Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
THERE is a profound psychological difference between a transfer of territory and a change in a trade treaty or pact of international coöperation. Territory is near and plain and evokes personal feelings and group sentiments. To a people conscious of its individuality, "how sweet the silent backward tracings." Such people endow the land itself with a mystical quality, hearing revered ancestors, the authors of past grandeurs and the doers of heroic deeds, speak from their graves in its soil. To all classes, landscape is an essential part of home. Enshrined in every national literature are the changing moods and compositions of river, mountain, plain, forest and shore. All the familiar techniques of living are involved in the complex of feeling, remembered experience and imagination surrounding place and home.
It is title to sentiments like these, and not merely to so-and-so many square miles of land, that is transferred when there is a change of boundaries and rule.
No such serious questions of sentiment or prestige are involved in writing a short-term military alliance or a commercial treaty dealing with goods and profits or a compact embodying the generalities of a world order; for these are not among the spiritual intimacies of life. The links between place and people are countless. The fact that one was born in a certain spot pursues one throughout life. The first question in most census schedules is, "Where do you live?" In common thought today, as in the earliest folklore, one's dwelling place is the center of the universe. Thus national leaders must be especially alert to territorial losses and gains, for they touch the main nerve center of popular feeling.
The dim curves of the future are more likely to be perceived correctly if we bring to the settlement of territorial issues a knowledge of sentiment, tradition and changing national fortunes of the past. Even so, such knowledge is inert and unproductive unless it is combined with judgments based upon a wider political sophistication than that created by mere possession of statistical data and formal historical training. In politics, action must be based on mixtures of right and wrong. The scholar says, "You must keep such-and-such facts in mind whatever you do." The busy official is tempted to ask simply, "What shall I do?" Neither is enough. Always and everywhere a decision about territory requires the examination of an existing situation respecting power. Behind that situation lies history, and ahead of it stretches the ideal of a fair solution. When a decision is to be made, three factors should be taken -- past history, current situation, future ideal -- and a judgment expressed jointly upon them. Such a judgment is neither more nor less than an opinion, based on experience with human nature, as to what participating leaders and nations are likely to do or may be persuaded to do in the interest of that recognized fairness which is one of the essential elements of a stable peace.
II. THE RISKS
However fair a given territorial solution may be, the seeds of trouble will generally remain. Risk can never be eliminated from territorial transfers; for the past will always be raked, in moments of potential change, to find arguments which sustain claims to the recapture of territory once held. A contemporary incident suddenly highlights an historic cause, or is made to do so. Population mixtures provide abundant opportunities for oppression; and the oppressed of yesterday, we have painfully discovered, often turns oppressor. Such mixtures are unavoidable in many border zones because national frontiers could not possibly be made to follow every ethnic and linguistic intricacy. Thus a boundary, however logically drawn, remains a thing of conflicting local hopes and fears. We have seen situations in which a man, to be secure, must have two houses, one on either side of a boundary, so that he can flee persecution wherever its source. The threat of a change in boundary or in the form of government has led hundreds of thousands to live, in a sense, on both sides of a boundary -- their homes on one side and their bank accounts on the other. It is hard to improve on the child's school essay: "The Boundary is an imaginary line, drawn through Ireland, between the good people and the bad. If it were not for the Boundary, Uncle Joe would send us a goose for Christmas."
That there is a general lack of confidence in the territorial settlements which are made is shown by the general aversion to giving them guarantees of permanence. We suspect that we may be heading for the rocks and so leave the escape hatch open. This practically invites agitation for change from both sides concerned -- or from several sides, when the interests of more than two nations are involved. Witness the general feeling in 1937 that perhaps it was right, after all, that Austria should be joined to Germany. We disliked the manner in which the change was effected, and we abhorred the agent who effected it; but some eminent men, including a few scholars, had favored the change for years; and anyway the world feared war if it acted against it. Witness, again, the still tangled skein of Palestine, where an interweaving of irrelevancy, bad judgment, personal differences, national election considerations here and in England, political whipsawing, fear, suspicion, and realpolitik have all but excluded morality, fairness and reason. It is a major issue, yet virtually all leaders talk on both sides of the subject, as if the answer lay only in expediency, self-interest and compromise. The United States may be faced with the question whether it will undertake to guarantee the outcome of this play of passion and special pleading.
