Will Ukraine Wind Up Making Territorial Concessions to Russia?
Foreign Affairs Asks the Experts
For some months, 1966 promised to be a year of significant albeit gradual change in American policy toward Communist China. In a strange and paradoxical fashion, the emotional issues of the Viet Nam War opened the way for the most sober, responsible and even-handed public discussion of China since the Communists came to power. At Congressional hearings and in the mass media, scholars and leaders of opinion have dispassionately calculated the possibilities for change, and Administration leaders have in their customarily guarded language intimated that change was not impossible. Most significant of all, the American public demonstrated a gratifying degree of maturity by forgetting the old passions and asking for only facts and analyses about the new China. Our national mood was increasingly one of believing that with prudence and wisdom it would be possible to work toward gradually incorporating China into responsible world relationships.
All of this, of course, was before the Cultural Revolution and the startling appearance of the Red Guards shook the gradually emerging American consensus as to what China was likely to become. While it is still too early to forecast the full implications of the current upheavals, we manifestly shall have to revise some of the estimates which informed that growing consensus. The Chinese are going to have more difficulties with the problems of succession than was generally believed a few years ago. Also, it now seems likely that more time than we had expected will have to pass before Chinese Communism will accept the realities of domestic economic and social life as inevitably limiting change. Although it is still appropriate for American policy to be guided by the certain fact that eventually Chinese Communism, like all underdeveloped but modernizing systems, will have to come to terms with both its own society and the world community, there is now more uncertainty as to how soon and in what form this will take place.
Once again we may be in the classic situation in which American hopes and sentiment are out of phase with Asian developments. It would indeed be tragic if the current American mood of exploration for new approaches should be frustrated by the current phase of Chinese domestic developments. Yet to humor this mood without regard to Asian realities could lead to an even greater tragedy, for it would surely produce bitterness toward those who were seen, however unjustifiably, as having given false forecasts about the Chinese response to our efforts at being reasonable. If we are to take advantage of the opportunities offered by current American attitudes, and to avoid the dangers of bitter backlashes if all does not go well, then it is important to reach a realistic judgment of the precise limits of our capacity to influence Chinese developments in particular and Asian events in general. What can we realistically expect of American policy? And what are the responsibilities we must try to meet?
When nearly thirty years ago A. Whitney Griswold sought to find the central theme in American policy in East Asia, he was most impressed with the rhythmic fluctuations of our involvement and withdrawal. This pattern suggested that we were indeed the masters of our policies, that we could choose at will to become more or less deeply committed. Today some Americans feel that the inevitable change in the tide has come and that we should be working gradually toward disengagement from the exasperating problems of Asia. Others are equally convinced that only a little more intensification and determination in our Asian involvements will bring a new era of security. Both points of view, however, share the assumption that the initiative lies primarily with the American government.
Today we see a more complex picture than that of rhythmic involvement and withdrawal. We can now appreciate that our involvement in Asia has been governed not only by our own inspiration but also by the instabilities of Asian politics. Indeed, it has become increasingly clear that the principal dynamic element has been shifts in the Asian balance of power itself. The profoundly destabilizing consequences of the modernization process in Asian societies have made these shifts sharper and more extreme than in Europe. The rhythm of change has been Asia's and it has dictated both the depth of American involvement and the possibilities of American withdrawal.
In coping with the situation, the United States has been prone to take as permanent what are separate and at times only limited phases in the history of modern Asia. Of equal importance, American policy has tried to increase predictability and purposeful change. Time and again we have followed the cycle of recognizing a disruptive situation early, proclaiming a principle in order to give support to the forces of order, and then stubbornly holding to a position so that others could adjust their behavior in response to the element of predictability we had introduced. The effort to interject a greater sense of stability into the area has at times made American policy appear to be a blend of opportunism and rigidity.
This combination of contradictions has been heightened by the fact that although we have been a constant actor on the Asian scene we have been only marginally absorbed with Asian affairs. Our typical policy approach has been to adopt unambiguous postures of a high order of generality which can easily be explained to the American public and which appear to provide a steadfast element in a changing Asia. We have not had to engage in the continual adjustment and man?uvre characteristic of deeply involved participants in an intense political process. The risks and returns alike have generally been uncertain and remote enough so that we could afford to stress high principles. Whenever the stakes have risen and we have had to follow more subtle and ambiguous policies, large numbers of the American public have been easily confused, for this is not what they have expected of Asia.
