The Convergence of the American and Russian Systems
AN INTELLIGENT HANDLING OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
By WILLIAM G. CARLETON, Professor of History and Political Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Delivered at the Annual Conference of the Southern Council on International Relations at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, October 11, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 98-104.
WHAT will be the international position of the United States in the post-war world? Of one thing we may be sure: it will not be Charles A. Beard's American Continentalism, popularly called isolationism. The policy of American isolation came to an end with the Spanish-American War of 1898. The policy we pursued from 1898 to 1941 was not isolationism, and it was not balance-of-power politics, and it was not collective security. Perhaps the most accurate designation applied to our American foreign policy prior to Pearl Harbor is the term used by Senator Robert A. Taft—"the policy of the free hand." From 1898 to 1941 we already played a large part in world affairs, but we played that part alone, without allies, and without participation in the League of Nations.
It has now become rather commonplace to say that the American foreign policy at the end of this war will resolve itself into one of three possible alternatives. What are these?
One alleged possibility is that the United States continue the policy we pursued from 1898 to 1941, but that we pursue it in a larger and more exposed way. We would extend American holdings and bases in Asia and the Far Pacific. We would acquire bases on the Western coast of Africa. We would maintain the largest army, the largest navy, and the largest air force in the world. This would be a policy of increased nationalism, even of increased imperialism. It would be the policy of "the free hand" played upon a larger scale. It would appeal to most of our so-called isolationists, who are in fact not so much isolationists as they are nationalists and imperialists.
A second alleged possibility is that the United States continue as a member of the Grand Alliance along with Great Britain, Russia, and China to stabilize the peace. This is the policy popularized by Walter Lippmann. It would have the United States openly and frankly adhere to the world balance-of-power system and seal that adherence in a system of military alliances. It would partition the world into orbits or communities or regions or spheres of influence, and in each orbit one of the big four would largely dominate.
A third alleged possibility is a world league or confederation, a system of international collective security. This time the United States would join this world organization and take a leading part in its operations. This would be an internationalist peace, the triumph at last of the Wilsonian conception of world order.
In my opinion we need no longer speculate about which of these will prevail. I believe we already know. The blueprints of the forthcoming peace have in fact already been etched.
The peace settlement will not be a clear-cut policy of "the free hand." It will not be a clear-cut policy of balance-of-power alliances. It will not be a clear-cut policy of collective security. It will be a combination of all three of these policies!
It seems certain that the United States will retain under its exclusive control additional holdings and bases in the Far Pacific. It seems probable that the United States will retain bases in Western Africa. Moreover, we seem headed for a large army, a large air force, and a two-ocean navy as a permanent peace-time policy. There are strong indications that the United States for the first time in its history will embark upon a policy of peace-time conscription for military service. And so it looks as though we will come out of this war with an intensification of American nationalism, at the very timethere is an intensification of nationalism in China and in Russia. In this sense the peace will be a nationalistic one and even an imperialistic one. In this sense the peace should be pleasing to Senator Brewster, Senator Chandler, Senator McKellar, Senator Russell, and former Senator Lodge. In this sense the peace should even be pleasing to Bob Reynolds, Gerald Nye, Ham Fish, and Colonel McCormick.
On the other hand, it seems that the United States will have less of a free hand than it has had in the past. It will have commitments of a political and a military nature with Britain and Russia and China, commitments not shared by other sovereign states. In this sense the peace will attempt to continue as a stabilizing influence the Grand Alliance which wins the war. Moreover, there seems to be an understanding that certain geographical areas fall into the Russian sphere of influence, others into the British sphere of influence, others into the American sphere of influence. In this sense the peace will be a vindication of the ideas of Walter Lippmann.
Finally, it now appears that the United States will join the new world organization which was tentatively outlined at Dumbarton Oaks. This Dumbarton Oaks plan creates a weak league of nations. There is to be no international police force, not even an international air force, and the armed forces of the member states are to be under the control of their respective national governments and not subordinated to the world organization. This was a characteristic of the old League of Nations, so that in this respect if the internationalists have not gained ground neither have they lost it. However, with the United States and Russia as members of the new organization from the beginning, this new league should have some advantages over the old one. Of course there still remains the possibility that over one-third of the United States Senate will be whipped into opposition to American participation, but with both major parties committed to the Dumbarton Oaks plan, the odds appear greatly in favor of American participation. The only important difference of opinion seems to be whether the United States representative on the Council should be pre-endowed with the power to commit American armed forces to the halting of aggression or whether the American Congress will have to act specifically in every such case. American participation in the new league of nations should make the peace attractive to the Wilsonians.
