China’s Immunity Gap
The Zero-COVID Strategy Leaves the Country Vulnerable to an Omicron Tsunami
In the issue of Time of January 3, 1972, President Nixon is quoted as follows: "We must remember the only time in the history of the world that we have had any extended period of peace is when there has been balance of power. It is when one nation becomes infinitely more powerful in relation to its potential competitor that the danger of war arises. So I believe in a world in which the United States is powerful. I think it will be a safer world and a better world if we have a strong, healthy United States, Europe, Soviet Union, China, Japan, each balancing the other, not playing one against the other, an even balance."
It is a curious statement if taken at its face value. In the first place, it is historically untrue-a pentagonal balance of power produced two periods each of about 40 years of peace between the battles of Waterloo and the Marne and hardly existed afterward; in "the history of the world" the periods of deepest peace have been those of partial or universal empire. In addition, it negates a long-standing American declaratory position against a multiple power balance, symbolized by President Wilson's famous description of it at the Guildhall in 1918 as "a thing in which the balance was determined by the sword which was thrown in on one side or the other . . . the unstable equilibrium of competitive interests . . . maintained by jealous watchfulness and an antagonism of interests."
It abrogates at least a decade or more in which it was the conventional wisdom in Washington that the United States should be "infinitely more powerful in relation to its potential competitor." And finally, it assumes that, as in the eighteenth century, the five powers concerned have broadly the same range of resources at their disposal. This simply is not true today. The Soviet Union and the United States possess a degree of strategic, military and economic resources which the other three partners do not. Western Europe, the United States and Japan are advanced technological powers of a kind which the Soviet Union and China would like to be but are not. Western Europe has still only the characteristics of a supermarket and it will take it many years to acquire those of a single actor in world politics. Japan is not a military power in the ordinary sense and if she were to become one it might destroy the very system of balance of which the President speaks.
Before discussing whether the President is talking in archaic terms or not, one has to make one's own assessment of what are likely to be the most significant forms of power in the 1970s. The United States has lost its old strategic dominance over the Soviet Union. But is strategic power, that is to say nuclear weapons and long-range means of delivery, going to be the crucial means of exerting influence, the dominant expression of national power, in the years ahead? I am inclined to think that "the balance of prudence" has become the norm here, and last year's Soviet American agreements on the handling of a nuclear crisis or accident would seem to confirm this.
Moreover, one can, I think, detect a diminishing confidence on the part of the smaller nuclear powers that their own armories give them either real influence in the world or real security, which is not to say that they will dispense with them, especially as China perceives the Soviet Union as an active menace to her territorial integrity. But one factor which is common to all the nuclear powers, great and not so great, is concern with the cost of accepting the dictates of technological innovation and a growing readiness to distinguish between the possible and the desirable. These considerations are also present in the councils of advanced non-nuclear powers even though they may wish to keep their options open. The nonproliferation treaty is still a fragile instrument; but I detect less concern with the old Nth-power problem than, say, five years ago.
To say this is not to challenge the conventional wisdom that nuclear weapons would still probably provide the most potent source of influence in a situation of deteriorating or uncertain security for the major powers and in the crisis points of the world. All I would argue is that they now provide a relatively static form of influence, which seems not only less likely to be challenged or diffused than, say, a decade ago, but also one that will play a less central part in a somewhat more fluid calculation of interests and affiliations than was the case in the postwar decades.
Whether we are still in a bipolar situation or a multiple relationship of major powers, conventional forces also remain important. Force in being, the potential use of force, can be as important a form of political influence as force in battle. One of the factors which one cannot discount is that for over 25 years Soviet military power has been potential rather than employed, except for brief and decisive interventions in Budapest and Prague, whereas American military power, to say nothing of British and French, has been frequently deployed in action with all the shortcomings that the conduct of real conflict shows up.