These are some of the themes and realities that have to be appreciated as a part of the historic American approach to Asia. They were all present at the time we responded to the realities of an impotent Chinese empire by enunciating the Open Door. Much has been made of our propensity at that time for legalistic formulations and moralistic pronouncements, but the basic fact was that we were trying to offset Chinese weakness by strengthening the prospects for orderly development. Later American policy had to respond to the reality that a modernizing and militaristic Japan was disrupting the Asian balance by its growing naval power. Again, behind the legalism of the Washington Naval Conference and the non-recognition of Manchukuo there was the reality of the American effort to bring stability and order to changes in the Asian power balance.
After World War II and the collapse of Japanese power, we were suddenly confronted with the unexpected phenomenon of a united China, apparently strong, and allied to the Soviet Union, leading to the theory that a Communist bloc would be forever bound together by ideology. Meantime, in Southern Asia the emergence of the former colonial countries, dramatized above all by India, produced the American stereotype, if not the doctrine, that Afro-Asian societies are typically devoted to rapid and planned economic development and neutralism in cold-war affairs. In seeking to stabilize a new Asian balance of power around the effort to contain China and vitalize a string of weak and disorganized new states, the United States has once again been led into being rigid and uncompromising. And since the Chinese threat has seemed more real than the prospects for rapid nation-building in the rest of Asia, the dogmatic element in the American position has had to be more negative than constructive.
As we have continued responding to erratic change in Asia, our position has inevitably become more complex. We have over the years developed a variety of commitments, a system of military bases for dealing with an assortment of contingency threats, and an array of techniques and programs for assisting Asians. These elements of policy have not been fitted together in an orderly or coherent fashion and in consequence provide only the bases for dealing pragmatically with new crises. Thus we now seem to be in the unique situation in Asia of having a greater potential for policy action but less coherence in policy than at any other time in our history.
The process of change in Asia and of response by America is still going on, and now American policy will have to respond to a new and complex set of changes. However, we have not as yet settled upon a new set of principles to guide us in dealing with an Asia with the following features: first, an emerging but isolated China absorbed with the domestic traumas of purge and succession; second, an India bitter toward China but ambivalent toward Communism and still groping for the key to both domestic development and greater international prestige; third, a vigorous Japan with more potential for power and influence than it is yet prepared to realize; fourth, a bankrupt Indonesia that has swung back from the brink of Communism to violent anti-Communism. And finally, of course, there is Viet Nam, not to mention the old problem of Laos and the possibilities of further crisis in Thailand.
The problem of finding an appropriate and coherent response to these novel developments is further complicated by the fact that American policy, at least since the Korean War, has been composed of two quite separate, but presumably complementary, dimensions. One has consisted of direct responses to the phenomenon of Communist China, in the form largely of security and general military measures, but involving also such troublesome diplomatic issues as recognition of the Peking régime and its admission to the United Nations. The other dimension has been our policies toward the countries of free Asia, including our concern to provide various forms of aid and assistance for economic and social development.
In the rather loose and general rhetoric in which grand policy pronouncements are made, it is possible to pretend that what our left hand and our right hand have been doing are all a part of a single great mission to contain Communist China and build up the rest of Asia. In practice, however, there has been a great gulf between those who have been centrally concerned with the problem posed by China and those who are professionally concerned with mainly economic but also other forms of development. The first have tended to feel that they are dealing with the basic problem of Asia and that all else is rather marginal. On the other hand, those absorbed with development problems have frequently been impatient with the logic of the cold war, bored with Chinese Communism and unconvinced that China is nearly as important as the China watchers claim it to be.
Each approach has had its distinctive rationale and each has called for different emphases and priorities. Yet for nearly a decade after the Korean War it has been possible for different Americans to react to their rather different Asias on the basis of a tolerable division of labor. At times one prong of the policy would compromise the other, as for example when the desire for security alliances and the apparent advantages of military aid challenged the logic of pure economic development strategies. In the main, however, the question of priorities could be put off, and there seemed to be little need to combine all our efforts into a single policy equation and to measure the relevance and effectiveness of all programs and activities against a truly coherent set of objectives in Asia.