Now if the attention of the Colonel McCormicks can be focused on the national aspects of the peace, the attention of the Lippmanns on the balance-of-power aspects, and the attention of the Wilsonites on the collective security aspects, everybody in America, for once, should be enormously satisfied with the forthcoming peace settlement.
One paramount fact, however, will characterize the international relations of the post-war world. That fact is this: only three or four great powers will stand out above all others with preponderant might, and they will largely dominate the other countries in their respective regions. The new league of nations in the making will have no ability to control these three or four great powers, because their armed forces will continue to be under their own national control. Their armed forces are the international police force, and there will be no other. Thus the policemen will be in a position to curb the lesser powers, but who will police the policemen? In this sense Walter Lippmann has been the true prophet of the immediate post-war years. He has predicted the reality. Has he likewise been right in insisting that this situation is desirable and that it will make for an enduring peace?
Victorious war coalitions have never long survived victory over the common enemy. When the enemy goes down the common fear vanishes, and points of conflict rather than points of harmony come to the fore. This is what happened to the victorious alliance which won over Louis XIV in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713 and 1714. Have you read Swift's Conduct of the Allies? This is what happened to the victorious alliance which won over France in the War of the Austrian Succession in 1748. This is what happened to the victorious combination of Britain and Prussia which won over Louis XV in 1763. This is what happened to the victorious alliance which won over Britain in the American Revolution in 1783. Do you recall how the American commissioners negotiated with Britain behind the back of Vergennes and how President Washington in 1793 refused to follow the treaties of alliance with France made in 1778? This is what happened to the Grand Alliance which won over Napoleon in 1814 and 1815. And as all of you recall, this is what happened to the triumphant alliance which won over Germany in 1918. Only wishful thinking and blind faith unsupported by any historical evidence leads men to believe that somehow this victorious coalition will act differently.
Nor will the division of the world into spheres of influence dull rivalry among the surviving great powers; rather it will sharpen it. Is Germany to be in the Russian sphere or in the Anglo-American sphere? Is Greece to be in the Russian sphere or in the British sphere? Is Mongolia to be in the Russian sphere or in the Chinese sphere? Questions like this are legion. Spheres of influence are not bonds of harmony; they are potential cock-pits of conflict.
As a matter of fact we seem to be entering a very dangerous period in international relations. Never since the rise of national states have so few great powers survived to dominate the scene. When only three or four big powers are left the dangers are multiplied rather than diminished. The vital interests of these surviving great powers will now touch at almost every point in the world. When a single one of them chooses to stop playing ball with the others, we are in for trouble.
The truth is that the game of power politics has always been a dangerous one even when played by seven or eight great powers. It will be far more dangerous when played by only three or four. When played by seven or eight powers there is opportunity for the development of cross-currents which help to check and balance the system. For instance, in 1905 Russia and Japan were at war. France had an alliance with Russia. Britain had an alliance with Japan. And France and Britain had an Entente. Thus France was anti-British in Asia and pro-British in Europe! At the same time Germany was friendly to Russia in Asia, which made France friendly to Germany in Asia and hostile to Germany in Europe! No such restraining cross-currents are possible in a balance of power system where only three or four great powers survive.
Austria-Hungary no longer was a power after 1918. In this war France and Italy have gone down as great powers. Germany and Japan are now in process of being crushed. Only Britain, Russia, the United States, and possibly China, remain.
More ominous still: two powers stand out head and shoulders over all the rest—the United States of America and the Soviet Union. This is a perilous condition which has never existed since the rise of modern national states. There they stand, two potential gladiators, with the whole world watching and expecting an eventual clash. When only two powers stand preeminent in the world, every other place on earth becomes a potential arena of rivalry and conflict.
In other words, the peace settlement which looms on the horizon may constitute a hodge-podge of nationalist, balance-of-power, and internationalist elements and therefore be pleasing in one aspect or another to almost every school of American opinion} but in the all-important consideration of preventing a third world war it may fail.