But how politically significant this distinction is I am not sure because the readiness of the big powers to intervene with military force seems to me to be declining. I do not see any American administration being ready to repeat the Lebanon intervention of 1958 or that in the Dominican Republic in 1965 unless it had the direct mandate of a large number of other states as well. And despite the growing Soviet Navy, does not the active voice of China make Russian intervention in the third world-a landing in support of some African régime, for instance-less probable? Within Eastern Europe itself the difference in the Soviet handling of the Czech crisis, the Polish uprising and the sustained Rumanian defiance of the Kremlin's leadership is instructive even if it is not decisive. It is military aid rather than deployed force which has become the accepted form of intervention in the third world.
It is now becoming a Western interest-and in this I include the Japanese-to minimize the military aspect of power in a sense that was not true in the 1960s. And I find it difficult to see that it is in China's interest to maximize it. One can argue that this is not the Soviet view. But may they not be making a serious misjudgrnent about the temper of our times? May not the cumbrous decision-making machinery in Moscow have deduced from Cuba and Vietnam that we were entering a period when military power was the decisive aspect, only to find that by the time the ships and the missiles are built, the rules of the game are changing?
If strategic weapons appear to have become a rather less dynamic form of power and the exercise of conventional military force is to be hedged about with important limitations, does this make the exercise of political influence, both within the industrial world and in the developing world, relatively more significant? Obviously in the world as we know it, political influence cannot be wholly divorced from strategic and military potential. But the possession of force and influence have never been synonymous, even though the latter may be difficult to quantify and define. Considering a great power which is also a great civilization, one important aspect of influence is clearly the internal dynamism of its society. Does it provide the magnet for those that are trying to modernize or humanize their own societies? Britain had this effect from the day in the early nineteenth century when Pitt asserted that "Britain has saved herself by her exertions and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example," until 50 years later when Taine vividly exposed the cruel and seamy side of her Industrial Revolution. Germany in the latter part of the last century with its industrial vigor, Bismark's social legislation and the strength of its great universities (which provided the model for their American counterparts) played a similar role. For a while in the interwar years before the Stalin purges, it looked as if the Soviet Union might play it; but, as Isaiah Berlin pointed out many years ago, it was the success of the liberal pragmatism of the New Deal which weaned my own generation away from Marxism. Without question the United States was the magnetic power from the immediate postwar years until problems like race riots, student trouble, crime, the overloading of the legal system and the evident problems of the cities destroyed-temporarily, one hopes-the unique quality of the United States as the world's great experimental society. Perhaps China, if she would let more people look at her achievements more openly and more closely, could use this form of influence effectively, especially with the leaders of the developing world who face problems not dissimilar from those with which Peking found itself faced a generation ago.
A second element of political influence is national will-on which so many Teutonic and Anglo-Teutonic theses have been written-not necessarily the will to fight, but national will as an aspect of determination to change or maintain the nation's external environment. What proportion of its resources is a country prepared to devote to the achievement of its external goals, not necessarily in terms of armed forces but of involvement in the destinies of other states? What risks is a government prepared to take? To what extent is it prepared to assume the political consequences of external economic involvement? To what extent are its primary concerns domestic and its élites inward rather than outward-looking? How much authority does a government command among the young and the energetic?
Third, how good is its diplomacy? How sensitive to external susceptibilities is its decision-making apparatus? How consistent is its pursuit of its objectives? And lest anyone should think that I have in mind the well-documented vagaries of American policy over the past ten years, important though these have been in the loss of American influence in the world, it is worth remembering that in 1966 Prime Minister Harold Wilson told a Labour Party meeting that Britain's frontier was on the Himalayas and 15 months later took the final decision to withdraw all British military power from East of Suez. Moreover, diplomacy now has an altogether wider meaning, for it implies an ability to control the activities of one's own nationals, whose independent operations, as for instance in the multinational company, may conflict with broader national objectives.
