THE Administration about to assume power in Washington will find our foreign relations in stalemate. To break it, they will have to fulfill psychological as well as political requirements both at home and abroad. Our people must be freed--helped, rather, to free themselves--from an oppressive sense of unreality, from the feeling that perhaps their great efforts since the end of the war and the sacrifices of their sons in Korea have not been directed to clear and practicable objectives. Our allies must be convinced that there is nothing rash or sinister about what we are trying to do, that the American goal is freedom and peace, and that our efforts to build up defenses against possible Soviet aggression, far from indicating a wish to acquire satellites or a fatalistic acquiescence in a belief in inevitable war, offer the best and only chance of saving freedom and avoiding war.

Two concepts have become basic in our policy toward the Soviets--the "containment" of Soviet expansion, and the hope that once Western forces have been built up sufficiently we shall be able to "negotiate from strength" with the men in the Kremlin. Both need to be clarified.

Containment is generally interpreted as a negative concept. Its virtue when it was first used was that it announced to the world that the United States was willing if necessary to use force to halt Communist aggression. At that period the rest of the Free World still was more worried that we might not do so than that we would. Yet by the very fact of saying to the Russians "thus far and no further" we seemed tacitly to accept their conquests to date. That certainly is not an adequate interpretation of our national intention.

Containment, nevertheless, carries also a more positive implication--that steady pressure exerted on the over-extended Soviet Empire may, in time, cause a contraction and hence a breakup or "mellowing" of Soviet power and policy. It is proper to note, and to remind our friends abroad, that even in this more positive sense the theory of containment never carried any hint of aggression by the United States. It was not a blueprint of military strategy; it never pretended to suggest that infantry troops should man this sector, air power take care of that one, sea power assume this or that responsibility. It said that the use of force anywhere by the Soviets should be met with counterforce, reasoning that a revolutionary movement such as Soviet Communism cannot be quiescent and remain strong, and that when it ceases to expand it is likely to begin to contract--and may crack.

The other formulation of our policy is "negotiation from strength." Analysis of it is difficult, for the phrase has never been defined. Presumably it was offered to supply a sense of objective for the intensified rearmament of a year or two ago, and, perhaps, to set at rest the forebodings of those who reason--from questionable historical analogies--that "armament races" lead always to war. Actually it has had something of an opposite effect. To the extent that it has entered into the Western picture of the future it seems to have alarmed rather than reassured our friends abroad, for it suggests to those who think in simplified terms the specter of an American president stepping forth with a hydrogen bomb in one hand and a paper outlining the terms of a general settlement in the other.

In any event, negotiation is not a policy but a method. If we are to negotiate we naturally prefer to negotiate from strength than from weakness. However, to give meaning to the hope that some future negotiation with the Communists might be productive we would have to indicate what we were going to negotiate about. Limited negotiations about particular and restricted matters might be practicable. But the difficulty of negotiating with the Soviets on the general problem of coexistence can be indicated by imagining what the first question on either side might be.

The first question that Stalin would ask us would be, explicitly or tacitly: "What countries are you willing to surrender to me?" Our answer would have to be, "None." One of our first questions to Stalin, in turn, would be: "Will you lift the Iron Curtain?" Now his mortal fear, as with all dictators, is of knowledge and truth. To take a single example, the fantastic Soviet propaganda about our alleged germ warfare in Korea indicates why ideas and facts cannot be allowed to flow back and forth across the Soviet borders. So Stalin's answer to our question also would be, "No."

If we will not appease, will not wage a preventive war, do not feel that containment and negotiation in themselves represent a sufficient policy--what then? How are we in America to get back the sense of initiative and direction that inspired our great endeavors like UNRRA, the Marshall Plan and NATO? How are our allies to be reassured that we are neither fatigued and holding back nor jittery and pushing recklessly forward? How are we all to regain confidence that we have a solid mutuality of interest and purpose and that the problems we face are manageable?


Soviet strategy is based on the fact that the world is round. So far, our strategic planning is not. In joining the United Nations we recognized that it should be; but although from time to time necessity has made us act as though it were, few would say that the coördination of planning, East and West, had been fully conscious or successful. We are in process of developing a global air strategy. But our military planners, like the rest of us, are confused by the absence of an over-all political strategy. We have not defined it because we have been preoccupied with meeting the Soviet attack as it switches from one side of the world to the other. While the Soviets are mounting their offensive as a whole we attempt to deal with it by halves.

The Communist attack on Korea was the application of the Soviet over-all concept to a particular situation. Moscow ordered the attack on an exposed and almost forgotten salient of the Western coalition because this seemed the most direct way available of destroying the United Nations and the unity of the defense system being built up in Western Europe under the auspices of NATO. And that would, indeed, have been the immediate result if the United Nations majority had not determined to prevent the Korean aggression from succeeding. Had the challenge in Korea been ignored all the premises of collective security action in the world would have been destroyed. The American public would, in effect, have been told by their leaders that it need not take the United Nations seriously. The world would have drawn the logical conclusion that no reliance was to be placed on the United States in future crises; and we, in turn, would have written off our allies. Every threatened nation thereafter would have hastened to make the best terms it could for itself alone--and the Kremlin would have been quick to suggest that the way to get a good bargain was to betray a neighbor. Thus the Soviets would have gained without a struggle the first and greatest victory they seek--the breakup of the Western anti-Communist alliance. The Soviet strategy failed in its first objective because when the moment of decision came our Government, which had not included a challenge in Korea among the calculable risks to be guarded against, did nevertheless recognize the universal implications of the Communist attack and the necessity of responding to it. Under strong American leadership the United Nations took the decision not to let the Communist aggression succeed.