We may as well face the fact that a third world war is possible and even probable. Of course it will not come for fifteen or twenty years. During that time Germany will be defeated and policed. Russia, weary from thirty years of turmoil, must relax and ease the tensions on her people. During the past thirty years Russia has experienced the brunt of foreign war, internal revolution, fierce civil war, ruthless experimentation, collectivization of agriculture, three high-pressure five-year plans, again foreign war, invasion, and frightful destruction. There is a limit to human endurance, and Russia must have a generation of peace.
But at the end of about twenty years of peace may come a crisis in international affairs. And the crisis is likely to come in American-Russian relations, not with Germany.
By about 1960 Russia will have a much larger war potential than Germany. Germany will be held back by defeat, and her recovery will be slowed by the terms of the peace settlement But nothing will stop Russia's steady march to industrial and technological power. The Russians made phenomenal progress toward industrialization in their first, second, and third five-year plans prior to this war. Their progress will be even more rapid after this war. The war itself has released new energies. It has stimulated the development of industry and technology beyond the Urals, and these new developments will continue. This war has been to Russian industrial development what our own Civil War was to American industrial development. Victory will give to the Russians new faith in and enthusiasm for their institutions.
In the future the world will be watching the United States and Russia. The German problem probably will be solved by the results of this war. Much of what we now say about what to do with the Germans is irrelevant. Germany probably will cease to be the aggressive power of the world with the rise of Russia as a power with a greater war potential than Germany. Just as the rise of Germany as a unified and an industrial power on the east flank of France put an end to French aggression, so the rise of Russia as a great industrial and technological power on the east flank of Germany is likely to put an end to German aggression.
At this point let me state that I realize that what I am saying will irritate many of my listeners. They will say in effect: "Why does the speaker conjure up a third world war? Why does he conjure up a possible future rift in Russian-American relations? We still have a war to win, and Russia and America are allies. Let us leave future relations to the future. Let us have more faith that Russia and America can remain allies after the war."
Let me say that I belong to the school of thought which holds that public affairs may be objectively analyzed and the future in some measure accounted for. I put little stock in faith and optimism. Rather than sit idly by in fatuous anticipation that somehow the best will prevail, I think it is better to anticipate the worst and as a result to do some intelligent things to prevent that worst from happening. The modern world has paid a terrible price for empty optimism, the policy of drift, and the facile philosophy that somehow things will come out all right if we but shut our eyes to reality.
There is certainly too much easy optimism in America. Too many people believe that the United States has but to leave "isolation" and become a member of a weak league of nations for us to right the ills of the world and insure world peace. It is a dangerous falsehood to tell our people that if the United States had only joined the weak League of Nations of 1919 this Second World War would have been avoided.
If the American people are brought to realize the dangers of post-war international relations, the possibility of a crisis in American-Russian relations some time in the future, and the exposed position of the United States in such a crisis, they may yet be aroused from their false sense of security to use their immense influence in the world today to demand the curbing of national sovereignty and the creation of a genuine international police force, at least an international air force.
Given a United States heavily armed and a Soviet Union heavily armed and no international police force to bring either of these powers to book, then we face some time in the future a dangerous crisis in Russian-American relations. It is going to take mutual forbearance, patience, understanding, and skill if we are to avoid a third world war between these two powers in the future.
What are the conditions and forces that may in the future endanger American-Russian relations? Let us enumerate and analyze these.
First, the mere fact that the United States and the Soviet Union stand as preeminent powers in the world will of itself make relations difficult. There will be a certain amount of jealousy and rivalry. Invidious comparisons will be made. The whole world will be watching for signs of a clash, and magnifying any evidence of it. When Johnny is expected to be a bad boy, Johnny often ends up by being a bad boy. Let us remember that the two leading powers have throughout history usually tangled—witness France versus Austria in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Britain versus France in the eighteenth century, Germany versus Britain in the twentieth century. And these powers did not stand out preeminently over all the other powers as Russia and the United States will do in the post-war world.
Second, there is the undeniable fact that the American and Russian economic and political systems are not only different but are in conflict in many parts of the world. We are in the eyes of the world the outstanding representative of Capitalism. Russia is in the eyes of the world the outstanding representative of Socialism. When the Fascists go down, Socialist revolutions will occur in many parts of Europe and even Asia, and as Socialism spreads, fear of it will increase in the United States. In the post-war years, there will be a steady flow of dispossessed aristocrats, landlords, industrial magnates, and Fascists to our shores, and these emigrees will enlist the sympathies of our conservative press. We will be deluged with sob stories describing the sufferings of these erstwhile privileged classes. Reactionaries in Europe and in the United States will loudly call upon us to prop up the old order in Europe and to take the place of the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists as the defenders of the old way of life from "Bolshevism." Bill Bullitt's notorious article in Life, describing the sentiments of the privileged classes in Rome may be considered the beginning of such a campaign. Bullitt reported that among the upper classes in Rome a pessimist was one who believed that Russia would win Europe without even a fight, while an optimist was one who believed that within fifteen or twenty years the United States and Britain would fight Russia to prevent the "Bol-
shevizing" of Europe. So among the degenerate aristocracy of Rome an "optimist" is one who believes in and wants a third world war!