We were able to avoid the question of priorities largely because during the first decades after World War II the new countries of Asia had such massive domestic problems of development that they quite understandably tended to turn inward and to ignore the problems of their neighbors, thereby allowing the United States to fall into the practice of providing bilateral aid and of treating the problems of each country separately. This tendency to treat development problems on a country-by-country basis minimized the need to deal with Asian problems as a whole. Although the Marshall Plan has been generally credited with establishing the principle of development aid, it is significant that when the scene shifted from Europe to Asia the focus also changed from regional planning to bilateral planning. During this period the problems of Asian development were seen in such a narrow national perspective that it was possible to talk about a development "race" between India and China that would of itself virtually determine the fate of Asia, without either country having to engage in any foreign-policy activities. At times we seemed to believe that most of the problems of Asia could be resolved if the free countries of the area would forego all foreign relations and single-mindedly concentrate each on its own internal development problems.
This benign and rather non-political view of the potency of economic development, enriched by our expectation as to what India might be able to represent to the whole developing world, was thrown into disarray, as were Indian policies themselves, by the shock effects of the Sino-Indian border conflict and by the growing war in Viet Nam. These and other recent fundamental changes have brought back into focus the inescapable fact that inter-state relations are going to be critical in determining the future of Asia. At the same time the Southeast Asian nations have gradually but significantly turned away from isolated concerns with domestic developments and have shown a growing interest in incipient forms of Asian coöperation. Not the least important reason for this trend is the fact that several of them are beginning to realize that there is an absolute ceiling on their prospects for economic development so long as they are limited to their small national markets. They have had to realize that their relatively small size and populations are not adequate for the creation of domestic markets large enough for setting up the heavy capital-goods industries requiring economies of scale. This new appreciation, which has come from the Asians themselves, is setting the stage for significant forms of regional coöperation.
This development can be profoundly significant in establishing the critically important mechanism of inter-state relations necessary if there is to be a balance of power in which the states of Southeast Asia supported by Japan, India and the United States can realistically find security. In fact, in looking ahead, it seems most likely that one almost certain consequence of any probable settlement of the Viet Nam War will be a massive infusion of American economic assistance to Southeast Asia which will spill over the boundaries of Viet Nam and provide a powerful stimulus for regional coöperation at a level which would have been inconceivable only a few years ago. In the light of what the United States did after previous Asian wars to rebuild and advance the economies of Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and given our intense emotional reactions to the Viet Nam War, we can expect that after the end of hostilities aid will be injected into Southeast Asia in quantities which will structurally change elements of the neutral economies involved and significantly advance regional development. As a result, economic development efforts in Southeast Asia will be based not on the earlier bilateral approach but rather on the broader foundations of multi-national markets.
In this respect Southeast Asian developments are likely to be less influenced in the future by the model of India and more by the realities of the Japanese economic contribution. Indeed, even limited coöperation among a few of the Southeast Asian states can provide the necessary formula for bringing Japan effectively into the process of supporting the Asian balance of power. As long as the countries of the region were dealing separately with their problems and as long as Japan was unsure of its role, there was no way of overcoming the residual feelings that trace back to World War II and the Japanese occupation of most of Southeast Asia.
In sum, it would appear not too unrealistic to see beyond the Viet Nam War the prospect of a considerably stronger and more integrated Southeast Asia in which Japan will be able to play an increasingly constructive role. Already Japan has taken the initiative in organizing the Asian Development Bank and in seeking more substantive ways of assuming a greater role in developing an Asian system of states.
Pronouncements about American policy which dwell mainly on optimistic possibilities for the economic development of Southeast Asia must seem to evade reality as long as no mention is made of Asia's central problem, Communist China. Has the time arrived to face more openly all the issues inherent in direct relations with China? As we observed at the outset, it seemed early in 1966 that a gradual but significant shift in American policy toward Communist China might take place which would lead to a broader range of relations. The Chinese, however, having plunged into their current self-destructive spiral of purge, succession crisis and teen-age rampage, are at present clearly in no position to talk soberly with anyone. They certainly cannot be expected at this time to engage in the delicate forms of communication which would have to precede any direct effort at improving United States-China relations.
