Will There Be Peace?


By WILLIAM G. CARLETON, a Member of the Faculty of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Delivered at an Open Forum in Greensboro, North Carolina, under the auspices of the Carolina Institute of International Relations, June 15, 1945 and at a Mass Meeting sponsored by the United National Committee of Asheville, Asheville, N. C., July 10, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 653-657.

IN spite of Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco, the forces making for future wars run rampant in this world and it is only in clear-eyed recognition of this fact that we can hope to counteract them. What are these forces? They are: national rivalries, conflicting imperialistic policies, a clash of contending ideologies, and economic instability.


First, there are national rivalries. Only three great powers survive this war, and already we see that unilateral national policies will be the real guides to their conduct. Indeed, the war itself seems to have intensified nationalism in the two most powerful of them, the United States and Russia.

The Soviet Union has recently announced a permanent peace-time conscription policy which will draft the fifteen-year olds. The United States seems headed for peace-time conscription for the first time in all its history. Great Britain, too, appears to be going in the direction of peacetime conscription, and there the Labor party leaders as well as the Tories have endorsed it.

The Soviet Union is pursuing a unilateral policy of national security and setting up puppet states around her borders. The United States is also pursuing a unilateral policy of national security and acquiring a large number ofadditional bases in the Far Pacific, for all practical purposes under the exclusive control of the United States. H. W. Baldwin, military commentator for The New York Times, declares that the United States should also have bases in Greenland, Iceland-, and the Azores. Only the largest air force and the largest navy in history can hold such outlying and far-flung bases.

Perhaps Professor Nicholas John Spykman's Americas Strategy in World Politics was right after all. Spykman contended, in a hook that made a tremendous impression in our War, Navy, and State Departments, that the balance of power is a never-ending game and that it would continue to be played in the mid-twentieth century as it has been played in the past. He observed that the western hemisphere, compared to the European-Asiatic land mass with its overwhelmingly superior resources and population, was a mere island and that the power of the United States today consisted in its relative technological superiority- He predicted that this superiority would become less and Jess and finally disappear as Siberia, China, and India were industrialized. Therefore, the United States hereafter would have to look closely to its place in the world. It could not allow one single power or single group of powers to dominate Europe. Neither could it allow a single power or single group of powers to dominate Asia. Above all, it could never allowa single power or single group of powers to dominate both Europe and Asia.

If, indeed, we are to continue to live in a world of power politics, we had better prepare to live in a dangerous world. Power politics was perilous enough when there were seven or eight great powers to play it. But it is infinitely more perilous when only three powers are left to play it. There will be less flexibility, less resiliency, less opportunity for cross currents which help to balance and stabilize the system. The vital interests of the three great powers will touch in almost every part of the world. When a single one of them stops playing ball, we shall be in for trouble.

It will be difficult to keep the big three at arms length by dividing the world into spheres of influence. Where do these spheres stop? There are always peripheral or marginal areas on the borders of these spheres which become bones of contention. For instance, granting a Russian sphere in the Soviet borderland countries, where does this sphere end. In the long run, where is Austria to fall? Greece? Iran? Sinkiang? Mongolia? Manchuria? Marginal areas often become cockpits of conflict, not bonds of harmony.

With reference to the balance of power, the most decisive areas in the world are probably China and Germany. If the Soviet Union should intervene in China to help a communist government come to power there, then Britain and the United States would look upon the resulting Chinese government as pro-Russian and would fear that all Asia was coming to be dominated by Russia and that the balance of power was being dangerously upset. On the other hand, if Britain and the United States should intervene in China to help an anti-communist government come to power there, then the Soviet Union would look upon the resulting Chinese government as pro-British and pro-American and would fear that China and all Asia were coming to be dominated by Britain and America and that the balance of power was being dangerously upset. The same would be true in Europe with respect to a similar situation in Germany. The communist movement will revive in Germany, and if either Russia or the western Allies should intervene actively to help it to power or to suppress it, then the other side would become alarmed and fear that the balance of power was being dangerously upset in Europe. This is an example of how the ideological conflict impinges on the national conflict and the balance of power.


Second, there is the clash of rival imperialisms and the revolt against imperialism. It is now clear that there is to be no real international solution of the colonial question. At the same time the revolt against economic and political imperialism by the colonial peoples will continue apace and reach a climax in the decade ahead.

In the period between the first and second world wars, the colonial peoples rose in protest to challenge the governing powers. The Destour movement in Tunisia, the Wafd in Egypt, the work of Mustafa Kemal in Turkey, of Feisal in Iraq, of Ibn Saud in Arabia, of Ghandi and Nehru in India, of Sun Yat-sen in China, of Quezon in the Philippines are manifestations of this widespread and fundamental revolt.

