How a Great Power Falls Apart
Decline Is Invisible From the Inside
PEACE is the most imperative business in the world today. It is the world's most universal desire and most powerful force. The mass of humanity seems to understand better than its rulers the idiocy of war and its mortal danger to the human race. Everywhere I travel the people appear to know that all their aspirations for freedom and dignity and a better life are going to be destroyed if mankind ever fights a modern war.
The United States has been the source of the most revolutionary and glorious concepts of human and political freedom. It had been my hope that in this revolutionary century the United States, which first split the atom, would be the tireless, fearless, indomitable leader of the cause of freedom from war. And I still think that to seize that role and pursue it with passion should be the top priority of American foreign policy.
Why haven't we really led the postwar world since the Korean War? Why are many Americans fearful that we have lost our sense of national purpose? Why is there confusion about intellectual and moral values? Why is there a slackness about public problems and a wholesale retreat to the joys of private life? Why is balancing the budget a greater national concern than exertion, self-denial and hard work? Have we confused prosperity with security? Why is there a growing uneasiness over the contrast between a society like that of the Soviets which believes in its destiny and our own which seems to regard itself as fulfilled?
Personally, I think the trouble is not in the nation's energy, its will, or its nerve; and if wealth and comfort have softened us I am sure we are not yet beyond repair! The root of the trouble lies in this: the nation faces a series of massive changes in the world scene; they call for new ways of looking at the world; for new policies; for increased efforts. But since Korea our political leadership has not clearly and insistently acknowledged this fact. American policy has thus moved further and further away from the reality that surrounds us. Unchallenged by the realities, Americans have turned their energies and idealism to second-order business.
The main lines of American military and foreign policy are still those of 1947-1952. Although Messrs. Dulles and Eisenhower "crusaded" for a policy of "liberation" and denounced "containment" as "immoral," in operation their policy was to construct a chain of military alliances around Communism and to attempt to restrain the spread of Soviet power wherever it threatened. Oddly enough, Mr. Dulles' faith that Communism would disintegrate from its own internal contradictions resembled Lenin's conviction that capitalism would do the same.
But to win such an endurance contest we must have superior endurance. Yet instead of making massive efforts to improve or preserve the balance and to encourage attrition or benign change on the Soviet side, we emphasized conservative policies and fell behind on all fronts, while the Soviet Union, and other industrial areas, forged ahead at a rapid pace.
In short, while our Government adopted the Dulles foreign policy it did nothing to make it effective. Indeed, it was not long ago that Vice President Nixon saw something disloyal in my warnings about the Soviet rate of economic growth. (It is now double that of the United States!)
So for the most part the response of the United States to the great changes of this century has been only negative and defensive. An Administration which has defined its over-riding task as keeping the budget down has dealt with them more with rhetoric than action. And unwillingness to acknowledge reality has led to a progressive erosion of the American stature on the world scene. (Sometimes I thank God for the Russians--their rapid progress may even make economic growth, risk and adventure essential, if not respectable, here.)
But it is not my purpose to indict the small aims and large fears of the Eisenhower-Dulles era. Things had to change, and I applaud Secretary Herter for the recent signs of more enterprise and flexibility in the conduct of our foreign policy. I hope, however, that we Americans do not mistake the President's ceremonial travels for negotiation and settlement.
What are some of the realities we must face in this age of many revolutions? The old colonial order has all but vanished. New nations--and new imperialisms--strive to fill the vacuum in a vast political revolution. Most of these new nations seek to bring their economies through the sound barrier of modernization in a few decades. This is the economic revolution. But they do so against the background of exploding population which will double the inhabitants of underdeveloped areas in the next generation. This is the biological revolution. Meanwhile, supersonic flight, atomic energy and the missile have opened up two opposite possibilities of equal magnitude--the exploration of planetary space, and self-extermination within the space of this planet. This is the scientific revolution.