Indeed, at a time when the Red Guards are producing the impression that the Chinese leaders have taken leave of their senses and when even Castro has concluded that Peking is "making a laughing stock of Socialism," an American effort to widen Chinese contacts with the outside world would appear to be merely a cynical act of psychological warfare. For the more people learn about the current realities of Communist China, the more they are likely to be shocked and distrustful of the ability of Peking to act responsibly in the international community. The fact is, however, that more direct and frequent forms of communication with the Chinese are not particularly central to the problem of American policy today. The real issues have little to do with human contacts but are deeply rooted in questions of military security and the future organization of Asia.
Indeed the key issue of policy toward China is the very basic judgment of what kind of a future force China is going to represent in Asia and the world. How powerful is China likely to become, and to what ends will the Chinese leaders direct this power?
Ever since the Korean War, security considerations have dominated American policy toward China. They bulked large in our overall policy at first because we were concerned about a China closely allied to the Soviet Union. Military planning with respect to China at that time had to include the possibility of general war against an extremely powerful enemy. Strangely, American security policies have not yet taken full account of the Sino- Soviet split and the consequent decline in Chinese power. The detonation of Chinese nuclear devices has helped to cover up Chinese weaknesses and has given a vague sense of justification for continuing to place a high priority on security considerations in the Western Pacific.
Looking ahead to the next stage in Asian developments, United States policy in general and security policies in particular will have to recognize the dramatic decline in what was once the Sino-Soviet combined threat and what is now only a nearly isolated Chinese threat. At present we are still uncertain as to how much weight should be given to Chinese military capabilities; and we have not only different judgments about Chinese capabilities but quite different policy deductions from similar evaluations. Thus it is possible to identify four influential views about the appropriate American attitude toward China, two of which stress China as a power and a threat and two of which emphasize the limits on Chinese capabilities.
First, there is the view reflected in some of Secretary McNamara's statements that China is a serious and growing military threat, and that therefore prudence demands a systematic increase in our security safeguards. And indeed the remarkable pace at which the Chinese have made progress in both nuclear and missile development suggests that we must give most serious attention to projections of what the Chinese may be capable of doing in the next few years and by the end of another decade.
It is important to recognize, however, that the tremendous efforts being made by the Chinese in this field constitute a grotesque pattern of national development which still leaves China weak in conventional military forces. The only way that they can use their investment in nuclear and missile development to cover up their basic weaknesses is for others to believe that this can be done. A sober military appraisal of foreseeable Chinese gains in conventional forces deflates considerably the notion of spectacular advance in Chinese strength. It is hard to believe that forces which were once considered sufficient to deter China when it was closely supported by the Soviets should not be adequate for checking an isolated China. Indeed, the realization that China now stands alone and that Chinese power depends solely upon Chinese resources has encouraged a trend in Japan toward more realistic security policies. Combined with the Indian build-up after the border war, this development suggests the possibility of a greater Asian contribution to the balancing of China in non-nuclear respects. As long as American nuclear forces are employed to deter the Chinese nuclear threat, China does not appear to have the necessary conventional strength to disrupt the Asian balance. Therefore, in the meantime we would be playing the Chinese game if we allowed their militant language and rhetoric to exaggerate our estimate of their actual power.
A second influential American view also sees China as a rising power but counsels an exactly opposite response. Foreseeing ominous but unspecified dangers, the spokesmen for this position conclude that the only way the United States can get off a "collision course" with Communist China is to disengage gradually from the Asian mainland and retreat to offshore positions from which we can apply our advantages in air and sea power. The image of a powerful and dangerous China also reinforces vague anxieties that the United States may be overextended, particularly in Asia. This view is probably shaped more by reaction to the war in Viet Nam than to the realities of Communist China. Indeed, since much of the sense of urgency behind this view is inspired by concern over any form of escalation in the Viet Nam conflict, it is difficult to judge how significant it will be in the post-Viet Nam period. In the meantime, it has been considerably undermined by the contradictory arguments that China can be effectively contained by United States airpower but that the current air attacks can have no effect on Hanoi. Also, the very pace at which the Chinese have been developing their nuclear and missile programs, combined with our determination to prevent further nuclear proliferation, means that in time it will become increasingly difficult to consider any withdrawal of American nuclear force from Asia.
