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Reexamining the 30 and more years since Indochina entered the agenda of world problems one is struck constantly by the curious mirages, the discordance between image and reality which seem to persist not only in American perceptions of Indochina but in the evaluations by other great powers and the Indochinese themselves of the actual nature and goals of U.S. policy.
France intends both to preserve her national identity and to help bring about the peace that she cherishes. She refuses to take refuge in the comfort of a neutrality that is nothing more than an abdication of responsibility in face of the great disputes of our time. At the same time she objects to every form of hegemony, whether detrimental or advantageous to herself; for she does not challenge anyone else's right to the rights she claims for herself. For in her position, with her calling and with her resources, how could she take part in the human adventure and in the construction of peace on earth if she renounced the exercise of political imagination, if she accepted the protection of an outsider and left to others the task of shaping her own history and behavior in the world?
In 1914 H. G. Wells predicted that peaceful nuclear energy might profoundly affect the relations between nations. In his remarkable The World Set Free: A Story of Mankind Wells foretold the invention of the nuclear bomb and its use in war. After this, said Wells, would come a new age of plenty, based on the availability of cheap and unlimited energy. In this energy-abundant world, adventitious maldistributions of natural resources would no longer be a cause of international strife. The world would become a much more stable place if energy, ubiquitous and cheap, could replace other raw materials: if, say, natural hydrocarbons were replaced by hydrocarbons derived from limestone, water and energy; or if unfertile deserts were rendered fertile by huge desalting complexes driven with the new energy source. Nuclear energy was, to use the current phrase, the ultimate "technological fix": by its exploitation, man could satisfy all of his material wants. And if man's material wants were satisfied, then it seemed to Wells that the world would become a more stable place, especially if the big bomb were there to enforce the peace.
The search for affluence is the pursuit of our time. Increasingly, however, we are uncertain where this search will lead, both for the industrial countries and for the developing countries. How may affluence, in concert with other factors, work to reshape the world over the next 30 years, and how will this changed world look from an international point of view? Many factors in addition to increasing wealth will be at work. We cannot be sure what these are and how they are working, much less what role affluence itself will play in the process.
Our reactions to Soviet foreign policy have a way of jumping from one extreme to another, both in the long and short run, with more regard for changing superficial appearances than permanent objective factors. During the last year of the Second World War, we tended to idealize the Russians, Stalin became "Uncle Joe" to be charmed by Roosevelt into coöperation, and the United Nations, having done away with "power politics," was supposed to be the vehicle of that coöperation. From 1947 onwards, the Kremlin was perceived as the headquarters of the devil on earth, causing all that was wrong with the world and, more particularly, scheming the destruction of the United States. These extreme swings of the pendulum can also be observed in much shorter time spans.
There must be something about Latin America which invites generalization. It could be the common Iberian ancestry-although North America's British roots do not appear to have had the same effect-or the common religion, or simply the legitimate fact of relative ignorance about too many countries which have long remained outside the mainstream of international interest. Even when there is an awareness of diversity, it is often accompanied by impatience at this unhelpful "balkanization," a desire to conceptualize the unwieldy region into an homogeneous, manageable whole. This is a problem peculiar to Latin America; an important political change-say, in Greece-is unlikely to be accepted as a valid indicator of the direction of European affairs generally, let alone as a satisfactory solution for domestic problems in France or Finland. But when a major political change takes place in a Latin American country, the immediate temptation-which few resist-is to see it not only as a portent of things to come elsewhere in Latin America, but also as a possible answer to problems faced by other nations in the region.
Since it seized power in 1968 the Peruvian military régime has constantly and somewhat arrogantly dramatized itself as being nationalist and revolutionary. These two terms are not evidence of any great originality in Latin America. Nationalism-of the Left or of the Right-is a common attribute of most of the 20 Latin American republics, once compared by the Guatemalan writer Juan José Arevalo to sardines trying to escape from the voracious North American shark. Some of the manifestations of a nationalist current now running more strongly than ever south of the Rio Grande are the disastrous armaments race, the persistence of anachronistic border disputes, the justification being made of strictly national values, the stagnation of the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA) and the deadlock in the Central American Common Market, the refusal of certain countries to include themselves in what is considered to be the most ignominious region of the third world and the justifiable desire for recovery of national resources.
In 1964 the army and the technocrats seized power in Brazil. Forging an alliance with industrial and financial interests, this coalition has revitalized a sagging economy and made sweeping political changes. The authoritarian and efficient régime that has emerged is cheered by business and at least tacitly accepted by the middle classes prizing their greater economic security. A smaller number among the 90,000,000 Brazilians have deplored the destruction of democratic forms and the severe curbs on political and civil rights. But this opposition has hardly affected the evolution toward a new political-economic system.
Wladyslaw Gomulka's place in Polish history is assured. He was a central, even if highly controversial, figure in Poland's politics in the postwar period. Gomulka ruled the country longer than any other Pole since the eighteenth century-including Jozef Pilsudski, who governed Poland through most of the interwar years.
Since September of 1970 a renewal of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis has been in prospect Highly placed White House sources reported that the Soviet Union had begun work on a submarine base on the southern coast of Cuba at Cienfuegos, a base which could repair and refuel missile-firing submarines of the Soviet Navy. Warnings were issued that this would be viewed with the "utmost seriousness" by the United States as a violation of the 1962 agreement by which land-based missiles were withdrawn from Cuba. Cited explicitly were President Kennedy's words that peace would be assured only "if all offensive missiles are removed from Cuba and kept out of the Hemisphere in the future."
It is now eleven years since an ideological dispute between the Chinese and Soviet communist parties burst into the open on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of Lenin's birth, and almost eight years since the pattern of world affairs became definitely "triangular" with the open break between the two leading communist powers. Since then, the view of some Western dogmatists that personal rivalry between Khrushchev and Mao Tse-tung for the control of "world communism" was the only cause of the rift was plainly refuted as it continued after Khrushchev's fall; but at the opposite extreme, forecasts about tension between the two communist giants building up steadily toward nuclear war appear hardly more plausible at the present time. What events have tended to show so far is rather the persistence of controlled conflict between Moscow and Peking, with the ups and downs of crisis and relative détente familiar from other great-power conflicts of the nuclear age. A new wave of speculation has been generated in recent months by the efforts at a normalization of Sino-Soviet state relations and the subsequent revival of bitter polemics over the Polish December crisis, by the shifts in the Chinese party leadership since the end of the cultural revolution; and by the approach of the 24th Congress of the CPSU. These may justify one more attempt to analyze the factors underlying this strange relationship and its possible impact on the future.
The International Labor Organization is in crisis, a crisis in which the United States is deeply involved. The question now is whether the crisis can be used creatively. Conflict may open the possibility of changes which would never have been introduced into an institution pursuing its established routine. Such changes may never have been in the minds of those who initiated the crisis. But a crisis is a collective drama, in the course of which some actors may be able to redefine the issues so as to bring about a significant change in the dénouement.
When President Kennedy came to office in 1961, he was startled to learn that almost 700 American soldiers, more than half of whom were members of the Special Forces, were in Laos, while about 500 Soviet troops were there providing logistics support to the local communist forces, the Pathet Lao and their North Vietnamese allies.