It is too early to say, however, that the Korean aggression is not a Soviet success. Locally it registered a setback for Communist arms. But in terms of global strategy it may yet succeed, for it has placed on the Western coalition a severe strain which will continue so long as the crisis does and which (Moscow is quite entitled to think) may at any time divide the coalition irretrievably. The coalition will survive only if each of the principal partners understands the Soviet strategy and determines not to lose sight of the character which that strategy imposes on the anti-Communist struggle--the interrelationship of all the component theaters.

During the recent Presidential campaign, many speakers called insistently for "a positive foreign policy" and "a dynamic foreign policy." They did not often give those attractive phrases specific content. But the fact that they spoke as they did revealed their belief that we had reached something like a dead-end in our relations not only with our adversaries but with our allies, or at least their feeling that the voters thought this to be the case and wanted the promise of a fresh approach. The fresh approach should be the global approach. Specifically, any proposed initiative in either Europe or the Far East should be examined in the light of its repercussions in the other arena. More generally, there should be agreement on the form of a political offensive which the free nations can and should take, East and West.

In Europe, the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Alliance were political and psychological in purpose, as well as economic and military. They were admirable and courageous and, to a point, have been successful. But they were essentially holding actions, just as the containment policy is essentially a holding policy. The next step is to try to take the political initiative away from the Soviets. Our guiding objective is the restoration of freedom and unity to the whole Continent. This means the return of Russian rule to the frontiers of Russia--on the map of Europe as it was before Hitler and Stalin made their pact to divide Poland, before Stalin gobbled up the Baltic States, extinguished the independence of Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary, and sat himself down in half of Germany and Austria. There is no need today to talk about the details of frontiers, about where this town or that should be, or this or that iron mine or blast furnace. It is enough to emphasize the central problem in its two chief aspects. One is that Europe and the world will never know peace while Russian troops are in the heart of Europe, if only for the fact that so long as they are, we shall not be able to withdraw the American troops which we now hold there to redress the balance of power. The other is that the withdrawal of Russian troops to the western boundaries of the satellite orbit is not enough. While Stalin holds ancient European nationalities in bondage, exploits their resources and manpower, garrisons their frontiers with his troops and puts officers in command of their armies--so long, that is, as half of Europe is kept down by force--talk of peace in terms of "peaceful coexistence" is meaningless.

Though we are not going to war to set Stalin's slave states free, we shall never be reconciled to their not being free. And though we shall not make the mistake of urging local patriots to sacrifice themselves in premature revolts, there are more ways than we have used so far of giving them evidence that they are not forgotten and of aiding their underground resistance. In a country like ours, where "selling" ideas is held to be an art, we ought not to see such vulnerable opponents as the Bolsheviks, with their bloody record of crime, purge, faked trials, forced labor, imperialism and war, out-think us regularly with peace congresses and petitions, with propaganda on race and labor relations, in the indoctrination of scientists and artists, in the mobilization of well-meaning women and youth groups, even in such an elementary field as the preparation and circulation of books and periodicals. Often, too, our official policies might be more consciously directed to taking advantage of difficulties and inconsistencies in the Soviet position. For instance, we can tell the Poles that we expect them to recover the historic Polish lands in East Galicia annexed by Stalin (with Hitler's blessing). When we do so, why not warn the Poles and reassure the Germans that the world will expect Poland to regorge essentially German lands which Stalin awarded her in compensation for her losses in the East? The present rulers in Warsaw and in the East German Communist Republic are alike servants of Stalin. This is too good an opportunity to miss of making trouble among all three. We may suspect, of course, that Stalin will never in fact bring himself to restore lands now in satellite Poland to Germany--a possible ally, but also a possible rival or enemy. He will only manœuvre as though he might some day do so. But we should be on guard to prevent such manœuvres from proving effective with the German people; and at the same time we should impale Stalin more sharply on the horns of his German-Polish dilemma.

France may have reservations about such a policy. But is she more worried by the prospect that future German power might be turned westward against her or by the possibility that Germany, her partner in the West European defense organization, may carry her into a war against Russia to regain the lost German territories in the East? On second thought, will not France feel that a strong Germany as partner in some form of Western grouping, and restrained by that partnership from rash adventure, is a lesser evil than a thwarted Germany pressed tightly against both eastern and western borders and susceptible to Soviet propaganda about the possibility of expansion westward under Communist auspices?

The future strength of NATO--whether it is to reach anything like its goal of 94 divisions in 1954--depends largely on Franco-German agreement as to Germany's rôle in it. Germans have argued that they cannot afford to rearm until they are sure that West European rearmament has already progressed so far that if they join the system they will be safe. To argue thus is to argue in a circle; for West European defense can be efficient only if the terrain of manœuvre includes Western Germany and if the Western manpower includes that of Germany. Germany and France must decide whether they want to face the perils of the next decade separately or together, and the force of our reasoning and the weight of our help must be directed to securing the latter decision. For it to be acceptable to the French, we and the British must make the relationship between the West European defense force and the North Atlantic defense organization more specific. Only if France feels that she will not be left to deal alone with a powerful German partner will she agree to the degree of German rearmament necessary to the defense of Western Germany as well as the rest of Western Europe.

