THE formation of the Moscow-Berlin Axis, followed by the conquest of Poland and the attack on Finland, has changed the balance of land power in Asia and of sea power in the Pacific. China's struggle for independence is now more than ever tied up with the fate of Europe, while at the same time the field in which she can manœuvre diplomatically has become even more restricted than hitherto. Though the Nazi-Soviet Pact has deprived Japan of a fickle friend in Hitler, it has at least immobilized two hated rivals, France and Britain. On the United States, too, the "diplomatic revolution" of August 1939 has imposed new hazards and heavy responsibilities.

But with the Chinese the question overshadowing all others is whether Stalin will sell them out. They are in deadly fear that Japan and Russia may yet get together to concoct a pact against them. From the consequences of such a pact the United States could not remain immune: a real Russo-Japanese alliance might well have the United States as its chief victim.

How far will Stalin go? Is there a limit to the new Commu-Nippon courtship, and if so, where? I have asked -- and been asked -- for the answers, from Sian to Hong Kong. Some hasty observers were gleeful when Japanese generals, the cuckolds of Nazi betrayal, ignominiously liquidated their anti-Comintern cabinet, and in temporary confusion restored to the civilian parties a faint voice in Japanese politics. But the generals, or rather Admiral Yonai, may have the last laugh.

The European war has definitely eliminated the remote chance of independent action by Britain and France, two of the three land and sea Powers capable of challenging Japan in Eastern Asia. Today the United States remains the only maritime Power that acting alone can menace Japan; and only Russia can offer a major threat on land. Perhaps only the United States and the Soviets, together with China, could now bring about a speedy humiliation of Japan. Considering such an arrangement highly improbable, the Tokyo diplomats have decided that business isn't so bad after all.

In an article I wrote last summer I explained why Britain was impotent to take naval action against Japan in Eastern waters. Subsequently Mr. Chamberlain admitted in Parliament, rather naively, that such indeed is the case. Since then Britain's position in the Orient, along with that of France and the Netherlands, has worsened. Despite the comical collapse of the anti-Comintern basis of German-Japanese coöperation, nothing can prevent Japan from exploiting the physical fact of German attacks on the Allies. Conceivably, Britain and France might even now take reprisals against Japan if the United States led the move. Otherwise, wide appeasement of Tokyo becomes imperative for the Allies.

By her recent invasion of Kwangsi, Japan closed the last seaport on the southern coast, and acquired for the first time land bases within easy operating range of France's richest colony. From Kwangsi the Japanese control China's main highway and dominate her only railway connection with Indo-China. The French recently put still further restrictions on the use of this railway, but the Japanese demand its absolute closure to many vital supplies. In February they began a heavy bombardment of the line to emphasize their threats. The French Ambassador in Tokyo would like to reach a permanent accord with Japan by persuading Chiang Kai-shek to end the war with a compromise.

Should the British make a similar capitulation by limiting traffic over the Burma road to Yunnan, China would be almost cut off from all aid, other than financial, of the nations beyond the seas. Already the southern routes have lost much of their value. Shipments of European war materials have been reduced since last July by over 60 percent. There are Chinese who consider it possible that by next spring they may be left with only one way open from Chungking to Europe: the 2500-mile road across the mountains and grasslands and deserts of the Northwest through Chinese Turkistan into Russian Central Asia.

Those facts, as well as Russia's new security deriving from the pact with Germany, greatly strengthen the Soviet strategic position in Eastern Asia. Here, as in Europe, Stalin holds the balance of power. Today the Kremlin can, without much difficulty, give increased help to China, reject any real collaboration with Japan, and encourage Chungking to continue resistance. Or it can seek an alliance with Japan, attempt to arrange a Sino-Japanese compromise, and unite the two warring Orientals in a joint campaign against far greater game, the Western Powers. Or it can sign a simple non-aggression pact with Japan, in which each recognizes the other's sphere of territorial or strategic interest but is left free to make its own policies toward China and the Pacific nations. Or it can merely draw close enough to Japan to make any one of those moves seem possible, using "war-of-nerves" tactics to keep the Orient in a continuous state of suspense.

