- Browse by Issue:
This is the A.B.C. of the art of politics. De Gaulle's mastery of mystère, which is above all the art of ambiguity and of Pythian formulas, permitted him, when faced with the gravest problem he ever had to meet-the Algerian War-to man?uvre among the reefs for four years, to envisage in turn every possible or impossible solution and to see them all miscarry. First there was the offer made to the Algerians to become "whole-share French citizens;" then the mission given the army to "integrate the souls" of the Algerian people; then the grand vision of an African California grouping Algeria and French Black Africa in a zone of prosperity around the oil of the Sahara; then the still ambiguous concept of an "Algerian Algeria," independent but associated-all leading finally to the collapse of French colonization in North Africa and the accords of Evian, now hardly more than a scrap of paper. At the end of this tortuous course, the wisdom of the statesman has been "to accept things as they are," to respect the Evian Agreements on his side and to accept unflinchingly the violation of them by the other side, in order to show that he is satisfied-and to keep the future open.
At the end of 1964, a cycle of American-European argument which had opened some seven years earlier came to a close when President Johnson decided to abandon American pressure for an immediate resolution of the negotiations regarding a multilateral nuclear force. Since then the common assumption has been that there is to be a nine-month lull, until after the German elections in September, before the next phase of the dialogue on the future scope and nature of the Atlantic Alliance is resumed, even though any successful outcome to it may have to wait until the attitudes and policy of post-de Gaulle France are clear.
THREE and a half years ago when John J. McCloy gave an accounting in this journal of where we stood in efforts for disarmament the picture which he presented was understandably somber.[i] In the previous September there had been some progress in the negotiation of a "Joint Statement of Agreed Principles," an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union on certain criteria that would have to be met if progress was to be made on substantive measures. But that one hopeful development had to be balanced against a record of discouragingly little progress in any other negotiations, growing difficulties over Berlin culminating in the erection of the Wall, and the termination, also in September 1961, of the understanding on the nuclear-test cessation.
FOR a decade, American foreign policy in the field of atomic energy has energetically supported the transfer of uranium, information, equipment and complete reactors to many countries abroad. Has this Atoms for Peace Program unwittingly contributed to the development of an atomic-weapon capability throughout the world and thereby encouraged nuclear proliferation? This basic question has been brought into focus by the Red Chinese nuclear explosions and by the realization that several countries now have the necessary knowledge, materials and technicians to make nuclear weapons if they want to.
When the Chinese People's Republic exploded an atomic bomb last October, it opened a new and dangerous phase in the atomic era. It is true that this original test-like the one that followed in May-had no immediate military significance, but it had considerable political and psychological impact- though less than had been expected. It is as a portent of the future that the mushroom cloud over West China has crucial importance for the peace and security of the world. All previous atomic testing has been carried out by industrial powers of the Occident; Communist China is non-Western, non- white and only semi-industrialized. The government in Peking is, by its own declarations, more revolutionary than that of the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party is strongly nationalistic and ambitious. To support its foreign policy objectives, Communist China already possesses the largest, though certainly not the best equipped, conventional armed forces in the world. Now it is placing the highest priority on the development of a nuclear capability.
SINCE early March the Arab world has been shaken by an angry clash of views about its relations with Israel. Arab thinking on this subject had long been governed by what Whitehead once called "inert ideas"-that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized or tested or thrown into fresh combinations. This inertia was suddenly broken by two closely related events. The Federal Republic of Germany sought the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, in conscious rejection of Arab pressure. And the President of Tunisia challenged the official Arab dogma about Israel's place in the Middle East. In statements which had a broad international resonance, Mr. Bourguiba indicated that Israel was a solid and entrenched reality with which the Arab nations would have to come to terms. To dream of sweeping Israel away in a torrent of violence was, in his view, sheer delusion.
Mariano Picón Salas, the great Venezuelan writer, once said that Venezuela did not enter the twentieth century until the death of the iron-fisted dictator Juan Vicente Gómez in December 1935. Until then, ours was a semi- feudal, semi-colonial country still living in the nineteenth century. Thus, it was only after a delay of three and a half decades that Venezuela entered into the century of the most unforeseen changes and most radical revolutions.
The cliché runs that history repeats itself. The late Per Jacobsson was fond of stating that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. This can be disproved in two ways: (1) By finding people with a vivid memory of history who none the less slip into repetitive behavior. An example might be the French who pulled down sterling in 1930 with dire consequences for the world, and now seem interested in undermining the dollar. Or (2), by uncovering an historical analogy which has escaped general notice, and seeing if the same story unfolds itself later. The second path is the one followed here. The mass migration now taking place from Southern to Northern and Western Europe-from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey to Switzerland, France, Germany and Belgium-can be measured against the movement from Southern and Eastern Europe to the United States between 1880 and 1913 for similarities and differences. It is particularly instructive to observe whether previous pitfalls have been avoided, and if so, whether by accident, by circumstances or because of the increased social consciousness of the human race.
If one studies the map of Southeast Asia it is clear at once that Malaysia is the natural focus of the whole region. It is the only country that is both part of mainland Asia and at the same time part of the vast archipelago stretching westward from the Philippines and New Guinea to Sumatra. Thus Malaysia is not only a bridge between continental and island Asia but also the gateway between the China Sea and the Indian Ocean. By virtue of this position Malaysia is of vital importance to both Southeast Asia and the world. Add to this the fact that although Malaysia is a small nation of only 10,000,000 people, its economic significance is out of all proportion to its size and population. It is the world's leading producer of both natural rubber and tin. For this reason, if none other, the peace and prosperity, security and stability of Malaysia are of key concern both regionally and internationally.
The conviction is widely held in German political circles today that a phase of postwar development is ending and that the Federal Republic is approaching a new era of political, social and economic challenge. The reconstruction achieved in the years after the war led to a remarkable economic upsurge. But that success cannot make us overlook the continuing failure to solve our most outstanding political problem-that of reunification. A great deal of German energy and much-touted German industriousness has spent itself in the market place, while-for whatever reason-our number-one political problem has hardened in its status quo. The oft-cited "German phoenix" which rose out of the ashes has actually been paralyzed in one wing.
Before World War I, German planners prepared for only one contingency: an all-out, two-front war. In July 1914, this made it difficult for Germany to match Russia's military preparations without automatically escalating into general war. Before World War II, French military planners also prepared for only one contingency: full-scale invasion of France. This made it difficult for France to react effectively when Hitler occupied the Rhineland in 1936. Both the German and French governments went wrong by assuming, rather than judging, where the main threat lay. Each country put tremendous effort into elaborating its war plans and force structure, down to the most minute detail. And yet each seems to have given only the most cursory attention to the political contingencies in which those plans and forces might have to be used. Hence the plans and force structures turned out to be not only irrelevant but-because of their rigidity-downright harmful.
To recall the atmosphere of September and October 1962 now seems almost as difficult as to recreate the weeks, more than two decades earlier, before the attack on Pearl Harbor. But if we are to understand the onset of the Cuban missile crisis, it is worth the effort. Indeed we may learn something about the problems of foreseeing and forestalling or, at any rate, diminishing the severity of such crises by examining side by side the preludes to both these major turning points in American history. In juxtaposing these temporally separate events, our interest is in understanding rather than in drama. We would like to know not only how we felt, but what we did and what we might have done, and in particular what we knew or what we could have known before each crisis.