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Those who serve in government, especially when under attack, are likely to be conscious--somewhat defensively perhaps--of the spirit of the old Spanish proverb: "It is not the same to talk of bulls, as to be in the bullring." The memory of that sentiment has had some bearing on my observations from the safe distance of private life. It has commended a focus on institutional problems--those that transcend partisanship.
On April 30, the United States was the only Western industrialized country to vote against the final treaty adopted in New York by the Third United Nations Law of the Sea Conference. Venezuela, Turkey and Israel also voted no. The U.S.S.R. and most Soviet bloc countries abstained, as did a few highly industrialized Western nations. Most of the West, including France and Japan, joined the Third World and voted yes. Altogether, 130 nations voted to adopt the treaty and open it for signature.
The meeting of 22 national leaders convened at Cancún, in Mexico, last October, despite "millimetric progress" (in the words of Willy Brandt), launched a call for "global negotiations." What is meant by this is a series of international conferences, sponsored perhaps by the United Nations, to discuss the major economic problems which have affected the balance of payments and prosperity of many developing countries. Among these problems are food, commodity price stabilization, energy, and the international financial system.
If someone asked about a "Caribbean Basin" 20 years ago, you might have referred him to a geographer or to a West Indian plumber. When President Ronald Reagan announced his Caribbean Basin Initiative on February 24, 1982, however, all the questions concerned the initiative. Apparently, everyone now knows where the Caribbean Basin is; indeed, there is a growing impression that we are sinking in it.
We are now experiencing the third episode of major economic conflict between the United States and Japan in the last 12 years. The first of these episodes led to the U.S. import surcharge of August 1971, viewed in Japan as the second of the "Nixon shocks" aimed at that country, and a U.S. threat to invoke the "Trading with the Enemy Act" against its chief Pacific ally. The second episode produced major U.S. pressure on Japan during 1977-78 to boost its domestic growth rate, with lasting damage to Japanese confidence in its American connection and immediate impact on the political career of the then Prime Minister, Takeo Fukuda. The third, current, episode promises to be the nastiest yet--with the United States joined as demandeur by the European Community, with racist overtones already creeping into the rhetoric and frustration on both sides of the Pacific, and with obvious spillover onto the reemerging issue of security relations between the two countries.
Over the more than four-and-a-half billion years since the formation of the planet Earth, its climate has remained remarkably stable, and has apparently sustained life for about four billion of those years. Throughout that long period the oceans and the atmosphere have maintained an uneasy equilibrium; the sun has been a sufficiently steady source of heat so that the oceans have neither boiled their water away into space nor frozen down to the equator--fates that many other planets and satellites of the solar system have suffered.
Now that it has completed the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai, the government of Israel should consider extending unconditional recognition to the Palestine Liberation Organization as a major representative of the Palestinian people. PLO leader Yassir Arafat should be invited to follow in the footsteps of Egypt's late President Anwar el-Sadat and visit Jerusalem. And the PLO should be summoned to take its seat at the Palestine autonomy negotiations.
The United States is in the throes of another fundamental reexamination of defense strategy and posture comparable to that leading to primary reliance on nuclear deterrence in the early 1950s. This culminates a process which began over 20 years ago, as U.S. planners first began to grapple with the implications of likely Soviet catching up in nuclear capabilities. Now that nuclear stalemate is a fact of life, U.S. attention is turning to alternative strategies relying even more on conventional capabilities than the current strategic doctrine of flexible response. While crucial nuclear issues must still be addressed, this article will focus chiefly on the leading non-nuclear alternatives now under debate.
Since the end of World War II, Europe and North America have enjoyed an unprecedented era of peace. The central framework for maintaining that peace has been the North Atlantic Alliance and its permanent organization, NATO. Created to secure the West against aggression through a mutual defense system, NATO has proved remarkably successful in meeting a variety of challenges over the years. It has done so because Western leaders and the overwhelming majority of their countrymen have recognized the virtues of collective security for nations whose fundamental interests are held so closely in common.
The appropriate strategy for the use of nuclear weapons has been the subject of discussion since the North Atlantic Alliance was founded. Open debate on these problems is part of the natural foundations of an Alliance consisting of democracies which relate to each other as sovereign partners. It is not the first time in the history of the Alliance that fears about the danger of nuclear war have caused concern and anxieties in all member countries, although these are more pronounced today than before. They must be taken seriously. The questions posed demand convincing answers, for in a democracy, policy on questions of peace and war requires constantly renewed legitimization.