After the Russo-German Pact was signed Chinese Communists conceded that Soviet-Japanese rapprochement was not impossible. The Nomonhan Truce, which ended the heavy Russo-Japanese border fighting in Mongolia, confirmed their opinion. By lucky coincidence I happened to be in Yenan during the European events climaxed by the invasion of Poland. This bomb-shattered citadel, far up behind the guerrilla front near the Great Wall, is today still the capital, after 33 months of war, of a regional Communist government in China. To Yenan hundreds of thousands of armed Communists in China, Manchuria and Mongolia, look for guidance from their leader, Mao Tse-tung.

I spent many hours talking to Mao. There is no question that he completely approved of current Soviet policy in Europe. "Hitler," he chuckled, "is now in Stalin's pocket." He did not say so, but it must have occurred to him that there might be another Stalinite pocket for Japan -- perhaps a vest pocket. For he agreed that a Russo-Japanese reconciliation had become a possibility "within the logic of Leninism." This apparent complacency is explained farther on.

So it was no surprise to the Chinese Reds when, in October, Molotov made his conciliatory remarks concerning Japan, and Stalin sent a new Soviet Ambassador, Smetanin, to restore a friendly atmosphere in Tokyo. He and Mme. Smetanin drank tea with the Mikado and the Empress. Shortly afterward an agreement was signed arranging for the opening of formal talks. These settled disputed questions of fishery rights and payment for the Chinese Eastern Railways. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong a high and worried British official exclaimed: "America's uncompromising attitude is throwing Japan into the arms of Stalin. British interests are at stake. America must either act out here, or hush up and let us reach our own agreement with Tokyo."

The question now is: What next?

Before we give an answer, we must try to comprehend the bases of Soviet political strategy. To do that we must get along without devils or saints, without the muddleheaded sentimentality of either Left or Right. We are required to pass a judgment, not voice a prejudice. And we should endeavor to make it as nearly scientific as possible. Otherwise we will find it difficult to understand the Comintern mind and why it continues to be a powerful factor in the Orient. The penalty of making a decision on erroneous preconceptions might be war. I do not propose here to offer any easy lessons in Stalinism. I only wish to set forth a few principles relevant to an estimate of Soviet strategy in the East. I have been studying this subject on the spot for a decade, not simply as historical data, but as it affects living men.

Soviet strategy is based, in the reasoning of those Communists whom I understand, on somewhat the following credo. First, a joint "imperialist war" against the Soviet Union is almost inevitable. During and after the Allied intervention against the Reds, Lenin's tactics were strongly influenced by that belief. He was then dealing with reality; we should not forget that even the United States joined (with Japan!) in the invasion of Siberia. Only after the end of foreign intervention and the painful abandonment of the early theory in which Marx, Engels and Lenin himself had assumed that proletarian dictatorship would occur more or less simultaneously in all countries or in none, did the Bolsheviks begin to see that they might win a period of peace permitting them to "construct Socialism in one country." Nevertheless, the fear of a second invasion was politically useful and was carefully nurtured to help consolidate Communist power. Russia remained, therefore, the "threatened base of the world revolution." Everything else was made relative to the pivotal fact of "capitalist encirclement." The Comintern repeated ad nauseam what Lenin said in an early period: "All the events of world politics are inevitably concentrating around one central point, namely, the struggle of the world bourgeoisie against the Soviet Russian Republic."