What lies ahead of us in this bewildering century is invisible but it may be even more significant. In the past the North Atlantic nations dominated the world. But they could not control themselves, and after their great world wars the power and influence of Europe declined; Russia and the United States suddenly emerged as the two dominant powers. Already the brief day of two-power domination is passing and new centers of power are rising from old ashes in Asia. By the end of the century China and India will be industrialized, and China's population will be close to a billion. Then, as Europe becomes more unified, it too will reëmerge as a great center of power. And who can doubt that regional unification is going to take place in Latin America and emerging Africa?
So, this is not the beginning of the American Century, or anyone else's. It behooves us to face the reality that we Americans are not going to be alone at the center of the stage very long--and that modesty is always becoming. But if our tradition does not require us to be the world's boss, it does require us to keep alive and vigorous the great traditions of political freedom and legal order which underlie Western society.
To guide us through these uncharted seas, to comprehend and direct the prodigious forces now shaping the new world, is going to make heavy demands on our resources of wisdom, leadership, self-discipline and magnanimity. I would say that this reality belongs at the top of the list, because it has not yet been proved that democracy and the processes of persuasion can match the efficiency of central planning and dictatorship.
Multiple and universal change is thus the setting for policy in this age. Another reality we have been slow to admit is the present advantage this gives to the Communists. They did not invent the world's revolutions. All of these were--wittingly or unwittingly--launched in the West. But Communism, in itself a philosophy of change, exploits them world-wide. It uses all the anti-imperialist jargon and proclaims the brotherhood of--Communist--mankind. To our everlasting shame it has led the way through the frontiers of space and even pinned the Soviet colors on the moon. It proposes its own sweeping totalitarian planning as the only way out of economic stagnation, and the Soviet example of how to modernize and grow strong quickly has a powerful appeal to backward countries.
Mr. Khrushchev states his purpose plainly. He says, let's throw down our arms and we will beat you at peaceful competitive coexistence. He says that Russia will outstrip the United States in production and that one by one the neutrals will fall in line, while the Communist system spreads around the globe--and finally surrounds and isolates capitalism's last refuge in the United States. The Soviet planners expect that, as in China, the non-Communist régimes in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and parts of Latin America will be unable to solve the problems of modernization and economic growth and will turn to the Communist alternative, encouraged no doubt by Communist trade, aid and penetration.
This, I am convinced, is the route to world power which the Soviets now regard as the safest and surest. And I was impressed by Khrushchev's confidence, shown both in his country and ours, that history is working with him and that the system under which Russia became so strong so quickly is the system which other countries must follow. We refused to believe that Hitler meant what he said, to our sorrow. We should not do ourselves the same injury again.
To me the two most dangerous realities we now face are the multiplication of nuclear weapons and the disparity in living standards between the rich nations and the poor. So I suggest we must meet the crises of our time in four major areas: First, we must end the growing gap between wealth and poverty. In doing so, we must create new supra-national patterns and institutions of coöperation. Thirdly, as long as nuclear weapons exist, the danger of their use exists. We must work for a disarmed world under law and organized police power--the only final answer to the threat of annihilating war. And lastly we must extend as far as lies in our power the concept of an open world. For it is in our acceptance of variety and differences, harmonized but not suppressed, that we in our turn work not only with the trend of history but in accord with the ingrained diversity of mankind. Our faith is that in the long contest the totalitarians will gradually be converted to our way of thinking rather than we to theirs. Our goal is not just to win a cold war but to persuade a cold world.
These are, of course, statements of high generality. We turn them into policy only by specific application and negotiation. Some aims we can pursue with like-minded nations, and we should proceed with them at once. Others depend on Communist assent and may take years of stoic negotiation.
The beginning of wisdom in the West, I think, is to have our own creative policy--not just a negative policy to stop the Communists, but one that reflects our own vision of a viable world society and our own understanding of the revolutions through which we live. The voluntary ending of colonialism by most of the Western colonial powers, the Marshall Plan, Europe's moves toward unity and the various programs of economic aid, are creative innovations already to the West's postwar credit.
