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The end of 1966 finds the United States with more hard business before it than at any time since 1962. We are embattled in Viet Nam; we are in the middle of a true social revolution at home; and we have undiminished involvement with continents and countries that still refuse to match our simpler pictures of them. It is not surprising that one can almost hear the nation asking where it is trying to go. It is Viet Nam that gives the question a special edge, and probably it will be in Viet Nam that the most important early answers will be given. But Viet Nam is not the place to begin. It is better to begin with ourselves, and to ask ourselves again what we want-and should want-in the world.
According to legend, when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown in 1781, he sent the British army marching out with colors cased and drums beating to the tune, "The World Turned Upside Down." Repeatedly over the intervening years, as in the preceding centuries, history has harbored those who have turned the world, or whose world has turned, upside down. Some were bent on radically uprooting, others on beneficially preserving, each according to his own lights. Revolutionaries and traditionalists alike frequently find the world behaving contrary to expectations.
The rioting crowds that clamored at the gates of the Japanese Diet building in May and June and the throngs of Zengakuren students who snake-danced wildly down the streets of Tokyo and swarmed over Hagerty's car at Haneda Airport have given pause to many persons in both the United States and Japan. . . . Never since the end of the war has the gap in understanding between Americans and Japanese been wider than over this incident. . . .
For some months, 1966 promised to be a year of significant albeit gradual change in American policy toward Communist China. In a strange and paradoxical fashion, the emotional issues of the Viet Nam War opened the way for the most sober, responsible and even-handed public discussion of China since the Communists came to power. At Congressional hearings and in the mass media, scholars and leaders of opinion have dispassionately calculated the possibilities for change, and Administration leaders have in their customarily guarded language intimated that change was not impossible. Most significant of all, the American public demonstrated a gratifying degree of maturity by forgetting the old passions and asking for only facts and analyses about the new China. Our national mood was increasingly one of believing that with prudence and wisdom it would be possible to work toward gradually incorporating China into responsible world relationships.
Mao Tse-tung's latest battle is almost certainly his last. It will also probably lead to his first major and irreversible defeat. A superb political tactician, he should be able to destroy his old companions who have turned against him. But this will not attain for Mao what he set out to achieve with his "cultural revolution." For he seeks nothing less than the rejuvenation of a great revolution, the rebirth in middle age of the drive, the passion, the selflessness and the discipline it had in its youth a third of a century ago. But the clock can hardly be turned back, and a nation in the age of nuclear bombs and computers cannot behave as if this were still the age of millet and rifles.
Fidel Castro's prestige at home and abroad continues to decline. In the comparatively near future the Cuban people may be confronted with real political choices and the United States may once again have to deal with the question of relations with Cuba.
Uncertainty is necessarily the lot of the planner, since the deals with the future. Uncertainty can never be completely removed. However, it can be compensated for, and to do so is a continuing responsibility of those who plan military forces. Primarily this can be done by insuring, in so far as we can, that future weapons and forces will be adaptable to the right range of defense needs or, as defense planners often put it, by insuring flexibility.
Unless there is new legislation, the President will, at midnight on June 30, 1967, lose his power to cut American tariffs in trade bargains with other countries. The situation is familiar enough. Eleven times already the country has faced the question of renewing the grant of power first made in the Trade Agreements Act of 1934. Each time, Congress has prolonged the power, sometimes enlarging and sometimes reducing it. Mixing long-run policy and short-run tactics to get the best possible terms for the renewal of trade legislation is an old art in Washington. But this renewal is different.
IN the contemporary climate of opinion, all peoples of the world are claiming the right of nationhood, with all its perquisites-sovereignty, economic self-sufficiency and membership in the United Nations. Within this situation, the condition of "primitive peoples"-peoples who only recently lived a self-sufficient life without script or any relationship to script- occupies a peculiar place.
On the eve of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Communist Revolution, the Russians have embarked on yet another economic revolution. With hardly a word about ideological purity, Premier Alexei Kosygin has announced that by 1968 profits, sales and rate of return on investment will replace fulfillment of quotas as the main standards of success for every Soviet firm. Moreover, Soviet managers will have to pay interest or capital charges for the capital they use. Profits will be divided up in a form of profit-sharing, and some enterprises will even have to pay rent. The economic reforms are matched in their significance, according to one Russian economist, A. Birman, only by the transition to N.E.P. in 1921 and the launching of the Five Year Plans in 1929-32. Clearly what the Soviets are currently attempting amounts to a repudiation of formerly sacred doctrines.
In the foreword to his book "Speaking Frankly," former Secretary of State James F. Byrnes wrote: " I have tried, in short, to give you a seat at the conference table. Some critics may say it is too early for these facts to be made known. My answer is that if it were possible to give the people of this world an actual, rather than a figurative, seat at the Peace Conference table, the fears and worries that now grip our hearts would fade away."
Asia wants revolution; Asia needs revolution. The only Asian nation to which this truth does not apply is Japan, whose society was transformed in the nineteenth century.
The awesome floods of November aside, Italy in late 1966 was in a state of non-crisis. There has been enough political and economic instability in the past, however, to make us view this period of often frenetic progress toward industrialization and social unity as temporary. Fundamental social changes are in process. The business recession of 1964 seems a thing of the past. A government budget of $14.3 billion for 1967 has been prepared, including $1.4 billion for much-needed agricultural development during the next five years and another $600 million for the still depressed southern regions. After hesitant beginnings in February, the third coalition center- left government of the taciturn Christian Democratic premier, Aldo Moro, appears to be settling in with a minimum of open controversy for the period between now and the general elections in 1968. The strains among the basically mismated members of his cabinet are temporarily eased while the two major elements (Christian Democrats and Socialists) reform for the campaign to win the adherence of more than 32,000,000 voters. In foreign policy, reflecting as it does the gentler phase of the cold war, no initiatives are likely. None the less, there is much for Italy's politicians to do.