Under Stalin this belief came to have in practice a more particular meaning. All interests of revolutionary parties in other countries had to be subordinated, or sacrificed if necessary, to the needs of Moscow's foreign policy. Such interests were "partial" or "local" in character. The universal interests of the working-class parties were identical with the task of preserving the "base" in the U.S.S.R. Any step which strengthened the strategic security of the Soviet state, therefore, was in the longview interests of all Comintern parties, even though it might mean their virtual extinction -- as it did in the case of the Communist organizations in France and England after the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact. Moscow was quite sincere, after 1927, in advocating international peace. While peace lasted, the contradiction between the capitalist and socialist worlds could be expressed by internal class conflicts. Intensification of class antagonisms within the various national states, as well as between them, meant prolongation of the "breathing spell" in which to make the Soviet Union impregnable.

The Communists believe that bourgeois states may assume a variety of forms -- military dictatorship, parliamentary democracy, Fascism, Nazism, etc. -- but that there are no fundamental differences between them. Nevertheless, the Comintern makes distinctions between actively hostile and temporarily friendly states, so that Moscow may combine with one or the other in order to "utilize the contradictions between them" and to "divert the imperialist war" to other countries. Stalin has no objection to a quarrel confined to capitalist states; for, as he remarked last March, "the second imperialist war may lead to the victory of the revolution in one or several countries." Hence it is the Comintern's duty to "convert imperialist war into civil war" and to "defend the Soviet Union by both constitutional and unconstitutional means," including "working for the defeat of one's own [imperialist] country."

Lastly, the promise of "ultimate victory of the world revolution" is predicated upon the belief that the capitalist Powers will proceed to dissipate their resources and man power in inter-imperialist war, undermine their own security, cancel out the greatest achievements of capitalist civilization, bring about the complete moral and material bankruptcy of "bourgeois society," and lay themselves open to internal disintegration, revolution and final destruction if they clash with Russia.

Against that framework of logic, which is simply a special terminology of power politics to anyone but a devout Stalinist, every manœuvre of Soviet policy is consistent. The Hitler-Stalin Pact is just as logical a part of the general strategy as was the "democratic front against imperialist war and Fascism." If leftwing liberals, idealists, and even some Communist intellectuals -- in whom Stalin's interest is purely utilitarian -- were shocked by the former it was because they never understood the strategic purpose of the latter. Nor does it seem likely that Trotsky, had he kept power, would have followed a greatly different strategy; for that strategy is not simply the result of Stalin's will, but the synthesis of a vast complex of historical conditions plus the special limitations of Russia.

No, it is not the Red Dictator, but the disillusioned liberals who are inconsistent. For, logically speaking, a mere shift in the tactics of Soviet foreign policy should not shake a faith based on the internal physical facts of the Stalinist Utopia, which are exactly as before. All that has happened is that Stalin, taking advantage of a favorable world situation, is grabbing territories wherever possible without (he imagines) risking a "serious" war.

Now, it is an observable fact that a political folklore, if persistently fostered by a ruling bureaucracy, and believed and acted upon by masses of men, in time becomes in itself a dynamic social force which helps to set up its own dialectical reaction. Presently, for instance, the "joint imperialist attack" may cease to be the hypothesis that to a large extent it was even as late as last July. Before the invasion of Poland and Finland, the "little people" who fight the world's battles could not have been induced to become cannon fodder against non-aggressive Russia. Today, now that the "little people" everywhere have lost sympathy for the Soviet Union, such a war becomes a living possibility. Finland provided the anti-Communist standard-bearers with a necessary moral slogan. It is at least thinkable that Britain and France will eventually find a modus vivendi with Germany and mobilize Europe against the Soviets.

The point is that the same danger now confronts Russia in the Orient. More than ever, therefore, the strategic principles mentioned above become a guide to Soviet action. Keeping those credos in mind, what would an alliance with Japan offer to Moscow? Viewed from a materialist viewpoint -- and no Communist has ever claimed Stalin is an idealist -- the possible advantages are about as follows:

A Russo-Japanese alliance would remove the danger of an anti-Soviet combination in the Pacific, now feared by Moscow. It would give Stalin a free hand in Europe. It might encourage the Japanese, as well as some elements among the Chinese, to launch an attack on Britain. It might embolden Japan to risk war with the United States -- long devoutly wished in Moscow. In case Russia became directly involved in war with the British, the fact that the border between Manchukuo and Siberia was peaceful would enable the Soviets to concentrate their military strength along the Indian frontier. Japan's naval predominance in the Western Pacific would also be of value to Stalin.