The same initiative might enable us to strengthen those West German leaders who understand the exposed situation of their country, and want to remedy it, as against those leaders who do not. The German Social Democrats fix their eyes exclusively on German reunification. That naturally is the objective of all German parties, but the Social Democratic leaders believe, or pretend to believe, that the Soviets will accept it if they are promised that united Germany will be neutral and unarmed. Hence the dogma of the Social Democrats that West Germany must not rearm now. This enables them to dwell on the advantages of not having to pay for a military establishment and ultimately being able to trade freely alike with the West (to which they concede they feel akin spiritually) and the Soviet bloc (where lie the best markets for German heavy industry). This attractive vista ignores the fact that unarmed Germany would be impotent either to defend herself alone or to help defend both herself and the Western civilization to which she claims to want to belong (in all respects, that is, save contributing to its defense). Those urging this course suggest in effect that more trust be put in the Soviets than in the Western allies, and they justify this to the German people by stressing that the proposed German contribution to the Western defense system would not be on the basis of full equality. If London, Paris and Washington would first exchange among themselves every assurance of support which each considered necessary to meet any emergency, they then should not find it beyond their diplomatic capacities to devise a way of integrating the European Army and NATO which would cut the ground from under the feet of the German neutralists.


A weakness of such policies as those outlined here is that the European peoples show signs at the moment of feeling more reassured than they did a year or so ago about the risk of an early Soviet invasion. This confidence is, of course, a measure of the success of our rearmament policy. But it also brings that policy to a point of crisis. For the diminished sense of urgency in Europe creates a favorable climate for Soviet propaganda which depicts the United States as bent on war and scheming to use European divisions to fight its unnecessary battles. Just as Korea was meant to break the Western coalition in Europe, so the change in tempo and emphasis of the Soviet propaganda assault in Europe is meant to place new strains on the Western coalition, not only in Europe itself but in respect to policy in Asia.

At this point, one must remark on the need for a quick reappraisal of realities by European and Asiatic leaders. One reality emphasized in Washington is that the Soviets are today already making war. They are making war in Korea by way of North Korean and Chinese stooges; more, anyone who believes that many of the MIGs are not flown by Soviet pilots is naive. They are making war everywhere by infiltration and subversive propaganda, by hate campaigns, and through local Communist Parties financed and directed from Moscow. Communists make no distinction in terms of "peace" and "war" between political warfare and dropping bombs; the choice between the two methods is merely that of tactical expediency. A second reality to be faced is that success by the Communists in their objective of dividing the United States from Britain and the continental nations might well prove the last preparatory move which they considered necessary in order to give them a reasonable chance of success in open war. No one can talk sensibly about the chances of war and peace in terms of dates; it has been calculated, however, that Russia will reach her peak of superiority in manpower in relationship to the Western peoples in the late fifties. But manpower is only one factor, and we do not know what criteria the Kremlin will use in estimating its over-all strength. We cannot permit the bonds of the non-Communist world to be loose, even momentarily, at any period.

It may not seem in the best of taste, perhaps, for an American to speak of the willingness with which the American people have taken over responsibilities which peoples of much greater experience have been forced to abdicate, or of the readiness with which they have submitted to paying the astronomical bills for an effort at world reconstruction which has extended into every clime and every field of human endeavor. In the time of testing, when Western Europe hesitated whether to slide passively into chaos and Communism or make the assertion of will necessary for a painful but orderly rebuilding of the fabric of its ancient civilization, American leaders took the initiative in proposing methods of help on a scale never before imagined in the relations of one nation with another, and the American people gave them the support necessary to success. If it is permissible to recall this it is because both the European nations and the United States are about to reassess their foreign policies. The process need not over-strain the Western coalition if each side understands the other's difficulties and is determined to help in surmounting them.

Indeed, the time has come for a thorough appraisal on both sides. The review in Washington should not be conducted in any partisan spirit; it should not be undertaken on the theory that all or many foreign policies must be changed simply because the Administration is new, any more than it should be based on the theory that all policies must be maintained simply because they are old. There will be many decisions to test the common sense and foresight of the new leadership, but none that will be more trying in the light of rock-bound Republican tradition than whether or not the burdens of continuing foreign aid can be progressively lightened by encouraging our allies to support their economies by their own efforts--by permitting them, that is, to sell more of their goods on the American market. The persistence of protectionist thinking in a country which has reversed its rôle from debtor to creditor will cause more trouble to enlightened internationalist elements in the new Administration than anything else, probably, except the tendency to cut all spending indiscriminately and relax.

Abroad it may well be salutary for statesmen to realize that they must initiate a new set of American colleagues into their problems and needs. They will have to provide their share of a coherent program of correlated effort and sacrifice, carrying a reasonable expectation of eventual success, if the present scale of American participation is to be accepted as justified and necessary. To say this is not to make a threat, but to state a fact. The statesmen of Europe, supported by informed and approving electorates, must participate in planning and building a new framework to support the American coöperation which they need.

How thoroughly do European electorates, in fact, understand the realities of current international relationships? After the First World War there was a general tendency among Europeans to blame America for having deserted them when the actual fighting was over, leaving them largely to restore their own economies and establish a system of collective security from which the United States Government remained coldly aloof. The opposite happened after 1945, in part because Americans felt that the thirties had justified some of the European reproaches of the twenties and were determined this time to see the job through.

It is not the average Frenchman, of course, who chalks up "Le Yankee au poteau!" or the average German who scrawls "Amis go home!" Communist scribblings, like those of the Nazis before them, mingle drearily with pornographic imbecilities on all the walls of the world. Yet any recent visitor to Europe will have to testify that Americans are loved, in Damon Runyon's phrase, "less than somewhat," and that now that the American people have taken the plunge and are trying to live up to the responsibilities which Europe implored them to accept in 1920, great segments of the European population have taken over the rôle they formerly stigmatized as that of the ostrich. A formidable task of enlightenment seems imposed on the European governments. How often do European statesmen remind their peoples that without the Marshall Plan and NATO they very probably would be living today under the rule of Moscow? Such a fate for Western Europe would have spelt war and perhaps defeat for us; and this stark fact was present, of course, in the minds of the American authors of the Marshall Plan and NATO. Neither America nor Europe was disinterested. And the moral does not play favorites between America and Europe either--namely, that the two are interdependent and that the lessons of interlocking interests must be emphasized constantly by the leaders of both.

