- New Issue
- Books & Reviews
- About Us
- Browse by Issue:
The October 19 decision of the South African government to continue a policy of total repression of internal dissent all too clearly marks the end of one era in American-South African relations and opens a new and more dangerous period. Among the most ominous attributes of the repressive measures were the arrest of Percy Qoboza, editor of the World, the largest "black" newspaper in South Africa; the banning of Donald Woods, editor of the "white" Daily Dispatch; and the closure of the World itself. The effect of the government's action was to silence some of the major voices of moderation in the Republic. The arrest and then death of Steve Biko under highly suspicious circumstances had already removed another spokesman for a policy of evolutionary change in South African society.
During the past year, spokesmen in the Carter Administration have on various occasions urged us to be less preoccupied with the Soviet problem. Because of the rise of Soviet military power, it has been said, there was a tendency in recent administrations to see Soviet-American relations as the center of the universe and to pay inadequate attention to other forms of power and trends extant in international affairs, including some of the less than successful ventures of Soviet foreign policy in the past few years. President Carter, in a major address at Notre Dame University last May, suggested that we had been given to an "inordinate fear" of the Soviet Union and that it was time to approach our relations with Moscow with greater confidence.
The paradox of the concept of Eurocommunism is undoubtedly the combination of its extraordinary success in the United States and the skeptical treatment it has met since its birth in Europe in the countries concerned.
There is an anecdote going the rounds in Moscow these days. It seems that Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev were all riding together on a train. Suddenly the train lurched to a stop and remained immobile for an hour. What to do? Stalin ordered some soldiers on the train to shoot the conductor. They obeyed. But still the train did not move. Khrushchev ordered the rehabilitation of the conductor. This being done, the train still did not move. Everyone turned to Brezhnev for a solution. Brezhnev ordered all the passengers on the train to hold up their hands to their mouths and to whistle. Then, at least, they would think that the train was moving!
The United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC) have reached a fork in the road to normalizing relations. The high-level discussions between Chinese and American officials initiated during Presidential Assistant Henry Kissinger's July 1971 trip to Peking have been sustained now for six and a half years. Senior U.S. officials, including two Presidents, have made eleven visits to the Chinese capital.
Two new major actors are on the scene in Middle Eastern negotiations, dormant since the Sinai II troop disengagement agreement of September 1975. Jimmy Carter, a political newcomer inexperienced in international politics, is President of the United States, and the ancient militant, Menachem Begin, who never expected to become Israel's Prime Minister, is exactly that. While the President's mind is not set as yet on an American strategy for the Middle East, the Prime Minister's preconceptions were formed four decades ago. For nearly 40 years, Menachem Begin has not changed his essential position, modified his beliefs, or wavered in his commitment and dedication to the cause of Eretz Yisrael (land of Israel). The two leaders could not be more different in personality and style nor come from more widely differing political orientations. They do have in common a moral, principled, even puritanical stance and commitment, but there the similarity ends.
According to conventional wisdom, a failure to achieve a comprehensive agreement at the Law of the Sea Conference would have potentially disastrous consequences. A reappraisal of U.S. interests in these negotiations, however, indicates that this assumption is, at least in part, fallacious. The United States can best serve its proper interests and the world's by reorienting its Law of the Sea strategy and advancing a set of policies and initiatives that do not depend upon Conference approval for their beneficial effect.
After a generation of taking the availability of resources for granted, awareness of the politics of scarcity has mushroomed since the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 and the ensuing oil embargo. Clearly, access to resources such as oil, food, minerals and fresh water is now high on the agenda of global issues to be faced in the years ahead.
Twenty years ago, there were two polarized positions with respect to the implications of population trends: one pessimistic and the other optimistic. The pessimists asserted that rapid population growth constituted a trap for the poorer countries: their best efforts to develop could serve only to maintain an ever larger population under unimproved or even deteriorating conditions. Those holding the optimistic counterposition denied any ominous implications of population growth, asserting that poverty was caused by remediable institutional defects, whether these be a highly unequal division of property, the capitalist system, or the unwarranted interference of the government in a free market.
In the July 1977 issue of Foreign Affairs, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance in its pages of George F. Kennan's famous "X" article, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," John Lewis Gaddis ambitiously attempted to resolve once and for all the seemingly interminable controversy that has surrounded Kennan's call for containment ever since that first public enunciation. Diplomatic historians doubtless noted with interest that Professor Gaddis contends, quite categorically, that the retrospective elucidation of containment found in the first volume of Kennan's Memoirs is wholly satisfactory with respect to what have been far and away its most controversial features: to wit, the assertions that the policy was "political" rather than "military," and that it was to be cautiously implemented within strictly defined geographical limits rather narrower than had commonly been supposed.