Consider the difficulty of dealing with remote peoples in any event. To prescribe for them as to forms of government, or to take away territory here and add it there, is to suppose a careful analysis of a people, their institutions, motivations, range of political experience, depth of sound traditions, solidity of character. This may seem easy when a people is far away. Our domestic experience should warn us of our limitations. What American can predict the moods and acts of even the United States? Who knows our country region by region well enough for that?
Rival social and political systems add to the complexity of the problem. Each former political satellite of Nazi Germany is now a house divided against itself. All nations join in proclaiming "democracy" but all are passionately divided as to meanings. A "democracy" set up with Soviet support does not look like American democracy at all. The situation of many countries is like that of a certain sequoia tree in the Yosemite National Park. Two hundred feet above the ground the crown was once knocked off by lightning, and upon the scarred and weakened main stem a new trunk began to grow and has now reached a height of at least fifty feet. It is vigorous and symmetrical, but its survival is conditioned by the old storm-broken trunk below. If there was ever a time to "think in things, not words," as Justice Holmes advised, it is now. The trunk and roots matter most, not the lovely crown about which it is so easy to write fine words.
Territorial settlements involve all the complexities of civilization -- historical fitness, population mobility, resource distributions, tax bases, divisions of agricultural fertility zones, and a thousand other considerations. Territory is not an abstraction. Unfortunately, nations can not be separated approximately. A boundary has to be here, not hereabouts.
Critics have said that the Paris Peace Conference failed because the peacemakers were preoccupied with boundaries when their minds should have been on essential economic arrangements. As a participant, I know of no such preoccupation. The economic arrangements were bad and the subsequent failure was inevitable, whatever boundaries were delimited. Not the fragmentation of Europe but the rise of economic autarchy was the root of the trouble in the 20s and 30s. The choice between economic advantage and political independence, moreover, was often made deliberately.
In many parts of Europe the feelings of two or more nationalities about the same piece of territory are irreconcilable. If there is to be peace in such cases, it must be imposed from without. Each will oppress the other if it has the opportunity. The overlapping sovereignties and remembered wrongs of the past feed the "eternal light," which burns not only to remind men of past heroisms but to light the pathway of the irredentists and would-be (in turn) oppressors. Sometimes, of course, boundary disputes are settled without bitterness. When, for example, the last boundary problem between Colombia and Venezuela reached the point of negotiation, the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed that the matter be handled as between two gentlemen. Air photography had revealed advantages to both sides, because the streams ran in a way that neither supposed. In a rare spirit of give-and-take, a settlement was made. But there were few people in the district and none in the essential part of it. There were no local votes, no ideas afloat, no trends, no rival cultures. Only empty land permits of so neat a solution.
It is a grave error to suppose that there is one right and stable solution to every territorial problem, a solution to be found, adopted and forgotten. Time and life produce their unpredictable changes. At one point in a prolonged discussion in a recent conference, a fatigued member said to another, "Words, words, words !" to which the reply was made, "Yes, words, words, words; but underneath the words are meanings, and underneath the meanings is life." He meant changing and unpredictable life. As life and time surge forward, the meanings change and the words (the political agreements) change with them, logically or by free negotiation in a few cases, by force in many others.
The dream of many simple minds is that disputed territory can be divided according to some self-contained scheme of logic or set of generally accepted moralities. This notion overlooks the truth that life which has become static is death. Moreover, scientific discovery is a perpetually unsettling factor. No sooner has jet propulsion set tongues wagging about the need for a "completely new strategy" than the atomic bomb and the proximity fuse vastly extend the range of possibilities. Every time a new weapon is introduced or a new technique devised, a new appraisal must be made of every scrap of territory we own or may desire to control internationally or otherwise. It is fundamentally wrong, in my opinion, to think that a system of world coöperation or international defense can minimize the importance of territory. Ownership and hence boundaries remain scientifically valid and of first importance in a world not yet united -- in fact profoundly divided -- with respect to forms of social organization and control.
