Courtesy Reuters

The Burden of Leadership

The West faces dangers and difficulties. In varying degrees we are all conscious of them and of the confusion that tangles so much Western policy. Admittedly we would do better if we could work out our plans and purposes together, but this seems constantly further from our reach. The intention of this article is to diagnose our failings, remembering those which have afflicted other alliances in the past, and to suggest some remedies.

The first phenomenon to be noted, for the whole argument will be clouded unless it be understood, is the overwhelming and still growing preponderant power of the United States in relation to any one of its Western allies. Many pages have been written about the recovery of Europe from the war years, and deservedly so, for it has been remarkable. Much less space has been devoted to another recent figure of growth which I consider more significant. In the last 15 years the gross national product of the United States has more than doubled, until it is now running at an annual rate of $658 billion, compared with $285 billion in 1950. The world has never seen, and 50 years ago could not have dreamed of, so prodigious and speedy a multiplication of producing power, with the result that the United States towers over its allies and may be expected to do so at ever dizzier altitudes. In this respect the thirties were in no sense comparable to the present time. Then the power of the British Commonwealth and Empire and that of our French ally at home and overseas were more nearly equal; they were also complementary.

It is beside the point to argue whether this disparity is healthy or not; it exists and will be intensified. We shall have to face and understand its consequences for us all. These are the more meaningful because the dramatic growth of American power, in terms of real industrial strength, has taken place at a time when the great colonial empires of the last century

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