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In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when it was fashionable to speak of international problems in terms of "Questions" to be solved, the "Irish Question" proved particularly intractable for successive British governments. For Gladstone in 1886 it was "the long vexed and troubled relations between Great Britain and Ireland which exhibit to us the one and only conspicuous failure of the political genius of our race." He devoted much of his later political life to the question but his attempts to solve it were unsuccessful.
The end of the bipolar postwar world" has been acknowledged by the latest presidential State of the World message. Although it is elliptic in describing the new design for a lasting and stable "structure of peace," there is little doubt that the blueprint for the future is inspired by the past. It is the model of the balance of power which moderated, if not the aspirations at least the accomplishments, of rulers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It restrained violence (without curtailing wars). It provided enough flexibility to ensure a century of global peace after the Congress of Vienna, despite drastic changes in the relative strengths and fortunes of the main actors.
In the issue of Time of January 3, 1972, President Nixon is quoted as follows: "We must remember the only time in the history of the world that we have had any extended period of peace is when there has been balance of power. It is when one nation becomes infinitely more powerful in relation to its potential competitor that the danger of war arises. So I believe in a world in which the United States is powerful. I think it will be a safer world and a better world if we have a strong, healthy United States, Europe, Soviet Union, China, Japan, each balancing the other, not playing one against the other, an even balance."
"The Limits to Growth" is a brief, forceful, easily read polemic which has already generated many times its own weight in enthusiastic encomia and equally strong condemnations.[i] It advances a familiar, indeed fashionable, thesis. The goals and institutions of our present world society stimulate population growth and production increase at a rate that cannot be sustained. Further, and perhaps less familiarly, we are now about a generation from the point of no return, after which the world must suffer a catastrophic drop in numbers and wealth, no matter what is then done to restrain further growth. The argument is presented with a sufficient panoply of graphs, flow diagrams, references to the World Model and the new discipline of System Dynamics, and invocations of the computer to produce an aura of scientific authority for the conclusions. They have the additional weight of the endorsement of a prestigious private international group of respected businessmen, officials and academics, The Club of Rome, in a commentary appended to the study and signed by its executive committee. It is my contention that the authors' analysis is gravely deficient and many of their strongest and most striking conclusions unwarranted. None the less, it draws attention to a number of difficult and important problems which must be faced, including the question of whether its whole approach is helpful or harmful in dealing with these real problems.
In his first speech to the General Assembly, the leader of Peking's delegation to the United Nations, Chiao Kuan-hua, stated on behalf of his government: "I once again solemnly declare that at no time and under no circumstances will China be the first to use nuclear weapons." And he continued: "If the United States and the Soviet Union really and truly want disarmament, they should commit themselves not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. This is not something difficult to do."
President Nixon's visit to Ottawa in April was preceded by two White House pronouncements that made far more news in Canada than they did in the United States. On both occasions for quite different reasons the President's words struck Canadians as nothing less than fantastic. At a White House news conference on September 16, 1971, the President unintentionally made news from coast to coast in Canada by announcing: "After the Japanese were here I found that, both from the information they gave and the information we had ourselves, that Japan is our biggest customer in the world." Coming as it did hard on the trauma induced in Canada by the August 15 surcharge, the President's confusion of Japan for Canada as the best customer of the United States seemed to Canadians as all but unbelievable literally and disturbingly fantastic.
Whatever its other consequences, last winter's brief war in South Asia broke the mold that since 1947 had cast India-Pakistan relations into a continuing confrontation punctuated by three military conflicts. Now, for better or worse, the subcontinent with its 700,000,000 people has been transformed into a ménage à trois, linking together three national members in new relationships.
Over the past century the politics of East Asia have been influenced more profoundly by the Sino-Japanese relationship than by any other single factor. Because both the two present-day societies have roots in classical Chinese civilization-only a "heritage" for each today-Chinese and Japanese politicians before World War II often argued that there was a special binding relationship between them. Japan's written language and much of its religious, artistic and moral civilization derive from Chinese culture, while Japan was the primary influence both positively and negatively on whole generations of Chinese revolutionaries, some of whom are still alive and active today. Perhaps because of this common heritage of civilization and mutual influence, the enormous misunderstandings, wars, threats and depredations that have characterized Sino-Japanese relations for a century have tended to take on the ferocity of a family or civil feud. Even though well-educated Chinese and Japanese can learn each other's language rather easily, it is doubtful whether any two peoples in the twentieth century have approached each other with more profoundly misleading stereotypes.
Thirteen years after Fidel Castro's rise to power, Washington and Havana remain locked in mutually uncompromising positions. The continuing climate of recriminations and reprisals in U.S.-Cuban relations now stands in sharp contrast with the dramatic and sudden thaw in U.S.-Chinese relations that began in April 1971. In fact, both Washington and Havana seemed to have seized upon the Chinese development to reaffirm their postures of mutual intransigence.
A Great deal of information has been published about the military strategy and forces of the People's Republic of China, some through official Chinese publications, much more through the writings of Western analysts. Most of this information concerns China's massive ground forces, with a respectable amount of coverage given to her air arm and even to her nascent nuclear missile forces. What about China's navy? "Didn't know they had one," is the derisive response one is most likely to receive.
For five years between 1925 and 1929, a certain portion of mankind, like those parched travelers in the desert who think they have glimpsed the oasis which will save them, believed the gate to lasting peace was at hand. This, as we now know, was only a mirage. But such a mirage had never before existed. People had never believed so fervently in the blessings of peace, or hoped so passionately that peace would be perpetual. Optimism rose to new heights. "Away with cannon and machineguns: instead, conciliation, arbitration, and peace!" At the meeting of the League of Nations on September 10, 1926, when Germany, recently defeated, was received as a member, the French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand touched a new intensity of emotion with these celebrated words.