History warns us of the danger of overconfidence. In 1916, when we bought the Danish West Indies, we most unwisely relinquished rights based upon discovery and exploration in Greenland, though for years Peary had hammered on aviation possibilities with the persistence of a zealot. It will soon appear whether our occupation and use of Greenland in a time of temporary Danish helplessness will give us future standing (internationally or otherwise) in this part of the front yard of the hemisphere. Our painful experience with the Japanese mandated islands in the Pacific is so recent as to warn us that territorial dispositions call for the highest statesmanship we can command. The historical record of the judgments of prime ministers and parliaments, presidents and congresses, is not reassuring.
England's historic moat was crossed by enemy airplanes in World War I. Grave pronouncements followed: in a military sense the English Channel, it was said, had been obliterated. And in the spring of 1940 this conclusion seemed about to be confirmed. But Hitler did not invade England, and the moat had something, indeed much, to do with it. English ships with their unmatched fighting crews had control of the Narrow Seas and menaced every continental foreshore held by the enemy. The factors in what happened in the summer and autumn of 1940 were many, variable and complex, but there was one factor present in every new and swiftly evolving phase of the situation -- twenty miles of salt water.
It is clear from examples dotting the pages of history that some crucial territorial arrangements have been wise and others unwise from either the long-range or the short-range point of view. Critics of the Alaska Purchase, limited in outlook, wrote "Seward's Folly." British top leaders, officially advised, let go of Helgoland. Tricky in their effects on judgment are neat distributional maps, whether of oil, or the differentials of population growth, or the production of steel, or the location of rare and critically important minerals. An examination of technical data will never supply the key to wisdom. To reach a wise decision a political composition is required. If it proves correct we call it statesmanship. The cynic will ask whether any decision that will be tested by human behavior in the future is more than a guess. I suggest we are more likely to guess rightly if we are thoroughly at home with the possibilities.
III. SOME COMPONENTS OF POLITICAL JUDGMENTS
Territorial settlements usually are based less on principle than on political power judgments of the moment. Probably no major peace settlement came nearer the mark of principle than the European territorial settlements of 1919. The boundary network established at that time fitted the complicated patterns of speech, folk groupings and sense of nationality more closely than ever had been the case before in modern history. But judgments upon the 1919 boundaries, and upon those now in the making, are not like the judgments of a court rendered according to an accepted code of law. Decisions in this field are not based on abstractions of social experience or generally accepted moral theories. Their nature is political. Justice cannot weigh "historical rights" blindfolded and decree consistent action.
Negotiation has flexible limits and involves opportunistic appraisal to a high degree. If policy makers come to a conference unprepared to discuss social and political ideas which are in conflict within a given territory, they are unprepared to frame a decision respecting the transfer of such territory. The same sort of thing is true, of course, even of international conferences that deal with subjects like food, aviation and international organization. They are simple only by title; in reality, they deal with bundles of things, with overlapping and often contradictory forces and conditions. All international actions have in them a high degree of opportunism, called euphemistically "the logic of events." We proclaim principles and strive toward ideals; but events do not wait upon mature reflection. As a result, almost all broad international political decisions, whether upon territories or otherwise, are hurried, tentative and incomplete.
A new chapter in our domestic politics has been opened by our wider and more active participation in world affairs. In launching our barque upon a wider sea of responsibility we will do well to reëxamine the rigging of our national political processes. No sooner do officials take a position or make a decision than they begin to justify it, backed by the power of an official propaganda machine supported by the taxpayers, who thus pay to be told how right their government has been. The official attitude is defensive, protective and self-justifying. No one praises democracy or any other system more highly than those who are its salaried beneficiaries. In the case of territorial decisions, the scope of political dialectic is enlarged by the nature of the problems involved. As we have seen, they are characteristically gray, not white and black. As a rule there is something to be said on both sides. A thousand wait their turn at the public tribune for one who, looking for truth, delves quietly into the nature of a tortured situation. One thing only can be counted on -- the brevity of public attention and interest. It is smart to be "on the beam" of current interest. No use talking about diplomacy as an art when the public wants to know who was responsible at Pearl Harbor.