The ill-humor with which many Europeans regard the Americans in their midst is all too understandable for a long list of reasons that need not be gone into here, though they should be examined urgently by the military authorities. Unfortunately, the mood is being nourished by all the dissident leaders in Europe who mistrust and oppose the build-up of non-Communist strength in the world. They are the "international opposition," with arguments that differ in formulation but are so much alike in result that one can almost give them a unifying label--"The Xenoform." They are the professional enemies of collective action and they base their appeals to their electorates on the native antipathy of human beings for foreigners. We are, of course, well acquainted with their fellow-members in the United States also.

All this acquires its immediate importance from the fact that Moscow's propaganda now concentrates mainly on separating the West Europeans from us by spreading among them the fear that we may launch a preventive war. Americans are so fixed in their determination never to fight again except in defense of freedom that they have difficulty in adjusting their minds to cope with the Soviet propaganda. They feel that the record shows that they want peace and will make great sacrifices for it. Moreover, they think that their participation in the United Nations shows that they do not assert any monopoly of wisdom as to how the peace is to be kept. Politicians sometimes tell them that the Free World is a closed corporation and that planning its defense is a sole American right. They have not accepted that idea. They think that it is no more a sole American right than it is, fortunately, a sole American obligation. They think of the Free World as a coalition to which everybody who believes in freedom belongs--and cannot escape belonging, even though contributions can and will differ. They do not mean to offer their contribution condescendingly, or imperiously, any more than they offer it imploringly, out of a sense of weakness and impending doom. It is offered because they feel a real mutuality of need in the Free World. If they claim any merit, it is simply for having widened their conceptions of their own self-interest to include the safety of other nations called on to make the same choice between surrender and a fight for survival.


In the Far East, where the fighting started almost three years ago, both theory and experience support the view that only a global strategy can cope with the problem of Soviet aggression. A 1953 concept for the defense of Europe cannot be paired up with an 1853 concept of the rôle of Asia. Winston Churchill was desperately anxious in two wars to secure access to the enemy's flanks; and the creation of strength on the flanks, in Scandinavia and in the Mediterranean and the Near East, is a vital part of the present program for European defense. But those are not Soviet Russia's only flanks. Looking at the world with a seaman's eyes, Mackinder saw Germany, France and Spain as a peninsula of Eurasia, and in the eyes of the modern airman, whether or not armed with the atom bomb, that is unmistakably what it is. On the other side of the Russian heartland is another pair of flanks, Siberia in the north, facing our Alaskan islands, and the Indonesian, Malayan and Indo-Chinese area in the south, which our naval forces skirted while fighting their circuitous way toward Japan in the last war. When mere civilians begin to grasp the significance of a California-Denmark air service across the Polar ice cap we must suppose that military planners have long ago seen that the two pairs of Russia's flanks merge, and that talk of a "Europe first" or "Asia first" approach to the Soviet problem is academic. If our planners have not done so, we may be sure that the Russians have, and that they are conscious of the weaknesses as well as the strengths of their geographic position.

Western statesmen may or may not have been overlong in perceiving the true nature and significance of the two Russian Revolutions of 1917. Today, at any rate, there is no justification for misreading the international significance of a Russian-dominated Communist régime anywhere. The present government of China, ruling the single largest body of human beings on the face of the globe, is such a regime. Westerners and Asians alike who have sought to moderate its plans for the conquest of East Asia, evidently in harmony with the development of the Soviet plan for the conquest of the world, have simply won the contempt of Peking for their own weakness. Any hope that appeasement would work--for example, that a trustworthy Communist promise to take only half of Korea would result from a surrender of Formosa, or that a final cessation of expansionist pressure into Southeast Asia would follow a surrender of Hong Kong--seems completely unreal. A distinguished Indian statesman unwittingly disclosed the true nature of the problem when he remarked, in stating his hopes for a negotiated settlement with Soviet power, that India's experience had demonstrated that no conflict of interests is so severe that it cannot be settled by compromise. He failed to add that, unfortunately, the Russians are so un-British.

The clearest evidence that strategy in the West cannot be divorced from strategy in the East is provided by the Communist attack in Indo-China, for the war in progress there is probably the largest single obstacle to the development of the European Army. As Americans watch sadly and bitterly the lengthening lists of American casualties in Korea they should pause long enough at least to read the headlines which disclose that from 1946 through the first ten months of 1952 the French losses in the Indo-China war have been 28,246 killed and missing, plus 21,250 allied Vietnamese killed.[i] France spends over a quarter of her total military budget on her forces in Indo-China, and nearly a third of her officers and non-coms are serving there. We are inclined to criticize the French Government for being disappointed with a prospective allotment of $525,000,000 in American aid, a sum which does not seem to us insignificant, instead of the $650,000,000 which it thought it had reason to expect. Do we feel that France, who in proportion to her population has about the same number of men under arms as the United States, should increase her standing army, thereby decreasing her labor force and productivity and increasing her military expenses? Or do we feel that she should cut her military forces and her expenditures?

Let us consider these questions in terms of the conflict in Indo-China and the rearmament of Germany, for the chain reaction from Saigon to the Rhine runs direct and swift. If the French spend so much of their resources and so many lives in Indo-China they can build fewer divisions in Europe. If they can build fewer divisions in Europe they are more reluctant to let the Germans build divisions. We in America want them to have more divisions in Europe and we want the Germans to contribute divisions to the European Army too. But we cannot let France abandon the anti-Communist redoubt which she is manning in Southeast Asia (thereby opening the way for the Communists to turn our flank in that area, for, after all, flanks are reversible). So once we are satisfied that the French are doing about all that they can be expected to do with their own resources, we have to help them out by financial aid or by buying more of their goods, or both. When we reach the decision that we must do this, we have stressed once again the indivisibility of the global theater where we have ranged ourselves in opposition to Communist expansion.