In contrast to these two viewpoints is the position of those who see a significant decline in Chinese military capabilities since the break with Russia. One influential group recognizes China's military weaknesses and argues that from our position of strength we can now follow a policy of "containment without isolation." It assumes that Peking's rule is firm, that the transfer of leadership will be relatively orderly and that China will steadily become a more significant actor on the international stage. Therefore, in this view, the time has arrived to work toward more extensive and presumably more mutually satisfying relations with Peking.
Finally, there is a fourth view which also sees the weaknesses of the Chinese, but concludes that now is the time not to treat with Peking but rather to establish as firmly as possible the norms or standards of future international relations in Asia. And of course the critical principle to be established at this moment is the inadmissibility of indirect forms of aggression. Partisans of this view are convinced of the inability of the Chinese to intervene directly in Viet Nam, but are impressed with the Chinese potential for coaxing others into international mischief. More generally they hold that there is little to be gained from trying to establish a broader dialogue with Peking, that the mere effort can be frustrating and exhausting because even a weak China is hopelessly stubborn, and that therefore there is more to be gained by concentrating on the other dimension of American policy in Asia.
Any attempt to evaluate these points of view must be tempered by an appreciation of all the imponderables which will shape the prospects of Communist China. Current developments in that strange land, however, suggest that those who have taken the more qualified view of Chinese power are on firmer ground. This means that the serious debate about American policy will be between those who hold the third and fourth points of view and that some variation of these positions should provide the guiding principles for the next phase of American policy.
At this moment the upheavals in China make it exceedingly awkward for those who have pressed for finding ways to reduce Chinese isolation. Indeed, the proponents of this point of view, who deserve serious consideration precisely because they do appreciate the realities of Chinese weakness, run the danger of appearing to be rigidly doctrinaire if they cannot adjust to changing circumstances. Yet it would be quite improper to dismiss a policy approach for the longer run which seems absurd in the immediate context of the current Chinese fit of madness. Any strategy for maximizing the possibilities of moderation in China deserves sympathetic but rigorous analysis.
On the face of it, and taken solely as a slogan of policy, the recommendation that the United States should actively encourage the forces of moderation in China has considerable appeal. The problem, of course, is whether a gratifying posture can be an effective policy. Often the case for a "more relaxed and flexible posture" toward China is based on little more than an innocent faith in what might be called the pull of symmetry; if we display moderation and restraint the Chinese will gradually do likewise, but if we are rigid and hostile they will be the same. Thus the mere act of appearing to be more moderate is supposed to strengthen moderate forces in China, if not right away, at least in the next generation.
Leaving aside whether this proposition is valid, there is still the more limited question of its applicability to the Chinese Communists. Even if everyone agrees that the American objective should be to encourage a more moderate China, is this the best way of going about it? Is there any reason to believe that it is likely to be more effective than, say, the exact opposite approach-that of inhibiting and frustrating the Chinese until they are prepared to be more moderate and reasonable in international relations? Or is this a matter which cannot be appraised objectively, which means that the question is reduced to which approach is subjectively the most satisfying for Americans? After all, there are those who say that for some time we have been using China policy primarily to gratify our moralistic bent, and that the time has come to demonstrate the other side of our national character: pragmatic reasonableness.
Over the last few years there has been almost nothing in the record of Peking's behavior to suggest we can so easily influence Chinese attitudes. Indeed, it would be easier to make the case that the Chinese have tended to adopt postures directly opposite to those of the United States. For example, when we were being most rigid in opposition to Peking, the Chinese were enthusiastically joining in the benign spirit of Bandung and talking generally about good will among nations. More recently, the more we have tempered our criticism of China, the more intemperate the Chinese denunciations of the United States have become.
