming from the .President him- self, will no doubt have been seized by many of those who had still been looking forward to a balanced Budget and reduced taxes. The atomic armaments race is a costly busi- ness, and when hydrogen bombs are to be reckoned among the necessities of life, then America will just have to compose itself, as a member of Congress put it the other day, " to forgo luxuries for the sake of necessities." But the potential usefulness of " Operation Candour "—which was conducted so confusedly and then ended so abruptly by the President him- self—lay not only in preparing America for still greater ex- penditure on armaments. President Eisenhower, however, by shutting the mouths of his Cabinet officers and by himself declining to let slip more than the bare admission that Russia now has the power to strike at the United States, has done nothing, to clarify the confused thoughts of the public. It will be strange if the demand for information, for " the facts," does not grow. There are no signs of alarm among the popu- lation, certainly, but the composure that comes from ignorance and the calm which results from looking at the truth, how- ever unpleasant, are not the same thing. Those who do know the facts, or some of them at least. are not taking the news of Russian progress very calmly, as one saw from the alarmist and contradictory pronouncements which preceded the Presi- dent's statement. A healthier state of affairs could be created if the President could bring himself to be more candid, and to make clear those conditions within which American atomic policy must be framed. Has the race to go on until America and Russia are sitting uneasily on comparable clutches of hydrogen bombs ? Or will the time come soon, as Mr. Stevenson has said it should, when America ought to take the initiative again in attempting to put a stop to this lunacy ?.