There are politicians and publicists in both Britain and France (and though less frank and vocal, there are some in the United States too) who advise their countrymen to write off their interests and responsibilities in the Far East. They apparently estimate that the continued toll taken of men and treasure in the effort to hold the Asiatic front against the advancing wave of Communism constitutes too great a drain on their national resources, and that the continued risk of direct conflict with the Soviet Union arising from the effort is more menacing than the domination of the Pacific by the Communist Powers would be. A decision in that sense by any one of the three leading Western Powers would be, in fact, the signal that the Third World War had become inevitable; for the Western alliance would have been destroyed, in Europe as well as in the Far East.

A classic method of sowing dissension between allies is to inflict on one of them a defeat which the other cannot or will not prevent. That is the tactic, of course, which the Kremlin is now using in its effort to destroy the Western alliance. In its current manœuvres, it does not expect that in Britain, for example, the support which Soviet policies receive indirectly from Bevan will result in Britain becoming Communist, or that when it puts out feelers in the French press for an understanding at the expense of Germany these will result in a Franco-Russian alliance. It simply hopes to chill the feelings of confidence necessary for full coöperation between London and Washington on the one hand, and for agreement between Paris and Bonn on the Schuman Plan and the European Army on the other. The aim, in other words, is to divide two Western states. If we reason the same way, we will decide that the concrete objective of American policy in the Far East is to reduce the Communist threat there by destroying the confidence of Red China in Red Russia--by showing the Chinese that Moscow is using them to fight its battles. What we must offer Red China for the achievement of this aim is, however, the opposite of what the Communists offer the Western World with their tongues in cheek. They play on our pacifist feelings. To offer peace to the Communists, however, is to offer what they consider would be a setback to their revolutionary progress. We must hold out to China the eventuality of defeat, or at the least endeavor in every feasible way to make her alliance with Soviet Russia profitless and frustrating, thus demonstrating that if she continues as a Soviet tool she develops into a Soviet satellite. We must continue to oppose her force with force, and we must be ready to oppose increased force with increased force on every front where she is fighting. In proving to China that her alliance with the Soviet Union is unprofitable, we shall have done one of the most effective things possible to make a war in Europe difficult for the Soviet Union.

A Frenchman was the first to point out in these pages[ii] that Korea and Indo-China are "one war." As evidence of this grows, can we expect the United Nations to recognize the fact and add Indo-China to its present responsibilities? The question will be answered, perhaps, by the general evolution of events--whether in the long run the coalition of U.N. members which decided to oppose the Communists in Korea holds to its principles. For the moment, the concrete issue remains the admission of Red China to the United Nations. We must not browbeat our fellow members, but we must be adamant ourselves against recognizing a régime which has defied the United Nations and is killing the soldiers sent there under the U.N. flag. Foreign Minister Vyshinsky admitted on November 24 that Red China is at war with the U.N. We knew it before he said so. We welcome his confirmation, which ought to settle the question of Red China's membership. Perhaps that was Vyshinsky's object; perhaps, as Jugoslavs and others have argued, Moscow is determined to keep China out of world councils where she might reveal traits of independence. But if in truth Red China ever wants to drop Moscow's patronage there are plenty of other ways for her to let it be known.


If our interests and strategy as a world power are world-wide, the assumption would seem clear that a principal place for our diplomacy to operate is in the world organization for peace and security to which we belong. Is the United Nations fitted to implement these purposes? Many say no.

In the first place, it is said that a world organization is at best a nuisance, at worst a serious handicap on the nations most clearly responsible for initiative and positive action to save the peace; for when they attempt to act in a world assembly they find their power blurred by the operations of blocs of nations which have negligible military strength but do have equal votes and are able to pool their individual interests, if not for blackmail, at least for dangerously irresponsible purposes. Incidentally, this view that the United Nations is unmanageable is quite different from the one which sees the United Nations as in some way hampering our efforts to win the Korean war; but the American publicists and Senators who argue the latter view reënforce the former. Secondly, it is claimed that many vital problems can be more easily handled on a regional basis and that the Charter tacitly admits as much by making provision for individual or collective action in self-defense within the United Nations organizational framework. Further, it is alleged that the use of the United Nations as an enforcement agency destroys a more important and promising function as an agency for conciliation. Finally, some have begun to speak of it as a relic of the impractical idealism of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who are supposed (though they led the nation to victory in the two greatest wars of history) to have had no sense of the realities of power.

Those who consider diplomatic operations through the United Nations unmanageable or positively hazardous stress that the vital questions of war and peace will be settled in the last analysis by the willingness or unwillingness of a few nations, chief among them the United States, to spend money and risk lives to prevent or defeat aggression. To thrash these questions out in a crowded public forum, they contend, merely diffuses power and plays into the hands of the Soviets, who encourage this or that nation or bloc to come forward with proposals which (it is hinted) might receive Moscow's blessing; but which, after much publicized discussion, are rejected, leaving the negotiators at loggerheads and in some cases halfway committed to appeasement.