Once we know what we want, what our aims are, then we shall have to pursue them by every means with the same resolution and sacrifice that the Communists pursue theirs. It will not be easy to agree on them in view of the divisions among the Western powers, combined with the fact that Russia controls Eastern Germany and therefore the possibility of German unification. I suspect the hardest task will be to pursue our aims resolutely in common with our partners. For in "peacetime" democracies are at a particular disadvantage. Immediate domestic concerns take precedence over distant national goals. Too many selfish, thoughtless people prefer the easy option, and too many ambitious politicians prefer office to duty. But we cannot live by tail fins, TV and a "sound dollar" alone. Somehow we must lift our sights to the level of the tasks. I will try to suggest some of them.
II. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The average annual income in the United States is more than $2,000 as against less than $100 for a third of the world's population. And the worst thing about this disparity is that the rich nations are getting richer and the poor poorer. Happily, there is, at long last, a growing realization here and among our friends that these are the decisive areas and that we must assist the underdeveloped peoples to advance to self-sustaining growth while preserving their independence and some hope of evolving a political democracy. Without an alternative to Communist methods of development, we face grim prospects indeed in poor countries where literacy is low, hunger high and the gap between resources and population widening.
Five conditions of success are, I think, clear. We shall be engaged on this program for at least 40 years. We shall require a professional staff, with the languages and skills needed in this whole new field of activity. Informed opinion tells us that at least $5 billion a year is needed--from all sources, public and private, domestic and foreign. We shall have to coordinate all aspects of the effort with other nations--not only investment but opportunities for trade, international liquidity and so forth. To get the maximum results the developed nations must all coöperate. The time has certainly come for other countries to share more of the common burden of assistance. In such circumstances the United States cannot expect to have full control of the use of all its expenditures for development purposes.
These five conditions are not yet fully understood, let alone accepted. There is still more than a hint that if the Communists would behave, the economic development program could be can-celled. Partly as a result, our staffing policies are haphazard, our linguistic programs inadequate, and we are acquiring so many competing agencies, both national and international, that policies tend to be tangled and obstructed at the base and overlapping and bewildering in the field.
I regret that the Administration rejected the recommendation of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last winter for a soft loan fund of about a billion and a half dollars for about five years. With Europe prosperous and dollars flowing to that area, Europe should mobilize an equivalent sum. With something like $3 billion a year available for public investment, with the West's great resources of skill and experience, and working with the World Bank, the Monetary Fund and the new International Development Association, we should be able to plan an effective, concerted attack upon all aspects of backwardness--lack of capital, lack of skills, low reserves, single-crop exports and fluctuating world prices.
It is difficult to establish priorities, but I believe there is general agreement that the whole political future of free Asia may depend on the success of India's great experiment. Certainly, too, the need is obvious for more rapid modernization and economic coöperation in Latin America. And the vision of a common market for the Western Hemisphere is even more exciting if it points toward economic federation in the whole non-Communist world.
For years I have urged that the United States put economic development on the same level of urgency as national defense, and press other advanced countries to join in a concerted effort. That in actuality we have no such joint program for world investment and growth springs in part from another weakness--our failure to develop an organic Atlantic community with common institutions and purposes. The ghost that has haunted every NATO conference for ten years is the ghost of the Emperor without clothes. "The wise men," committees, resolutions--all have spoken of NATO's positive tasks. We still have to find them. Worse, even the present measure of unity is being fretted away.
III. THE ATLANTIC COMMUNITY
Beneath the surface there are dangerous cross-purposes within our alliance. They are not to be overcome by ceremonial travels and by hasty diplomacy in preparation for meetings with Mr. Khrushchev.
The reconciliation of France and Germany is an historic achievement of postwar diplomacy. The Common Market is a creative effort to pass beyond narrow nationalism in the search for economic and social well-being and finally political union. But the price is high if France by moving closer to Germany moves away from Britain, and if the Common Market of the Six nations and the Free Trade Association of the Seven between them divide Europe into rival trading groups behind rising economic barriers which embitter not only commerce but politics as well. Nor do the divisions affect Europe alone. The frictions will be spread to Africa as a last divisive legacy of colonialism.
