The Overstretched Superpower
Does America Have More Rivals Than It Can Handle?
Problems loom larger in the world today than the power or the policies to solve them. The American decision to halt military escalation in Viet Nam; the British decision to withdraw from Singapore in 1971; the Russian decision to occupy Czechoslovakia; the French decision to devalue-these are not confident, controlled decisions foreseen or foreseeable as planned projections of previously defined policies and aspirations, or as consistent with the image each country sought to create of itself and for itself. They are adjustments to the unfulfilled or the unexpected. Similarly, the international organizations-the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, the Afro-Asian grouping- have found that new names do not dissolve old realities. The decline of the arrogance of idealist power is matched by the decline of the arrogance of military power, leaving a climate for mutually conceding and mutually beneficial compromises of interests. Leadership is at a discount: the crescendo of charismatic contrivance has passed even in Communist China, and none too soon; with it has gone the illusion of morally legitimate and psychologically satisfying fulfillment of inevitable and predictable destiny. A new generation of leaders capable of achieving an institutional and pragmatic fulfillment of previous promise has yet to emerge.
This turbulence at the turn of an historical tide occurs at a time when a new generation has come of age in a world of broken bench-marks. Half of the world's population is under 21 years of age, born since the end of the war of 1939-45. In the Asian context, they have been born since Gandhi's assassination. This is not merely a difference of background and a contrast of contemporary experience. The leaders of the world, mainly belonging to the generation over 50 years of age, were born near the end of the First World War, and lived through the hopes and delights of the 1920s, the world economic crisis, the rise of Fascism, Nazism and Communism, the Spanish Civil War, the collapse of the League of Nations, the failure to prevent a Second World War, and the disintegration of the old imperial power structure concentrated in the decade 1947-57. For the boys born in 1945, the problems of the world in which they live are complicated enough to cause war and put them into uniform. They know that war, with its simplistic psychology of solubility, is a symptom, not a solution, of certain strain and stress; and many, looking to Marcuse on the campus or to Guevara in the jungle, have retreated into the kind of rebellious romanticism of Rousseau, who contributed to the climate of revolution which brought a Robespierre and then a Napoleon in France.
On the clouded, crowded stage of the world today, the consequences of concurrent political, industrial and social revolutions, the simultaneous summation of revolutions which the West created and experienced in series, are being judged by the people of the new states by their pragmatic results rather than by their professed principles. To reverse the old dictum: when justice appears to be done, justice is done. Historically, it is at a time when the West? Hamlet-like, is most divided and despondent that the new countries, in their search for modernization, seek to absorb the explosively evolved experience of the developed countries into their own patterns of ideas and institutions.
Since the end of the most revolutionary of wars, that of 1939-45, we have misjudged or misdefined the essence and extent of its explosive effect, and, therefore, the complexity and the magnitude of the postwar task of building a new basis, a new structure and a new balance for today's newest of worlds.
The War of 1939-45 was indeed a World War, with every continent feeling the threat if not the fact of war, and with participants from every continent, each with their distinct and explicit expectations from the outcome. Yet the great powers, whose pattern of thought dominated the peacemaking by defining the purpose and the justification of that war, thought not in terms of the discontinuity created by their own success but in terms of the continuity of their own aspirations and interests,, These had been conceived by the United States and the Soviet Union in their isolationist and idealist years between the wars and were deceptively defined in universalized terms, each according to its ideology, America, the "Associated Power" after 1917, and Russia, the disassociated power after 1917, became the dominant war powers of 1942-45; and if Clemenceau and Lloyd George, representing European interests, were to outman?uvre President Wilson at Versailles, Franklin Roosevelt and Stalin aimed to set the pace of peace at Yalta. Stalin on the defeat of Japan was more concerned to erase the humiliation of Russian defeat in 1905 than with the future implications of the atomic mushroom over Hiroshima. Although there was more realism at the creation of the United Nations than at the creation of the League of Nations, as illustrated by the downgrading of the founding document from a Convenant to a Charter, this realism was a projection of the past rather than an anticipation of the future.