Third, it will be difficult to delimit the world into ideological spheres of influence. It may be that a series of under. standings between Russia and the Western Allies have given Russia a relatively free hand east of the Adriatic and the Western Allies a relatively free hand west of the Adriatic. But what if Italy and France and Spain should move steadily to the Left spontaneously and because of internal conditions, and not because of pressure from Russia? Will Russia be held responsible? Walter Lippmann seems to think so. In his book, United States War Aims, Lippmann states that Russia must not only abstain from leading Communist parties in Western Europe; more, Russia must look with favor upon the suppression of Communist parties in Italy, in France. in Spain. This, too, at a time when internal conditions in these countries are naturally leading to an increase in the size of Communist parties. We Americans talk a lot about cooperating with Russia in the post-war years, but if this is a sample of what Americans mean by "cooperation" then most of the cooperating will have to be done by the Russians!
Fourth, the Russian government has complete control of the information Russians can get, which means that the Russian people may never get the whole picture or see our side. This lack of information is bound to cause misunderstanding in Russia. On the other hand, through our free agencies of information we will get the Russian side. And there will be in our midst many Communist sympathisers to propagate the Russian view, with or without Russia's blessing. This is bound to cause irritation in America. Lippmann frankly states that the Russians must allow opposition parties, and freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion, or else America and Russia will head for trouble. Let us use his exact words: "The world cannot be half democratic and half totalitarian." Remember this quotation comes from the pundit who tells us that an alliance of the big three is the way to insure the peace!
Fifth, there are many specific points of potential conflict. Is Greece to be in the Russian orbit or the Allied orbit? Is Germany to be in the Russian orbit or the Allied orbit? If Germany is partitioned and if Russia occupies Eastern Germany and the Allies Western Germany, will not Russia make herself popular by dividing the land among the peasants and will not the industrial workers in the Ruhr and Rhineland grow restless under "capitalistic" control, and, tending to Socialism anyway, contrast their position with what appears to them to be the growingly favorable position of the peasants of Eastern Germany? Will not the Polish question, no mat* ter how settled, cause irritation on both sides for years to come? Is the United States to continue to back Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang, and will Russia back the Chinese Communists? May not this develop into a very dangerous situation? Is the Soviet to undertake a more ambitious role in Latin America? Already Americans are being frightened by scare stories to the effect that the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City has become a veritable hive from which Soviet ideas are to be propagated to Latin America. Is the Soviet Union to build a navy to challenge the Western powers? These and countless other questions will come to the mind as possible points of conflict.
Now if the United States allows itself to drift into a position of rivalry with the Soviet Union, let us not underestimate the strong cards that Russia will hold. Let us examine some of these.
First, Russia is territorially the largest country on earth and bestrides the very nucleus of the Eurasian land mass, where live the overwhelming majority of the people of this world. Territorially she touches every conceivable culture— the Baltic countries, the Balkans, the Moslem world of the Near and Middle East, India, and China and the Far East. She has tremendous resources largely untapped. Her hinterland is now being developed industrially, and in a sense the bringing of the Machine Age to the very heart of Asia is the outstanding fact of our time.
On the other hand, we occupy the center of the Western Hemisphere, a relatively small land mass with a relatively small population. Our resources are charted, limited, and in a few cases already seriously depleted. As the teeming millions in Asia are industrialized we may come to occupy—in the long future—the same relative position to Europe and Asia that Great Britain now occupies with respect to the continent of Europe.
Second, the Russians are confident that they will escape a post-war depression. They are confident that their social controls and their expanding economy will spare them the horrors of mass unemployment.
