Foreign Affairs: 100 Years
A New Americanism
Why a Nation Needs a National Story
IN June 1943, when my native Greece was still enduring the Nazi occupation, I sent the Greek Government-in-exile and the British Government a long memorandum on the situation there. Already it seemed to me unmistakable that the international conflict was taking on a new form. Two world fronts were coming into existence: Communist Pan-Slavism and the Anglo-Saxon liberal world. "It follows," my memorandum said, "that although the substance of the rivalry between their social régimes will continue to shrink day by day, since both camps will converge on the plane of social policy, the great issue of freedom -- personal, political and national freedom--will stand out more and more." I felt that the nature of the developing political situation could be rightly understood only if one realized that this issue of freedom was already the main issue in the rivalry between the two worlds--and that "little by little it will become the exclusive issue." Though the danger from Germany was still present it was receding, for the German hope of world domination had by now vanished into the past. "In this new phase of world history, to be characterized by the struggle between Anglo-Saxon liberal principles and Communist Pan-Slavism," I concluded, "certainly the whole of Europe--including today's enemies, once Nazism and Italian Fascism have been stamped out--will be England's natural ally in the defense of her national independence and political liberties."
The two rival world fronts have in fact developed: aggressive Communist Pan-Slavism faces a defensive Anglo-Saxon coalition.
During the past hundred years, no aggressive nation of Europe had been powerful enough to carry out its aims by itself. Supremacy could be achieved only by means of alliances. Under Napoleon, France had a population of 30,000,000, that is to say, a sixth of the population of Europe of that day. Germany under Bismarck, under the Kaiser and under Hitler had populations of 50,000,000, 60,000,000 and 70,000,000 respectively; again these populations represented about a sixth out of the contemporary European populations. Now for the first time in the history of modern Europe an aggressive state is powerful enough to stand alone, with a population of 200,000,000 or more as compared with a Europe of 500,000,000. And what is more, this aggressive state occupies one-sixth of the area of the globe, has an annual increase in population of about 5,000,000 and possesses almost unlimited possibilities for demographic and economic expansion. As a consequence of this self-sufficiency of Soviet power, the traditional British policy of the balance of power in Europe has become obsolete. Freedom can be safeguarded only if free Europe is organized and if both American and British power are thrown into the scales.
The threat of Communist Pan-Slavism is also characterized by another new factor. In the past, any aggressive state almost automatically brought into being a union of the peoples which it threatened, simply because it challenged their national independence and menaced their territorial integrity. Now we see an aggressive nation whose international program, deliberately intended to mislead, exercises a power of attraction over part of the popular masses of other states. Moreover, the aggressive Power is not only European but also Asian. This introduces a critical factor that may prove the source either of great Soviet strength or great Soviet weakness. Which it is to be will depend on the political orientation of the great Asian countries. If these are hostile, Russian strength will be diverted from Europe. If friendly, the Russian colossus will be strengthened in its effort to gain supremacy in Europe. Finally, we must realize also that Stalin's political genius, his "revolutionary realism" as it is styled, has enlisted all the moral forces of Russia--Communism, Pan-Slavism and the Orthodox Church--in the service of his imperial Russian program.
On the liberal Anglo-Saxon front there are substantial new developments also. The first is that the United States has definitely dropped its isolationism. It not only is politically active everywhere; it has assumed the active leadership of the free world. Again, the effect of technical progress enters into the world situation at every point. The development of transport and communications, for example, means that the American political presence is material presence as well. American strength is in being everywhere. Furthermore, the Anglo-Saxon world has unquestionable superiority in industrial armament. Though the implications of all this are difficult to calculate in advance, it would seem that the equilibrium upset by Communist Pan-Slavism in Europe has been restored on a global scale.
The change brought about in the world's political configuration by the Second World War was so great and sudden as to make it difficult for men to adjust their minds to it immediately. Toward the end of the war only two sets of political ideas were comfortably established in their natural positions: the conservative and the Communist. Throughout the war the conservatives maintained their distrust of the Soviet Union, and with the armistice their opposition became active. Communism, viewing its wartime alliance with Anglo-Saxon "capitalism" as only provisional, found itself firmly fixed also in its natural position. After the war it gave its opposition to capitalism full play. But among all intermediary political groupings between conservative and Communist there was confusion. They can be classified roughly into two main categories: democrats and Socialists.