A major factor in the political discussion of foreign problems is that many of our domestic racial groups offer support or threaten reprisals upon candidates for public office according as they promise to favor or oppose group programs for achieving some supposed benefit for distant homelands. In many local political situations such foreign groups hold the balance of power. We all want peace; but each group wishes its own kind of peace settlement. Besides their attachments to particular places, groups have preferences as to forms of government and social systems. Every political wind, especially at election time, brings into the arena of national debate the clamor of noisy minorities, with two loyalties, not one. War with Italy was a clean-cut affair for our government by comparison with the subsequent tangles when, in the moment of victory, the problem of Italy was transferred from the military front westward to Chicago, New Haven and New York. Then the politician began looking over his shoulder.
Group dissension over every troublesome territorial problem weakens the public resolution to support the settlement of it. And the domestic consequences of these divisions will be closely watched abroad. We have become the mainstay of international organization for peace; but foreign observers know that the national tide, now running high in the direction of accepting world responsibilities, will surely recede if we put national power -- which includes American bayonets -- behind programs designed merely to capture the Italian vote or the Polish vote or the Jewish vote. We should sharply challenge a course of action that weakens the determination of the American people as a whole to support the world order. Unless the majority insist that their public servants rise above these group interests we risk losing by domestic political trading what we thought we, along with the other nations of the world, had won at the San Francisco Conference.
A new map of the United States would enable us to undertake a much deeper political self-analysis. The map would show the chief centers of foreign population and their voting habits. What has been the record of the Congressmen who represent such groups? What have been the decisive preëlection issues? What were the constituents promised? We cannot say that such conflicts of opinion in our democracy cancel out, on the ground that main national decisions are made upon higher and broader plateaus of interest. The democratic line known as the "diagonal of contending varieties" has not always been extended in the right direction. Prohibition proved this, and so did the events of December 7, 1941, only five months after Congress had continued selective service with not one vote to spare. The nature of the political process is exceedingly complicated. Now one force, now another, one guided by a wise leader, the other unguided and uncertain, moves the finger that writes our fate upon the wall.
We cannot expect largeness of vision and disinterested points of view from groups that act on the urge of remembered wrongs "over there." We wish those wrongs settled in the light of what we see, share and dream in free America. We expect the citizen to be rooted here and his passions to be poured out in the national interest of America. To be sure, the two promptings often coincide. But we participate in settling territorial problems not for the purpose of favoring a given group abroad, regardless of the rights of other groups, but for the purpose of establishing the fairest and most lasting situation attainable. Czechoslovak leaders recently oriented the policies of their nation in the direction of Moscow, and I suppose this to be wise. What is the preferred orientation of the 300,000 or more American citizens of Czechoslovak blood? The present government in Poland believes itself capable of digesting the troubles that will surely beset the country if it swallows all of the territory east of the Oder. When faced with the imperatives of a practical settlement, how far shall we support the sentimental "backward tracings"?
The paradox is that if we make boundaries stable by international agreement we may confirm the injustice of an arbitrary or careless decision, while if we make them mobile we invite every minority group to agitate continuously, often in specious terms. Over-all prosperity and stability and a free life within the framework of collective responsibility are objects that can be achieved in every corner of the world only after they are first achieved in the round or in general terms. We cannot achieve molecular peace and justice everywhere by a stroke of the pen or by any sort of organization or wisdom that we know. The touchstones of success for a world organization are that it shall have a workable structure and that it shall generate a coöperative will to see justice become paramount. If we are not alert to the danger, the territorial settlements ahead of us will tend to draw attention away from other main issues. I do not assert that every detailed decision will induce a step backward toward isolationism, but I fear it may be so. There is a risk that groups may attempt to capture the victory for objects different from those that only time and sustained cooperation will achieve. If we succeed as a united people in our big job in the world, particular boundaries and individual minorities will become, we hope, less and less important.
IV. THE STRATEGIES OF PEACE
The decision about Greenland referred to above was taken by a mind not alerted to aviation as an instrument both for keeping the peace and for making war. Without pretending that the list is complete, let us look at some of the things to which we should be alerted today. Pending territorial decisions will be made within the framework of some such composition of strategies of peace as the following.