On the other hand, Joseph Stalin told Eric Johnston that he was sure the United States would suffer a post-war depression. The sad truth is that many of our own people are expecting the same thing. The whole world will he watching to see if Russia escapes such a depression and to see if the United States suffers one. The whole world will be comparing our system and the Russian system. This is the point where domestic policy—whether or not we have the government controls necessary to prevent a depression—impinges upon our international relations.
Third, the tides in Europe and even in Asia are ideologically moving in the direction of Russia. The trend in Europe is to the Left, and when the Nazis go down this trend will be accelerated. Even before 1914 the middle classes were being destroyed in Europe because of the cartelization of business. Since 1914 this trend has been revolutionary in its sweep. The First World War, devastating inflation in Germany and Central Europe, virtually confiscatory taxation, the world depression of the 1930's, and a second world war within a generation have all but destroyed the middle classes and middle-class political parties. Even in 1914, a Socialist party of one kind or another was the first or second in size in almost every country of Europe. Socialism would have come to power in Europe in the period after the First World War had the Socialists been united; but they were not united; they were divided between Socialists and Communists, and as a result of that division the Fascists, always a minority, came to power in country after country. Throughout the 1930's men tended to be either Socialist, Communist, or Fascist, and middle-of-the-road parties were dying out. Now the Fascists are falling in all parts of Europe. Many businessmen, landlords, and conservatives generally have been discredited because of collaboration with the Fascists. The parties of the Left, the spearheads of Fascist opposition, of the underground movements, and of national delivery, are now coming into power in country after country in Europe. In Italy even a Catholic Communist party has been formed! There are signs that the Left has learned its bitter lesson of the 1930's, and there is a tendency for Socialists and Communists to cooperate. This swing to the Left will continue with or without Russian encouragement.
Fourth, the Russians have certain advantages in colonial and backward countries.
For one thing, the Russians profess racial equality. More, they practice it. They are not self-conscious in the presence of colored people. In their own country Mongolians and Slavs have mixed and blended.
On the other hand, our record at home on the race question is regarded by the outside world as bad. Moreover, most Americans, North as well as South, are self-conscious in the presence of people who belong to colored races. Even with the best of intentions we are patronizing. This will not help us in Asia.
For another thing, the Soviet government has never practiced imperialism in the old sense. When they come to the borders of a backward people, the Russians say in effect: "We do not come to exploit you. We come to help you and to raise your standard of living. We do not come to make profits from investments here. We come to show you people how to own your own industries." Now it will be difficult to convince some Americans and some Britons that this is not imperialism, but the Russians honestly think it is not imperialistic and there is much evidence that the colonial peoples do not regard it as imperialism.
On the other hand, the Russians will point out that we Americans are linked to the British and that the British are among the few people in the world who still practice old-fashioned imperialism. German colonialism was ended with the First World War. Italian and Japanese colonialism will be liquidated with this war. It is doubtful if the French and the Dutch can really reestablish their colonial empires. This leaves only the British as practitioners of old-fashioned imperialism. As the old imperialism gets narrower in scope, what is left of it will appear all the more anachronistic and odious.
Moreover, the Russian social and economic system will appeal strongly to backward people. Not only will Russian achievements appear tremendous to them, but the Russian methods of accomplishing those achievements are possible for backward people in a way that American methods are not.
When the Russians come to a backward people they say in effect: "You want modern industries and mass production, don't you? You want modern technology. You want mines and factories and railroads and hydro-electric plants. You have no native capitalist class and no native middle class to finance the giant industries of today. You do not want to depend on private foreign investors. You do not want to be dependent on absentee capitalists. Neither do you want to be dependent on foreign governments. Well, why don't you do as we did? We, too, were a backward people only a few years ago. We wanted mass production and modern technology. We had no native capitalists and no native middle class to build those modern giant industries. We, too, did not want to be dependent upon foreign investors. We did not want to be exploited by absentee capitalists. What, then, did we do? We built those giant industries collectively through government agencies. True, we called in technicians from foreign countries to help us. But we were the bosses. We called the tune. We laboriously exported raw materials to pay these technicians. When the industries were completed they belonged to us, the people, collectively, and not to foreign capitalists."
Take note that the Russians not only seek to prove that their achievements rival those of the capitalists. They do more: they show that their achievements are within the reach of all backward peoples. They show backward peoples how industrialization can be accomplished in backward countries by the backward peoples themselves. They do not have to do anything or risk anything themselves. They merely have to plant the ideas and to tell the backward peoples to imitate them, to follow their example.
