General of the Army Omar Bradley, who died two years ago at the age of 88 as America's last five-star officer, gave this speech a quarter of a century ago, but in terms that still sound fresh today. The speech got little attention when it was given at the St. Alban's School on Nov. 5, 1957, but was preserved for posterity in I.F. Stone's Weekly. THE CENTRAL PROBLEM of our time -- as I view it -- is how to employ human intelligence for the salvation of mankind. It is a problem we have put upon ourselves. For we have defiled our intellect by the creation of such scientific instruments of destruction that we are now in desperate danger of destroying ourselves. Our plight is critical and with each effort we have made to relieve it by further scientific advance, we have succeeded only in aggravating our peril.
As a result, we are now speeding inexorably toward a day when even the ingenuity of our scientists may be unable to save us from the consequences of a single rash act or a lone reckless hand upon the switch of an uninterceptable missile. For twelve years now we've sought to stave off this ultimate threat of disaster by devising arms which would be both ultimate and disastrous.
This irony can probably be compounded a few more years, or perhaps even a few decades. Missiles will bring anti-missiles; anti-missiles will bring anti-anti-missiles. But inevitably, this whole electronic house of cards will reach a point where it can be constructed no higher.
At that point we shall have come to the peak of this whole incredible dilemma into which the world is shoving itself. And when that time comes there will be little we can do other than to settle down uneasily, smother our fears, and attempt to live in a thickening shadow of death.
Should this situation come to pass, we would have but one single and thin thread to cling to. We call it rationale or reason. We reason that no government, no single group of men -- indeed, not even one willful individual -- would be so foolhardy, so reckless, as to precipitate a war which would most surely end in mutual destruction.
This reasoning may have the benefit of logic. But even logic sometimes goes awry. How can we assume that reason will prevail in a crisis when there is ordinarily so little reason among men? To those who would take comfort in the likelihood of an atomic peace to be secured solely by rationale and reason, I would recall the lapse of reason in a bunker under the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. It failed before, it can fail again.
Have we already gone too far in this search for peace through the accumulation of peril? Is there any way to halt this trend -- or must we push on with new devices until we inevitably come to judgment before the atom? I believe there is a way out. And I believe I have acquired in my lifetime a decent respect for human intelligence.
It may be that the problems of accommodation in a world split by rival ideologies are more difficult than those with which we have struggled in the construction of ballistics missiles. But I believe, too, that if we apply to these human problems the energy, creativity, and the perseverance we have devoted to science, even problems of accommodation will yield to reason.
Admittedly, the problem of peaceful accommodation in the world is infinitely more difficult than the conquest of space, infinitely more complex than a trip to the moon. But if we will only come to the realization that it must be worked out -- whatever it may mean even to such sacred traditions as absolute national sovereignty -- I believe that we can somehow, somewhere, and perhaps through some as yet undiscovered world thinker and leader find a workable solution.
I confess that this is as much an article of faith as it is an expression of reason. But this, my friends, is what we need, faith in our ability to do what must be done. Without that faith we shall never get started. And until we get started, we shall never know what can be done.
If I am sometimes discouraged, it is not by the magnitude of the problem, but by our colossal indifference to it. I am unable to understand why -- if we are willing to trust in reason as a restraint on the use of a ready-made ready-to-fire bomb -- we do not make greater, more diligent and more imaginative use of reason and human intelligence in seeking an accord and compromise which will make it possible for mankind to control the atom and banish it as an instrument of war.
This is the real and indeed the most strenuous challenge to man's intellect today. By comparison with it, the conquest of space is of small significance. For until we learn how to live together, until we rid ourselves of the strife that mocks our pretensions of civilization, our adventures in science -- instead of producing human progress -- will continue to crowd it with greater peril.
We can compete with a Sputnik and probably create bigger and better Sputniks of our own. But what are we doing to prevent the Sputnik from evolving into just one more weapons system? And when are we going to muster an intelligence equal to that applied against the Sputnik and dedicate it to the preservation of this Satellite on which we live?
How long -- I would ask you -- can we put off salvation? When does humanity run out? If enough of us believe strongly enough in the ability of intelligent human beings to get together on some basis of a just accord, we might somehow, somewhere, in some way and under some auspices make a start on it.
Unless we soon get started, it may be too late. We can't sit about waiting for some felicitous accident of history that may somehow make the world all right. Time is running against us, and it is running against us with the speed of a Sputnik.
If we're going to save ourselves from the instruments of our own intellect, we had better soon get ourselves under control and begin making the world safe for living.