I believe it is a profound interest of American policy to see these nascent divisions overcome. We should urge the Six and the Seven to return to negotiation to mitigate tariff discrimination and liberalize trade. The United States and Canada should also coöperate systematically with the Six and the Seven to enlarge and use our influence vigorously to help solve in common the tough problems of commercial policy, including such questions as the stabilization of commodity prices in which the industrialized countries must of necessity take the lead. The last three or four years have demonstrated how even our own trade is becoming dependent upon European prosperity and how policies on each side of the Atlantic vitally influence the rest of the community. The unfavorable American balance of payments and fears for American reserves are already leading to a new isolationism, to creeping protectionism, to reduced foreign aid and to further divisions in our unity and strength. The Administration's "Buy American" policy in our lending will have negligible effects on our exports, and it repudiates the liberal trade and payments policy which we have been urging on our allies at the very moment they are adopting it.
Nor can we safely confront the Communist challenge with inferior military deterrent capability. If we fall too far behind or reduce our military strength--without equivalent Soviet concessions--we may find Mr. Khrushchev's interest in negotiation has diminished. We must not tempt the Russians with weakness. The possibility that they could destroy our retaliatory power at a single blow must never appear to them to be realistic. Even then, the only safe assumption for us to make is that the Soviet Union may use force, as in Hungary or East Germany, wherever there is no risk of general war. As I said to Mr. Khrushchev, equality of strength and equality of risk are the only starting points for disarmament discussions.
In maintaining the military balance pending a reversal of this senseless and bankrupting arms race, Western Europe also should play an expanded role and assume a larger burden. The coöperative control and use of atomic weapons may now be the best way to prevent the divisive, costly and inefficient duplication of nuclear capabilities. Each one of the European nations cannot develop defenses capable of countering the Soviet threat, and should not try. I think we must take a hard, fresh look at our common military problems. I don't see why we cannot distribute the nuclear, the naval and the conventional burdens more economically and efficiently. The objective should be an interdependent military system in which each nation's role would be geared to its full technological and economic capabilities.
Let us, then, recognize the fact of our economic, military and political interdependence formally. An Atlantic Council with real powers could formulate joint policies for sharing our responsibilities and bringing about the genuine and equal partnership between the United States and Western Europe which our successes in the past--notably the Marshall Plan--make feasible and the greatest challenge we have ever known now makes necessary.
I believe a North Atlantic Conference should be held to outline new common policies for defense, disarmament, space exploration, monetary reserves, tariffs and a larger economic sphere, and aid to the underdeveloped areas, giving, I hope, new terms of reference to NATO and to other organizations. I think Europe should take the initiative toward creating some such new organization to deal with our great and growing problems and to promote more systematic Western coöperation.
Meanwhile, if our partners, including Japan, are to mitigate the harmful political pressures building up in the United States, a number of steps--toward which, I am glad to say, some progress has already been made--should be taken promptly.
Discrimination against dollar imports from the United States and all quantitative restrictions should be eliminated.
I have long urged that the nations whose economies the United States has helped to restore should assume a much larger share of the burden of aiding the underdeveloped countries.
The heavy task of maintaining large forces overseas aggravates America's balance of payments deficit; our European allies should now assume greater responsibility for the defense of the West.
While our balance of payments deficit may be a short-range problem, the liquidity shortage of the trading nations is not, and the West should move to correct this deficiency promptly.
A working coöperative Atlantic system would do more than enhance the basic strength of the West. It would demonstrate to other areas--to Latin America, for instance, or to free Africa--methods by which political autonomy can be combined with supra-national coöperation. In any case, the alternative is to see the centrifugal forces which are always at work between separate national entities pull us ever further apart. One thing is sure--we cannot deal with the Communist challenge divided and in disarray.
IV. ARMS CONTROL
Most of all, a stronger Atlantic community will show the way to disarmament and peace. The implications of war and of the nuclear stalemate are as visible in Moscow as in Washington. After talks with Mr. Khrushchev in Russia and America, I have the feeling that some fixed Communist attitudes are changing; some, at least, of the Russian leaders seem to have concluded that the "capitalist" countries do not conform in all respects to the Marxist blueprint of misery and despair. Mr. Khrushchev has even changed his mind about the established Communist conviction that the United States could not cut arms spending without bringing on a depression. (I confess I get indignant when I listen to some of my fellow Americans who seem less confident than Khrushchev is about our economy's resilience, especially when we have so many neglected tasks at home to which we could turn our energies and resources.)