Now we Americans will have no difficulty proving the excellence of our system, certainly as exemplified by our technology and our productive achievements. But we will have a difficult time showing foreign peoples and backward peoples how to attain our system under modern conditions, in a day of expensive and centralized technology. The American system is essentially a middle-class system. Ownership of agriculture and industry is widely scattered among millions of individuals. Ownership of stocks and bonds is widely dispersed. More people achieve middle class status in America than in any other country in the world. But how can the economic and social conditions in North America which for several hundred years have made possible the gradual development of this American system be duplicated in Europe today? How can they be duplicated in Asia? Could they be duplicated even in North America today if we had to begin almost from scratch to develop modern technology, as the Chinese and the Hindus must do? It is easy enough to toss off glib phrases about carrying the American way of life to foreign peoples, but precisely how can it be done?
Foreigners would be glad to imitate the American way of life if they could see how their own indigenous conditions would make it possible. But they do not see how it is possible. Hence while native parties arise seeking to imitate the Russian way, native parties do not arise seeking to imitate the American way. In other words, if America is to have great influence on the internal development of backward countries, say China for instance, we must do something. Native parties will not arise spontaneously to do it for us.
And what can we do? We can go to the backward peoples and say in effect: "We know you want modern mass production and technology. We know you have no native capitalists or middle class to finance the building of these industries. We know that you do not want to be dependent on or to be exploited by foreign investors and absentee capitalists. Besides, private capital in this day of revolt against imperialism, in this day of turmoil and upheaval and revolution, is too timid to venture on its own the building of these great projects. Therefore, the American government will make loans to your government and help your government build them. Through something like the Import-Export Bank or through a modified TVA or modified Lend-Lease we will help you."
Now the backward country may object to this on the score that it leaves that country dependent on the government which thus lends a helping hand. And the country which offers it may find widespread opposition at home to such a policy. Americans will say, "Why should we help build industries in China with our money?" American vested interests will say, "Why should we build steel mills in China to compete with steel made in America?" Now the answer is that if the Chinese millions can be made through industrialization to increase enormously their effective wants, American business will profit immensely. But many Americans will not see this. Moreover, if we go ahead and help to industrialize China, what assurance have we that these industries will not fall eventually into the hands of self-seeking adventurers and profiteers (there are many of these inside the Chinese Kuomintang of today, for instance) and be used to exploit the Chinese rather than to benefit them? And if we succeed in helping the Chinese government to build these industries to the great benefit of the Chinese people, have we then built in China the American system? Have we not built, not the American system, but rather a modified socialist system?
Have we Americans, then, no advantages? To be sure. As individuals we are, I think, tremendously popular in the world. Other peoples admire our vitality, our push, our breezy independence. We have, to use Willkie's words, a great reservoir of good will throughout the world. We have never been imperialistic in quite the sense the British, the French, the Germans, and the Italians have been imperialistic. And we stand preeminent in the world in technologyand mass production. Even the Russians admire avidly our production methods and still have much to learn from them. In the immediate post-war years we shall be the most potent single power in the world. But when one takes a long view into the future he must, I think, admit the going is bound to be tough as we measure ourselves and our system with the Russians and the Socialist systems now emerging in Europe and Asia. In fact, it is my central thought that if we Americans really realized the difficult nature of the new world into which we are now moving we would use our tremendous influence at this time to build a strong world confederation with a genuine international police force. A strong international organization would admittedly not check the trend to Socialism, but it might prevent invidious national rivalries, intensified by ideological differences, from developing into a future war.
Are there, then, no factors making for ultimate peace? To be sure. One is the fact that Russia will not in the postwar world be an exporter of manufactured goods and therefore not much of a rival in the field of foreign trade. Another is that Russia has an expanding internal economy and probably will enjoy capacity production and full employment at home with no need to turn to war as a phoney solution of internal economic problems. But the causes which might lead ultimately to war are as strong or stronger than those which might lead to peace. And I am purposely stressing the former in order that no stone will be left unturned to remove them.
Perhaps I have been too pessimistic about the future. Let us see.
For one thing, while we are doing a lot of tall talking about only three great powers surviving this war, is not this unrealistic and will there not in fact be more? And if there are more, will we not live in a less dangerous world? Yes, it is probable that Germany and Japan will revive as powers, but, alas, how will this be done? If not done within the framework of a world confederation, it will be done because the Grand Alliance is inevitably breaking up, the rivalry of Russia and the United States will already be a fact, and in our rivalry each will bid against the other for the favor of the defeated powers. In this process of bidding against each other, the defeated nations may come back as powers. But alas, in coming back as powers they will also come back as allies of one or the other chief rivals. This is the way the balance of power has usually operated in the past.