The grand international strategy is to work for and win a peace of justice, buttressed by coöperative will and enterprise. The national aim of the United States should be to demand insistently the application of the principle of fairness, and to be its foremost exemplar. It is a principle understood in all languages; it is the white thread running through all systems of law. It is today's shining ideal, as it has been the ideal of sage and saint for millenniums past.
Are we up to a task set in these terms? Or will we allow trifles to steal in and monopolize our minds now that the immediate danger is past? Can the national will be sustained in the rare air of a universal humanity? We have set ourselves to perform a task of heroic proportions. The diversities of men and systems are not to be levelled by fine words or dissolved by concentrations of power appropriate for war. They are not merely differences of dress or manners, but include different systems of law rooted in profoundly different social experiences and environments, different codes of ethics, different degrees of inherent compassion, and wide and deep contradictions of purpose: élite vs. mass, colony vs. metropole, Communism vs. free-enterprise, democracy vs. totalitarianism. We have a long road ahead of us before the tentatives of our present collective will bear fruit in universal good.
There is not one strategy of peace but many strategies, and technology has recently multiplied them. It was so in war. "I know how to defeat Japan," said one top military commander in 1942. "Sink her ships!" We sank the ships, but this was only one of several routes to the heart of Japanese power. While the Charter of the United Nations is the chief instrument of our present hopes, the fact remains that territories are to be disposed of before proof can be provided that the United Nations have the will to implement the Charter. What tests of political democracy can be used to determine the will of a presently inert people? Whose scheme of social organization is to be adopted in the trusteed areas of the world? Tragic internal conflicts can arise among politically immature peoples if social and political experiments are inaugurated by outside powers of differing ideologies and aims.
Strategy based upon the military situation of the moment has proved disappointing. It was asserted repeatedly in the period 1939-1944 that territorial decisions must wait until the end of the war, when they could be resolved in a general settlement worked out in the calm atmosphere of peace. Events did not arrange themselves so conveniently. The successes of the Red Army had repercussions up and down the breadth of Russia and enlarged the limits of what it was practicable for Moscow to ask while contracting the limits of what it was practicable for Russia's allies to try to deny her. The Kremlin could borrow Clemenceau's words of 1919: Blood has given us the right to judge. It became the Curzon Line and nothing less! The world -- including the Polish Government in London -- could talk, but there stood the Soviet Armies, and they and they alone could advance into Poland. A long turning of thought followed, and the world was prepared to concede Polish claims to East Prussia, provided population transfers could be made in an "orderly and humane" manner. Danzig and the Oder frontier followed.
In all this, who has given thought to the Polish capacity for self-government? Who has reviewed judicially the twenty-year acts, servitudes and party fragmentations of the Sejm? What difficulties were met in welding together the three Polands which had been thrown together in 1919? Now there is a fourth "Poland" in East Prussia and a fifth "Poland" east of the Oder. Will the Polish national temperament change overnight and permit the orderly evolution of local self-government, the wise and patient building of a democratic commonwealth? One hesitates to ask these questions for fear of being accused of satire. But we can understand the Russian side of the argument, for have we not also bought with our blood bits of territory over the vast expanses of the Pacific, and do we propose, other and peaceful means failing, to buy them over again at possibly greater cost? This is not sweet peace, if you will, but rather the military strategy of the outpost; but its purpose can be peace, and a coöperative peace if we can put our grand strategy through.
The strategy of minerals -- occupying one of the larger areas of political interest -- has been gravely neglected by our higher commands. In this field we back and fill because no one who has taken the time required to study the essentials possesses the authority to formulate a policy we can stick to. Most territories have mineral possibilities. Yesterday Saudi Arabia was a land of picturesque Bedouin; today it is an oil empire. Wherever there are rare and critical minerals, useful alike in peaceful industry and in war, there we are bound to inquire who owns them and to what political design they may contribute. Is access easy? Is the government stable? Would costs be reasonable? What are the alternative sources of supply? Are substitutes likely to be developed by scientific research? If the agencies of the American Government and American business are at cross purposes, neither can take the firm position in these situations which is desirable from the viewpoint of the national interest. American business in the foreign field has too often not known when it would be deserted by its own government.