At the end of this war this revolt will reach a grim and bloody climax. During this war, the colonial powers have again given promises of self-determination. They have waged a world war against the doctrines of domination and tyranny and racial discrimination and in the name of democracy and Justice and racial equality. All of this has deeply stirred the colonial peoples. Again, the achievements of the Russians, themselves a backward and "colonial" people only twenty-five years ago, constitute a standing challenge to backward and colonial peoples everywhere. And Russian power and prestige may in the post-war world be used to stir up still more the opposition of the colonial and colored peoples to imperialistic rule. Moreover, the white man has lost face in Asia. Even eventual allied victory cannot efface from the memories of the Asiatics the loss of prestige which came to the white man when the Japanese in a few short weeks toppled over much of the British, French, Dutch, and American empires in Asia and the Pacific.

In the face of this rising threat, the San Francisco Conference has failed us. There is to be no real international solution of the colonial question. All the brave talk about justice to the colonials and access of all nations—the "have not" nations as well as the "have" nations—to the raw materials of the earth has vanished into thin air. The international trusteeship machinery is not to apply to the colonies of the victorious powers—the leading imperialistic powers—the British, the French, the Dutch. It is to apply to the mandates of the old League of Nations only after protracted negotiations and the safeguarding of the rights of the mandatory powers. It is not in actuality to apply to the "strategic areas" of the colonies and mandates surrendered by the defeated powers; it is only to apply to the "non-strategic areas" of the colonies and mandates of the defeated powers. And even here, there may be a miscarriage of real international control because the colonies of the defeated countries may be turned over to individual powers to be administered very much as the mandates of the old League of Nations were administered. The trusteeship machinery allows an option-trusteeships may. be turned over to individual nations or may be jointly administered by the United Nations. Only in the case of joint administration will we get genuine international control. Thus the "internationalizing of the colonies" simmers down to possible joint control of the "non-strategic areas" of a few colonies of the defeated countries! And it may be that not a single one will have joint control; more than likely they all will be given over to be administered in each case by a single nation. Administration by a single nation reduce international control to a mere formality.

The coming revolt against colonialism will have grave implications in international relations. The territory of the Soviet Union borders on many areas of the Near East, the Middle East, and India, where British interests are established. The Soviet Union may encourage some of the colonial revolts and thus come into diplomatic conflict with Great Britain. If we are too closely allied to Britain on colonial questions we too may become dangerously involved.


Third, there is the conflict of rival ideologies. In the eyes of the world, the United States stands for capitalism and the Soviet Union stands for socialism. It will clarify our thinking and make for peace if we recognize at once that Europe and Asia are passing through what future historians will call a socialist revolution. The ideological tides are running in the direction of the Soviet Union.

Even in 1914, on the eve of the first world war, a socialist party of some kind, that is a party which claimed to be based on Marx, was numerically either the largest or the second largest party in every important country of continental Europe. Then came the Russian Revolution of 1917; one-sixth of the earth went over to extreme socialism, and Marxists could exclaim, "There it is—there is tomorrow and it works; socialism is no longer just something in a theoretical book. So strong was the socialist movement by the end of the first world war that it is likely some form of socialism would have come to western Europe in the early 1920s if thesocialists had been united. But the socialists were not united ; moderate socialists and extreme socialists or communists bitterly fought each other. As a result of that bitter conflict the fascists, always and everywhere a popular minority to begin with, came into power in country after country of continental Europe. Fascism was the counter-revolution not only to socialism but also to political democracy.

Now the fascists are going down and the counter-revolution is collapsing everywhere. There is a swing to the Left, and when armies of occupation are withdrawn and free elections are held, socialist and communist parties will come to power in country after country of continental Europe. As the fascist counter-revolution goes down, the socialist revolution will march on.

The middle class, that great breakwater to socialism, has all but disappeared in Europe. Even in 1914 it was a dying class. The cartelization of economic life was destroying small enterprise and with it the small businessman. Since 1914 the destruction of the middle class has come with revolutionary fury. Every important world force since 1914 has contributed to that destruction—the first world war and its aftermath, the devastating inflation in central Europe in 1923, confiscatory tax policies, the great depression of the 1930's, a second world war within a generation.

Today the only parties which survive in Europe with any degree of strength, organization, and popular support are socialist and communist parties. They are the only parties with sufficient strength to govern. With the decline of the middle class has come the decline of middle-class and middle-of-the-road parties. The election returns of the 1930's yearly forecast the disappearance of middle-class parties. Let those who doubt analyze the election returns of Germany for 1930, 1932, and 1933, and of France for 1936. This war has merely hastened the inevitable disappearance of these parties. Again, the conservative parties stand today discredited and forlorn. These parties either went fascist or collaborated with the fascists. Only the socialist and communist parties remain. They are strong, confident, and feel that they fight with the stars in their courses. Their opposition to fascism has been the most consistent. They were the spearheads of the national resistance movements. Many have linked their destinies to Russia and the Russian system, and the prestige of Russia today on the continent of Europe is great indeed. They are sure that the tremendous task of European reconstruction is too big for declining private capital and that only collective government action can revive the European economy and give it new life and vitality.

In Asia, too, the trend is toward some kind of socialism. In Europe the middle class is declining; in Asia there never has been a middle class of any size.