Applying the lessons of its own success and of the failings of its predecessors in power, the United States confidently took over the responsibility for the effective use of the power it superabundantly had; the ideals of the Atlantic Charter, broadened to an Asian-African Charter, would replace those of "Das Kapital" as they had those of "Mein Kampf." In 1945, there was a feeling of success in finding, in the second attempt, the correct solution to the problem of an essentially unchanged world; and the Allied Powers having won the greatest war by any standards, not least those of the mobilization of men, materials and mechanism, felt that man was at last in control of his future and could surely achieve the greatest, the longest and the best peace. Yet Viet Nam 24 years later does not fit this picture.
Stalin at Yalta pursued the policy that One Socialism in One Country was on the way to One Socialism in One World; yet in 1969, Peking and Prague are unpredictable problems for Moscow. Churchill's Gibbonish growl that he had not become Prime Minister to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire proved to be a personal opinion rather than a national policy when his Fabian successor, Attlee-by giving independence to India and Pakistan- reduced by 75 percent the greatest empire the world had ever seen. As the Malay proverb has it, when the elephant breaks through the stockade, the lesser animals will follow.
These changes were not temporary aberrations of an old world, but permanent manifestations of a new world which needed to be understood by the great powers which created it and which must ensure its survival. The dissolution by presence of mind of the British Empire which had been created, to use Professor Seeley's classic phrase, "in a fit of absentmindedness," is one of the greatest revolutions of power-structure of all time, destroying irrevocably the congenial climate of imperial ideas and the operative calculus of" imperial power. The euphonious and euphoric British phrases of Commonwealth fulfillment and coöperation in a pattern of constitutional change, still symbolized by a redefined British Crown, masked the revolutionary change in the pattern of world power. The world role of the British navy and of sterling as the currency of half the world; the rights of Commonwealth citizens in the United Kingdom now under frenetic discussion; the validity of British passports and of the promise of Palmerstonian protectiveness, as in the historic Don Pacifico case-all presupposed British power to hold, after the dissolution of imperial institutions, its primacy of leadership, obligation and capacity.
In fact, whatever the United Kingdom had been, it had now become a nation of 50,000,000 people which was required to redefine its aims and reassess its strength-strategic, diplomatic and economic-in national rather than imperial terms. The logic was expressed by Mr. Harold Wilson in his speech at the Guildhall in November 1968, when he said that in the Commonwealth "Britain had also achieved its independence among the 28 sovereign members." But British policy gives the appearance of minimal and reluctant adjustment to technically unforeseeable and morally undeserved external pressures rather than a necessary redefinition of image and ideas and restructuring of institutions in terms of a nation.
The age of Empire is past; and the age of nation-state has emerged. Out of the 11 empires of this century came the new nations and the 126 members of the United Nations. The U.N. Charter was originally signed by 51 states, the sum total of the roll of freedom at the time. In 24 years, 75 have been added to that roll-making more than have ever existed at any time since men thought and spoke in terms of nation-states. This is indeed a population explosion in the birth of nations. Only Russia and Portugal retain their imperial gains, though not unchallenged. Power has been both reallocated and dispersed, and the units of political decision have multiplied in number and their contrasts of size magnified. China's population today is 750,000,000, twice as large as that of the British Empire at its peak on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee; the smallest member of the United Nations has a population of less than 100,000.
The political contours of the map of the world have been transformed. The high imperial mountain ranges have collapsed; a large number of isolated hills, and among them the high isolated peaks of the two superpowers, have emerged, while two other peaks, China and India, are rising. Round the great powers are foothills or piedmonts of power. It is as if the Andes and the Himalayas were to sink in a geographical seismic revolution and new compensating contours were to arise from the plains. Just as what was geographically visible would be accepted, analyzed and adjusted to, and from the new map new routes of travel would be evolved, there must be a parallel adjustment to the new political map.
Four of these major changes in the pattern of power are illustrated by, and focused on, Southeast Asia. There the intelligence and the will of the world to adjust ideas and policies to the revolutionary changes of strategic and political infrastructure which have already taken place are under experimental testing.
They are: the change of focus to the area of Asia and its two oceans; the problem of great-power status without an imperial infrastructure; the problems of nation-building which confront more than half the nations of the world; and the problems of building a stable balance of power out of the new pattern of multiple national power of the post-imperial age. Power, having been dispersed, must be harmonized before it can be harnessed to whatever purpose mankind defines for itself.