Population growths set the framework of another strategy. Bismarck's fear of the Polish mother is now shared in a wider sense by those concerned with the differentials of birth rates in the various nations of Europe. Will a possible rise in the standard of living in the Soviet Union, for example, have the expected effect of a drop in the present high birth rate there? We have been told that if Russia pays due attention to public health, she will have a population of more than 250,000,000 by 1970.[i] If the projections of the experts are realized, the balance of population will shift drastically away from western Europe to eastern Europe. Granted the accuracy of the statistical facts and the predictions based upon them, what can be done about the situation? France and Great Britain will subsidize births, whatever the government in power or its social policy. But government-assisted population growth is still in the experimental stage. Wrapped up in the experiment is a prior question: Shall an attempt be made to discriminate on a stock-selection basis, or will the worst stock inevitably be encouraged at the expense of the declining best? To breed for numbers, not quality, may be all that is possible. Thus it remains to be seen whether the policy of stimulating births spells strength or weakness for the nation practising it.
Closely tied with the strategy of population numbers is the question of migration. A free movement of peoples on a non-discriminatory basis is persistently desired by allegedly overcrowded countries. The besetting fear of Australia serves as example of the other side of the argument. What shall be the choice between these opposite viewpoints? Has the United States a position in the dispute, now that its former policy of total Chinese exclusion is annulled in favor of a quota so small it does not matter? If the population pressure in China and India is so great, must the White Australia Policy be revised? There seems to be a fundamental error in the thesis that there should be a free and non-discriminatory flow of population across frontiers, and since both theory and the actual conditions on which it is based now occupy places in the field of practical politics the problem is worth fuller analysis.
The theory of a mobile population has two grand divisions. The first is Lebensraum, in which space and culture are merged in a mystical relation that identifies force as a beneficent agent of fate. Once the higher culture prevails, who cares how it was made to prevail? In adopting the policy of Lebensraum, the Nazis rested their case both upon "the changing facts of life" and upon the theory that good ends justify the use of arbitrary means. Since the thesis inexorably implies the use of force, the seeds of tragedy are broadcast from the start.
In the present situation of the world, tragically divided as it is by hates and conflicting systems of government, the forced transfer of populations holds intensified dangers. Using an elaborate machinery based upon thorough research, the German Government before and during World War II moved nearly 500,000 people out of both marginal and distant territories and settled them within the bounds of the enlarged Reich. Since then, the worsening of health conditions, means of transport and food supplies, plus other changes, have made the lot of forced emigrants even more difficult. The ideal of tolerance is gone; attainment of the goal of "orderly and humane transfer" seems almost impossible. The bank of hatred will continually receive new deposits as the fury and woe caused by brutal transfers are fully experienced. The importance of boundaries will not be minimized by this procedure, but maximized; everywhere they will be thought to separate "the good people" from "the bad people."
The second grand division of the theory of mobility supposes that relief from home crowding will follow emigration. Clearly, however, there would be no appreciable relief for China if seven millions of Chinese out of four hundred million were to go to Australia. The population in Australia would be doubled but the crowding in China would be lessened hardly at all. The root of the trouble is not an insufficient land base but a high birth rate. The axe must be laid to that root if practical results are to be obtained. This means universal knowledge about birth control and universal access to the means of control. Only a general rise in the standard of living seems sufficient to bring these ends in view, and only accelerated industrial development seems likely to provide a basis for a higher standard. So far as we humans can now see, these are the only solutions.
The reverse of the medal must also be kept in view. A nation which neglects to promote national unity by sound democratic processes is selling its birthright. Our objective is not a flattened-out culture and opinion based upon either force or mass habit. A country cannot neglect a sound process of unification any more than it can afford to dam up the flow of general cultural diversity. Switzerland is a useful example of the way in which wide cultural diversity may accompany unity of political purpose; but the United States is an equally good one. Our protracted negligent attitude toward world affairs led our enemies to suppose that we had lost the power of unified purpose; it turned out to be one of our strongest weapons. North of the border, "Canadianization" has long been a conscious policy to overcome the internal diversities resulting from the block settlement of immigrants to that country. The soundness of the unifying processes which have produced such good results in these and other cases is beyond question. A nation is not an inchoate mass of people, but organization and purpose and cultural development, with freedom and will to choose and with knowledge to guide the choice. These are goals difficult to attain under any circumstances. Unrestricted migration would wreck both the means and the purposes of unity in freedom.