No one can draw up an accurate balance sheet of the relative political power or influence of the major actors on the world stage today. In terms of political and social magnetism, what writers like Lord Acton have called the "moral factor" in diplomacy, the situation has become, and may well remain, that of a zero-sum game in the sense that no one power, society or capital city is now regarded as the central magnet; for what the United States has lost in terms of influence neither the Soviet Union nor China has gained as yet, nor Europe either, despite the many close ties of its component countries with different parts of the developing world. Nevertheless, it is a bleak fact that in terms of the will to extend control of its external environment and consistency in its pursuit of this goal, the Soviet Union is in some places gaining ground which the United States and Europe have lost: in the Middle East, in the subcontinent, in parts of Southeast Asia. Three new treaties of mutual assistance with Egypt, India and now Iraq-the first such treaties negotiated by the Soviet Union with noncommunist powers since the war-represent the ratification of a major extension of Soviet political commitment.
There remains the fourth level of power, economic power, whose external influence is related, though only partially, to the other three. Here there is a real danger that we may be entering a period of "power politics," something quite different from the acceptance of a balance of power, a preoccupation with the welfare of my side rather than the general health and stability of the international landscape. If democratic governments in particular are unable to find the answer to the unfamiliar phenomenon of growing inflation coupled with growing unemployment, then some of the dangerous features of the 1930s are likely to recur. If the United States, Western Europe and Japan cannot find limits of accommodation in both the trade and monetary fields quite soon, then the prospects of a stable balance of power, not only between themselves but with the communist powers as well, are poor indeed.
If one combines the four planes of power, then I suppose we have achieved a sort of pentagonal relationship, uneven though their interaction may be.
But in terms of the interface of the four levels of power, it seems to me more realistic to think in terms of two different foci of international politics, Europe and East Asia, with only the two superpowers actively engaged in each, even if certain kinds of development in one area may have an indirect bearing on developments in the other. In both areas the key concept to the maintenance of a stable balance is what Marshall Shulman has recently described as "access," or the right of interpenetration, the resistance of any claim to an exclusive sphere of influence.[i] I note with encouragement a recent statement by Secretary Rogers that in effect repeals the Monroe Doctrine and accepts the principle of mutual accessibility in Latin America.
In Europe, we are groping our way toward a new relationship on two and eventually three fronts: among ourselves, toward the Soviet Union, and eventually toward the United States. The first process has started very late in the day because the 1960s were dominated by an argument about the balance of power in Western Europe itself, whether it would be a French-run system or a genuine coalition of equals. What is involved is not merely the enlargement of the Community, which itself is a difficult process, but the evolution of political institutions which can enable the European governments to speak with similar if not identical voices in their dealings with the rest of the world.
At the level of strategic power there is no serious question of Europe playing the role of equilibrist. Not only is there no requirement to counterbalance American strategic predominance as President de Gaulle mistakenly assumed, but it is acknowledged, in Paris nowadays as well as elsewhere, that the security of Western Europe still depends crucially upon the continuing commitment of American strategic power-on the maintenance of the Atlantic Alliance-and that the development of autonomy on the strategic plane is not on Europe's agenda in the foreseeable future.
But the problem of maintaining adequate deployed military manpower in Europe to make a European crisis manageable is going to present us with a difficult set of choices. Should we by some means or other bribe the Americans to stay in Europe at the level of five divisions, 26 air squadrons and a two-carrier fleet? I am not sure that it would be possible even if we decided to, given the domestic constraints on American military manpower and expenditure. Moreover, a mercenary relationship is rarely an enduring one. Should the active European members of NATO consolidate their relatively successful coöperation in their Euro-Group or should they invite France to join with them in creating a new European defense community or system as a counterpart of the Economic Community, even though nuclear weapons are excluded for the time being? Somewhere in the next few years- not more-the road forks toward the evolution of a less powerful European grouping within an integrated NATO framework and a more powerful, more autonomous European system under the umbrella only of the collective alliance. It is difficult to believe that the 1970s can pass without a radical reorganization of the structure and probably the strategy of NATO.
