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Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence.
What the author had in mind when he used the word "containment" in 1946 was averting not a military threat but an ideological-political one. He was trying to say: "Make it clear to [the Soviets] that they are not going to be allowed to establish any dominant influence in Europe and in Japan if there is anything we can do to prevent it. When we have stabilized the situation in this way, then perhaps we will be able to talk with them about some sort of a general political and military disengagement in Europe and in the Far East--not before."
IN the years since the end of the Second World War, American foreign policy has consisted primarily of the effort to cope with two immensely difficult problems which the events of that war brought into being, neither of which had been adequately anticipated and which the discussions among the victor powers at the end of the war failed to solve. One was the question of how should be filled the great political vacuums created by the removal of the hegemonies recently exercised by Germany and Japan over large and important areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The uncertainty and emerging disagreement over the attendant questions concerned not only much of Central and Eastern Europe but also parts of East Asia that had been overrun by the Japanese, including-alas-Indochina; and the settlement of the Asian aspects of the problem came to involve not only the United States and the Soviet Union and the inhabitants of the affected territories themselves but also, with the completion of the Chinese Revolution, the new communist power in China.
We are four Americans who have been concerned over many years with the relation between nuclear weapons and the peace and freedom of the members of the Atlantic Alliance. Having learned that each of us separately has been coming to hold new views on this hard but vital question, we decided to see how far our thoughts, and the lessons of our varied experiences, could be put together; the essay that follows is the result. It argues that a new policy can bring great benefits, but it aims to start a discussion, not to end it.
NOT even the most casual reader of the public prints of recent months and years could be unaware of the growing chorus of warnings from qualified scientists as to what industrial man is now doing-by overpopulation, by plundering of the earth's resources, and by a precipitate mechanization of many of life's processes-to the intactness of the natural environment on which his survival depends. "For the first time in the history of mankind," U.N. Secretary-General U Thant wrote, "there is arising a crisis of worldwide proportions involving developed and developing countries alike- the crisis of human environment. ... It is becoming apparent that if current trends continue, the future of life on earth could be endangered."
Much of the discussion in Western countries today of the problem of relations with world Communism centers around the recent disintegration of that extreme concentration of power in Moscow which characterized the Communist bloc in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, and the emergence in its place of a plurality of independent or partially independent centers of political authority within the bloc: the growth, in other words, of what has come to be described as "polycentrism." There is widespread recognition that this process represents a fundamental change in the nature of world Communism as a political force on the world scene; and there is an instinctive awareness throughout Western opinion that no change of this order could fail to have important connotations for Western policy. But just what these connotations are is a question on which much uncertainty and confusion still prevail.
If the policies and actions of the U.S. government are to be made to conform to moral standards, those standards are going to have to be America's own, founded on traditional American principles of justice and propriety. When others fail to conform to those principles, and when their failure to conform has an adverse effect on American interests, as distinct from political tastes, we have every right to complain and, if necessary, to take retaliatory action. What we cannot do is to assume that our moral standards are theirs as well, and to appeal to those standards as the source of our grievances.