In exchange for Russia's promise of help against Britain and France (or the United States), and for her friendly mediation in the Sino-Japanese war, Japan might agree to abandon her anti-Comintern slogans and tolerate the existence of Chinese Reds as neighbors. Should the Japanese blunder into war with the United States and Britain, the long-run outcome would be of advantage to Russia. For such a war would leave the Bolsheviks in a dominant position vis-à-vis an exhausted Japan, a revolutionary China, and a United States and Britain lacking decisive land power in Asia.

Japan might also find that a Russo-Japanese alliance offered superficial attractions. With Russia as an ally she would have less fear of the effects of an American embargo. Presumably Japan would be given access to Siberian resources, including petroleum, steel, iron and coal. Russia could please both Japan and Germany by giving their trade facilities over the Siberian railways. If Japan could really feel free of all menace of invasion from Siberia, she would release her reserve forces for a quick cleanup and consolidation in areas mutually agreed upon. The elusive conclusion to the China Incident might be found, and the navy freed to pursue its "southward expansion" program.

But how could such Japanese gains be reconciled with the advantages expected by Russia? The political basis of Japan's aggression in China is weak enough now. After her anti-Comintern slogan had been scuttled would not her bid for Asiatic political hegemony collapse entirely? Sections of the army might not fall into line. The effects in Manchuria and Korea might also be explosive. As a well-informed Japanese newspaper editor explained it to me: "The trouble is that nobody could get to the Emperor with such a proposal. Not because the Emperor would not listen, but because it would almost be necessary to seize the Palace in a coup in order to overcome the army's opposition to its presentation."

A Russian alliance, moreover, would probably bring about Anglo-American naval coördination. This is the one thing Japan wants to avoid, since it would at last give her two most hated rivals an effective point of unity. At the very least Japan would lose her markets, her sources of raw materials, and her credit in Britain and in the United States. If it came to war, she could not rely on Russia to see her through to victory, except on Bolshevist terms. Japan, too, suspects that Hitler is in Stalin's pocket, and does not envy him his position.

And for Moscow, too, there are disagreeable possibilities to pose against hypothetical temptations. Stalin could no more trust the Japanese as a permanent ally than they could trust him. In practice he could no more reduce his border defences in Siberia than he can today reduce them in the Ukraine, despite his pact with Hitler. Instead of forestalling an Anglo-Japanese entente, a Russo-Japanese alliance might provoke a real Anglo-American anti-Red front, to which Japan might readily desert.

Finally, in fighting for herself, China is necessarily fighting also for the strategic security of the Soviet Union. It would seem unrealistic for Moscow to immobilize China's war machine in exchange for a dozen alliances with a nation that breaks treaties as easily as most people break a soft-boiled egg. Obliged to deploy an army of nearly a million men below the Great Wall and forced constantly to replenish it, Japan cannot seriously think of invading Siberia. Even British officers along the China coast have now stopped drinking toasts to the "second Russo-Japanese war."

The fact is that a "Fighting China" is an indispensable decoy, just now, in Soviet strategy. It diverts war from Russia, keeps Japanese ambitions in China irreconcilable with American policy, deepens estrangements, increases the range of "inter-imperialist collision," and brings internal revolt nearer in Japan. As long as Anglo-Japanese-American dilemmas are unresolved because of the war in China, the "capitalist encirclement" in the East, as in the West, is incomplete. Continued Chinese resistance in the hinterland also means greater Soviet economic and political entrenchment in western China. Russia loses nothing by Japanese activities on the eastern coast, where she has nothing at stake. She can mirthfully watch Japan's "strip tease" acts at the expense of John Bull. And all the time millions of Chinese, growingly dependent on Soviet friendship, are being conditioned as useful allies for the future. To sell out China would be to sacrifice Russia's best guarantee of maximum security with minimum risks.

