- New Issue
- Books & Reviews
- About Us
- Browse by Issue:
The 1973 War has had an enormous impact on all the complex of factors that enter into the Arab-Israeli conflict. The study of these changes will take many years and many hands. In this article, an attempt is made to examine that impact in several areas that seem to have a particular bearing on the immediate future.
Whatever may be the final outcome of this autumn's Middle East crisis, accompanied, as it has been, by a major political upheaval in the United States, it seems certain that it has brought about a deterioration in relations between America and her European allies not easily remedied. Acknowledgment of this fact, indeed, appears to be common ground between the two sides of the Atlantic.
If the world should erupt before these words are in print, the fault is unlikely to lie with the policy of détente. So far, the advantages of détente have been somewhat more evident than the costs. The capacity of the two superpowers to communicate effectively in the white heat of the Middle East crisis, for instance, must surely be counted as a significant dividend.
No factor is more needful of fresh consideration in both the practice and study of American foreign policy than its domestic underpinnings. For despite the recent example of Vietnam, a war that created bitter domestic conflict which itself played back upon the war, the tendency lingers within the foreign-affairs community to frame policy exclusively in terms of the perceived requirements of the international environment. President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger, of course, hope to receive public support. But their plain inclination is less to submit the shaping and executing of foreign policy to the domestic political process than to make what minimal policy adjustments they must in order to keep themselves in control of the policy. For them, this is a matter of constitutional legitimacy as well as diplomatic necessity and, for the President, political advantage.
The Amendment submitted by Senator Henry Jackson to the Administration's pending Trade Reform bill, along with its counterpart in the House of Representatives, is a curious blend of foreign policy idealism and domestic politics. The exaggerated claims of both proponents and opponents in the long and often emotional debate over the Amendment cannot obscure the underlying issue, which is as old as the nation-state-whether and when should one nation apply pressure to alter those policies or practices of another which, if not exclusively "internal" in impact, are at least not clearly within the traditional foreign policy realm. Although any amendment enjoying the formal sponsorship of nearly four-fifths of the members of the Senate and nearly two-thirds of the members of the House appears almost certain to be passed in one form or another, both the Congress and the Administration must now think through more carefully the implications and consequences of enacting the Amendment in its present form.
Americans have always turned inward, into an awareness of themselves as a people-their provenance, their image in history, their mission in the world. Lately this self-awareness has taken on overtones of a sense of being at the end of the tether, a mordant feeling of disintegration and decay. In the early Republic, American nationalist identity had a healthy, assertive braggadocio about it, which seems to be replaced by a Hamlet-like loss of self-confidence, with an apocalyptic sense of doom for the civilization. On the Right it embodies a conviction that the sensate culture is pushing the society down the Gaderene slope of drugs-and-fornication to destruction. On the Left there is the vague sense that America is imperialist, fascist-oriented, caught in inner contradictions of class and ethnic struggles which will end in self-destructive wars or civil chaos.
Current diplomatic fashion tempts us to label 1974 the Year of the Sea. Negotiators from nearly every country are about to assemble in Caracas to revise comprehensively the principles and rules that have guided ocean affairs for several hundred years. The convening gavel at the Law of the Sea Conference, however, will signal both the denouement of intensive pre-Conference diplomacy and the arrival of the new era of ocean politics. The fashioning of a new public order for the oceans, adaptive to technological, economic and political developments now emerging, can hardly be accomplished by one conference or wrapped up in a single treaty. This effort will occupy statesmen for most of the remainder of the century, for it has become deeply entangled with the chronic international problems of the post cold-war period: reconciling national security requirements with the need to contain the arms race; finding rational, just and peaceful ways of allocating the world's supply of energy, food, and industrial raw materials; searching for syntheses between the competing demands of economic development and ecological care; narrowing the economic and political gaps between the poor and the affluent peoples; and, in general, managing the growing ability of nations to affect one another for ill or for good.
A striking aspect of the world reaction to the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende as President of Chile in September 1973 has been the widespread assumption that the ultimate responsibility for the tragic destruction of Chilean democracy lay with the United States. In a few quarters, the charge includes an accusation of secret U.S. participation in the coup. However, a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, headed by Senator Gale McGee, has just investigated this accusation and concluded that there is no evidence of any U.S. role whatever.
Christendom, Europe, or, more broadly, the Western world is customarily balanced with the Orient, the East, or more narrowly, Asia. This equation, however, is a false one. While the various lands of the West do in fact share a common historical tradition and in many cases similar cultural traits, Asia is divided into major cultural traditions as far removed from one another as from the West. There are vast psychological and cultural gulfs between the Arabic-Islamic world of West Asia and North Africa, the Hindu-Buddhist civilization of India and Southeast Asia, and the Sinic world of East Asia. But within each of these major cultural units there do exist psychological and cultural bonds in some ways comparable to those that unite the countries of the West. This article explores the nature and strength of these bonds among the countries of East Asia-that is, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam-and the degree to which these affect their present political and strategic relations with one another and with countries outside this cultural grouping.
Among the issues on which Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill differed, none was more pregnant with meaning for the future than their respective assessments of the coming international role of China. The American President saw China as a potential major power, a force that would bulk large in the postwar era, particularly in Asia. The British Prime Minister regarded China as an "emerging society," to use the vernacular of today, one certain to be beset by multiple internal problems for the foreseeable future and hence incapable of sustaining a consistent, forceful international position. In retrospect, one can say that vital elements of truth lay with both assessments, and from this fact stem the complexities of Chinese foreign policy today.
More than a quarter of a century has now passed since Harry S. Truman proclaimed on March 12, 1947 that "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures." At the time, government officials, Congressmen, journalists and other elements of the articulate public vigorously debated the merits of the Truman Doctrine, and in the intervening years historians have kept the argument going. Defenders have seen the statement as the moment when Americans abandoned isolationism once and for all, finally accepting, however reluctantly, their full responsibilities as a world power. Critics, conversely, have seen it as the beginning of the long process by which the United States became a world policeman, committing resources and manpower all over the world in a futile attempt to contain a mythical monolith, the international Communist conspiracy. But despite their differences, critics and defenders of the Truman Doctrine tend to agree on two points: that the President's statement marked a turning point of fundamental importance in the history of American foreign policy; and that U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War grew logically, even inevitably, out of a policy Truman thus initiated.
It is man's nature to search the past for might-have-beens, paths not taken which if followed might have prevented tragedy and made the present safer. If only the United States had been blessed with Presidents of stature in the 1850s. . . . If only Britain and France had refused to tolerate Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936. . . .