The democrats are guided mainly by the concepts of "nation" and "freedom." But the Soviet Union, and the Communist Parties of other countries, had claimed to be fighting during the last war for these very ideals. The Soviet Union had defended the idea of "national independence" against Nazism, which sought to subject the nations to racial Pan-Germanism; and the various Communist Parties had taken a lead in national resistance struggles. Hence it was natural for the democrats to have gained the impression that the moral concept of the nation in which they believed so strongly was part of the Communist faith as well.
The ideal of freedom became similarly confused. That in both theory and practice Communism aims at dictatorship by the minority was, of course, only too familiar a fact. But during the war the defense of "democracy" was the common slogan against Nazism; and in this ideological struggle the Communists appeared to be leaders also.
The confusion was particularly great among democrats in the Anglo-Saxon world--as Greece had bitter cause to know, both during the occupation and, after the liberation, during the Communist uprising of December 1944. Considerable time had to elapse before the truth emerged. But gradually, in the light of the postwar tactics of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Parties abroad, it became increasingly clear that Communist participation in the national resistance movements had served neither the ideal of the nation nor the ideal of freedom. Both were seen to have been pretexts designed to promote the never-changing aims of Communism. Today we realize that in every country the Communists helped organize the Resistance, not for the sake of the countries of which they were citizens, but for the sake of their "spiritual home," the Soviet Union. The Communist resistance movements aimed at preparing the ground for the forcible seizure of power after the war. Their leaders reasoned that, just as the First World War had brought Communism to one country, so the Second World War would spread it at least to the whole of Europe. In short, the Communists were not fighting to end a war but to begin one. Postwar events have made it perfectly clear that Communism--which is the Fascism of the left--is the mortal enemy of freedom.
Thus democrats generally became aware of the truth about Soviet objectives. But confusion persisted in the ranks of the other of the two main groups which I have mentioned--the Socialists. These are a rare species in America, where the democrats are preponderant, and indeed they are more or less rare in Great Britain, since the Labor Party is genuinely "national." The dogmatic Marxist Socialists are a European species par excellence. They continued to be confused.
Socialist political values are different from those in which the democrats believe. In Marxist thought, the concept of the nation has been subordinated to the ideal of the "internationale." At times the Socialists have defended freedom only lukewarmly, and some have even been willing to throw it overboard entirely if this sacrifice would help them realize the ideals of internationalism and social justice. For some years, then, the Communist challenge to the ideals of the nation and freedom did not rouse the Socialist against Communism. The moral crisis which disturbed the dogmatic Marxist Socialist conscience came from another quarter.
The Socialists came to realize that as allies of the Communists they were not in fact promoting their cherished supranational ideal of the internationale so much as the racial and territorial imperialism of one nation--the Soviet Union. This was not what they had aimed at. They also came to realize that by uniting with the Communists they would not further even the ideal of social justice, since this had ceased to be an end for the Soviets and had become simply a means toward Pan-Slav world supremacy.
Disturbed by this unhappy discovery the Socialists recoiled. But in so doing they found themselves face to face with all the forces which they had always termed "reactionary" and which they had opposed throughout their history. It was a distressing dilemma. If they strengthened their alliance with the Communists they knew they would be betraying their ideals. If they formed an alliance with "reaction" they felt they would be betraying their history. They refused to make the choice. Or, rather, they split. In the end some in each Socialist Party chose the interests of the nation, and some chose Communism.
Stalin contributed to the clarification of these confusions by establishing the Cominform, and the policy which it signalized. In 1934 he had been the originator of the "Popular Fronts," a policy involving the abandonment of the intransigeant revolutionary line in favor of coöperation by the Communist Parties with democratic and Socialist elements. The purpose was to accelerate the process of "middle class democratization," which was considered the prelude to the final drive for the dictatorship of the proletariat. This policy was climaxed by the ostensible abolition of the Comintern in the spring of 1943 and the transition from "Popular" to "National" fronts. It permitted the Communist Parties, which had taken the leadership of the National Resistance Movements in occupied Europe, to reinstate themselves in the eyes of the people as national and democratic parties. It was designed to enable them to win popular majorities in the legislatures and to gain control of the national governments. The expectation was that without active intervention by the Soviet Union (which would have precipitated a war) the European countries would voluntarily join the coalition of Communist Pan-Slavism and give Stalin a bloodless conquest of Europe.