Those who advocate explicitly encouraging Chinese forces of moderation are generally realistic enough to recognize that it will be impossible to shake the fanaticism of the generation of the Long March, suggesting rather that our object should be to persuade the next generation of leaders that they can afford to be moderate and reasonable. The difficulty with this argument, of course, is that much of Mao's seeming madness stems precisely from the fact that he suspects this may be our game. Whatever the state of Mao's mind at this stage of his life may be, he certainly is sensitive to any signs that the spirit of his brand of Communism may be softening. More important, he has explicitly demonstrated that he makes the same deduction about the eroding effects of science and technology upon Communist ideology as Western analysts have done. Indeed, almost the essence of Mao's charge against "revisionism" is that Khrushchev allowed a technocratic class to come to positions of influence in the Soviet Union, and even worse, he allowed Russian scientists to meet their Western colleagues in situations which emphasized the universality of technical considerations and muted the importance of politics. A prime purpose of the "cultural revolution" is to drive out all vestiges of "bourgeois thought," which has increasingly come to mean any willingness to hold political considerations in abeyance. Therefore those qualities which we count on the most to produce moderation in the next generation, the technocratic approach to problem-solving and the apolitical spirit of science, are precisely those that Mao recognizes as the most dangerous.
In short, the Chinese are determined that what happened in the Soviet Union and in Soviet-American relations will not be repeated in their case, and they will certainly devise policies to thwart any American attempts to further such a development. Given this, any strategy explicitly designed to offer comfort to potential moderates in China is likely to be self- defeating, and, even worse, destructive of precisely the very individuals we would want to help. It is understandable that Americans would like to forget aspects of Stalin's Russia, but it is inexcusable to forget so soon the elementary principles of prudence called for in dealing with totalitarian systems and to compromise the safety of people who must live under the emotionalism of Mao's China. For American policy to take as its avowed goal the "encouragement of moderate elements" can be to make suspect the very people we want to help. This is a very high price to pay, even though it gives us a sense of satisfaction at being eminently reasonable in the face of China's hate and hostility.
To gain a sense of perspective on what the United States can realistically hope to accomplish in influencing developments in China, it is helpful to keep in mind the difficulties others have had in trying to do the same thing. The Russians had far more intimate associations with the Chinese than the United States can possibly have in the foreseeable future, and were presumably anxious to influence the Chinese in the direction of moderation, yet clearly they not only failed but made matters worse for themselves. This despite the fact that they had the advantage of presumably sharing a common ideological framework with the Chinese and not being initially identified, as America is, as a sworn enemy. Likewise, it is difficult to see how the Indians, the Japanese, the British and the French, each in their quite different ways, have had any influence at all in reshaping Chinese developments in the direction of moderation.
It is of course true that other countries, in spite of their difficulties with China, have been exceedingly flattering of American influence by suggesting that a modest shift in American attitudes could produce profound changes in Chinese behavior. American policy-makers, however, cannot afford to confuse Chinese weaknesses and the basic inabilities of the Chinese to support materially their revolutionary pretensions throughout the under- developed world with an exaggerated view of what America can do to influence the evolution of Chinese society. The fact that China cannot effectively export her brand of revolution should not suggest that she is now vulnerable to the importation of American moderation.
None of this is to say that the ultimate trend of history is not in the direction of a steady moderation of the Chinese revolution. Although it is impossible to foresee the precise turn that events are likely to take in China, the general drift there is now fairly clear. Just as the Great Leap brought an end to the illusion that the Chinese Communists might have a magical solution to the problems of rapid economic development, the "Great Cultural Revolution" and the rampaging of the Red Guards have ended the remaining illusion about the magic of Chinese organizational abilities. The Chinese advances in economic development are never going to seem quite as impressive as they might have had there not been the pretensions of the Great Leap; and similarly, Chinese political development will be indefinitely compromised by the folly of using teenagers to purge both party and country. It is hard to imagine what could have caused Mao Tse- tung to set into motion a series of acts which can only destroy the precious mystique of party authority. From now on, government is going to be more difficult than before, and in spite of all the chanting of slogans it will be difficult to recapture its revolutionary élan.
What all this means, then, is that paradoxically the current upheavals will accelerate the day on which Chinese Communism will have to give up its pretensions and come to terms with the realities of Chinese resources and the basic facts of Chinese society. For American policy this means that we should have firm confidence that time will bring moderation in China and that the Chinese will be proved wrong in their forecast that "people's revolutions" will ignite the developing areas. This is now the basic issue which has in a sense replaced the earlier debate as to whether history is on the side of Capitalism or of Communism.