Because the maps of the schoolrooms of the '30s dominate the decisions of the men of the '6os, the Asian-centered world is the most decisive change, and the most difficult to accept.
Asia's population is nearly 60 percent of the world's population. If China and India alone were to go to war, nearly 40 percent of the people of the world would be at war, more than were involved in the so-called First World War. It is an area of new problems, which past books or past diplomatic files have neither defined nor wrestled with; and these problems are faced by new leaders with new administrative organizations and acting in the name of peoples who for the first time are actively and consciously associated with these problems. This is not a new dimension of an old world; this is a new world with a new focus.
Basic to an understanding of Asian problems is that Asia is one continent but a continent of two oceans, the Indian and the Pacific. As it develops, it must look southwards and seawards. The high Himalayas, the inhospitable Tibetan plateau and the deep ravines through which all the great rivers of Asia flow to their fertile deltas and the sea, have kept India and China apart. It is only now that India and China have become in any real sense adjacent, although it is not yet possible to travel by road or rail between the twin foci of Asian history and politics-Delhi and Peking. The pattern of military roads is changing this but overland transport can never develop as a quick and cheap route for mass transport. There was the mediæval northern silk route-long, difficult and dangerous; the North of Asia is now part of Russia, which occupies more Asian real estate than any other political unit on the continent and which hitherto has insulated itself ideologically and strategically. With new road patterns planned from Moscow through Afghanistan and beyond, and with non-communist airlines (JAL the first) being allowed to fly across Siberia, Russia may seek to build herself into the world pattern of communications. But time and costs of construction and of operation are not likely to allow land transport to compete (unless strategic calculations supervene) with the traditional and cheaper communication by the sea to the south.
And it is more than symbolic that the British withdrawal from Singapore is visualized in naval rather than military or air-force terms. In Stalin's classic classification of states as land and sea animals, Asian states are land animals; and Asia and Africa are as vulnerable to foreign naval power today as when Vasco da Gama found the "soft underbelly" of Asia (to adopt Winston Churchill's wartime phrase from its European context) and outflanked Asia's land defenses, which only Alexander the Great had penetrated. Whether for peace or war, the last dimension of indigenous Asian power, the sea, is beginning to be developed.
Its focal position in Asia forms the world aspect of the problems of Southeast Asia, 60 percent of whose area is sea, 60 percent of whose population lives on islands, all of whose capital cities except Vientiane are accessible from the sea, and whose basic pattern of communications, to realize the wealth of its islands and peninsulas, must be by sea. Lying astride the Indian and the Pacific Oceans, no major Asian power can be disinterested in Southeast Asia's control of Asia's major arterial highway, which runs through the Straits of Malacca. Already Japan must bring over 80 percent of its oil supply from the Middle East by this route, and it has signed an agreement to bring iron ore from India. A 230,000-ton tanker has already berthed in Singapore, and as it found difficulty in negotiating the shallow waters of the Straits of Malacca, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have been engaged since January in a joint survey of the Straits. And with 400,000-ton tankers on the drawing board, cheap, bulk transport by sea is established as an essential element of Asia's emerging economy.
Though the Pacific and Indian Oceans may be seen as Asian and African waters, it does not follow that Africa is seen as the eastern limit of a Western-controlled Atlantic or that Asia is seen as the western limit of an American-controlled Pacific. In this context, there emerges clearly the crucial problem of the Indian Ocean, the real power vacuum which is revealed, though not created, by the British withdrawal from the illusion of control of the past decade. The Russian flotillas in the Indian Ocean in 1968 and exploratory visits by American fleet units, with continuing Polaris submarine patrols, concern power and not prestige. They serve notice that the arch of British power from South Africa to Australia, with India as the coping stone, requires the concern of the new architects of new power, whether or not the builders are the countries surrounding the ocean, with or without naval assistance from outside the area. But as the Afro-Asian ocean, in a world which has made Afro-Asia conceptually a reality, the Indian Ocean is a vacuum which cannot be left unfilled.
