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Amidst the rapid and often bewildering change that characterizes our age, advocates of extreme solutions seem to be gaining ground everywhere. Lawlessness in the cities, the restlessness of a good part of the younger generation-especially those in college-and an inconclusive war cause a growing disquiet.
For twenty-five years, in a good many remote odd spots in the world, the United States has been locked in battle; or has been seconding some distant and sometimes dubious friend; or trying, by promising help, to deter the start of the trouble altogether. With so many and such far-flung commitments and no sign of letup, it is only natural that there should be a lively debate about their number and extent and how they fit our capabilities. The frustrations of these 25 years of engagements in remote wars, and not only the present long-drawn-out and uncertain struggle in Viet Nam, encourage a new isolationism.
Europe is increasingly restless with the division imposed on it more than twenty years ago. To end that division, and thereby to take a step toward a larger community of the developed nations, is a task requiring the often conflicting virtues of perseverance and imagination. It also requires asking explicitly: What can be done in the next twenty years to change this condition-and to change it in a way that is compatible with historical trends and more immediate requirements of political reality?
For some three years the so-called "technological gap" between Europe and the United States has been the subject of mounting concern to statesmen and to leaders of the business community on both sides of the Atlantic. Prime Minister Harold Wilson warns that Europe is about to succumb to a kind of "industrial helotry" to the United States. Charles de Gaulle, Ludwig Erhard and Franz-Josef Strauss speak in similar terms. It is one of the focal points for the ambivalence with which the United States is viewed by non- communist nations. Our power is feared; also it is needed. A part of the fear stems from that very need. And a part of the need is to remove the cause of fear. The time has come to sum up the diagnosis and direct our attention to the formulation of practical policies in Europe and America.
Every historical milestone reflects the end as well as the beginning of an era, and since history is continuity in spite of change, so the beginning of an era is never a complete disengagement from the past, either materially or mentally. Such is the case now in Indonesia.
THE recent Six Day War in the Middle East grew out of the sterile confrontation to which the peoples of the region had committed themselves over the past twenty years. Both parties had frequently proclaimed their intention to go to war under certain circumstances. It seems unlikely, however, that any of them plotted and planned war for 1967. It seems more likely that they blundered into it.
SINCE the end of the third Arab-Israeli war the vocabulary of Middle Eastern politics has been enriched with a new formula-"the removal of the consequences of aggression." The phrase presents some obvious difficulties of definition concerning the origin of the aggression, the nature of its consequences and the manner of their removal. All these are subject to a wide diversity of interpretations. However, the meaning of the Arab states in putting forward this formula as a demand is quite clear; it is that Israel is the aggressor, that the occupation of Arab lands and the departure of their Arab inhabitants are the consequences of aggression, and that these consequences should be reversed.
Israel's decisive victory in the Six Day War of June 1967 radically altered the dimensions of the Arab refugee dilemma. It is no longer the same dilemma which has confronted the Middle East, the United Nations and the United States for some twenty years. Almost overnight Israel became the principal refugee host country, with approximately half the total number of registered refugees under its control. This is an ironic turn in the history of the problem, since Israel had always insisted that the refugees be resettled beyond its frontiers in the neighboring Arab territories of Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Now that it controls parts of those countries, it is directly confronted with responsibility for more than one million Arabs- about half of them refugees of 1947-48. Any settlement of the Palestine conflict which Israel would find acceptable will bring many of these territories and a substantial number of their Arab inhabitants under its permanent jurisdiction.
The theory of the falling dominoes in Southeast Asia has been the subject of heated debate. Yet few sensible observers would deny that a settlement in Viet Nam will have a significant impact on the overall course of political evolution in the area and, conversely, that changing political conditions in Southeast Asia will affect the outlook for a permanent settlement in Viet Nam. Even in the shorter perspective, the chances of finding a stable compromise solution acceptable to the fighting parties appear greater when seen in the broader framework than when we view the problem in its strictly Vietnamese dimensions. For in the narrow context of the two Viet Nams there seem to be no conceivable alternatives which do not imply a significant victory for one side and a defeat for the other.
Although the notion of national character has turned out to be of dubious validity, the notion of a national style holds greater promise. It is a postulate and a construct. It attempts to establish order in a chaotic mass of features by positing that a nation perceives the world, and its place in it, in a fashion which is never quite that of any other nation, just as no individual ever faces the world as anyone else does. This way is a procedure of selection, and therefore inevitably one of exclusion, and it is a procedure of distortion, because things that may be important are left out and also because the things selected are refracted through the prism of the nation's or individual's character.
During his recent visit to Poland, General de Gaulle discreetly but repeatedly called upon the Central European countries to assume an independent and creative role. By challenging the unnatural East-West dichotomy in Europe he showed himself again a statesman of vision. Yet, regrettably, while he has a highly desirable political goal he has failed to choose the means most likely to attain it. The French Government in the last few years has not favored the growth and cohesion of the European Economic Community (E.E.C.) and other common institutions of the West and has sought to raise the independent international status of France. It is essential to the General's plan that analogous processes be stimulated in Central Europe: in his mind the rigid commitments of nations east and west of the Elbe to antagonistic "blocs" impede the rapprochement between these nations, the definitive elimination of the Iron Curtain and the restoration of a "European Europe."
Insurgencies spring from local conditions. Though a truism, this statement is still valuable in helping to determine the probable seriousness of present or threatened communist guerrilla activities. Conditions in Northeast Thailand make it in many ways an obvious seat of insurgency, and the Thai and United States Governments are increasingly concerned.