The more the Communists see of the realities of Western society, the better for truth and so the better for us. Knowing something of the frightening darkness in which most Russians have to live, I favor the widest extension of exchange programs and cultural contacts. I would like to see the United States take the initiative in bringing Western and Soviet teams together in joint work. The principle of the Geophysical Year should be extended to a joint international Geophysical Commission. Other fields are Antarctic exploration and control, oceanography, medical and atomic energy research, exploration of outer space and even joint operations in certain areas of economic aid. Such communion of scholars and technicians could do more than awaken Communists to the reality of Western life and to the possibilities of an open world society. They could be forerunners of supra-national coöperation and organs of international control.
There is no difficulty in finding reasons why peace is so precious to the Russians after the desolation and destruction of two world wars. In addition, they now have much to lose, and their taste for the good life is rapidly developing. It is said that the Soviet defense effort takes about 25 percent of the national income as against 10 percent in this country. So for them another weighty reason for reducing the arms burden is to release more manpower and resources to improve the living conditions of the long-suffering Russian people and to strengthen the Soviet potential for economic competition and the paramount struggle for the uncommitted countries.
I am confident that some, at least, of the Russian leaders are anxious to halt testing and development of nuclear weapons before the danger becomes even more uncontrollable. But I wish I could be more sanguine that the Soviet Union was equally ready for the kind of inspection and control that would make possible any general arms reduction, let alone total disarmament. I suspect the conversion of the Soviet Union from a closed to an open society is still a long way off. But we should not hastily and cynically dismiss Mr. Khrushchev's disarmament proposals as propaganda and insincere. The question is not whether Communists are sincere but whether they are serious.
The root of East-West tension is fear. Whether it is rational or irrational, justified or not, hardly matters. It exists, and the peoples, especially Americans and Russians, have been indoctrinated with this fear of one another--these devil images--for years. Arms are a symptom of the fears and tensions between nations. Therefore, the argument goes, disarmament is impossible until political settlements have been reached and confidence restored.
I disagree. I believe the nuclear arms race with weapons of mass destruction is a new element and in itself a cause of tension. Of course, as I have said, we must try everlastingly to improve relations by exchanges, negotiations, common projects, trade and agreements when possible. But fear will not vanish until the arms race is arrested. We will have to proceed on all these matters simultaneously. As Mr. Selwyn Lloyd of Great Britain said in presenting the British plan for comprehensive disarmament which preceded Mr. Khrushchev's: "If we get political settlements it will make agreement on disarmament easier; and if we get an agreement on disarmament, it will make political settlement easier."
From what he said to me, I think Mr. Khrushchev agrees too. And I am much encouraged by evidence from many quarters that the Russians are genuinely worried about the political and technical dangers and cost to the U.S.S.R. of continuing the arms race indefinitely. Moreover, the United Nations disarmament resolution, agreed to, mirabile dictu, by the United States and the Soviet Union, recognizes that disarmament itself will promote trust between nations and declares that disarmament is the most important question facing the world today.
In short, it looks as though controlled disarmament was back at the top of the world's agenda where it belongs. I am sorry that the United States did not take and hold the lead as I urged in the 1956 presidential campaign. The recent proposal by some of our leaders that the United States resume underground nuclear tests, just when the first break in the arms deadlock seems possible, shocked me. I can think of few better ways to chill the prospects, deface our peaceful image and underscore the Communist propaganda that they are the peacemakers and we the warmongers. We should extend our test suspension so long as negotiations continue in good faith and Russia maintains a similar suspension. The good faith of the negotiations is decisive, because indefinite suspension amounts to a test ban without inspection.
Whether Mr. Khrushchev and his associates in the Kremlin really mean business depends on agreement to two main principles: a) that conventional and nuclear disarmament must go hand in hand, so that the balance of security between nations is not upset, and b) that progress at each stage must be subject to effective international control.
If universal and total disarmament should ever take place, a third need will arise: a supra-national force of some kind, as I have insisted to Mr. Khrushchev, in order that the sheer weight of such powers as Russia and America--or China--may not intimidate smaller neighbors. The composition, control and use of such a force, of course, present a host of further questions.