Russia's growing interest derives from her own marine transport from the Black Sea to Vladivostok; and her wish-and that of the other East European powers-to play a part in the Asian economy as buyer, seller and carrier gives long-term projection to her short-term interests involved in the Viet Nam conflict and its effect on her relations with China. Russia has no wish to see the Straits of Malacca under the control of China, or any other great power which could deny their use to her.
Australia too is a child of the two oceans-the Indian and the Pacific. If the sea channels through Southeast Asia are blocked, the link of the two oceans must run south of Australia, which is looped irrevocably into the magnetic field of Asian urgency or turbulence, with all the limitations it imposes on Australia's options. With its cluster of population on the Pacific-oriented coast, it feels protected by the United States in that ocean. Yet West Australia, where its newly discovered mineral resources are concentrated, faces onto the Indian Ocean, without Australia's defense commitments having been adjusted to its two-ocean orientation. The wish of Malaysia and Singapore for joint defense arrangements with Australia stems not only from a wish to retain old friends, or to perpetuate a relationship of Commonwealth origin, but from their joint interest in contributing to stability in the insular area between the two oceans of which Australia is a geopolitical part The policies of insular Australia, however continental the country's dimensions, cannot be based purely on a Pacific orientation.
More nations are a-building today than ever previously existed in world history, and this is essentially a political problem, in true lineal descent from the Greek concept of building an organic "polis," a common way of life. This involves a choice both of pattern and process, and a fulfillment both of normative as well as constructive politics, as when Richard Henry Lee spoke for the 13 United Colonies in saying that "they are and of right ought to be free and independent states."
The lack of new political ideas today, compared with the period from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, masks the fact that this is the most political period of human history, when more men organized in more units are making more contemporaneous experiments in nation-building in more cultural contexts than ever before. And these nations are the new basic units through whose success alone the new world can be built. Nations are not happening; they are, with varying degrees of success, being laboriously built out of colonial units. A nation is a new focus of loyalty, a new core of cohesion, a new integration of interests, a new center of decision-making and a new way of life. A nation requires intellectual definition, emotional attunement and practical embodiment. As against the individual or communal basis of a past colonial society and an alternative basis of future unity in class or creed or color, the political nation-state must establish itself by corning to terms with other foci of loyalty. National politics, a national economy and a national culture must be simultaneously and harmoniously planned.
There must be broader-based and more productive national economies to prevent the revolution of rising expectations from becoming, in the words of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's Prime Minister, "the revolution of rising frustrations." And there must be a commonly shared way of life, satisfying the people internally, and distinctive from the ways of other nations. This change from colony to nation is a revolution in political fundamentals requiring the state to define aims, take initiatives and administer and finance new policies and institutions. And as the people were essentially involved in the process by which pressure was brought on the colonial régime to withdraw, their past routine has been disturbed and their future expectations are roused. As the chorus in the drama of creating nationalism, they remain on stage for its fulfillment Their participation in creating power and their anticipation of the fruits of power make for turbulence in the process, and the magnitude of the problem of meeting their needs makes for difficulty and delay in the achievement.
The process of nation-building is forward-looking, and countries with inherited traditions must adjust to the new types of leadership and to the new role of the ordinary man, whether as worker, fighter, voter or consumer. They must also adjust to the social changes of urbanization and modernization necessary for the deployment and enjoyment of the new technological forces. Confucius is in conflict with Maoist Marxism, Gandhi's spinning wheel with the textile machines of Ahmadabad, whose owners financed the Congress Party.
The process of change has been the more complicated in Southeast Asia because, in addition to traditional indigenous differences, four empires had brought there four European traditions and languages. India had been united by the British Raj and knew one foreign language and one tradition of law, language, political ideas and institutions. These they used to get independence in unity (with the exception of Pakistan). But Southeast Asia was divided by its languages and political inheritances from the British, Dutch, French and Spanish-cum-American empires. Anticolonialism did not inherit or create regional unity. Mutual assistance was minimal. In this setting Thailand, which had never been a colony, has been the catalyst and core of regionalism.