These questions are important, for conventional military force continues to be an aspect of balance in Europe, even though the center of the stage may be held in the next year or so by the preparation and staging of a European Conference on Security and Coöperation. It is at the third level, of political influence, that the tripolar or triangular relationship is beginning to assert itself. Valuable as such events as President Nixon's visit to Rumania may have been in establishing the principle of access, indispensable as was the unity of the Allied negotiating position on Berlin, the fact remains that it is the countries of Western Europe themselves which are playing the leading role in creating a new relationship between the two halves of Europe. Herr Brandt's Ostpolitik may suffer some temporary political setbacks in Bonn, but he remains one of the central figures in developing the conception of a Western Europe with interests of its own "interwoven," to use his own phrase, "with the rights and duties of the two superpowers." And the support of conservative figures like Heath and Pompidou for what we may call the Brandt conception is significant. What we are witnessing in Europe is a continuation of bipolarity at the level of strategic power; and the slow beginnings of a triangular situation at the level of political, economic and perhaps military power. But there is no question of the balance becoming fully triangular as the Soviet-Chinese-American has been for some years.
If the development of a sort of tripolar balance of power in Europe, a small continent scarred with centuries of conflict, with very high levels of mobilized force on either side, is going to be a gradual and tentative affair, the evolution of a major power balance in Asia is already occurring more rapidly. In my own view this is primarily a quadrilateral relationship. If you consult the text books they will tell you that a quadrilateral balance is inherently unstable because it must either polarize into two against two or three against one. But it can also become two against one against one. Moreover, if you have only four actors you cannot invent a fifth simply for the sake of symmetry or intellectual orthodoxy.
I think that Europe, however rapidly it coheres, will play much the same interested spectator's role in relation to Asia that Japan will play in relation to Europe, with the difference that, in certain circumstances, individual European powers can continue to play a useful but quite limited role in the process of nation-building in Southeast Asia. By the same token I think it unlikely that India will play a decisive part in the Asian balance. Now that she is a Soviet ally her freedom of maneuver may well be restricted. But in any case her ability to project power of any kind at any distance from her borders is limited. She will be much more concerned with the new power balance in the subcontinent, and even if she were to develop operational nuclear weapons, these could be for purposes of local deterrence only. Indonesia, the other potential partner in the Asian balance, has her hands full with domestic reconstruction for years to come.
It may well be asked whether the United States is going to remain a central actor in East Asia. I believe that it will; that David Hume's remark about the Athenians who, "finding their error in thrusting themselves into every quarrel, abandoned all attention to foreign affairs," is not applicable to the American position in the Pacific, or elsewhere. Though indeed President Nixon has narrowed and refined the definition of American interests, more particularly in Asia than in any other part of the world, a European observer cannot fail to be struck by the long history of American concern with Asia. After all, her own metropolitan territory stretches halfway across the Pacific, and an irredentist Japan or an implacably hostile China could threaten not only her interests but her own security. What clearly is disappearing is an American sense of responsibility for order in the whole of noncommunist Asia-the policy that prevailed from about 1952 to 1968-in favor of concentration on certain key countries. But it must, for instance, remain a high American interest to prevent Japan from quitting the Western military and economic system, even though her presence in it presents difficulties; clearly there is still a continuing sense of obligation to the Philippines and to Australasia. The difference between the past and the future is that there is little public and even less congressional willingness to consider the actual use of American force to maintain an Asian balance, though its latent use may still be an important factor. For the most part, American influence must be exercised more at the level of political influence and economic power.
The Soviet Union, as implied earlier, is a much more confident power than in the past but in East Asia its motives seem to be dictated as much by fear as by ambition. It is doing what it can to prevent the expansion of Chinese political influence in southern Asia and around the shores of the Indian Ocean. In an era of increasing Sino-American dialogue it cannot be certain that it could use nuclear weapons against China with impunity; this is one virtue of a multiple balance. True, it now has larger forces deployed along the Chinese border and in Mongolia than in Central Europe, but probably the very last contingency it could face is the prolonged exercise of the second level of power, conventional military force, against China at the end of very long lines of communication. This could weaken its position in Eastern and Central Europe disastrously. By the same token, it needs Western assistance in the development of Siberia though it has not as yet shown itself ready to pay a political price for it. In sum, though it has reason to fear Japanese or Chinese dominance in East Asia, the Soviet Union will be forced to tread rather more delicately there than in other parts of the world. A false step might either convince Japan that she had no alternative to an indefinite security relationship with the United States or that she must rapidly become a full-scale nuclear power-an autonomous actor at every level of power (a role which very few Japanese that I know wish to play). It might also make Peking see a new congruence of interests with both the United States and Japan, a new form of Triple Entente.