Meanwhile, pending the disarmament millennium, we must, as I have said, make good the deficiencies in our defenses to keep at least an equality of strength with the Russians. And I think it would be naïve to assume that they are yet ready to embark on the kind of positive coöperation in other respects which would establish real collective security. The conspiratorial tradition is very old and deep rooted in Communist thinking, and when they talk of "peaceful competition," for example, I suspect that most Communists would include under that label political subversion, coups d'état, and even revolution under Communist Party leadership.
Nevertheless, I think we may be approaching the time when the arms race with Russia can be arrested. Once a revolutionary régime leaves behind its adolescent fanaticism, risk and cost become powerful considerations. I believe they exercise genuine influence in Moscow today and that we should do what we can to encourage the trend.
In Peking, however, I doubt if cost and risk are decisive factors. At this stage, pressure from "foreign devils," real or contrived, provides excuses for the austerity and brutal repression involved in the massive modernization. In this mood, China might conceivably be ready to risk a war which could involve its more prosperous Communist neighbor in disaster. Today, Moscow can still perhaps limit Chinese aggressiveness by control over its military aid. But as China develops, the influence will dwindle. Has Russia therefore an interest in establishing some form of control now while her influence is still sizable? We do not know, but we must try to find out. And if we are going to make any important progress on disarmament, Russia will have to accept responsibility for bringing China in.
While there is little prospect of reasonable dealing with Red China at this time, it is apparent that Asians have become disillusioned and distrustful because of her imperialistic attacks on her neighbors and disregard for the "five principles of coexistence." I see hope in the fact that Mr. Khrushchev used Peking as his sounding board when he warned Communists not to use force against capitalism. I see further hope in his proposal--ignored by Peking--for an atom-free zone in the Far East. And even at this late date I suggest we explore with him the possibility of pacification in the area based upon a broad settlement of issues--including Formosa--by negotiation, not force.
On the Communist side, the concessions would include the extension to China of any system of international inspection of disarmament, ending the threat of force against Formosa and subversion in Indochina, a peaceful frontier settlement with India, free elections under United Nations supervision in Korea, and acceptance of the right of the inhabitants of Formosa to determine their own destiny by plebiscite supervised by the United Nations. On our side, concessions would presumably include an end to the American embargo on China's admission to the United Nations (not to be confused with diplomatic recognition), the evacuation of Quemoy and Matsu and the inclusion of Korea and Japan in the atom-free zone and area of controlled disarmament.
Perhaps neither the Russians nor we ourselves are yet prepared to talk in such concrete terms. Yet it is clear that no general control of disarmament has any value unless it includes China, and it is difficult to see how China can accept international control when it is not, formally, a member of international society. Moreover, as a member of the United Nations, Communist China, with a quarter of the world's population, would be more accountable to world opinion than as an outcast.
In the long run, the degree to which Russia is willing and able to moderate China's imperialistic designs will be a major factor in world peace. And it is likely that in its diplomacy as in its internal development Moscow is reaching the point where Mr. Khrushchev's peaceful coexistence with the West must grow into positive coöperation. The Russian door to the West must be pushed wider open--or slammed shut again.
VI. EUROPE AND THE MIDDLE EAST
The areas of the world where the interests and security of the great powers collide are the areas of tension where negotiation must be concentrated if it is to be effective. I do not believe that local military blocs, directed against the Communists, always provide the answer. If we seek military clients, Russia can play that game, too, and more cynically. Moreover, she is not embarrassed by ties to the former colonial overlords. I do not mean that endangered countries should be left unprotected. The Eisenhower Doctrine is hardly more than a restatement of our commitment under the United Nations Charter and the Truman Doctrine to come to the aid of a victim of direct aggression. If the Soviets were directly to invade Iran--though it is not likely--American intervention would be unavoidable. And that is precisely why it is not likely. But Iran is no more secure because of military links with Pakistan, and the fate of Iraq shows how easily an unpopular alliance can be exploited to undermine a pro-Western régime.