This hope failed. For the Communist Parties, ostensibly applying "national" and "reformist" tactics, not only were unable to secure control of the governments of their countries, either alone or assisted by the "fellow-travellers," but proved unable to win more than between 20 and 30 percent of the electorates. Moreover, suffering the common lot of all parties which assume responsibility in difficult times, they began to lose ground among the masses--and to lose their revolutionary impetus as well.
Instead of paving the way for a Communist Europe, the tactic (quite unexpectedly, from the Communist viewpoint) aided the political and economic recovery of Europe and contributed to the success of American policy. It helped Stalin to lose Europe instead of winning it. The decision to set up the Cominform marked the switch of Communist policy from a "national-reformist" line back to the "international revolutionary" line. The formation of the Cominform was essentially a directive to the Communist Parties to endeavor to disrupt the administration and the economy of European states, to deepen the misery of the masses and to work for the complete breakdown of the policy of assistance and reconstruction which President Truman and General Marshall had laid down.
When the Cominform policy became obvious even the most skeptical were at last convinced of the truth. But developments did not stop here; it also became clear that the "revolutionary" tactics of Communist Pan-Slavism had in their turn broken down, just as in the past the "political" tactics of the so-called popular and national fronts had failed. This double failure was due to the deeply-rooted national conscience of the people and to the Marshall Plan.
The Marshall Plan was masterly in conception and generous in execution. There is no example in history of a nation undertaking, by means of funds contributed by its citizens, to restore the ruins of war in other states on a world-wide scale. The provision of economic aid to other countries was of course in the interests of the United States. But a policy which recognizes that the interests of a Great Power are identical with the freedom and prosperity of other nations is unprecedented. This may indeed be taken as characterizing the difference between the two rival fronts. The interests of the United States are identified with the reconstruction and prosperity of the world; the interests of Communist Pan-Slavism require the impoverishment of the world and the creation of more misery, which it hopes to exploit to gain more power.
But in contrast to the amplitude and effectiveness of the economic plan in which the United States has assumed leadership, the strategic plan for resisting Communist conquest is inadequate alike in conception and execution. Doubts and hesitations in America and Europe seem not yet to have been finally resolved. A parochial conception of strategy survives from the years before the war.
As noted above, the main feature of our era is the crystallization of two rival world fronts. Now, whereas the "economic" plans are distinctively global in character, the "strategic" plan seems, on the contrary, deliberately restricted. A characteristic instance of this is the Atlantic Pact, a clear survival of the parochial spirit. Why set out to protect one part of Europe and leave another part subject to attack and conquest? And would not the initial lack of solidarity be in itself an incitement to attack?
The failure to appreciate this fact, and the endless discussions about admitting Greece and Turkey into the Atlantic Pact, are deplorable symptoms of a lack of awareness of present-day realities on the part of the Great Powers. A true adjustment to the new reality implies the global solidarity of all the free peoples. The chiefs of Communist Pan-Slavism must be made to realize that any attack which they make, in any part of the world, will alert the forces of all the free nations. Moscow's realization of this would certainly lessen rather than increase the dangers of a general outbreak. Global solidarity does not mean global conflict; it means merely that local attacks will be powerfully repulsed, as in Greece and Korea.
It may be objected that the geographic dispersal of the free nations militates against the integration of a defensive front, and that hence regional unions are preferable. But regional alliances are insufficient in the face of the present adversary. Only after a world-wide defensive alliance of all the free nations has been accomplished should regional strategic arrangements be concluded, within the global framework, in order to give the over-all grouping an organic defense force.
A particular feature of the incompleteness of the strategic plan is the lack of adequate military forces in Europe. Many people seem to feel that there is really no need for us to hurry to defend ourselves. It is the aggressor, however, not the defender, who chooses the hour of attack. We do not know when the Soviets may decide to strike. The delay in rounding out the military organization for the defense of Europe is therefore a cause for anxiety. At such a juncture as this can there really be question as to whether a great European Power of 50,000,000 people is to raise three additional divisions to reënforce its three existing divisions? It should be obvious by now that Communism understands only one language--the language of force.