But China enters the international system with considerable skepticism about the credentials of the three other partners. Even though a mixture of fear, sense of historic wrong, ideological contempt and anxiety about superpower collusion has made her identify Moscow as the prime adversary for the time being, this implies no necessary confidence in Washington or Tokyo. Even if the Taiwan and Vietnam issues are gradually settled, as long as there are American military installations in Thailand, near her vulnerable southern border, the United States still has the qualities of an adversary state. China's distrust of Japan is based not only on jealousy of the economic dynamism of a country which was once a cultural province of China, but also on memories of recent aggression. China is not an expansionist state in the territorial sense. Yet she is proud, unused to participation in modern multilateral diplomacy, and on certain issues revisionist. She has, however, a clear sense of her own strategic vulnerability and will also play her hand with caution. If she has an external form of power to exert it is through the example she can set to the countries of the developing world and it must therefore be in her interest to widen the compass of the Asian balance.
Japan is a very uncertain actor at every level except that of economic power, and even here she may well have as much concern in the next 20 years with the social consolidation of her economy as with its growth. That she will acquire political interests as her dominance of the markets in Asia extends and as her preoccupation with the problem of access to sources of raw materials continues, there can be no doubt whatever. But I see no reason to assume that she must feel an instinctive urge to translate her economic strength into military and strategic power, unless she is deliberately encouraged to, or is frightened into it by some débâcle in the relations of the other three partners.
Here, then, we have a much more fluid balance-of-power situation than in Europe, operated by four partners of uneven strength, interests and perspectives. If we look some years ahead it is possible to conceive a number of variations in the combinations of the players: (1) A revival of the Sino-Soviet alliance to contain Japanese economic influence in Asia and oust Western influence for good-possible after Mao's death but improbable if one considers the deep and bitter national and ideological rivalries between the two countries. (2) A Soviet-American understanding emerging out of the SALT dialogue, to conduct parallel policies in different parts of Asia in order to neutralize the effect of Chinese nuclear weapons and to channel Japanese activity down paths that suit their interests; this would be certain to incur first Chinese then later Japanese hostility. (3) An American-Japanese-Soviet understanding to contain Chinese influence; possibly an attractive option for Japan, for it would ensure a continuing American strategic guarantee while giving her access to Soviet raw materials and possibly the Soviet consumer market. However, such a pattern would not only embitter China for generations but, being a rich man's club, would arouse the hostility of the rest of developing Asia. (4) A Sino- Japanese economic entente in a situation where the United States played a muted role in Asian politics; this prospect has certain cultural and economic attractions for Japan: the reuniting of the twin cultures, closer access to certain raw materials, the prospect of jointly exploiting the China Sea for oil. But it would be very difficult for China to embrace in ideological terms, despite the prospect of keeping Japanese military power at a low level as well as giving China access to her technology. If given concrete form it might well jeopardize the future of the Japanese-American political relationship and, of course, for the Russians it would represent the resurrection of the Yellow Peril in its starkest form. (5) A bilateral Russo-Japanese entente; this has some degree of probability if the Asian balance becomes governed largely by economic considerations. On the one hand, Japan could accelerate the exploitation of Siberia; on the other, the consumer market of European Russia may be ripe for the kind of products which the Japanese produce so well and so cheaply. But it would probably be a consequence rather than a cause of the change in relationships in Asia. If the United States and Western Europe were to turn increasingly hostile to Japanese commercial penetration it is a possibility that would have to be taken seriously, though, if Japan tried to play the role of balancing agent and gave a political context to such an understanding, it would forebode such a decisive shift in the balance of power in favor of the Soviet Union as probably to lead to a modification of European and American tariff and economic policies.