I believe that we must look rather to disarmament and nonalignment, to political and economic collaboration, in the areas where great-power interests collide, as in the Middle East. We still have a little time, for atomic weapons are as yet in the possession of only three powers. Ten years from now, who knows how many local dictators may have them--to the detriment not only of our security but of Russia's as well. Here may be another common interest to explore. We might examine the possibility of an atom-free zone for the Middle East. We might also reconsider an earlier suggestion of an embargo on arms shipments into the Middle East--a plan which the Soviets have endorsed.
Neither Russia nor the Western nations have gained much from their recent policies of intervention in the Middle East. I suggest we now give organized non-intervention a trial. Some international problems are never solved; they just wear out. And the Arab-Israeli conflict may wear out before it is worked out. But meanwhile the United States should call upon the Soviet Union and everyone in the United Nations again and again to use their influence to harmonize relations between the Arab states and Israel and end this prolonged and useless hostility.
In the immediate future, however, the critical point of tension lies in Europe and Germany. There we have a perilous deadlock from which neither side can disengage without grave risk. On our side the fear is paramount that any withdrawal either from the exposed enclave of West Berlin or from West Germany would prove the first step in a general retreat from "positions of strength" in Europe. The end of the process could denude the Continent of American forces and undermine the defenses against a Russian advance to the Channel.
But the Soviets have comparable fears. The withdrawal of their troops to Russia would imperil the insecure Communist governments friendly to Russia and lead to the resurgence of a powerful and potentially hostile Germany. After suffering two shattering invasions in a generation, Russia's deep-seated fear of a rearmed Germany should not be hard for us to understand.
Russia's risk is probably greater than ours. After 15 years of Communism, East Germany and Eastern Europe are still probably hostile to Russia. On our side, Communism has steadily lost ground. A Europe free to choose its destiny would not be Communist, and could be very anti-Russian. For this reason I believe we in the West play from strength in Europe.
I agree with Dr. Adenauer that the key to settlement in divided Europe lies in controlled general disarmament. The only satisfactory settlement for divided Berlin will be the unification of divided Germany. The road to unification lies through a reduction of fear in Russia and the West. And fear will subside only when there is progress toward disarmament with adequate controls. I doubt if we can reach more than provisional settlements or postponements of the problems of divided Europe until then.
With summit conferences soon to take place, I think it would be improper and useless for me to discuss proposals that have been made for an atom-free zone in Central Europe, scaling down of Berlin garrisons and occupation armies, security guarantees, and the other detailed components of possible interim solutions.
VII. A SENSE OF PURPOSE
In all of these great issues of international policy--whether they concern a world investment program for the underdeveloped countries, or methods of closer association with Europe, or the creation of communities of common work and interest with the Soviets, or the whole long arduous search for controlled disarmament--the first priority for the West is to recover the initiative. Out of a perpetually defensive attitude no lasting gains can come. Surely the West, which has been preëminently the challenger in human affairs since the dawn of the modern age, should not let the initiative slip from its hands.
Today, let us be clear, we do not have the initiative. Having caught up with us in weapons, it is the Soviet Union that is shouting about disarmament and peaceful competition; and it is the Soviet Union, strong and self-confident, that is now usurping the role of leader in the efforts toward peace. Mr. Khrushchev is the challenger--from outer space to inner Berlin. We react to his policies and conduct the world's dialogue on his terms. Between hasty improvisations and snap decisions we seem largely to have lost our own sense of direction.
We are ourselves to blame for this. The truth is that nations cannot demonstrate a sense of purpose abroad when they have lost it at home. There is an intimate connection between the temper of our domestic leadership and the effectiveness of American influence in the world at large. President Wilson gave a profound new direction to international thinking because he was a pioneer of the New Freedom at home. President Franklin Roosevelt's universal prestige as a liberal force in the world was deeply rooted in the New Deal, and this was the tradition carried on by President Truman in such great ventures as the Marshall Plan and the Point Four program. The link is no less vital today. If we cannot recover an aspiring, forward-looking, creative attitude to the problems of our own community, there is little hope of our recovering a dynamic leadership in the world at large. By our default as much as by his design, Mr. Khrushchev is enabled to continue dictating the terms of the world's dialogue.