The same prewar mentality obtains in dealing with the special problem of Germany. When we speak of a common front to defend Europe with those who only yesterday were the ruthless conquerors of Europe it is natural that we feel mental reservations. But, unfortunately, history will not grant us all the time we might like to overcome this feeling, again precisely because it is the aggressor who chooses the hour to strike. We have no right to count on a breathing space.
An obvious condition of the formation of a single front is the offer of complete equality to Germany. But the question arises whether the Germany of today is trustworthy. Will she be a real ally against Moscow? Last October when I happened to be in Frankfort a young German journalist at a press conference asked me: "Are you not afraid of a recrudescence of German National Socialism? Why do you express so much confidence in Germany?" I replied: "I put my trust not in your subjective intentions, but in objective reality--in the new alignment of the Powers which has taken place in Europe since the last war."
I went on to remind my interviewer that until 1870 France aspired to be the ruler of Europe. In 1870 she was defeated, and the defeat cost her not merely her ambitions to be the ruling European Power but also her place as the leading European Power. For there came on the scene another and even greater Power, which in time took on the rôle of aggressor: the Germany of Bismarck, of the Kaiser and of Hitler. And from 1870 France was placed by the march of events at the head of the defensive coalition of Europe.
Germany was defeated in 1918, but she did not lose her ambition to rule, for she was still the strongest Power in Europe. She bided her time, and thought that it had come in 1939. In 1945, however, she found herself in the circumstances of France in 1870--she was not only defeated, but displaced. For on the European scene there had come another and much greater Power--the Soviet Union. Now this state is in turn the attacker, and Germany is destined by the course of history to be placed at the vanguard of the defensive front in Europe. "My confidence is not in you and your intentions," I said to the young German newspaperman, "I place my trust in history, which charges you with the mission to defend Europe."
The question of Tito also arises in this connection. Should we seek an alliance with Jugoslavia?
What is the object of an alliance? It aims at establishing the assurance that, at the critical moment, the ally will be a companion in arms against the common enemy. In the case of Tito this assurance may be taken for granted without any special pact. In history, political differences have been forgiven, religious heresies never. And the case of Tito belongs to the second category. Since no compromise between Tito and Stalin is possible, no alliance between Tito and us is necessary. Indeed it would be injurious, for instead of strengthening Tito it would weaken him. Only if he maintains the integrity of his principles can he remain strong and do decisive harm to Stalin. Luther could work effectively against the Pope only in the name of Christ. Had he renounced Christianity and become a Buddhist he would have been a danger no longer. And only in the name of Marx, Lenin and the Stalin of yesterday can Tito injure the Stalin of today. Economic aid can and should be granted to Jugoslavia, but it should be without political qualifications. More than that would serve no useful purpose. Jugoslavia is a signatory to the Charter of the United Nations. The assurance that, in the event of aggression against Jugoslavia, the guarantees of the United Nations Charter would come into operation, and that help would automatically be forthcoming, is the best that can be done for Tito, and is enough.
If the strategic plan of defense has considerable defects in comparison with the economic plan, what might be called the cultural plan is even less adequate. Communist Pan-Slavism has at its disposal an ideological fifth column--the Communist Parties--within all the free nations. It would be difficult for us to organize a correspondingly active ideological force within the Iron Curtain countries. But we can cultivate the ideological bonds among the free nations, especially between Europe and America. They could be far closer than at present.
True, America has granted economic aid to Europe for rehabilitation there, and this has certainly evoked feelings of great gratitude, in the same way that defensive solidarity inspires a feeling of security. But it is nonetheless true that close economic relations do not always lead to close spiritual ties, and it is only human that those who receive benefits, even though they feel grateful, at the same time experience a feeling of inferiority. Spiritual bonds are the strongest of all ties. Efforts have been made to cultivate them, but compared with the effort which has gone into the economic Marshall Plan they are weak. We need a cultural plan of the same magnitude as the Marshall Plan. If facilities could be granted to a considerable number of graduates from the higher schools of learning of the free world to study in America over a period of several years, and if this were balanced in so far as possible by an exchange of American students, there would be created within a comparatively short time a common intellectual and spiritual atmosphere which would round out the economic and strategic plans and give our civilization real unity and concord. Henceforward the destinies of America and of all the other free nations of the world are linked in history. The closer the bonds among them--economic, spiritual and intellectual--the better they will be able to defend freedom and peace.