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One lesson of the last fifteen years, most conspicuous in the Viet Nam war, is that the capacity of even the strongest power to intervene effectively in other states has been eroded by time, space and history. Apparently the only state a great power can still attack with impunity is one of its allies. Even there, as the Soviet Union will no doubt discover, the costs of intervention will in time heavily outweigh the gains.
Let us make two assumptions: first, that the Viet Nam war has reached the beginning of the end and that it will be over within the next year or two; second, that the settlement will involve an American defeat and the extension of communist power to South Viet Nam. Events may falsify both these assumptions, but they may not; it is worth thinking about what the situation will be like if they do not.
Astonishing events in Czechoslovakia were only the latest in a series of changes in the communist world that took the outside world by surprise. The thaw and Hungarian rebellion of 1956, China's break with the Soviet Union and immersion in internal convulsion, and even the rejection of Russian control in Rumania-all were largely unforeseen (with only a few exceptions) even by expert opinion in the West, Like military planners who prepare for the last war, commentators on communist affairs in their preoccupation with accounting for the last surprise have often left the public unprepared for the next one. The concept of monolithic totalitarianism, based on parallels between Hitler and the later Stalin, ill prepared us to expect rebellion in Hungary; preoccupation with the Sino-Soviet split (which was only belatedly thought to be important, and then rapidly promoted into being the controlling factor in the divided communist world of the sixties) distracted us from any expectation of liberal deviation in Czechoslovakia.
October 23, 1968, is the date on which Japan will mark the Centennial of its modern transformation. On that day one hundred years ago it was announced that the era designation would henceforth be "Meiji," enlightened rule. The régime of the Tokugawa shogun had fallen, but the new forces grouped around the boy emperor were still struggling to assert control; they had to promise and persuade, for they could not force. Yet it was soon clear that the Meiji Restoration was a political overturn whose consequences for Japanese history were incalculable. By the end of the century it was apparent that its significance for world history was scarcely less great.
Miss Prism, instructing Cecily Cardew to read her Political Economy, added a warning to omit the chapter on the Fall of the Rupee: "It is somewhat too sensational Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side," And so they do; but my story will not do it justice. I believe that the story of international money, and of our own balance of payments, allows no place for villains and little, even, for fools. To be specific: my contention is that the difficulties which we have faced in international finance have not been the result of American wickedness or irresponsibility or foolishness, or, indeed, of the wickedness of mythical short men in Zurich or mystical tall men in Paris.
For the last century and a half, Latin America has been a faithful echoing chamber for every political noise uttered in the more civilized regions of the northern hemisphere. It now appears that this period may be drawing to a close, partly as a result of domestic developments, and partly because the source of models deemed worthy of imitation is drying up. This is not the end of ideology, but it certainly suggests that the era in which Latin America accepted blindly the political experiences, aspirations and recommendations issuing from the shores of the North Atlantic is coming to an end.
IN all its two thousand or more years of history, Viet Nam has never been fully in control of its own destiny. We have suffered invasion by the Chinese, the Mongols, the Japanese and the French. We were administered as a protectorate of China for over a thousand years; we were a colony of France for nearly a century. We endured two and a half centuries of civil war between the Lords of the Trinh from the north and the Lords of the Nguyen from the south-a civil war in which the Dutch were heavily involved supporting the former and the Portuguese the latter.
RETURNING home after years of service in Viet Nam, I am nagged by the insistent thought that we have not yet adequately answered a plain question: What is it, exactly, that we seek in Viet Nam?
On the surface at least, the Gaullist régime in France now looks substantially stronger than before the May crisis. The June elections gave General de Gaulle and his then Prime Minister, Georges Pompidou, a massive parliamentary majority that for the next five years seemingly insures M. Pompidou's successor, former Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville, against every normal political hazard-except, perhaps, the eventual loss of his master's confidence.
Thirty-six years ago, the President of the United States observed that the U.S. tariff was "solely a domestic question," a subject inappropriate for international bargaining. This view, archaic as it now may seem, stirred no public outcry, no editorial protest in the nation's leading dailies.
The oceans cover nearly two-thirds of our planet and are its last great frontier for natural resources. The depths of the oceans and the ocean floor itself were of little interest until the middle of the last century when the first scientific deep-sea surveys were undertaken. The Challenger expedition nearly a hundred years ago discovered the existence of phosphorite and manganese dioxide concretions on the ocean floor, but these remained of purely scientific interest for many years. Although offshore mining of petroleum dates from 1899 and although undersea deposits of hard minerals, such as iron or coal, were mined even before the turn of the century by driving shafts and tunnels from the adjoining land, the seabed and its subsoil did not acquire much economic significance until after the Second World War. Even then, political, economic and legal interest was confined to the land underlying the shallow waters of the continental shelf; virtually the only practical use of the land underlying deeper waters was considered to be as a support for submarine pipes and cables. As late as 1956 it was possible for the International Law Commission to state with regard to the ocean floor that "apart from the case of the exploitation or exploration of the soil or subsoil of a continental shelf ... such exploitation had not yet assumed sufficient practical importance to justify special regulation."
The Government of India and its thoughtful citizens have been aware of the problems posed by the rapid growth of India's population during the past decade and a half; but the adverse economic circumstances of the last two or three years brought home to them, as nothing had done in the past, the disturbing nature of India's population explosion. The psychological climate necessary for the serious implementation of the family-planning program had arrived.
On January 8, 1968, in the dingy halls of the Moscow City Court, four relatively unknown young Soviet citizens went on trial for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. On January 12 they were convicted and sentenced to labor camp for terms ranging from one to seven years. On the same day the first of a number of petitions, appeals and protests relating to the trial and to the general issue of civil rights in the Soviet Union was signed and circulated throughout Moscow by members of the Soviet intellectual Establishment. By early April the attitudes which this documentation represented had precipitated a distinct hardening in the official cultural policy of the régime.
The Earth is one ecological unit. The student of disease pandemics-cholera, plague, influenza-has long understood that the world is bound by bacterial bonds. When the volcano Krakatoa exploded in the Dutch East Indies in August 1883, the sun was darkened by the debris scattered across oceans and the roar was heard in Japan and the Philippines. Earthquakes in Japan have affected the levels of wells in California and Texas. In July 1968, it was reported that violent rains and winds in England brought airborne red silts from the Sahara Desert.
In a number of countries (the United States, Britain, France and the Federal Republic of Germany to mention a few), it has recently been claimed in newspaper and magazine articles that unemployment has appeared in the Soviet Union. The authors frequently refer to the works of Soviet economists (my own included) in which serious problems are raised concerning our rational utilization of manpower.