Courtesy Reuters

The Sino-Soviet Conflict and the West

Since the dramatic developments at the Twenty-second Soviet Party Congress last year, no one can seriously doubt the existence of a profound dispute between Russia and China. But opinions vary widely as to its causes, its likely future development, its consequences and its significance, if any, for Western policy. My purpose is to provide a framework for exploring the implications of the Sino-Soviet dispute for the West.

It should be emphasized immediately that Western policy toward the Communist world cannot be based solely, or even principally, on the Sino- Soviet conflict. Many other considerations must be weighed. Moreover, as a result of the dispute, dangers as well as opportunities are open to the West, and such opportunities as are offered are limited. In some respects the dispute has complicated and intensified our problems. We can no longer assume, for instance, that basic Communist policy in Southeast Asia originates entirely in Moscow. We shall be faced increasingly with the need to evaluate not only Soviet policy and intentions, but also those of Peking and even of such key third parties in the Communist movement as the North Vietnamese, who exercise considerable influence on Communist policy both in Laos and in South Viet Nam. Our dangers may increase if Peking's charges that Moscow is soft toward the West goad the Russians into adopting a harder attitude. Not only, then, do the problems we confront persist; our ability to exercise leverage on either Russia or China, and thereby to influence relations between them, remains extremely limited. Even assuming that the few instrumentalities in our possession are used as well as possible, the United States, as the leader of the "imperialist" camp, will remain the major enemy of both Russia and China and its ability to exploit the rift will be greatly limited.

In the final analysis, a secularization of Communism's messianic and universalist ideology can be brought about not by manipulating developments within the Communist world but only by strengthening the unity and vitality

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