There are, as has been suggested, other and more promising methods. What can be done for China and India, for example, is to raise the standard of living through industrialization. All the world need not, like Belgium, possess a highly concentrated industry drawing large quantities of raw materials from abroad. But every country that has people with hands has aptitudes, developed or latent, which it can apply to raw materials, domestic and imported. It is better national policy to export a bale of goods than a man. The pyramiding of industry has limits, however; and it will be a special problem of the future to determine the best social balance between national production, importation, cheapening sources of power and population numbers. What concerns us in this connection now is that most countries have not reached the point of industrial saturation, so there is both room and time for experiment. Capital, enterprise and aptitudes, if suitably joined, will result in the surprisingly swift attainment of higher levels of living. In overcrowded countries there is a frontier in industry far more vast than any land frontier of history.
V. THE NEW RELATIONSHIPS
Among the strategies of peace and security is one we are next to try: the airing of threats to peace in the Assembly of the United Nations. The structure of organization, as finally accepted at San Francisco, provides for study of almost every conceivable major international problem. The world's confidence in the Organization may be expected to grow as such studies are impartially made and rationally interpreted. The wider the public knowledge and discussion of a problem the less likely it is that a minority group will succeed in forcing a parochial decision.
What we have seen of aggressive national policies in the territorial field during and at the close of the present war raises a question of interpretation. If the national policies of Britain with respect to the southern shores of the North Sea form a 150-year-old tradition that deserves respect, how far is similar respect due to the Soviet desires at the Dardanelles and Gibraltar, in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Baltic? While we are making up our minds on this the Soviet Union acts. It has been urged that we act ourselves in the Pacific. We can note, however, without being sanctimonious, that when we speak of territorial acquisitions in that area we include references to a trusteeship system and that the populations involved (the Philippines excepted) are too small and primitive to give the issue local human meaning.
We have to lift our eyes from the map if we are to see the new form of relationship which is being imposed upon many areas of the world, big and little, by economic evolutions twice armed with efficient and expanding technologies. That neglected garden called the Amazon, for example, exports 80 percent of its production and imports 90 percent of its consumption. Thus its economy is dependent upon an outside market whose constant fluctuations are entirely beyond its own control, and it will remain in this condition so long as its people find it uneconomical to work up their products industrially. In the broad sweep of economic forces the smaller countries of the world are one by one caught up. Most of the 20 Latin American states, having narrow economies, depend for economic well-being upon three or four exports. Control is not governed by "full employment," as determined domestically, or by commendable human industry and resultant high production, but by prices fixed abroad. In the absence of world-wide rationing, country by country, of the production of such key products as coffee, sugar, cacao, tea, rubber and cotton, this fluctuates greatly. The resultant stresses in Puerto Rico, Java and Ceylon and many other dependent areas are well known; in all of them, the population problem is tied to economic policy. By contrast, the riches of the earth are at the disposition of the Bahrein Islanders, in the Persian Gulf, because of the handsome royalties on their oil reserves.
Small countries require a form of special consideration, therefore, when territorial changes are in view; at least some of them do. And since none of them has confidence that international economic arrangements will take its welfare and economic viability into sufficient account, all claim a right to share in the decision of the gravest global matters in both the economic and the political field on the principle of "sovereign equality." This principle, fully deployed, means that the little will decide what the big shall do. Clearly, the full future impact of a decision as to the Silesian coal fields is not alone of Polish concern. Since Poland was not developed industrially herself, the coal of Polish Silesia was a drug on the local market until the British general strike of 1926 provided an unforeseen opportunity for sales in Scandinavia. What are the new rationalities now that Poland possesses the whole of Upper Silesia?