Many generalized arguments have been made, and could be repeated here, to show how a power like the United States, which on the whole eschews imperialism and is responsible for many good works throughout the world, is apt to be supported in the long run by the majority of nations which seek only peace and a better life. Instead, we may recall a recent instance when our negotiators in the U.N. General Assembly found their friends holding opinions which exasperated them considerably. Let us suppose that the United Nations had not been in existence and that there had been no Indian delegate in New York to discuss his particular formula for settling the Korean war with British, Australian, Canadian, Latin American and other delegates who had been discussing other formulas. The Indian was not backed by many divisions or any battleships, but he did represent opinion in an area which is part--a shaky part--of the peripheral ring of defense against a Soviet breakout into Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Suppose he had remained in New Delhi. Would Prime Minister Nehru's attitude toward the Korean war have been any different in that case, or would he not have instructed his ambassadors to play the same rôle in London, Washington and other capitals that he assigned to his delegate in the United Nations? And would Foreign Secretary Eden have been any less impressed in London than he was in New York by Mr. Nehru's suggestion, any less aware of the importance of India's rôle in the Commonwealth or any less anxious to be able to assure the House of Commons that the British Government was not following the American Government blindly but was seeking by every means possible to promote an honorable peace? The British force in Korea numbers only one division to seven American divisions. But it represents more power than that--power not only in Britain but in the Commonwealth and elsewhere, just as the Turkish brigade in Korea is valuable not merely because it fights well but because it comes from a part of the world where we are glad to know that there are men who fight well and are willing to fight.

In any event, the Nehru Government must be left to discover for itself from well-meant efforts at conciliation that Soviet policy takes account solely of factors of tangible power, and that a nation like India which is marked as an eventual victim and possesses slight inherent elements of resistance interposes itself between the Moscow strategists and their immediate objective at mortal risk--the risk either of being seduced into the Communist camp, or of being abandoned by the West so that the Communists can more easily take it over when they feel like it. Actually this Indian attempt to find a Korean solution showed that the process of discovery proceeds faster in an open forum, where some of the Indian people (to continue using India as an example) hear at least echoes of the debates and come gradually to form a judgment of the issues at stake, than would have happened if Prime Minister Nehru's attempts to play the honest broker had been canalized in secret negotiations of his ambassadors in London, Washington and Peking. For in the end Mr. Vyshinsky's insulting public rejection of the Indian formula awakened Indian officials and journalists to realities in a way that no amount of private reasoning and public pleading by Americans could ever have done.

Since there are Americans who pretend to think, or perhaps even do think, that we would have done better to fight the Korean war alone, let us recall why the United States felt that its national interests would be endangered by a Communist success on that distant frontier--as distant to us even in the day of jet planes and supersonic missiles as the Sudetenland seemed to Neville Chamberlain or Narvik to the Frenchmen of 1940.

There has been much discussion of the Administration memorandum of September 26, 1947, only recently published, which set forth our strategic interest in Korea. This memorandum, adopted while General Eisenhower was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated that "the United States has little strategic interest in maintaining the present troops and bases in Korea" because "in the event of hostilities in the Far East, our present forces in Korea would be a military liability and could not be maintained there without substantial reinforcements prior to the initiation of hostilities."

The point to bear in mind in examining this memorandum today is that it dealt with Korea only in the light of a possible general war in which U. S. forces were already involved elsewhere on the mainland of Asia. When the attack on South Korea occurred, two facts became clear, one military, the other political. The military fact was that a Communist victory would gravely menace the future independence and security of Japan, and, more immediately, the security of the American forces there. The political fact was that if the Communist aggression succeeded, the system of mutual security established to deal with aggression would be written off as a dead letter. At both points the national interest and security of the United States were involved.

The majority of other U.N. members also felt their interests to be so much involved that they were either eager or willing to associate themselves in condemning the Communist attack and to offer support in defeating it. The critics of the United Nations who feel that the strategy and operations of the Korean war, under American command from the start, have on occasion been hampered by the political views of other U.N. members must show that these divisions of counsel outweighed the advantages of collective action and the help of other nations.[iii] They must also explain how the United States could have taken up the Communist challenge by itself. For it was the pledge of U.N. members in the Charter to resist aggression that gave us our valid reason for acting and won international approval. And if our action was indispensable to protect our national interests, then the existence of the United Nations was also indispensable.

Along with a growing feeling among some Americans that the United Nations has been less than helpful in Korea has been the development abroad of a belief that military enforcement tasks should be performed by special organizations, regional or other, and that the United Nations should restrict itself to discussing general issues and trying to conciliate disputes. This concept seems dangerous for many reasons, political, military and psychological, both domestic to the United States and international.

European desires to see European defenses built up ahead of those in other regions, and in particular the desire among members of NATO to build up their defenses ahead of those of nonmembers, are natural enough in themselves and justified to a large extent by the plain requirements of the immediate military situation. Furthermore, the place where military power based on industry can best be mobilized is in Western Europe and North America. It also is the area where parliamentary institutions have chiefly developed, teaching the art of coöperation by democratic methods. Finally, the countries comprised in it have established a common civilization which they discover means much to them when it is threatened. These factors all rightly count in favor of NATO. But the specific tasks which NATO can best perform must not be carried out at the expense of the tasks which only the United Nations can shoulder. Here we are conscious that an escape psychology is at work in Europe. It shows itself in certain circles in all countries in the attempt to flee the worldwide scope of U.N. responsibilities; in others, it shows itself in a desire to escape even the realities of living in Europe.

A year or so ago some French publicists (actively supported backstage by the Communists) propagated the idea that in an eventual war between the two colossi, the United States and Soviet Russia, the continental countries might be able to remain neutral. The argument has become less popular as people thought it over. They found it difficult to believe in all sincerity that it was a matter of indifference for the future of French civilization whether victory would in the end lie with Stalin's dictatorship or the American democracy. Looking at the map, they saw that so long as the United States maintained forces in Germany and held ports and bases to supply them, the Soviets, if war came, would have to undertake not only air operations over Western Europe but must invade and occupy it. The pastime of calling a plague on both houses, with no attention to what the two houses represent, still goes on; but even its chief literary sponsors no longer put any ring of conviction into their writing.

