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The best that history can give us is to arouse our enthusiasm"-Goethe's famous reflection on the value of history has found little favor with historical scholars who can rightly claim that a careful analysis of past events and of the structure of the society of other times can help us to understand the complex character of the world in which we live. Yet if we consider the impact of history in more general and more primitive terms, there is much truth in Goethe's statement. The re-evocation of outstanding national achievements and of a nation's great leaders reinforces social coherence and creates pride and confidence in the future. The commemoration of victories, the observance of the anniversaries of crucial years in the history of a nation-as much as such celebrations have the danger of stimulating the worst instead of the best in the national character-have a justification in revealing the values on which a society was built and in strengthening the bonds that hold it together. When Machiavelli stated that, from time to time, every society must return to its beginnings, "its principles," he gave a conscious formulation to that which every country has practiced in the past and will continue to practice in the future.
Social scientists write many books and papers nowadays about the development of "transnationalism"-meaning the impact on interstate relations of unofficial contacts and communications-as if this were something new on the face of the earth. Actually, over the long reach of history, it is the autarkic state or society that is the rarity. Certainly no interstate relationship has been more permeated or effectively influenced by transnational factors than that between Britain and the United States. No two societies have had a more profound impact upon each other, in terms of racial stock, political and juridical concepts, culture in all its meanings. And personal dealings have repeatedly affected specific historical events since American independence-for example, British banking houses largely financed the Louisiana Purchase, while private messages between Richard Cobden and Charles Sumner defused an imminent confrontation between the two governments over the Trent affair in 1863.
When, in the year 1917, Russian society was overtaken by the most tremendous and far-reaching upheaval it had ever known, American opinion-makers were poorly prepared to understand either the meaning or the implications of this event.
The existence of a "Communist question" in Italy is now generally recognized, both in Italy and abroad, whatever approach one may take to this question. Similarly, a "Communist question" exists in France and in other West European countries. While these various "questions" may seem to represent a single phenomenon affecting the situation of a number of West European countries, they actually take quite different forms from one nation to the next. And this is only natural when you consider the differences in the histories of the countries involved and in the political proposals advanced by the various Communist Parties. I intend here to indicate only some of the characteristic features of the "question" in Italy. Obviously this requires some reflection on Italian history of the past 30 years and answers to a number of questions: Why has this question emerged so acutely today? What are the political goals-in domestic and international policy-of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), the party that is the subject and object of this "question" and just what is this party? What would be the consequences for Italy's foreign relations of Communist participation in a parliamentary majority or government?
Italy is in the throes of that most difficult of predicaments, a state of transition. Transition to a more open and egalitarian society; transition to new economic and financial arrangements; transition to a more efficient administrative machinery; transition to greater participation in decisions concerning the place of work; transition to a more important role for women; transition to an expanded influence for parties of the Left. The transition is made all the more difficult by the fact that the hectic, unbalanced economic growth of the sixties, which made tolerable the (lower) pace of social change, has given way to the twin evils of stagnation and inflation. Attention abroad has been largely focused on the drift toward impotence of the government, the crumbling of established authority, the current economic and financial crisis, the turbulent division of society and the growing ungovernability of the country, and above all on the advance of a party calling itself communist, apparently the only one capable of filling the void, since the balance between the parties of the Left in Italy is different from that in other Western European countries as a strong Socialist party does not exist. But the wheels of history are turning fast not only in the political sphere but also in the economic field, and transformations in the latter are both cause and effect of the socio-political changes of the past decade.
Like motherhood and apple pie (zero population growth? food additives?), corporate bribery abroad is not the simple, safe issue it seems at first blush. Sharp division and delay have characterized its consideration by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service, and by several Committees of the U.S. Congress, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the International Chamber of Commerce. In the United States, a Presidential Cabinet-level Task Force-and in the United Nations, the Committee on Transnational Corporations-have been asked to untangle the problem; but no solution is yet agreed upon.
What does Québec want? The question is an old cliché in Canadian political folklore. Again and again, during the more than 30 years since the end of World War II, it's been raised whenever Québec's attitudes made it the odd man out in the permanent pull and tug of our federal-provincial relations. In fact, it's a question which could go back to the British conquest of an obscure French colony some 15 years before American Independence, and then run right through the stubborn survival of those 70,000 settlers and their descendants during the following two centuries.
Like Henry Kissinger, most American commentators have interpreted the Soviet intervention in Angola almost solely as an extension of Soviet cold war competition with the West into Africa. In this perspective the outcome in Angola has been viewed as a major gain for the Soviet Union against the West, with the Russians capitalizing on the American disadvantage in its years of support for Portugal. With the South African intervention against the Soviet-backed liberation movement, the Russians also scored an important "diplomatic triumph," as the Organization of African Unity swung around to overwhelming support for the Soviet protégé, against the Angolan leaders who had called in the South Africans. In all this the United States and the West were the big losers.
An unanticipated development in the world nuclear marketplace has suddenly transformed the problem of nuclear proliferation from a potential to an immediate danger. The recent decisions by West Germany and France to sell nuclear fuel facilities to Brazil and Pakistan, respectively, mark the first sharp divergence by major industrial nations from long-established U.S. nonproliferation policy. The cornerstone of this policy has been the general practice of exporting power reactors and low-enriched uranium fuel, neither of which can be applied directly to weapons-making, and of not exporting nuclear fuel plants capable of enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium in a form suitable for direct use in atomic bombs.
Concern and frustration over the rapid spread of nuclear reactors, uranium enrichment facilities and reprocessing plants outside of the nuclear weapons club, to countries such as Brazil, South Korea, and the Union of South Africa, have recently led to suggestions that the United States place a ban on the export of conventional reactor technology, advanced reactor technology such as the breeder reactor, and fuel cycle technology until more acceptable safeguards institutions have been created. For example, in recent congressional testimony, David Lilienthal, the first chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, suggested that such a unilateral U.S. strategy might be adopted.
The power center of American foreign policy has seldom taken the United Nations very seriously. It has used the organization when convenient as an instrument for the pursuit of traditional foreign policy goals. Pursuing a global policy, U.S. officials may even have been surprised at the number of times they found a global body of use. Nevertheless, their resort to the United Nations was episodic, and they continued to regard it as marginal to the conduct of international relations.