A number of other combinations can be envisaged, but while combination- making may be a useful intellectual exercise Asian politics will not consist of a continuous series of choices. The facts about modern international politics as we know them indicate that swift alignments and realignments are not possible as they were in earlier multiple balances; choices once made cannot be readily unmade.
What one can foresee, however, is a more elastic system of great-power interaction in Asia, in which the relationships of the major actors are not necessarily identical at the four different levels of power; in which, for instance, the Soviet Union and the United States maintain their current concern for the stability and safety of the overall strategic balance; in which China and the United States have a certain level of political relationship, one of reasonable diplomatic intercourse and adjustment without attempting to hedge in the Soviet Union by the appearance of a more intimate or more collusive bond; in which Japan is neither frightened nor encouraged into an active military let alone strategic role in Asia.
But, though I have argued earlier that the politics of the 1970s are not as likely to be dominated by the fear of nuclear diffusion as we feared, the one development which would impose a dangerous rigidity on the politics of East Asia would be the development of Japanese nuclear weapons. The United States would become dubious about the risks involved in its Asian commitments, China would freeze again into her shell, the Soviet Union would feel menaced by three nuclear powers and would behave either with truculence or with uncertainty, Japan herself would lose much of the influence and respect she is slowly regaining in the small Asian states.
The desirable balance in Asia, therefore, seems to me one in which the status quo is maintained at the strategic and military levels, namely a continuing Japanese-American security relationship, while the relationship between the four major actors at the political and economic levels has greater fluidity.
But such an outcome has two very important concomitants. First, there must be a reasonable degree of communication between all four major actors. The line between Peking and Washington is gradually getting cleared, that between Tokyo and Peking must now be built. For a stable relationship to exist, it is also a Western interest that communications and as high a level of confidence as possible be restored between Peking and Moscow. The other condition may take even longer to establish: it is nothing less than the acceptance by all four capitals of a a common principle, that of mutual access in third areas-on the one hand, acceptance of the fact that in the rest of Asia and indeed the developing world in general, the various powers have acquired certain areas of primary interest, dictated by strategic, economic or historical affiliations, but that this endows none of them with the right to a hegemonial sphere of influence. The United States may legitimately argue that it has a primary interest in, say, the Philippines and Australia, the Soviet Union in India, China in the Asian states to her immediate south, Japan in Indonesia, the European countries in Malaysia and Singapore. But the difference between primary and exclusive interests must be accepted; all must be open to the political, ideological, or economic penetration of the others; he who claims an exclusive relationship with another country destroys the balance.
What the President is feeling his way toward, it seems to me, is not a resurrection of a classic pentagonal balance in the crude sense of countervailing power (though his Prince Metternich in the West Wing may use the language of an earlier age), so much as a philosophy of multiple coexistence. If this were the 1960s with its preoccupation with military power, as a consequence of Berlin, Cuba and Vietnam I would look with great suspicion on the whole concept and feel that the maintenance of the American-Japanese-European triangle was of far greater importance than any discussion of a pentagonal balance. But in an era when military power may play a less dominating role, there is one objective of the old multiple system which is worth emphasizing, namely the preservation of the autonomy of its members.
The world is still divided into different political and cultural civilizations, and the main rationale and function of a multiple balance in the past have been to preserve the freedom of its members, while in the process minimizing the risks and scale of war, for the reason that the destruction or crippling of one of them destroys the system. The importance of this question of autonomy can hardly be overstressed in looking at Asia, where what are, in fact, four different civilizations meet in the area of the China Sea; but it also has relevance to the European balance as well: Europeans are not Americans, and their civilizations are distinct though the two are closely linked. The autonomous state or civilization has a great deal of vitality and we are more likely to live in relative tranquility if we respect this differentiation while opposing the temptations of universality for our own values or the claims of other polities.