More important today is the note of longing for the little rôle, the smaller task, that runs through many British speeches and writings, not just of the Bevanites who fight rearmament because "peace" is a popular slogan and because preparing against war involves some curtailment of the socialized sector of British life, but of Conservatives as well, some of whom feel that Britain has become involved in unnecessary responsibilities as a result of dealing with concrete issues in a world organization. They feel that the rôle of that organization should now be limited so far as possible to consultation and conciliation, and that, meanwhile, regional bodies in which Britain is strongly represented should shoulder the task of protecting British interests and, if need be, fighting Britain's wars. This is implicit rather than spelled out. More clearly stated has been the argument that since the Soviet veto makes it difficult to combine the U.N. function to settle disputes by peaceful means with the U.N. duty to resist aggression, the latter should be minimized in order to concentrate on the former. This attempt will in turn make it necessary to strengthen regional enforcement agencies--which in practice means concentrating responsibility and power in the only substitute organization of the sort which as yet exists. While U.N. talks NATO will act.

This proposal, made in the name of realism, is open to practical objections.

In the first place, it frightens U.N. members who are not included in the regional guarantee; and indeed they are quite right to be frightened, for if the U.N. umbrella is considered insufficient protection for a selected group of member states, the Soviet Union will incline to think that it is not meant as a very real cover for others. Yet some of the U.N. members who do not belong to any regional reinsurance society are precisely those who are in very exposed positions--nations, too, in whose fate we are deeply interested and for whom we might feel called on to fight--including the countries of Southeast Asia, Iran, Jugoslavia, Sweden, Finland and others. It is sometimes urged in this country that it would be shrewd for us of our own accord to hand out guarantees of protection along with threats that if they were not welcomed that would be considered unfriendly. But why set out to avoid getting any return on our investment? Why give a blind guarantee to states which may or may not want it, rather than use the United Nations for one of the two primary purposes for which it was intended, namely to protect every member against aggression? Jugoslavia, for example, is a U.N. member. Should we give her simply a unilateral guarantee of assistance against Soviet attack, or would we do better to have her undertake that if the Soviets attack other U.N. members in the West she will join the war against Stalin with all her 30 or more divisions on the basis of a common strategic plan worked out in advance?

Secondly, the proposal tends to overemphasize the possibilities of regional organizations. For instance, the Standing Group of NATO meeting in Paris last October discussed whether it should not begin planning world-wide strategy instead of simply planning for the Atlantic area; when Prime Minister Menzies of Australia was in Washington last summer he raised the question whether his country and New Zealand might not be invited to join NATO, since they had been left in a particularly exposed situation and were conscious of being (as the London Economist expressed it) "a long way down in the arms queue;" and some of the most intelligent and experienced supporters of NATO are suggesting that it should spread its responsibilities into the field of economic, commercial, financial and labor planning and cooperation.[iv] The needs suggested are real, the instrument suggested unsuitable.

In the third place, and most important, the general acceptance of the idea that the United Nations is simply a "town meeting of the world," with unlimited power to talk but little responsibility for action, soon would result in making even its talk of little account; and if it tries to settle disputes without feeling that it has any duty to enforce its decisions its efforts at conciliation will be very much less effective than they would be if the ultimate sanction of force against an aggressor remained intact.

Emphasis on the duty of U.N. members to be ready to meet force with force is not meant, of course, to minimize the importance of the steps laid down in Chapter VI of the Charter for the pacific settlement of disputes. The United Nations has enormous usefulness as a place where thorny international problems may be debated and where peaceful solutions can often be found or, at the least, warlike solutions postponed. What is being argued here is the equal importance of Chapter VIII outlining action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression--and concluding, significantly, with Article 51 which legitimatizes individual or collective action in self-defense whenever over-all U.N. action fails to materialize. Many obstacles, including the Great Power veto, hamper the efficiency of the procedure. But it was definitely facilitated by the adoption last year of the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution, based on the need foreseen in Article 51.[v] This Resolution opened the door for U.N. members to free themselves from the tyranny of the Soviet "everlasting No." The parliamentary possibilities of the organization were emphasized and its executive power was strengthened. It showed itself to be a living political organism.

Of course, common sense enters into the degree to which military strategy can be planned by 50 nations, or even by a majority of them. But our planning should move in the direction which the general strategic situation in the world demands, and not toward a compartmentalization of responsibilities into zones of action whose neat boundaries would dissolve immediately in the war which we might have to fight.

And the final danger in playing down the rôle of the United Nations as a security organization and extolling it as a forum for discussion is that in the process it will little by little be turned into an agency of appeasement. The one occasion when the United Nations has come really close to being destroyed was in the winter of 1951, when a group of its members seemed ready to have it offer itself as mediator between victim and aggressor in Korea. If the idea spread that this might be the eventual function of the United Nations in a moment of crisis between the Soviet Union and the United States the days of American participation in it would be numbered, and therewith no doubt the days of the organization itself. Against that result we have to set ourselves to work, developing by every means in our power the persuasiveness and effectiveness of the peaceful procedures which are the first part of the organization's task, but also building up its ability to face the gravest decision of all in case the effort to save the peace fails. To be successful we must hold to our present policy of uniting every available force in the free world coalition--not throwing one nation after another from the sleigh in attempts to lighten the load, but holding the weaker ones to us, and shielding them, thereby gaining a moral strength and sense of purpose that with all free peoples count as half the race for peace and, if war comes, will be half the battle.

