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The year 1979 was one of grievous setbacks for the future security of the oil supply of the Western world, its economic and financial prospects, its strategic capabilities, and its political stability.
The United States and the whole West are facing particularly hard times. Détente between the superpowers has come to a standstill; world peace is in jeopardy, and mistakes now can be more hazardous than ever before. The time has come to speak as candidly as possible, to avoid dangerous misunderstandings among Western partners and allies.
As history is written by the victors, so is the agenda of world politics dictated by the powerful. The themes and priorities of the international debate are set by a handful of politicians, officials, editors and scholars in half a dozen capitals: a form of cultural imperialism which is not rendered any less effective by its being unintended. The view of the world underlying influential analyses of international relations reflects primarily the interests and aspirations of the great powers. Smaller nations are treated as objects of policy, statistical units in categories of states classified in terms of their relationship to their respective protectors or oppressors, as ours and theirs--pawns to be gained or lost in the conflicts or deals between the great powers.
During the dark days of the Second World War, when exploits of Yugoslav guerrilla forces known as Partisans were first heard of in the West, they were said to be led by a mysterious figure known as Tito. Who or what was Tito? Rumor had its day. A Yugoslav or a Russian? An individual or a committee? A man or a woman? Later in the war the mystery cleared. The Germans published his picture and put a price on his head. The exploits multiplied. The world press got the story.
On April 18, a British Tory government, by repute the most conservative since Hitler's war, handed over the last substantial British colony, Southern Rhodesia, to a professed Marxist, Robert Mugabe, with the Prince of Wales officiating at the ceremony. When the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, witnessed the all-party signature to the terms decided at Lancaster House, she can hardly have wished for such an outcome, and yet--with only a few ultraconservative backbenchers demurring--the final decolonization process was nevertheless hailed on both sides of the House as a triumph for the British premier whom the Russians call "the Iron Lady."
Not since Vietnam has the domino theory enjoyed such currency in Washington. Less than a year after Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza was driven from Managua by the first Latin American revolution in two decades, neighboring El Salvador teeters on the brink of full-scale insurrection. In truth, El Salvador has hardly had a government over the past 12 months. The nation_s nominal rulers have long since lost control of their own security forces and today stand isolated amidst a rising tide of political violence from both Right and Left.
The dramatic events in Iran and Afghanistan during the past year would seem to assure that East-West relations will remain the central concern of U.S. foreign policy as well as a heavily influential factor in all other arenas of U.S. foreign relations. The Carter Administration's return to an East-West security rationale for the foreign assistance programs which were sent to Congress in February is highly suggestive of future trends.
The first question to which I here address myself is that of what chance humankind has of forever escaping such nuclear warfare as might largely foreclose any possibility of a hopeful future. The second is that of what provision our kind might make for the retention of a hopeful future in any case.
The nuclear proliferation problem, as posed, is insoluble. All policies to control proliferation have assumed that the rapid worldwide spread of nuclear power is essential to reduce dependence on oil, economically desirable, and inevitable; that efforts to inhibit the concomitant spread of nuclear bombs must not be allowed to interfere with this vital reality; and that the international political order must remain inherently discriminatory, dominated by bipolar hegemony and the nuclear arms race. These unexamined assumptions, which artificially constrain the arena of choice and maximize the intractability of the proliferation problem, underlay the influential Ford-MITRE report and were embodied in U.S. policy initiatives under Gerald Ford and especially Jimmy Carter to slow the spread of plutonium technologies. Identical assumptions underlay the recently concluded multilateral two-year International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE), whose lack of sympathy for those U.S. initiatives is now being cited as a political and technical rationale for dismantling what is left of them. Unfortunately, INFCE's assumptions were widely represented as its conclusions, ostensibly resulting from a careful assessment of alternatives which never actually took place.