The net result of the economic difficulties we have reviewed, and the likely play of political forces upon them, is to throw the responsibility for equalizing economic opportunity upon general arrangements evolved in the Economic and Social Council as a counterweight to any effort of the Great Powers to solve the problem through the medium of territorial arrangements. This will seem, to the small state eager to extend its frontiers, a distant and uncertain place to lodge reliance for vital benefits. The permanence of new and untried governments will be made to depend, not on local effort but on the nod of the powerful and the distant. It will take unbounded faith to make stability real in such circumstances.
Statesmanship means looking ahead. It also means wise appraisals and a wise choice among alternative possibilities. It is the duty of the statesmen to identify the factors one by one and give first consideration to those which are dominant; for not all factors have equal weight, or will have later. In doing this, statesmen must ever remember that any proposal for action is half ideal -- "the intrusion of the eternal into time" -- and half reality. It is fallacious to suppose that we can distil, by philosophical reflection upon a people's cultural value, a policy which will justify enlarging its territorial scope, nor is it necessary for us to do so. There is abundant room for all in the present world, where science and the inventive arts have given us a fourth dimension. However limited the territorial base may be, good social organization, developed aptitudes, and national unity and freedom can raise every national group to satisfactory levels of living.
The lesson of this is that a strategy of industrial expansion must be put beside the other strategies. It may be objected that an ultimate solution may escape us if all peoples are industrialized. But are there ultimates in this world? The poet's phrase that "The end is forbidden" seems nearer the truth. There are too many unknown forces to justify self-confidence. Aptitudes vary almost as much as resources. Aptitude is a function of inherent powers, plus resources, plus education, plus energy, as conditioned by climate, biological setup, and food supply. It often is too readily supposed that where a textile loom goes, there will originate competition in exported textiles. Will China continue to buy from us if we help industrialize her? One admits that Russia is a special case, for in that country overwhelming manpower is joined to industrial power in a system of political control that may spell danger. But here, as in all other cases and with all fears, the infinite varieties of nature in time will, in my view, surprise us. In any event, since industrialization is not consummated overnight, there will be time for adjustment -- in social control, in relief from felt wants, in birth rates, and especially in the opportunity to strengthen coöperative will and action.
For the rest -- and that rest has its full share of uncertainty -- we must accept a fact of life, that all experience is a risk. Looking backward to 1919, for example, we see how immature we were as a nation, or as a government, when fate put into our hands the instrument suited to a new order of planetary living, and we rejected it. Yet, speaking in the round, the men of that time did the best they could. When the best devising and the highest resolution fail, we can only try again. A tough amalgam of historical and present-day interests, differing nation by nation, has to be fused and welded upon the main stem of the world's common interest in peace. The final strategy, we repeat, is that of coöperative international action. The highest patriotism henceforth will be to insist upon objective judgments and expressions of fairness all round.
If we can make a go of this, the grand strategy, all the other strategies will fall into place. Meanwhile, however, it is our fate, as we have seen, to be obliged to settle the problems of boundaries, minerals, migration and strategic bases before we have been able to put coöperative action to the critical test. Thus we are always compelled to take account of the possibility that coöperative hopes and endeavors may fail. This necessary division of faith and interest tends to weaken the will to coöperate.
We find ourselves today, then, in a frontier zone of political living. Some of our friends of today may be among our enemies tomorrow. But life demands action in the present. We are obliged to reconcile the practical and the ideal. What I have tried to say is that their reconciliation, for example in the case of the territorial settlements that plague us, is almost infinitely difficult, but that it is not quite impossible. As a nation, looking up the long and steep road ahead, can we run and not be weary? Can we fulfill the pledge that we made when we wrote "We, the people" at the masthead of the Charter of the United Nations? Not if we listen to the small minds and the particularistic groups. Not if once again, as once before, we let trifles flood our minds. The struggle upon which we have embarked on the morrow of military victory is an eternal one. Weak and wrong as some of our decisions may in time prove to be, we must develop the stamina to face the consequences and try again and again and again.
[i] "Population and Power in Postwar Europe," by Frank W. Notestein. FOREIGN AFFAIRS, April 1944.