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What foreign policy will arise from the ashes of Watergate-and how it can gain that public consensus without which no foreign policy can hope to succeed-are questions we need to address now. Drift, debate, division are the inevitable aftermath of recent events; and it will take time and leadership-both in short supply-to discover, to create and to build upon a viable consensus.
Ever since there have been organized societies-whether tribes, city-states, nation-states or empires-there has been war among them. Indeed, the conduct of war, if only for defense, was what brought such societies into existence to begin with, and until recently it has remained one of their principal functions. Until our own times, therefore, such societies have felt no compunctions in principle about the open resort, with due formality, to organized physical violence against one another. Now, however, as the twentieth century approaches its last quarter, a combination of developments raises questions about the future of this traditional activity, not excluding the question of whether it has any future at all.
The barometer of tension has risen and fallen many times during the last 26 years or so of our relationship with the Soviet Union. While some fear the present abatement is no more than a lull or a truce, it seems probable that we are on our way to some new stage. What the nature of this stage may be, however, has not yet become clear in our public discourse, nor have we begun to clarify for ourselves the direction in which we would like to shape events, to the extent that it lies within our power to do so. Despite the distractions of our time, there is an urgency to the task, for decisions have to be made and they should be governed by a perspective that is larger than our immediate national preoccupations.
There is hardly any doubt that the Soviet leadership has adopted a more flexible and more moderate foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis the Western powers. Some people already speak in terms of an "opening to the West." This change was apparently made in early 1969 and has been reflected, among other things, in the treaty between West Germany and the U.S.S.R. in August 1971; in the Berlin agreement of 1971; in President Nixon's trip to Moscow and the Soviet-American agreement signed there in May 1972; lastly and most clearly in the recent trips of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev to West Germany and to the United States. The agreements which have been concluded make it clear that this is not only a new, but a long-term policy. Moreover, the tone in which the Soviet press speaks about the West is much too moderate to be overlooked.
Let me begin with a story. It occurs in a backward rural area of Panama. Perhaps it may help toward a better understanding, in simple terms, of the larger subject of the Americas.
Ten years after President Kennedy stood at the Berlin Wall and proclaimed, "Ich bin ein Berliner," his sometime rival Richard Nixon is about to make his own Grand Tour of the Old World. The very notion of a Grand Tour calls up the Jamesian theme of an innocent abroad. One might ask whether President Nixon will discover, as did the Jamesian hero, often to his sorrow, that innocence and goodwill are not enough for such an undertaking; the ability to deal with subtleties and complexities is the necessary virtue in order to apprehend the European experience. But then, President Nixon is not going alone, and, unlike his avowed model, Woodrow Wilson, he is unlikely to abandon his Colonel House after his disembarkation. On the contrary, he will most likely leave it to his European-born adviser, Henry Kissinger, to guide him through the labyrinth of European diplomacy.
For nearly two decades the strategic nuclear armaments of the Soviet Union and the United States have been great enough for each to hold the other's civilian population as hostage against a devastating nuclear attack. Living with this situation has not been and will not be easy: it has become, quite simply, one of the major tensions of modern life. Yet the mutual-hostage relationship has been given credit, and probably justly so, for the prevention of massive world wars.
Relations between the Canadian and U.S. governments are probably more strained than at any time in living memory. The difficulties are not of the same order of magnitude as those between decidedly competitive or unfriendly neighbors, but they are enough to make uncomfortable a relationship which for at least three decades had been presumed to be, and was in fact, almost ideal. During that period, and indeed generally going back much further, both countries assumed their interests seldom differed significantly in either multilateral diplomacy or in matters related to North America; with this assumption, whatever differences arose were handled with discretion and forbearance.
The next logical step in the Asian quadrille is Japanese-Soviet rapprochement. To state the obvious, by its détente with China in 1971 the United States finally recognized the Sino-Soviet rift and ended the bipolar cold war. Partly in response, the Soviet Union restrained its own rivalry with the United States by signing in May 1972 a treaty limiting missile buildups. China then preempted any possible Soviet-Japanese entente by ending her hostility toward Japan and in September opening diplomatic relations with Tokyo for the first time in a generation.
Writing in 1969 Henry Kissinger commented that "the United States is no longer in a position to operate programs globally; it has to encourage them. It can no longer impose its preferred solution; it must seek to evoke it. In the forties and fifties, we offered remedies; in the late sixties and in the seventies our role will have to be to contribute to a structure that will foster the initiative of others. . . . This task requires a different kind of creativity and another form of patience than we have displayed in the past."
In South Africa today there exist pressures for change, superficial and potentially far-reaching, complementary and contradictory, deriving from a variety of sources: economic, political, Black, White, foreign and domestic. The dynamics of the situation suggest an image of a series of cogs whose varying and opposing motions and alternate meshing and disengagement produce erratic and undirected movement.