Precisely because we can have such confidence in our analysis of the eventual trend of events, it is we who should be prepared to settle for "peaceful competition" and not try to engage in small manipulations to "speed up the course of history." Specifically, this means that we should forego the temptation to engage in petty and marginal attempts to accelerate the processes of change by seeking "channels of communications" which can only be irritants to the Chinese. Just as we once learned that there was little to be gained and possibly much lost by trying to manipulate the weakening of Soviet Communism, so we should recognize that the same is true with Chinese Communism.
In the next phase of the history of Asia, American policy is going to have to learn how to stand by while the Chinese go through the inevitable process of adapting and accommodating Communism to the real needs of their society. Until they have worked out for themselves what is to be the nature of Chinese, as opposed to Maoist, Communism, it is going to be exceedingly difficult to seek direct adjustment in American-Chinese relations. A counsel of patience should in the meantime replace the appeal of urgency which surrounded so much of the earlier discussion of the emergence of revolutionary Chinese power. To look back over the record of change in China in the last few years is to recognize the costs that would have been entailed in premature efforts to establish broader relations with China.
It is clear, for example, that China as it was before the Great Leap would have been more difficult to integrate into world politics than the later China. Similarly, a China that had experienced only the Great Leap and not the Red Guards would have been a more troublesome partner in international relations than the China that is going to emerge out of the current upheavals. Time has also given the rest of the world an increasingly clear appreciation of the pretensions and realities of Communist China. Indeed, it is precisely the need to understand better this gap between pretension and reality, between rhetoric and capability, that is a prerequisite of an improved China policy.
To counsel patience in finding possible ways of "communicating" with the Chinese is not to say that we should sit back and wait. On the contrary, the situation seems to call for far more significant action than such comparatively trivial matters as trying to arrange for exchange visits of newsmen and scholars. What is urgently needed is for America to apply again its classic approach of responding to the uncertainties of Asian developments-this time by directing attention to establishing a new Asian system of inter-state relationships in which Chinese power and interests will be appropriately recognized.
There are already a number of fundamental issues affecting the Asian balance of power which involve the structure of American bases and nuclear policies. These should be clarified in any comprehensive formulation of the future of Asia. And if we can assume a satisfactory outcome to the Viet Nam conflict, it will be urgently necessary to balance the Chinese sense of defeat with a constructive and very concrete statement of just what the United States means when it says that it is prepared to respect the "legitimate interests" of China.
The need is to make unmistakably clear what kind of Asia it is to which China must adjust, and to mobilize the rest of Asia to convince the Chinese that they can find security in such an Asia. In the past when we made our grand statements about Asia, such as in our enunciation of the Open Door, we did not have the capabilities we have now to affect Asian developments. What we lack now, however, is the grand formulation. This cannot be merely a matter of rhetoric; it must deal with such hard matters as the disposition of nuclear forces and the possibilities for trade and travel between parts of divided countries.
The reason that it is appropriate at this time, and would have been premature any earlier, is that at last much of the illusion about China has been stripped away and it is possible to discern fairly clearly the realities of Chinese power and the pace of Chinese progress. We can help to reduce the remaining gap between Chinese pretensions and reality by providing Chinese leaders, whether extremists or moderates, with a vivid sense of the kind of Asia they will have to live in.
With such large matters to be resolved in Asia in the immediate years ahead, it would be most unfortunate if the current American interest in discussing new approaches to China were to lead only to the examination of tactics for communicating with the Chinese and the old issue of United Nations membership. Only a slight raising of our sights might make it possible for us to reëstablish a true coherence in our policies by at last bringing together the two parts of what has been our bifurcated approach to Asia.
It may seem quixotic at a time when American forces are deeply involved in an ugly war in Viet Nam to call for discussion about what should follow after containment in Asia. Yet unfortunately so much of the discussion about Viet Nam has focused upon how we got there that we are in danger of once again fighting through a war without developing a vision of the political possibilities and necessities of the postwar period. The Viet Nam War itself and the advancing forces of regionalism in Southeast Asia will have demonstrated that China has been contained. Therefore many of the issues which have dominated debates on both China policy and the Viet Nam War should be put aside and vision should be directed to the far larger matter of the organization of a post-containment Asia.