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Anyone who, in these weeks and months of the "oil crisis," is asked to forecast the future development of international economic relations and who looks for fixed data and reliable trends to support his forecast will soon run into serious difficulties. Even after the mid-February Energy Conference in Washington, the impression, disturbing in many respects, remains that the world economy has entered a phase of extraordinary instability and that its future course is absolutely uncertain; it may bring stability, but also still greater instability. More integration, closer coöperation, an improved division of labor may increase the overall prosperity of nations. But the future course may just as well be characterized by disintegration, national isolation and the search for more self-sufficiency, thereby enhancing the contrasts already existing in the world.
The quadrupling of oil import prices in one year, quite apart from Arab supply cutbacks, has greatly increased the urgency and gravity of the questions that were lurking in the shadows even in the earlier, balmier days of the energy crisis.1 No less an authority than the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the combination of oil shortages and price increases in 1974 is likely to produce "a staggering disequilibrium in the global balance of payments . . . that will place strains on the monetary system far in excess of any that have been experienced since the war." And Treasury Secretary Shultz has stated that the recent oil price increases raised "literally unmanageable" problems for many nations.
New tremors in the world economy threaten to put a stop to the painstaking efforts by which American trade policy is being, with much uncertainty, adapted to modern times. The danger should be fought off-but that will require still more adaptation.
Over the past three years, a dramatic change has taken place in the world market for one key raw material, oil, whose production and reserves are heavily concentrated among the so-called developing countries of the world. Now, as part of the energy crisis, the developed countries of the world face the certain prospect of very much higher fuel costs in coming years, and the continuing threat that adequate supplies may be withheld either for political reasons or in a process of rather one-sided bargaining with the key producer countries in the now-famous OPEC grouping (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).
Events of the past two years have made food an increasingly worrisome item in household budgets and in the budgets of nations. In early 1974, food prices to the American consumer were 25 percent greater than two years earlier. This reflected dramatic increases in farm beef prices, while farm corn prices were double and wheat prices triple those of early 1972. Clearly something new has happened to a food market which has historically fed Americans well and for a uniquely small proportion of their income.
The year 1973 may still go down as the "Year of Europe," though not for the reasons Henry Kissinger had in mind when he christened it that, in his April 23 speech last year. It will be rather that the crises of the past year have made the choices for Europe clearer than ever; they have further shown that if European lack of will and vision led to nothing more serious than division and weakness before, they now are perfectly capable of leading the European Economic Community to disintegration.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." What Dickens wrote of the last quarter of the 18th century fits the present period all too well. The quest for a world structure that secures peace, advances human rights and provides the conditions for economic progress-for what is loosely called world order-has never seemed more frustrating but at the same time strangely hopeful.
National security, once a trumpet call to the nation to man the ramparts and repel invaders, has fallen into disrepute. A victim of complications arising from the Vietnam syndrome and from its own internal contradictions, it has come to signify in many minds unreasonable military demands, excessive defense budgets, and collusive dealings within the military-industrial complex. Watergate revelations have fueled suspicions that it may be little more than a cover for executive encroachments upon civil liberties and a free press. As Madame Roland lamented of liberty, even crimes are committed in its name.
The speaker is a retired colonel in the American army. He has seen three wars at close hand and still limps as the result of an encounter with a German land mine. When he talks about antipersonnel weapons, and about fighting a war in which civilians may be in the line of fire, he can still do so with complete authority and without reservations: "I'd just as soon see a dozen civilians go before one soldier."
On the night of September 22, 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos imposed martial law on the Republic of the Philippines. Mr. Marcos since has been ruling the archipelago nation under a system that some of his aides call "constitutional authoritarianism" and others of them call "authoritarian constitutionalism." It is, in fact, a military-supported dictatorship, albeit of a rather unrepressive variety.
The high respect, almost adulation, in which Nehru was long held in India had dwindled sharply by the time he died, and immediately after his death criticism of his record grew in his own country almost into denigration. That tone was reversed with his daughter's accession to the prime ministership, and now there is purposeful emphasis in India on all that was best in Nehru, with a panoply of institutional commemorations of his name.