I see little sign of any challenging approach in positive terms to our problems at the present time. In the most radical and revolutionary epoch of man's history, the dominant concerns of our leadership have been almost wholly defensive. We have not been urged and spurred on by the positive opportunities of world-building and nation-building inherent in our position as the most fabulously endowed people mankind has ever seen. On the contrary, our foreign policy has been dominated by fear of Communism, our domestic policy by fear of inflation. Economic assistance programs have been "sold" to the American people chiefly as a means of checking the Communists, never as our creative part in extending our technological revolution to the rest of mankind. The spur to our exploration of the solar system has not been our restless desire to extend the boundaries of human knowledge. It has been the irritation of seeing the Russians hit the moon first. Our interest in greater excellence in research and education flared up not because we want every free citizen to exercise to the full his innate talents and capacities, but because the Russians are producing more scientists and technologists than the West.
Even where we accept the Soviet challenge--as I assume we do in defense, science and education--our sense of urgency is not yet sufficient to over-ride our obsessive fear that, in some way, in spite of having a gross national product of almost $500 billion and a per capita income almost twice as high as any other country's, we are staring bankruptcy in the face. How otherwise can we explain the fact that, with over twice the Soviet Union's national income, we have let them outpace us in arms, in space research, in proportional spending on education? How else are we to explain why our leaders see their most urgent task not in telling us the realities of our world and the duties and opportunities that lie ahead for a great and confident nation, but in warning us of all the insidious ways in which it can "spend itself" into penury?
The time has come to put an end to this unnatural timidity. There are other ways of securing a "sound dollar" than by stunting our national growth or--much worse--stunting our aspirations and our confidence in the great aims of our own society. Let us not measure our essential security, our standards of education and our public needs by "what we can afford." This is a static concept. What we could afford with a national income of $250 billion is not the same as our capacity today with nearly double the figure. Nor does it measure what we could afford if our rate of growth were purposefully increased.
Let us rather assess our needs--our need to maintain equality of strength, in missiles and men, until controlled disarmament takes its place, our need to double our spending on education, our need for wider research, our need for decent and gracious cities where segregation and delinquency give ground in the wake of redevelopment and renewal, our need to conserve our national resources--above all, water, the most basic of them all.
All these needs--domestic, foreign and military--will cost more money, at least until we can make some progress with disarmament. But keeping the budget down is not as imperative as keeping our heads up. It is worth noting that before the Korean War thoughtful men solemnly declared that if the military budget rose above $15 billion capitalism, democracy and the American way of life were doomed. Then came the war. The military budget was tripled. And now, once again, the present level of spending is being defended with the same ideological fervor.
I think our needs could be covered by existing tax rates at higher levels of economic growth. But I am sure that if our political leadership defines the tasks with clarity and conviction, we will approve what is necessary to fulfill our national purpose whatever the sacrifice--higher taxation in years when the private economy is running at full stretch, for instance, budgetary deficits in times of slack, restraint upon wages and profits to slow down inflationary pressure, less emphasis on sectional interests, more on the common good. The recompense will be to see American society once more the pace-setter in human affairs, to see freedom once more the great challenger on the human scene.
For this, surely, is the crux. An attitude of unadventurous conservatism cannot stand for long as the creative image of freedom. I tremble for our future--and for the world's future--if growth, thrust, initiative and the vast new frontiers of science are felt to be the prerogative of Communist discipline and drive--if "the shot heard round the world" has been silenced by the shot round the moon.
Freedom is not an ideal, it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set--and this in a world where half our fellow men have less than enough to eat. Today not rhetoric but sober fact bids us believe that our present combination of complacency and apprehension, of little aims and large fears, has within it the seed of destruction, first for our own community, and then for the larger hope that, as science and technology bring the nations inescapably together, freedom, not tyranny, will be the organizing principle of the society of man.
I end where I began. I believe the United States is ready for a new awakening and the achievement of greater goals. Within it are the moral and material elements of new purpose and new policy. It is the task of leadership to marshal our will and point the way. We had better start soon for time is wasting.