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Almost exactly a year ago, the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) raised the price of their oil sharply. With subsequent adjustments, the average price of Middle East oil stood in late 1974 at about $10 per barrel, roughly four times the mid-1973 price.
In the summer of 1929 a few prophets foresaw the coming stock market crash. Only one gifted with second sight could have foreseen the sequel-a world depression historians would single out by calling Great. In the United States at any rate, most of the business community continued to believe in permanent prosperity, until the bottom fell out. In contrast to this optimism on the brink of the abyss, the mood of business in the United States, Western Europe and Japan today is deeply pessimistic. The doomsayers among us see the current world economic slowdown not as an ordinary recession of the familiar postwar variety but as the onset of something closer to what happened in the early 1930s.
The world economy is currently in a state of disequilibrium of a magnitude not seen since the aftermath of World War II. The symptoms of underlying stress have been manifested over the past two years in the form of raw-material shortages, a food and fertilizer crisis, a dramatic rise in petroleum prices, and finally, worldwide inflation and threats of impending financial disaster.
In an editorial published in Paris the day after Robert Kennedy's assassination by Sirhan Sirhan, Le Monde wrote that this "criminal gesture by a Palestinian nationalist on this 5th of June 1968-anniversary of the Six-Day War-takes on a symbolic value. . . . Never have despair and hatred been so intense in a people who consider themselves deprived of their homeland."
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), long an amorphous but powerful force present in the wings, has emerged from October's Arab summit conference at Rabat as a leading formal actor in the tangled relationships of the Middle East, a role reinforced by the PLO's reception at the United Nations in November. In one sense, this is a desirable development. Ever since the basic configuration of Middle Eastern international politics was set in the aftermath of World War II the Palestinians have been deprived not only of statehood, but also (and concomitantly) of the physical and moral resources which come with formal authority. In an era when in some parts of the world statehood is increasingly becoming an empty shell, the nation-state is alive and vigorous in the Middle East and elsewhere in the developing world. In this sense, therefore, the Palestinians deserve their place in the sun.
On September 16, 1970, in a background briefing to the press, Henry Kissinger spoke about the September 4 electoral victory of Salvador Allende in the following way: The election in Chile brought about a result in which the man backed by the Communists, and probably a Communist himself, had the largest number of votes by 30,000 over the next man, who was a conservative. He had about 36.1 percent of the votes. So he had a plurality. . . .
At least one African in four is a Nigerian; there are more Nigerians than Germans or Frenchmen or Britishers. Nigeria is now America's second-largest supplier of crude oil. Yet most Americans know nothing of this vast country, or if anything, only that there was a bloody civil war a few years back.
Thirty-three years after William J. Donovan set up the first genuine American secret service, and as the first generation of American secret operations officers fades away into unclassified retirement, the American Intelligence Service, or AIS, faces a new Administration, new tasks in a new non-confrontation world, and new, as well as old, suspicions. Its belated establishment led initially to a certain amount of hostility both within the foreign affairs establishment and vis-à-vis the internal security organization that had come into being after World War I, and these feelings have never wholly died out. And American secret operations have developed in their brief career an unenviable public image as well, both domestically and abroad.
Viewed through Vietnamese lenses, Vietnam has always been the center of the world and Indochina the center of the universe. And in the late 1960s, it seemed as if America shared that peculiar vision of the world. The war in Vietnam became the scar on the national psyche. It dominated our national agenda, flickering into our living rooms each night through television, fueling a series of firestorms of protest, laying the groundwork for the dislocations that still hobble the nation's economy, driving thousands of young Americans into exile and an American President from office. In the end, 2.6 million Americans served in that far-off land and 56,000 died there in what had become, without our quite knowing why, the nation's longest war.