Another factor must interest us. China is the only non-Soviet country where Stalin may, in a sense, be said to have a reliable armed ally. I refer to the Chinese Red Army, which now operates under various divisional insignia in common cause with the Nationalist Government. But it remains, nevertheless, an army under the absolute disciplinary command of the Chinese Communist Party, which loyally adheres to the Comintern and may be counted upon usually to support it. It differs from Communist parties in Europe and America; for they represent no fire-power factor whatever, and therefore do not enter into Stalin's military calculations.

Yet Stalin cannot be absolutely sure that the Chinese Communists would always and everywhere follow any Comintern directive. Mao Tse-tung emphasized to me that a Russo-Japanese rapprochement was a "Leninist possibility" on condition that it "does not interfere with Soviet support for China." This is not so contradictory as it sounds, as I shall show farther on. The significant thing is that it exhibits a certain amount of independence of judgment not always characteristic of Communist parties elsewhere.

The reasons are obvious. Here is a party with many years of unique experience in armed struggle for power, during which, with but little encouragement from Stalin, it built up a considerable military organization, acquired wide practical political and military experience, wrote some minor epics of history, and developed a degree of morale, fortitude, courage and self-reliance unequalled in China. It has a tradition and resources all its own, independent of Russia. It has something else, which no group of mere Marxist theoreticians possesses: the daily sobering responsibility to a nation for the defense and administration of big areas which it actually controls. Mao Tse-tung and the other leaders won their following with little or no physical help from Moscow. Long contact with the unusual responsibilities of insurgent power has engendered in them a considerable degree of nationalist feeling. Stalin is very likely aware of this, and would not expect their approval for a policy inimical to the interests of China, or one which might destroy their prestige and strategic value.

In any case, there is as yet no indication that the Russians will withdraw their support -- which has been far greater and more consistent than that of the United States, whose "help" remains largely rhetorical. Travelling over the new Northwest Highway to Sinkiang (I have just returned from a long trip over part of it) one discovers, for the first time in history, signs in Russian. These guide the crews of hundreds of trucks (Soviet-made, but of American models) which are now bringing in supplies across the desert from Turkistan -- mostly bombs, torpedoes and shells to service Russian planes and artillery. The construction of this highway was not a caprice, but involved careful planning, immense labor and long-view strategy. Dozens of repair shops, storage depots, rest houses, and munitions dumps had to be built over hundreds of miles of wasteland. An army of road workers, engineers, cooks, interpreters, mechanics and officials was mobilized to service the new system. And there is an air of permanence about these establishments.

Near Chengtu, close to the Tibetan border, Russians are helping in the construction of a center for aërial activity in China. About 150 Soviet Russians were billeted near the place when I was there in October, and the Chinese told me they were preparing accommodations for 600. At Lanchow, in the Northwest, there were about 50 Russian trainers, pursuit ships and bombers, and 50 more were expected. Preparations suggested that Russia intended to maintain a force of perhaps 250 planes of all types in the western provinces.

In addition to her air force personnel, Russia has in China a number of military instructors, advisers and technicians. Exactly how many it is difficult to say: Moscow insists upon secrecy and probably with good reason. But there are more Russians than there ever were Germans -- and the German mission at one time numbered over a hundred. Several dozen Russians are quartered in a commodious apartment house at Chungking, where they teach in various military schools and occasionally advise the Generalissimo. There are also Soviet advisors with nearly every army at the front, most of them young officers trained entirely in the Red Army.