The nations of Southeast Asia also illustrate that the method by which power is achieved determines the method by which it continues to operate. As India continues, though with less success, to be governed by the Congress Party under Mrs. Gandhi, so in Indonesia, Sukarno, who always appeared in uniform, was succeeded by General Suharto, In the Philippines power was achieved by political leaders in the American tradition, and so it continues; in Singapore, control gained by a political defeat of the communists continues to prove the effectiveness of political power; while Malaysia, uncertain of its inheritance, contains elements of both a multiracial political basis for power and a monoracial military base.
Southeast Asia also illustrates the difficulties of nations re-emerging within boundaries derived from the accidents of imperial rule. None of the boundaries of Southeast Asia are the expressions of Southeast Asian history, nor were there settled pre-colonial boundaries to which to return. Sabah and West Irian are outstanding cases of disputes based on Western antecedents. Indonesia's basic claim to West Irian is as successor-state to the Dutch, while Cambodia inherits from the proud days of Angkor Wat its differences with Thailand and Viet Nam-held in abeyance during the colonial era. With such significant minority groups in so many nations of Southeast Asia the passive multiracialism of an expatriate colonial régime must be transformed into the active multiracialism of an indigenous national régime.
Thus in Southeast Asia more indigenous and colonial traditions are at work than in any other comparable area in the world, and the richer the mix the more difficult the sorting. Here are illustrated the problems of nation- building in all their varied complexity, whether of size, as between Indonesia with its 112 million and Singapore with its 2 million, or of pattern of politics-military, communist or parliamentary. National salvation is being sought by self-isolation, by alliance with an external great power, by regional association and by striving for a balance of world and regional power which minimizes the risks of war and maximizes economic opportunity. Learning from European experience, Southeast Asia does not want to be Balkanized, when its combined population of 250,000,000 could give it the weight of a great power. Nor, after watching 27 years of war- clouds over Viet Nam, does it wish to be the "Cockpit of Asia,"
Each new political unit first seeks the sovereignty of itself, then seeks security and strength in new voluntary associations to replace the involuntary associations of empire. Association by geographical contiguity was accepted in Chapter VIII of the U.N. Charter, which sanctioned the sub- internationalism (or super-nationalism) of regionalism. This reflected American policy in South America, as well as the hard experience of the nations which emerged in 1919 from the disintegration of the Austro- Hungarian Empire. In accordance with the old pattern of empire, association continued, out of old habits or new incentives, between the colonies-become- nations and the former metropolitan countries. Finally, the climate of the cold war dramatically and urgently suggested at least the short-term need for ideological and military alignment.
But to assume that these were other than provisional alignments ignored the psychology of new-born states, as it was expressed by George Washington (for a nation which Professor Seymour Lipset has suggestively described as the "First New Nation") in the classic argument of his Farewell Address. For Washington in 1797 or for Nehru in 1947, nonalignment was a policy of self-withdrawal and disinvolvement as a necessary preliminary to self- discovery and self-fulfillment; and only through experiencing the vulnerability of self-defense and the limitations of self-subsistence did the new states come to realize the disparity between their capabilities and their interests and aspirations. To remedy these hitherto intractable incapacities they seek voluntarily chosen and interest-oriented alignment. Paradoxically it is the most aligned nations which have achieved least in self-reorganization; they have sought insurance against change by alignment in defense of the status quo. It may well be that today's aligned nations may become the nonaligned nations of tomorrow, when the normalcy of change finds a congenial climate or becomes an irresistible urge; while today's nonaligned may become the more aligned because their alignments will then be an expression of proven indigenous urges and needs.
In the face of indigenous and imperial traditions of division. Southeast Asia has graduated to regionalism both in membership and in the purposes of its regional organizations.
SEATO, set up on September 8, 1954, declared itself a "Collective Defense Treaty," an exercise of Dullesian desperation after the Geneva Conference accepted the logic, both in French politics and international relations, of the battle of Dien Bieo Phu. It was in fact a military alliance seeking diplomatic justification. It was a temporary alliance hoping it contained seeds of permanence. It was an alliance about Southeast Asia, for with only two of its eight members being in Southeast Asia, it could not be an alliance of Southeast Asia. Nor was it so defined, for its declaration of principles was called "The Pacific Charter."
The Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), established July 31, 1961, by Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines was the first regional grouping all of whose members were Southeast Asian and whose horizon was regional. The inaugural declaration explicitly stated that the Association "is in no way connected with any outside power and is directed against no other country." But it represented a consensus of conservatism by states contented with the status quo.
Maphilindo, established by the Manila Declaration of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia in 1963, was essentially a racially divisive alliance in a multiracial area-a projection of Sukarno's guided democracy into Southeast Asia made possible by its value to President Macapagal as an Asian counterbalance to American influence.
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)? which replaces ASA and Maphilindo, is the largest purely regional grouping yet. It includes 80 percent of the people of Southeast Asia; it includes all the nations of the Southern tier; and it includes the island and peninsular states at a time when the seas are of growing strategic and economic importance. For the first time, Indonesia, which has half the population of Southeast Asia, has accepted a regional role on terms of equality; and as it is an alliance which includes Thailand, it links the twin centers of Southeast Asian history. Burma and Cambodia declined membership, but its doors are open to both and to Viet Nam. It gives the right priority to economic purposes and aims to go no further than the immediate national interests of its members will allow; it seeks regionalism as an extension of nationalism, and it recognizes that the countries of the region must accept the primary if not the sole responsibility for their security and prosperity. In short, it is the fruit of past experience and present necessity.
The problems of the great powers are no less new and distinctive. Nor are they made more precise in definition or amenable to solution by being considered in terms of the past imperial pattern of world power. It made sense for Britain in her heyday to find sobering yet satisfying similarities with the Roman Empire, but it makes less sense to analyze the present power patterns of the United States or the U.S.S.R. in terms of European empires now dismantled. When the Indians in the Mutiny said, "British, go home!", the slogan had no sounding board of world opinion and was ruthlessly rejected; and the logic of Lucknow in 1858 was the logic of Amritsar in 1919. Authority was imperium, with a majesty of its own over the people, not from the people.
Powers continue to be Great, and there still remain the problems of the arrogances and diffidences of power; of the responsibility of the power- rich to the power-poor; and of the relationship of large powers to small powers which contribute to world opinion and which are parts of one whole, yet cannot, and will not, passively or involuntarily, be fitted into the pattern of others in the interest of others and under the compulsion of others* These are problems of hegemony in the original Greek sense of "leadership" and they are set in the new climate and context of international power relationships. Bentham defined political power in terms of the habit of obedience, and empire was a school of habitual obedience.
Now persuasiveness sets the path to power. The new climate differs in that obedience is no longer habitual, nor does it exist as a relevant attitude in idea or in fact. Smaller nations follow greater, according to their assessment of their own interests. But the power is not institutionalized as in empire; it remains contingent on mutual interests or expediency and cannot have the climate of permanency with which empire deluded itself. Whitehall in the nineteenth century could act in the delusion of dominion- but neither the United States nor the U.S.S.R. today is allowed to have an illusion of permanency, any more than such illusions would be consistent with realistic fulfillment of their long-term interests. Great powers face the anxieties rather than the arrogance of power.
Building persuasive power in the precinct of the world, in which the list of voters grows, requires an acceptance by the great powers of a wariness toward the "haves" of power and also the "have-nots" in seeking and safeguarding their separate national identities.
These problems are focused in the Viet Nam war, which can be variously defined as a problem in the exercise of the relationship of great powers, one of Bismarckian dimensions and complexities; or as a problem of the prolonged gestation of a nation; or as a problem arising from the lack of regional ideals and institutions. For the United States the Vietnamese war could be as crucial in its development as a great power as the Boer War was for Britain. For her in the latter part of the nineteenth century even the Gladstonian doubts of dominion did not dim the delights of domination. The tide, however, turned with the Boer War. For all her imperial and industrial power, Britain could not defeat a small rebellious group of Boer guerrillas; she stood friendless, impotent and criticized in the world, suffering the economic drain of her resources and the political drain of her prestige. For the Boer War, Kipling wrote his "Recessional" with its rueful refrain "Lest We Forget" In the light of the Boer War, the radical J. A. Hobson wrote his critical analysis of Imperialism, without which Lenin would not have developed his international projection of Marxist anti- capitalism as the opposition to imperialism, against which the workers of the world could unite. The gloom of empire cast its shadow over the glory of empire; and the working class in the ascendance, through Lloyd George and later the Labor Party, preferred the price of welfare to the price of warfare.
