AN APPROACH TO PEACE And Other Essays by H. Stuart Hughes


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The great debate of the 1960's goes to the question of an alternative to war, and is being waged primarily between the proponents of a strategy of deterrence on the one hand, and the advocates of nuclear disarmament on the other. The former view has been ably argued by a score of highly regarded writers. In this book, H. Stuart Hughes, a professor of history and a national sponsor of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, presents the most cogent argument for disarmament this reviewer has seen. In advocating the abandonment of deterrence, the author argues that mutual distrust can be eradicated only by a dramatic gesture of conciliation, i.e., unilateral disarmament; but he stresses the fact that unilateralism would proceed by states, with pauses to give our potential adversaries the opportunity to respond in kind. Mr. Hughes admits that the risks of such a policy are great, but finds them preferable to the horrors of thermonuclear war itself. The author also makes a plea for radical rethinking of our foreign policy, suggesting that too much emphasis has been put on the power struggle, and that, should we drop our hostility to Communism as an economic system, we would be free to express the American point of view more vigorously on Soviet violations of basic human rights. In Part II of his book, Mr. Hughes analyzes the weakening of democratic forms and ideological commitments in Europe; in Part III he discusses the responsibility of the intellectual in the present world. The book provides some new and penetrating answers to vital questions of foreign policy; parts of the author's thesis are highly controversial, and, in light of some of his tenets, supprising (e.g., the suggestion that the government put brakes on new private investment abroad). But the book has a vital message, is stimulating, and deserves serious consideration. Highly recommended.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1962
Publisher: Atheneum