Even Chang Ch'un, until recently anti-Red Vice-Premier at Chungking, told me that Russian military credits -- the figure is said to be 750 million rubles -- were "very generous and entirely adequate." China's main problem is not so much to find means for purchasing armament goods as for transporting them to her bases. In payment for the enormous credit, Moscow reportedly agreed to accept the Chinese dollar at its prewar value, which helped save the Chinese currency. More significant, perhaps, is the fact that final arrangements for the credit were not completed until August, shortly before Moscow's pact with Berlin.

All this is not being done for Chiang Kai-shek, over whom Stalin (remembering 1927) probably wastes less love than does Tokyo. But Chiang is the pivot, just now, of a United Front between Nationalists and Communists, which is still the Communists' basic condition for resistance to Japan. Until recently Moscow required no other assurances from the Generalissimo. Not a single truckload of Russian military supplies, not a Soviet plane or gun, not even an adviser, was permitted to go to the Chinese Communist troops. All Soviet equipment was delivered direct to the central command.

After September, however, when Chiang's dependence on Moscow increased enormously, it became evident that he would have to concede a measure of political and military equality to the Chinese Reds. The latter began a campaign of vociferous criticism of the Government, undoubtedly with the support of Moscow. It was this new sense of internal power (which I felt reflected in Mao Tse-tung's conversation with me) that I think made Chinese Communists feel satisfied with Stalin's manœuvres in Europe. Mao demanded an end to the one-party dictatorship of the Kuomintang, and the establishment of a representative democracy in which Communists could have a voice. He also demanded the elimination of all "wavering" (pro-peace) and anti-Soviet elements from the Government, an end to sporadic armed attacks against Communist troops, and an end to other forms of sabotage and discrimination.

Chiang's efforts to conciliate his Communist supporters, both indigenous and otherwise, are evident in his surprising volte face on "democracy." In the last interview I had with him he declined to be quoted to the effect that even local democracy was advisable in China. Yet in November the Kuomintang met in plenary session and, at Chiang's behest, passed a resolution promising to convene a constitutional convention in 1940, to liquidate the "one-party dictatorship" over the central government, and to inaugurate the long-deferred representative democracy. Meanwhile Soviet Russians in China say frankly that the main barrier to increased aid from Moscow is the extremely slow rate of political progress since the war began.

Russia already has a strong political voice in the Turkistan régime, which is beginning to resemble that in Outer Mongolia and which may be considered a strategic bulwark of the Red empire. There is at present no necessity for arbitrarily seizing so friendly an area at the expense of antagonizing Chiang Kai-shek and stampeding Chungking into an anti-Soviet peace compromise with Japan, arranged by Britain and France. At enormous cost, Japan has created a "New Disorder in East Asia" that beggars all former concepts of chaos. Stalin, by patience and practical political sagacity, has the possibility of creating an order in West China of real strategic value.

So the prospect in China is not unattractive for Moscow. Until an alliance with Japan can offer a future of more specific promise than is now clearly immanent in continued Soviet coöperation with the Chinese, there will be no sudden changes in Stalinist strategy. But future change is by no means to be ruled out entirely. It may occur, though by no means "inevitably," under any one of at least four conditions: (1) an Anglo-Soviet war; (2) an anti-Communist split in Chungking, possibly backed by Britain with some American connivance, and with the object of capitulating to Japan; (3) the imminence of an Anglo-Japanese alliance, or even a basic reconciliation, which Moscow holds can only be anti-Soviet in nature; and (4) an Anglo-Japanese or a Japanese-American war.

Barring those conditions, there remains the possibility suggested in an earlier paragraph: a simple non-aggression pact, providing for closer trade relations with Japan, to keep Tokyo on Moscow's diplomatic hook, but excluding the question of either nation's policy toward the Chinese Government. Though such a possibility may on its face seem to be fantastic and incompatible with the Soviet position in western China, it nevertheless represents the most probable limit of Russo-Japanese rapprochement just now. But even this, unless the situation becomes urgent, will be pursued in a leisurely war-of-nerves manner in order to produce the most exquisite jitters in all the capitals concerned, and perhaps provoke them into some action of illconsidered haste.

