Winter 1979/80

Winter 1979/80
58, 2


Denis Healey

For about a quarter of a century after the end of the Second World War, the market economies of the non-communist world enjoyed an unprecedented rate of growth, an exceptionally low level of unemployment, and comparatively low inflation. The average growth of the gross national product (GNP) in the advanced industrial nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 1951 to 1973 was 4.8 percent a year in real terms. It was not until 1975 that output actually fell in the noncommunist world as a whole--and then by only one percent--whereas before the war there were periods when it fell very dramatically by from five to seven percent. Since 1975, growth has been averaging less than it did from 1951 to 1973--about 3.8 as against 4.8 percent--but there are ominous signs that it may settle down over the next decade to an average significantly lower than the current rate. Moreover, all the evidence is that, in the foreseeable future, the average growth of output in the free world is not going to recover to the level we experienced during those golden years from 1951 to 1973.

George W. Ball

A veteran of Middle East negotiations recently said to me: "Trying to help Israel find the way to peace is like pushing a bicycle out of the path of an approaching train while the boy riding it frantically back-pedals."

Claudia Wright

On the evening of August 8, 1979, immediately after 21 executions that he and his Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) had ordered and witnessed, Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, President of Iraq, stood on the balcony of the presidential palace in Baghdad, his arms raised in salute. Over 50,000 demonstrators roared their approval and chanted, "Death to the traitors!" As he looked down, Hussein might have contemplated the example of King Sargon II, the Assyrian king and clever military tactician whose battle success is celebrated in 2,500-year-old reliefs from the throne room at Dur-Saharukin, today displayed in the splendid Iraqi Museum. In one, Sargon stands in his chariot reviewing his victorious army, while soldiers build a pile of his enemies' heads in tribute. Not entirely self-assured, the king stands behind a burly bodyguard.

Stephen J. Solarz

Most Americans have probably never heard of the Western Sahara. If the name of this Colorado-sized territory in northwest Africa evokes any image at all, it is likely to be one of nomads with their tents and camels against a background of blinding sunlight and endless sand engaged in the ancient and timeless confrontation between man and nature. During a visit to the region last summer, I often wondered at the contemporary international significance of this vast and empty-looking land with its parching 120° days, fierce sandstorms, and blue-robed, nomadic inhabitants.

John Hume

The current cycle of conflict in Northern Ireland began over 11 years ago. As a practicing politician in Northern Ireland throughout that period, I have taken a particular interest while traveling abroad in following the world media coverage of the problem. For the most part, this has been a chronicle of atrocities reported spasmodically from London or by "firemen" visiting from London. It has struck me that, for the outside observer, it must have been difficult during these years to avoid the impression that Northern Ireland was hopelessly sunk in incoherence and its people the victims of a particularly opaque political pathology. There have, it is true, been a few brief interludes when some measure of clarity seemed to take hold, only to be swept away in the inevitable swirling clouds of violence, intransigence and misery--in other words, the normal political climate.

Jean Herskovits

On October 1 Nigeria added to its list of vital statistics a new status as the world's fourth largest democracy. The list was already impressive. One African in four is a Nigerian; with a population of 80 million or more, Nigeria is larger than any country in Europe. It is also the world's eighth largest producer of crude oil and has been the United States' second largest supplier for six years, neither joining in the Arab boycott of 1973-74, nor cutting exports for policy reasons subsequently.

Pierre Lellouche

A major landmark in the history of international nuclear politics will be the conclusion of the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation in February 1980. Though little publicized in the press (perhaps because of its hermetic and quite unpronounceable acronym), INFCE has been an unprecedented international undertaking both in its scope and objectives. For over two years--since the Evaluation was formally launched in October 1977 by the Carter Administration--more than 500 experts from 46 nations, both developed and developing, have jointly studied the international implications of the growth of nuclear energy. In carrying out a detailed analysis of the technical, economic and institutional aspects of nuclear energy development throughout the world, the Evaluation has sought to reconcile the need for nuclear power in many nations with the prevention of a further spread of atomic weapons from civilian fuel cycles.

Ulf Lantzke

Last year this article would have started with a call to double world coal production by the year 2000 as a response to the inevitable leveling off of world oil production. Today, however, experience in 1979 alone has lowered expectations of future OPEC oil production and reinforced the trend to a slowing down of nuclear energy capacity. Hence, it now appears that world coal production must at least triple by the end of this century if we are to have adequate energy supplies to accommodate even moderate levels of economic growth.

Miles Kahler

IT'S THE THIRD WORLD WAR" headlines an Italian satirical newspaper during the 1979 Chinese-Vietnamese conflict. From the Balkans, appropriately enough, a warning: in the summer following interventions in Ethiopia and Zaïre, Yugoslavian President Tito, the only remaining European leader who can claim to have fought in both world wars, decries "the renewed threat to peace from power politics and the persistence of the terrifying arms race. . . ." In London, a group of retired military officers publishes a best seller. Its topic: the fictional history of a global conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that begins in August 1985.

McGeorge Bundy

One of the most important questions about the working of the United States government is the nature and location of the authority to use the armed forces of the country against an adversary. It is not an easy matter. Doctrinaire readings of the constitutional grant of the war power to the Congress are as misleading as executive reliance on the role of the President as Commander in Chief. The formal treaties that bind the United States to allies in Europe, Asia and this Hemisphere are couched in language that quite deliberately skirts the question of who would do what, and by what process of decision, at the moment of truth. Even greater uncertainty surrounds the largely untested War Powers Resolution of 1973. And in all our complex debates on strategic deterrence we seldom ask ourselves just how one would square the possible requirements for rapid executive action with the rights of the Congress, let alone the people.

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