But what about the position of the smaller powers in a world dominated by such a pentagonal relationship? Not only do some of them, notably those at the interface of the focuses of primary interest, like Korea or Jugoslavia or the newly truncated Pakistan fear that they will be the victim of some great-power agreement over their heads, that they will be the Polands or Taiwans of the future, but some of them are or will be tempted also to exploit the multiple balance.
Both aspects seem to me to give a new importance to the United Nations and its agencies. It has proved of limited value as an instrument of collective security, largely because it borrowed from the League of Nations, which in turn had unconsciously adapted from the Congress of Vienna the assumption that a concert of the great powers was feasible in an age when the meaning of power, the strength and objectives of those who wielded it, and the whole structure of the international system were about to change drastically. And even the ad hoc improvisation of U.N. peacekeeping is largely in abeyance because the concept has not yet been adjusted to the existence of a world of more than two great powers. Very possibly the next decade or so may see a regeneration of the United Nations, with China a member of the Security Council and with the two Germanys in the Assembly. I, for one, wholeheartedly favor a permanent seat on the Security Council for Japan opened up by the reduction of the West European seats from two to one as the Community acquires political validity.
But even if the Security Council were to acquire a new effectiveness, I share Castlereagh's doubts about the legitimacy or durability of the idea of a concert of great powers as a means of keeping order in the world. I see the contemporary value of the United Nations in rather different terms. First, as a permanent 0seat of contact between the new partners in the two great multiple balances of the world. Second, as an arena where the smaller powers can hoist danger signals if they feel themselves the victims of the kind of great-power pressure which I have suggested is no longer legitimate in a multiple balance. Third, as a means by which they can drag as many resources as possible out of the developed world to accelerate their own development and mitigate the appalling problems which they face. In addition, of course, the smaller powers are, as in an ecological balance, acquiring new forms of coherence, new means of underpinning their own national identities by local combinations-ASEAN, LAFTA, OAU and, more valuable, some of the local groupings within the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.
In the last two generations we have forgotten, and by we I mean Moscow and Peking as much as Washington or Brussels or Tokyo, the means or the conditions for maintaining a multiple balance. One is the importance of diplomacy, which is both more onerous and more significant than in the simple world of the cold war; it involves a sensitive concern for the interests not only of adversaries but of friends, a skilled knowledge of the sensibilities of other governments and other cultures; a skill which is as important in embassies abroad as in the national capital and which in my view cannot be sustained by ad hoc teams of political advisers, however brilliant, but only by a permanent corps of experienced professionals. Occasional summit meetings, bilateral or multilateral, are no substitute for Bacon's maxim that "princes do keep due sentinel."
A second condition is consistency in policy, so that over a very long period of time governments have a clear sense of each others' central interests, which is by no means the same thing as saying that foreign policy must be excluded from domestic and electoral controversy.
Finally, there is the necessity for restraint or moderation in our demands upon the international system, economic as well as political; we know that a trade war among the democracies would undermine the prospect of balance at all other levels.
Lest it should be thought that these remarks are directed particularly at the United States, let me say that they present an equal challenge to all the major power centers. The Soviet Union seems at this moment to have some of the ambitions of an old-fashioned imperial European power and by its emphasis on exclusive spheres of influence to undermine the principle of accessibility or interpenetration which I believe is central to the notion of balance. It, therefore, may have the most to learn about the new rules of the great game. Japan has yet to learn the lesson of economic magnanimity as an essential constitutent of her autonomy. Western Europe has still to create the very decision-making machinery which is necessary to identify its essential interests.
We live by our own choice, and to a significant extent an American choice, in a plural world in which the important sources of power have become neither abolished, institutionalized nor diffused, but have tended to aggregate in uneven ways around a small number of great states. The intellectual challenge for the next generation is both to use and to modify our tradition, which is flawed but also enriched by sporadic failure, to find a temporary accommodation for other civilizations and ideologies in an intractable social order which limits our ambitions but must not suspend our efforts. Yet it would be a sorry world that risked alienating not only the small powers but our own younger generation as well, if they came to believe that a balance of power was the highest political achievement of which the new great powers were capable.
[i] "What does Security Mean Today?" Foreign Affairs, July 1971.