The policy of the United States in the Western Pacific is no longer static but dynamic. Whatever the American public may think, we are no longer neutral in Japanese eyes. We are no longer passive objectors to Japanese aggression; we are taking active steps to check it. The consequence of a judgment is its execution. Such directed movement of a great nation's policy, once begun, must be maintained by anticipating all the obstacles in its path, and planning to manœuvre among them. The weeks and months ahead require piloting of the most consummate skill.

Which is another way of saying that the United States is now deep in the power game in the East, and willy-nilly must adopt the methods of Realpolitik to play it. What will those methods be? Obviously, a first necessity would seem to be to seek more positive understanding with other Powers affected by our move against Japan. Specifically, Washington may try to prevent the realization of those conditions under which Japan would get that indispensable help from Russia, without which she could not contemplate a fight with the United States.

First. The United States has already asserted the validity of its treaties with and concerning China. This action is based upon a secondary assumption that the unity and aims of the Chungking Government, and its friendship for the United States, are dependable constants and will endure against all pressure. But it would be naïve not to take all measures insuring that such a faith will not be betrayed. To risk war by penalizing Japan, without identifying that stand with direct help to China on concrete terms of lasting coöperation, would be to prepare for battle by leaving the decisive flank open.

Second. Present undercover work by certain British factions in the Far East, which are actively seeking to "make a bargain with Japan" on the basis of recognition of Japan's conquests and coöperation with her puppets, will probably be closely watched. London committed itself, through the Craigie-Arita Agreement last summer, not to embarrass in any way Japanese military operations in China. We must not forget that the Chamberlain-Craigie appeasement program, interrupted in Tokyo last July only by the dramatic abrogation of our commercial treaty with Japan, is in abeyance but not abandoned. If hard-pressed in Europe, and offered reconciliation at not too high a price, Chamberlain might think it best to heed the "bargain makers" advice.

Third. Washington will probably be compelled to adopt positive measures in order to nullify the effects of a possible Russo-Japanese rapprochement on our position in the Western Pacific. Unlike Britain, which has India to defend, America has no physical point of conflict with Russia. At the moment both are backing the same government in China. Nor does either one covet any Chinese or Russian territory. All this might usefully be reaffirmed in a special agreement.

The strategic problem involved is how to narrow the hazards of a positive policy. Nominally, that should have nothing to do with the widespread American dislike of Stalin, his credos, and his methods of work. A Russo-American pact of amity, restricted to the Pacific, would probably have a stabilizing effect in the Orient. Indubitably it would be of no more permanent value than any other pact with Russia -- or with any other Power -- but its usefulness in diplomatic manœuvre might be astonishing. Mere conversations of such a nature might end Japan's bellicosity overnight, and send her envoys flying to Washington, ready to talk terms.

Such a move would probably offend many Americans in their present state of excitement. In practice the Administration may prefer popularity to sagacity. American sentimentality and indignation over the stupid and clumsy invasion of Finland, for example, may continue to express itself in an attitude facilitating Russo-Japanese combination against us. But a policy based on this popular feeling might prove very costly. The world is moving with streamlined speed toward a cataclysm of which the current wars in Europe and Asia are but the preliminaries. The United States cannot will an end to it; the wisest living man cannot even foresee what that end will be. At present nobody is listening to Washington's political moralizing, for other nations do not understand its language or the folklore from which it springs. Combinations and recombinations may be made which will cause recent liaisons to pale into insignificance. To survive in this furiously dynamic world requires the maintenance of a high degree of diplomatic mobility, and no road should be closed until all its possibilities are fully explored and exhausted.

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  • EDGAR SNOW, for nine years an American journalist in China, now Far Eastern correspondent of the London Daily Herald; author of "Far Eastern Front" and "Red Star Over China"
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