So far as the issue between the Atlantic organization and the world organization goes, as with the issue that has been created between conciliation and enforcement, we need not make the better an enemy of the best, and we must beg any of our friends who seem to desire to do so to cease. Proposals which will disillusion the American people regarding the sincerity of the commitments made jointly by them and other leading Western nations under the Charter diminish support for a strong American foreign policy and play into the hands of American isolationists. Before Europeans go too far in expressing the wish that they could be free from responsibilities outside the Continent or, in the British case, outside the Commonwealth, let them remember that there is always latent in American opinion a parallel strain of wishful thinking, a similar longing that American responsibilities could be restricted to the Western Hemisphere--or, as it is now being more persuasively put, to areas where we are clearly able to exert direct physical strength and where we shall be the sole judges of how and when to exert it. We would like to think that the old slogan against "foreign entanglements" had become antediluvian; it has in reason and fact, but not, even after Pearl Harbor, in the instinctive reflexes of many a headline reader.

These longings, whether European or American, are entirely unreal in the situation of the world today and are to be resisted. Only an agency with global authority can meet the challenge of Soviet aggression; only the United Nations can provide security as well as peace. If the issue were ever put before us in the sophistical terms of conciliation versus force, or if the rôle of NATO were ever put in terms of reducing the United Nations to a glorified UNESCO, then we would have to say: We will not weaken the United Nations' capacity to enforce peace. So many of our interests are not covered by the Atlantic organization that our choice must necessarily be the larger grouping and the strategy which it makes possible. The men in the Kremlin are not making the mistake of thinking that a victory or defeat in one area will not bring them profit or loss in another. Let us emulate their realism.


For the Soviets, the global situation does not seem unmanageable. They are sure they have the system that can reduce it to order--beginning with the annihilation of dissidents and ending with a dictatorship centralized in Moscow. And if, eventually, we cannot "manage" a world which is one world, geographically and in the realities of modern technology, they certainly will.

The United Nations represents an effort to organize the world on the principles of freedom and self-government--for which the descriptive phrase is the parliamentary system. Its difficulties are known; so are its advantages. One of its great advantages for us is that a large majority of the nations of the world are parliamentary nations. Its great difficulty is that a minority--sometimes a crippling minority--are not. A partial answer to this difficulty was the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution, which opened the way for the free nations to take effective security measures (even when the Soviet representative chooses to be present). That did not answer the problem presented by the Soviet veto's exclusion of three major parliamentary nations--Germany, Italy and Japan--as well as several other valued smaller nations. For purposes of collective security, might it be possible to associate them with the work of the Peace Observation Commission established under the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution? The Resolution invites the coöperation of all governments with the Commission, and explicitly authorizes the Commission to appoint sub-Commissions without saying whether or not the members of these must be representatives of member states. The Collective Measures Commission, established by the same Resolution, has already moved to draw non-member states into its work. The whole question of U.N. membership will, in any case, be reconsidered by the General Conference to revise the Charter to be held in 1955. Unless we of the Free World think we can enjoy our own parliamentary liberties and at the same time safely ignore the others, or impose our will on them by force, then we cannot avoid continuing the effort to organize all under the democratic legal and moral principles of the Charter.

The last phrase will be taken as a challenge by a school of thought which does not believe that concepts of right and wrong have a place in international politics, but holds that only sacred egoism, with brute force its handmaiden, is realistic, and considers that membership in an international organization which establishes standards of legal and moral conduct imposes fatal handicaps on those who must operate national power to serve national ends. The test of realism is presumably success. Few politicians have ended up so quickly in failure and squalor as Cesare Borgia, the prototype of Machiavelli's Prince. The world is not all toughness and treason, and all those who had higher ideals and applied them with success did not win solely by accident.

The Wilsonian plan for a better world was one ruled by law, in which every nation is according to its capacities responsible--and is held responsible--for the peace. The U.N. Charter does not pretend to say that by a mere vote the members of the United Nations can establish the difference between right and wrong. It does say that a member nation which has promised to follow an agreed procedure for the settlement of disputes, and which instead resorts to force to secure its object, has committed a crime which other member nations must restrain and annul. That is about as practical and realistic a method as can be devised for determining aggression and for rallying sufficient force to defeat criminal force.

Let us strengthen the United Nations as an organization to enforce peace. Let us argue with our British and European friends that it is to their advantage to accept wholeheartedly, and to prepare to use if necessary, the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution; and even to strengthen it, so that the coalition of the Free World members of the United Nations may be still better able to stand together against aggression despite the Soviet veto. Let us make it one of our diplomatic objectives to secure by patient explanation the support of the Asian and Arab nations for that Resolution--upon the vitality of which, in sober truth, their own existence as nations may some day depend. Thus we shall be continuing along the road on which we set out in 1945. It is the method of unity and strength, of a coalition of all the forces available in the Free World to maintain the peace at the cost of everything except freedom. It gives our people the renewed sense of direction they ask, and since we need the collaboration of our friends if it is to work, it should give their people the sense of participation they ask. It moves from the defensive back onto the offensive without making war more likely and indeed while making war less likely. It undertakes to manage the situation.

[i] "Losses in Indo-China," by Hanson Baldwin. The New York Times, November 25, 1952.

[ii] "Indo-China and Korea: One Front," by Jacques Soustelle. Foreign Affairs, October 1950.

[iii] Sometimes we might have profited from the political advice of other U.N. members, as when India warned that China would intervene if we advanced to the Yalu; we might have decided to advance regardless, but need not have been so surprised at the Chinese reaction.

[iv]Cf. "NATO's Growing Pains," by Charles M. Spofford. Foreign Affairs, October 1952.

[v] Adopted by the General Assembly, November 3, 1950. It provided: 1, if the Security Council is prevented (by the veto) from acting upon a breach of the peace or an act of aggression, the General Assembly shall be called into session within 24 hours; 2, that there shall be a Peace Observation Commission to report on any area where existing international tension is likely to endanger international peace and security; 3, that member states maintain elements of their national forces especially trained, organized and equipped for prompt service in a U.N. unit or units.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now