Stop Tiptoeing Around Russia
It Is Time to End Washington’s Decades of Deference to Moscow
UP TO a short time before his death General Bliss maintained the full measure of his extraordinarily wide interest in the affairs of the world, past, present and to come. He still read the classics; handy editions of Horace or Livy, Herodotus or Thucydides, were always in some pocket. He still drew, for his talk and his writing, on the vast store of experience he had gained through army service in many fields and in all ranks up to that of full General, a title which he shared with Pershing and March -- the first three full Generals in the United States Army since Grant, Sherman and Sheridan. He still read discriminatingly and thoughtfully (or, at the last, was read to by devoted friends), in particular missing nothing that was written about the World War, during which he served first as Chief of Staff and then as American member of the Supreme War Council, or about the negotiations at Paris, where he was one of the American delegates plenipotentiary. He still pondered on the lessons, not only of that particular war, but of war in general -- and not only of the art of war, to which he had dedicated his active life and in the pursuit of which, as the Secretary of War said after his death, "he won by sheer ability the highest positions open to a professional soldier," but of war as a human failing and as an instrument of national policy. Indeed, this old soldier gave the last ten years of his life, with all his accumulated knowledge of the ways of men, to close study and reasoning as to how war, man's habit from primitive times, might be eliminated from the experience of nations just as it has been largely supplanted by processes of law in the relations of individuals.
The readers of FOREIGN AFFAIRS are not unfamiliar with General Bliss's manner of argument and conclusions. The fruits of his thought have been set down in these pages on several occasions: never better than in the article "What is Disarmament?" in the issue of April 1926. For several years past he was a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the review. As in every relationship of his life, he was simple, outspoken, generous with his mind and his time. He also was one of the two honorary members of the Council on Foreign Relations. This was in recognition not only of his eminence (understood perhaps more in Europe than in this country, for he was averse to all the practices of publicity on which American opinion relies so largely in the formation of its judgments), but also of the fact that it was under his chairmanship that a group of the American experts at Paris came together and formed the American Institute of International Affairs, one of the two associations which later united to form the present Council on Foreign Relations. When he spoke at the meetings of the Council, it was always with a clearness, deliberation and logical sequence which stamped him as a man of intellectual and moral powers far beyond the ordinary.
This is not the place to relate his varied achievements, his services to this and other countries in war and peace. His name and (what he would have cared very little about) his fame are secure. But this issue of a publication in which he had great faith and to which he was a true friend could not appear without an affectionate word of salute and farewell. A mountain is gone from the scene. It was not one of those mountains which, imposing and azure-hued on the horizon, seem somehow smaller instead of larger on close approach. It was a majestic peak, and without it there is a permanent gap in the landscape.
H. F. A.