Similarly, America is experiencing the difficulties and dangers of power. The introvert isolationism desired during the creation of power in the 1930s has become the undesired extrovert isolationism of the expenditure of power of the 1960s. Britain's use of her institutionalized imperial power gives no guidance to America as to the new style of power which it must learn and live. In 1941, the United States involuntarily and integrally entered the Second World War in response to Pearl Harbor, bringing its ideals of the Atlantic Charter to the Pacific. In 1950, it was the pacesetter for the ideals of the United Nations in the policy and practice of the Korean War. But involvement in the Viet Nam war has been neither involuntary, integral nor international ; and the war has brought neither the psychological satisfactions nor political prestige of victory. There will neither be an aloof, arbitral peace as in the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905 nor a unilateral, victorious, slate-wiping peace as in 1919 or 1945; there will be a peace on points at best. America has learned the price of the responsibility of power: in the use of its economic resources, in the impossibility of winning worldwide popularity, and in the need to choose between Internal and external priorities.
On the other hand, America, caught between two oceans, must have a two- ocean outlook and policy. It can withdraw from neither nor from both. Yet historically and culturally it is predominantly Europe-oriented and draws unrealistic distinctions between policies toward Asia and Europe. Those who argue against the presence of American troops on the Asian mainland accept the presence of American troops on the European mainland. It was a reflection of the attitudes of both states that when President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev held talks in 1962, they met in Vienna in the shade of the Congress of 1815. Instinctively, the United States and the Soviet Union look toward one another across Europe. Yet had they met in the Bering Straits they would have reminded themselves, and demonstrated to the world, that only in the North Pacific are the two countries visible to each other. Vladivostok is as near American territory as is Hawaii; and Hawaii, in turn, is as far from the American mainland as the Azores in the Atlantic.
Does the United States, reflecting past attitudes, see itself as the extended front of a European bastion, or as a mediator and moderator in time and space between the world of the Atlantic and the world of the Pacific? Is it the Newer World between the Old World and that Newest World of the Asian-Pacific area? Asia must not be seen as an area of temporary, peripheral and abnormal relationships in contrast to Europe as an area of permanent, basic and normal relationships. The question is not whether America should build up a stronger, more equal and more varied web of relationships within the political neighborhood of the Pacific, but how quickly and how effectively. To quote Singapore's Foreign Minister, Mr. S. Rajaratnam, in a speech of March 1966 to the Singapore Institute of International Affairs: "In the Pacific the nations of the world could learn how to build truly a world civilization through coöperation and peaceful competition."
Russia, too, is inextricably involved as China becomes the focus of the problem of the Asian Balance of Power, for the U.S.S.R. owns more Asian real estate than any purely Asian power and depends increasingly on Asian seas for communication between the parts of its own territory, for trading its surplus, for widening the range of consumer purchases and for the food from its two oceans. As a great power it seeks to be wherever the Americans can be, and in so doing it is learning that it is the greatness of power itself and not the declared purpose of power which causes apprehension, that it is an expensive and hazardous role to play and that it cannot win universal friendship in a world of national interests. And Soviet power in the world, especially the communist world, requires the containment, voluntary or involuntary, of China. Thus Peking, having wished to expel one policeman from Southeast Asia, has succeeded in establishing two. If America has decided it cannot be the world's one policeman, with the burden of cost and of criticism the role entails, there is now a second policeman, if it can afford the cost and accept the criticism. And in the mutual vigilance of the United States and the Soviet Union, and in the climate of being assessed by the smaller powers, may lie a temporary pattern of power, till a coöperative, collective, regional, self-policing force emerges in Southeast Asia.
The process of solving the problems of nation-building and regional coöperation among the new nations of Southeast Asia would be long and difficult, even if Southeast Asia were left alone. But with the continental and ocean pressures of the great powers converging on the area, the difficulties are increased. International, regional and national problems overlap. There the world is on trial.