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Seventy-FIVE years ago, Archibald Gary Coolidge, who later became the first Editor of Foreign Affairs, wrote a book with a theme and title entirely novel at that time, "The United States as a World Power." In it he made the first attempt to define the new role in the world then rapidly being assumed by the United States. He remarked that all nations divide mankind into two categories-themselves and everybody else. And he said that Americans would be just as prone as others to cherish the pleasing belief that they had grown great by their own virtues and the favor of a kindly Providence, whereas the progress of other states was marked by unscrupulous rapacity; hence, they would demand that American statesmen keep sharp watch lest nefarious foreigners take advantage of their good nature and honest simplicity. The accuracy of Mr. Coolidge's analysis was corroborated before long by the alacrity with which the American people accepted the idea that they had come into World War I altruistically, in order to make the world safe for democracy ("American" democracy); and again by their readiness to suppose that President Wilson and his advisers at Paris had been bamboozled by wily European statesmen. The latter conception was promoted by American isolationists who depicted the League of Nations as a naïve and useless affair and a trap to involve us in Old World power politics.
THE rich development of historical studies in the nineteenth century transformed men's views about their origins and the importance of growth, development and time. The causes of the emergence of the new historical consciousness were many and diverse. Those most often given are the rapid and profound transformation of human lives and thought in the West by the unparalleled progress of the natural sciences since the Renaissance, by the impact on society of new technology and, in particular, the growth of large- scale industry; the disintegration of the unity of Christendom and the rise of new states, classes, social and political formations, and the search for origins, pedigrees, connections with, or return to, a real or imaginary past. All of this culminated in the most transforming event of all-the French Revolution, which exploded, or at the very least profoundly altered, some of the most deeply rooted presuppositions and concepts by which men lived. It made men acutely conscious of change and excited interest in the laws that governed it.
Foreigners approaching a North China village in the early 1930s met the barking of ill-fed dogs and the stares of children covered with flies. Villagers had skin and scalp sores due to poor nutrition. Their inbred civility was that of peasants who were conscious of the guest-host relationship but ignorant of the outer world. Typically their strips of dusty farmland had few trees and little water, which only came out of wells laboriously, bucket by bucket. The long years of Japanese invasion and Nationalist-Communist civil war down to 1949 brought no improvement in this essentially medieval situation.
One of the great "ifs" and harsh ironies of history hangs on the fact that in January 1945, four and a half years before they achieved national power in China, Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai, in an effort to establish a working relationship with the United States, offered to come to Washington to talk in person with President Roosevelt. What became of the offer has been a mystery until, with the declassification of new material, we now know for the first time that the United States made no response to the overture. Twenty-seven years, two wars and x million lives later, after immeasurable harm wrought by the mutual suspicion and phobia of two great powers not on speaking terms, an American president, reversing the unmade journey of 1945, has traveled to Peking to treat with the same two Chinese leaders. Might the interim have been otherwise?
This year India celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of her independence. These have been years of change and turmoil everywhere. Deep surging forces have torn asunder our past colonial feudal structures and have combined with the tides sweeping the world to give our post- independence evolution its unique qualities. But our own unvarying concerns have been two: to safeguard our independence and to overcome the blight of poverty.
The problem of the control of foreign policy has been a perennial source of anguish for democracies. The idea of popular government hardly seems complete if it fails to embrace questions of war and peace. Yet the effective conduct of foreign affairs appears to demand, as Tocqueville argued long ago, not the qualities peculiar to a democracy but "on the contrary, the perfect use of almost all those in which it is deficient" Steadfastness in a course, efficiency in the execution of policy, patience, secrecy-are not these more likely to proceed from executives than from legislatures? But, if foreign policy becomes the property of the executive, what happens to democratic control? In our own times this issue has acquired special urgency, partly because of the Indochina War, with its aimless persistence and savagery, but more fundamentally, I think, because the invention of nuclear weapons has transformed the power to make war into the power to blow up the world. And for the United States the question of the control of foreign policy is, at least in its constitutional aspect, the question of the distribution of powers between the presidency and the Congress.
Through a history of alternating victory and defeat, attainment and frustration, achievement and disappointment, Egypt formed an attitude and determination. This we must understand in order to comprehend Egypt today.
The political tensions in Europe during the decade following the end of World War II effectively sterilized scientific collaboration or interchange between the Soviet Union and the West. A retrospective judgment is that the Soviets were reluctant to expose the appalling conditions in their country to Western eyes until they could reveal at least the beginnings of a physical and intellectual restoration from the devastation caused by the German invasion. Conversely, only essential Soviet emissaries were allowed to visit the West, because of the fear of the effect of comparisons with Western standards of comfort and culture.
Life on this planet is a fragile affair, a kind of miraculous microbial activity that flourishes on the thin film of air and water and decomposed rock which separates the uninhabitable core of the earth from the void of space. Over most of mankind's history, the existence of that environment has always been taken for granted, and human efforts have been devoted to "taming" it-that is, to altering that vital film in various ways to assure our easier survival. Now, with stunning suddenness we have come to the realization that the environment is not to be taken for granted after all- indeed that it may be on the verge of an irremediable deterioration. For if the calculations of a group of social and physical scientists are correct, it will take only another 50 years of population growth and economic expansion at present rates to cause a collapse of our life-supporting ambient, bringing mass famine in some areas, industrial breakdown in others, a drastic shortening of lifespans nearly everywhere.
"Wer von Europa spricht, hat unrecht," Bismarck said: "Whoever speaks of Europe is wrong." After reading a great deal of what has been written about Europe, one is tempted to agree with the old statesman. It has become increasingly difficult to get one's bearings. Are pro-Europeans for or against the Americans? For or against the Russians? For or against other Europeans? Can one find clear answers to these questions?
"The Bretton Woods system is dead." How often has that remark been made in the last year? Like most clichés, it blends truth and error and the problem is to know in what proportion. The ending of the dollar's convertibility into gold and its devaluation can certainly be taken to mark the end of the monetary system with which we have lived for most of the postwar period. But only some parts of that system worked as envisaged at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944. Other key attributes developed quite differently. Whatever monetary system comes next-perhaps it will bear the name of Nairobi where the International Monetary Fund meets in the fall of 1973- will certainly alter some of the Bretton Woods rules and practices but may also have some features closer to the original design than to the dollar standard of the past decades.
The dates May 22, 1947, and May 22, 1972, span exactly 25 years. On May 22, 1947, President Truman signed a congressional bill committing the United States to support Greece and Turkey against Soviet designs, and the United States thereby assumed overtly the direct leadership of the West in the containment of Soviet influence. Twenty-five years later to the day, another American President landed in Moscow, declaring to the Soviet leaders that "we meet at a moment when we can make peaceful coöperation a reality."
IN the years since the end of the Second World War, American foreign policy has consisted primarily of the effort to cope with two immensely difficult problems which the events of that war brought into being, neither of which had been adequately anticipated and which the discussions among the victor powers at the end of the war failed to solve. One was the question of how should be filled the great political vacuums created by the removal of the hegemonies recently exercised by Germany and Japan over large and important areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The uncertainty and emerging disagreement over the attendant questions concerned not only much of Central and Eastern Europe but also parts of East Asia that had been overrun by the Japanese, including-alas-Indochina; and the settlement of the Asian aspects of the problem came to involve not only the United States and the Soviet Union and the inhabitants of the affected territories themselves but also, with the completion of the Chinese Revolution, the new communist power in China.