For another thing, will not the weak league outlined at Dumbarton Oaks gradually develop into a stronger organization? Let us pray that it will be so, but the overwhelming power of only two or three of its members argues against this. Let us keep in mind that the last League of Nations, also a weak organization, did not develop strength but instead became weaker and less effective.
Again, will not the ideological differences between Russia and the United States grow less and less as time goes on? Will not Russia and the United States in the end virtually meet on common ideological ground? Will not Russia gradually introduce more political democracy, tolerance for opposition parties, free speech and free press? Will not the United States, in turn, develop more social and economic democracy? In the long, long future, this will probably be true. But we must deal with the actualities of the next twenty years if we are to prevent a third world war. And these immediate prospects are not bright. The United States is now moving to the Right. New Dealism has been checked. Even a Roosevelt fourth term will be able to do little social and economic reforming. And most significant of all, the one public man in America who more than any other has been concerned with and knows what is involved in genuine cooperation with Russia—Henry A. Wallace—has been slapped down, and although he has been the most distinguished Vice-President in modern times could not even win renomination by his own party!
It is possible that we already have lost the peace. The time to have built a strong world organization with its own international police force was back in 1942 when we were terribly frightened. Somehow aggression does not look so frightful now that the tide has turned and victory is in the air. The time to have agreed to scale down tariff walls was back in 1942, too. The work at Breton Woods is commendable enough as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. The best international credit mechanism in the world will bog down if not supplemented by agreements which allow a greater international flow of goods.
Unless even at this late date we decide to try to build a strong world organization with an international police force, we had better prepare to live in a dangerous world. We had better equip ourselves to deal with foreign relations more effectively. As in the days of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, foreign relations will be more important than domestic questions.
Somehow we must achieve more continuity and responsibility in our conduct of foreign relations. We may find it no longer wise to pitchfork into the White House Presidential candidates without training or experience in foreign affairs. We may find it desirable to return to our original practice and reestablish the precedent of making the Secretary of State the President. Our Secretaries of State themselves had better come up through the State Department and be far more experienced than they have been in the past. We may find it unwise in the future to forfeit the services of an experienced man like Sumner Welles.
Our State Department must become more realistic. Bureaucrats, conventional minds, stuffed shirts, and dilettantes playing socialites at milady's tea can no longer be trusted to conduct our foreign relations. It is not enough to be able to mouth platitudes about "justiciable questions" and "most favored nation" clauses. Men who conduct our foreign affairs must be cognizant of the realities of social politics as it is now being played in Europe and Asia. Remember, our diplomats must henceforth deal more and more with foreign offices staffed with tough-minded realists who came up through labor movements and revolutionary ferment. These men will know their dialectics, and they will also know the world. Given a competent State Department, we should give it a freer hand and abolish the two-thirds rule on the ratification of treaties in the Senate in favor of ratification by a majority of both houses of Congress.
Most important of all, the American people must be better informed about the realities of foreign politics. As a people we have been naive about foreign affairs. Americans still think of foreign affairs in terms of uplift and moral platitudes instead of in terms of power politics and class politics. If we are really going to play balance-of-power politics we had better know more about it. We must also know more about the Socialist and Communist movements in Europe and Asia. As Sumner Welles says, the World Revolution is here. He might have added that it has been here since 1914 and that we are now approaching its very peak and summit. And yet Americans are surprised when they are told of the strength of Socialist parties even in 1914, when they are told that Socialism is the revolution and Fascism the counter-revolution, when they are told thatmiddle-class parties and middle-of-the-road parties are all but dead in Europe and that the real alternatives there are Fascism or some form of Socialism. Americans even find it difficult to use the terms "Socialism" and "Communism."
The sad truth is that our agencies which disseminate information—our unrivaled press and radio facilities and our periodicals—have done a poor job of informing our people of the Socialist Revolution of our day. The pitiful little gazettes and pamphlets of the 1790's did a better job of telling our people about the French Revolution and its significance than our newspapers, radio, and periodicals have done for our generation with respect to the Socialist Revolution of our time!
If we are going to deal intelligently with Socialist forces in all parts of the world, we have simply got to understand these forces better than we do today.
