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Just a few years ago, multinational enterprises were busily and profitably occupied in spreading their subsidiaries across the globe. Today, the world is awash with actions and proposals that would restrain the multinational enterprise and would alter its relations to nation-states.
Doldrums or depression? The meaning of the latest economic indicators may be unclear, but at best they are signaling a pause in the economic recovery of the major industrialized nations and a new wave of political malaise. The speeches read by financial officials at the October International Monetary Fund-World Bank meetings in Manila extolled the economic improvements expected in 1976. Regrettably, however, most of these set pieces had been written before the August holidays, and when the ministers returned home many were confronted with the stark reality of economic stagnation, persistent inflationary pressure and balance-of-payments deficits. The first question, therefore, is whether the journalists are correct in labeling the current economic scene as a pause in the recovery or whether, in fact, it is the onset of a premature cyclical downturn.
We often speak of a "new policy" of the French Communist Party. This is, in fact, one of the major subjects of political debate in France. The question is all the more relevant because the prospect of an electoral success of the Left in France, followed by the formation of a government by the various parties of the Left and thus including Communist ministers in significant posts, is a realistic one. This would not be a totally unprecedented event: as a matter of fact, from 1944 to 1947, there were already in France Communist ministers who held important and responsible posts (Vice President of the Cabinet, Minister of National Defense, Minister of Aviation, Minister of Labor, Minister of Industrial Production, Minister of Health). But I must admit that, 30 years later, the situation is not the same. Many things have changed in our country and in the world. New questions have arisen. They call for new answers.
The issue of China "joining the world" is an old one. There have long been contacts between China and other civilizations, yet the Middle Kingdom was for most of the time either superior or passive (or a blend of both) toward others. And once they discovered Chinese civilization, Europeans for their part often took China for fantasy rather than reality. Voltaire, like foreign self-styled Maoists today, tried to join China to the world philosophically by finding preferred universal values there, using reluctant China as a distant lever against a close-at-hand society he disliked.
Over the past five years, there has been much debate about the proper respective roles of the President and the Congress in the field of foreign affairs. Most of the new interest in this topic is attributable to the conduct of a series of Presidents regarding Vietnam; a part of the interest arises out of the special aggravant of Watergate. As has happened periodically in American history when the people and the Congress have been unhappy with a President's performance, the pendulum of power has swung eastward on Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol. Out of the recent executive-legislative tug-of-war have come a new War Powers Act, undertaking to give the Congress a larger role in future commitments of U.S. forces, and legislation designed to provide a greater degree of congressional oversight over the activities of the intelligence community. The decline in presidential prestige has also made it easier for the Congress to stymie the executive branch on specific foreign policy issues, and made it possible for special interest subconstituencies to exert determining influence on national policy through local pressure on members of the Congress.
Among the problems experienced by democratic societies in managing their foreign affairs, none have been more beset with dilemmas both moral and practical, nor accompanied by more dispute and self-doubt concerning fundamental aspects of the democratic faith, than those arising as a consequence of relations with authoritarian regimes.
Comparisons of the seagoing armed forces of the Soviet Union and the United States are much in the news nowadays, and they are much in what happens behind the news. When our Secretary of State visits Moscow, or shuttles between capitals in Africa or the Middle East, he doubtless does not dwell on specific comparisons of military forces in his political talks, but the armed strength of our nation resonates in his words. Foreign policy transcends military capability, yet that capability tends to limit choices. Great wasteful wars have broken out in our century partly because of misperceived comparisons of armed forces. And war is as often a collapse as it is a continuation of foreign policy.
The United States Navy has become the most unsettled of all the uniformed services, its role and capability in fulfilling national strategy clouded by controversy. In the past year, President Ford has sent two different shipbuilding requests to the Congress, to which the House and the Senate have added their own distinct and separate versions. Adding to the turmoil have been sharply varying perceptions of the Soviet naval threat. Many observers claim that significantly higher shipbuilding programs are needed due to the numerical and technological advances of the Soviet Navy. Others counter that the United States is more than holding its own in numbers of oceangoing warships, and that technological gains do not help Soviet fleets escape the geographical bottlenecks barring easy access to blue water.
Although he had understood that the Chinese were "droll in shape and appearance," George Washington was in 1785 taken aback to learn that they were not white. For their part, the Chinese viewed Americans as a new and insignificant breed of Europeans and, like the Europeans, barbarian, intrusive, hairy and malodorous.
It is tempting to view the evolution of U.S. foreign economic policy from 1776 to 1976 as one from isolationism to participation to leadership of the world economic system, a process now starting to show signs of reversal. In terms of the theory of private and public goods, this country for some 170 years looked after its private national interest, then spent a quarter of a century playing a leadership role, pursuing at the same time what it conceived as the public international interest, before exhausting itself and perhaps turning back exclusively to its own affairs. Or, in Albert Hirschman's brilliant model of relations within social groupings, the country has moved from "exit" to "loyalty" to "voice"-first a participatory voice and then the voice of command-and may be again heading for the exit.