If the American people fully realized the hazards of the next twenty years in international relations, I think they would use their immense influence in the world today to build a strong international organization with its own international police force. Great as are the difficulties in the way of building such an organization, they are not as great as the difficulties which will confront us in a balance-of-power world.
There are those who still say we cannot eliminate war from human affairs because, it is claimed, war is a part of human nature. As every anthropologist and historian knows, this thing we call human nature is not static; it is flexible, resilient, wondrously malleable. It responds to the political and social setting and to institutional change. Polytheism, polygamy, slavery, and the supposed incapacity of men for self-government were once thought to be inherent in "human nature," but all of these practices are now relegated to the limbo of discarded superstitions.
It is true that power politics will be played inside a world organization, but it will come to be played without the assumption of ultimate violence. Power politics is played inside national states, too. Different groups, classes, and sections within a nation battle for their respective interests, but these conflicts are settled peacefully by legal and political machinery. So it will some day be with the conflict of interests between nations.
As a matter of fact, the national state no longer corresponds to the realities of modern industry and technology. Political realities must ultimately be brought into harmony with economic and technological facts. Historians of the twenty-first or the twenty-second century probably will look back and say: "Those great world wars of the twentieth century were building a world state just as the feudal wars of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were building national states. The people of the twentieth century were not aware that they were building a world state any more than the people of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were aware that they were building national states."
The strong international organization—yes, the world state—is bound to come. The question is: shall we really begin it now, or must we wait until the end of the twentieth century or the beginning of the twenty-first century and wade through another welter of blood in a third world war to get it?
It is said that we cannot build a strong world organization in an age of revolution because there will not be enough stable governments in the world. Now it is true that civil wars will rage in many countries in the immediate postwar period, but, even so, there will be enough stable governments at the end of this war to get a strong organization started.
It is claimed that Russia stands in the way of a strong world organization. Is this true? As Sumner Welles points out, the collective security record of Russia from 1934 to 1939 was better than that of any other country in the world. It is true that at Dumbarton Oaks Russia favored a unanimous decision by the permanent members of the Council before force can be employed by the world organization. This would be tantamount to allowing each big power to veto the use of force against itself. This is deplorable. On the other hand, Russia seems to have favored creation of an international air force, and Britain and the United States seem to have opposed it. The truth is that there is in Socialism a philosophic pacifism that we should try to utilize in the building of a strong world organization.
It seems to me that the Russians should favor a strong collective security organization over a Grand Alliance and a sphere-of-influence system. Why? Because under a collective security system, France, for instance, could spontaneously and for internal reasons go Communist, and as a result orient her foreign policy with that of Russia, and this, under any definition and under any collective security system, would not constitute overt aggression by Russia. On the other hand, if the world is parcelled into spheres of influence, and France, for instance, a part of the Atlantic community or Western sphere and connected with British and American policy, should spontaneously and for internal reasons go Communist, and as a result orient her foreign policy with Russia, this would, according to Walter Lippmann, be a breach of the whole Grand Alliance and sphere-of-influence system, and we would in consequence he headed for war. In the former case Russia would not be accused of aggression; in the latter case she would and the Western powers would blame her for creating a situation leading to war.
However, it must not be supposed that because a country goes Socialist or Communist it necessarily will become an ally of Russia. National and cultural differences between Socialist countries will continue to exist. Even Socialist and Communist countries will not want to see Russia dominate the world or the world organization. As in the past, national interests probably will bulk larger in foreign policies than ideological considerations. But we can be spared much needless contention in both national and ideological areas of conflict if the attention of foreign offices is focused on the building up of international legal and political machinery in a strong world organization.
In this perplexing world situation, what can we as individuals do?
First, let us never lose sight of the ultimate goal, a strong world organization with its own international police force. Let us work for this and help demonstrate its necessity and its feasibility now—in the mid-twentieth century.
Secondly, let us not turn our backs on the Dumbarton Oaks plan. Disappointed as we may be in its shortcomings, let us not reject a half loaf because we cannot get a whole loaf. If we cannot now get anything better, let us accept the Dumbarton Oaks plan, work for it, popularize it, and help to develop it into something stronger and more effective.
Third, let us help acquaint our fellow Americans with the nature of the Socialist forces now gaining strength in Europe and Asia, so that we can deal intelligently with these forces and not merely oppose them by blind reaction, as the Fascist powers did.