Asia is in revolt against imperialism, and some form of socialism is implicit in the revolt against imperialism. Backward and colonial peoples want modern technology and mass production. They have no capitalist class and no middle class strong enough to finance hydro-electric plants, public utilities, modern factories. On the other hand, they do not want foreign investors and bankers and concessionaires to build their mass-production industries because the result is foreign economic imperialism with its heavy toll on industry, its excessive profits, its abuses of absentee capitalism, and its excuses for political intervention and domination. Therefore, colonial peoples are driven to building their own modern industries by the collective action of government. These ideas are present to a greater or lesser extent in Sun Yat-sen, in Nehru, in Mustafa Kemal, in Cardenas, in de la Torre, and in a host of other leaders of colonial and backward peoples.

Russian achievement has made a tremendous impression on the backward peoples of Asia. The Russians seem to be saying in effect: "Twenty-five years ago we, like you, were a backward people. We had little modern technology, few modern mass-production industries. We had no capitalist class sufficiently strong to finance such vast projects. On the other hand, we were determined not to be sweated laborers for absentee foreign capitalists. Therefore, we got together and built modern machines and modern mass-production industries collectively, by government action. True, we imported foreign brains, foreign engineers, foreign technicians. We laboriously exported raw materials to get the foreign exchange to pay for these foreign services* But we directed the work. We determined what was to be done. We called the tune. And when the industries were built they belonged to us, the Russian people, and not to foreign bankers and capitalists. We have literally lifted ourselves by our own bootstraps and steadily increased our standard of living. What we have done you can do."

Now there is no doubt that the ideological conflict in the world is enormously complicating national, imperialist, and balance-of-power rivalries. Will Russia intervene actively to aid the communists in China, in Germany, in France, in Italy? Will Russia revive the policies of world revolution? There are some indications already that this is the tendency of the future. On the other hand, will Britain and the United States intervene in China, in Germany, in France, in Italy, and elsewhere to support the anti-communist elements and to suppress the communists? We have already seen how such intervention by either side in China or Germany might be considered a threat to the balance of power and might cause a third world war.

Many Americans are willing to believe that Russia will intervene in favor of communism. But they can not bring themselves to believe that Britain and the United States might intervene to back anti-socialist and anti-communist elements and to suppress socialist and communist elements. But in fact there is a very real danger that Britain and the United States will pursue just such a course. Winston Churchill has the background and the temperament and the kind of thinking that might very well lead us into such a policy. Do you remember what happened last winter in Belgium and in Greece? Even today only the presence of British and American troops in Europe is preventing Leftist revolutions in many areas. Do you recall how the Partisans in Milan and northern Italy strung up Mussolini and other fascists and were on the brink of revolution until the Allied armies entered in force? Bill Bullitt has told us that the degenerate aristocracy of Rome confidently expects us to rescue the privileges of the propertied classes in Europe even if it is necessary for America to fight Russia in so doing. Some wealthy collaborationists of Paris recently told Drew Middleton of The New York Times that they had nothing to fear because Britain and America would save them from the socialists. The distinguished Italian philosopher, Croce, has accused Britain and the United States of pursuing in Europe a policy of "neo-fascism." Already Clare Boothe Luce has called for a policy which would use our great strength in the world today to uphold anti-communist governments in Europe and Asia, whether those governments have popular support or not.

What tragic irony it would be for the American Republic to get involved in such a policy—for America to support in Europe the remnants of feudalism, the tumble-down kings, the landlords, the foppish aristocracy, the plutocrats, the monopolies and cartels, the forces of privilege and decadence! This would indeed be neo-fascism. This would be taking the place of Nazi Germany as the prop to all the reactionary elements of Europe. What a perversion of the processes ofhistory for the great liberal Republic of the West to get mixed up in such business!

We must never be a party to the attempt in the mid-twentieth century to establish a neo-Metternich system in Europe. We must never set ourselves athwart the path of the socialist and communist parties which represent native, popular, spontaneous, and dynamic forces. We shall make a serious mistake if we think these forces are manufactured in Moscow. The attempt to build a neo-Metternich system in this day and age can only have this result: it will blow up in our faces, come crashing about our ears, throw the people of western Europe into the arms of Moscow, and probably cause a third world war, a major war in which for the first time in our history enlightened liberal opinion and the masses of the world will be against us.


Fourth, there is economic instability and the haunting fear that following the post-war boom will come devastating depression. A depression in the United States would be followed by depression in every other capitalist country in the world. 11

Another depression like that of the 1930's would surely play havoc with the peace settlement. It would be accompanied by confusion, frustration, and hate. Nations would seek to hide their internal failures and side-step their domestic problems by embarking on policies involving heavy armaments, foreign adventure, the acquisition of foreign markets by force, and war.


Will there be peace? Can the forces of nationalism, imperialism, ideological conflict, and economic instability be overcome? Yes, these forces can be overcome, we can avoid a third world war, and we can live in a world of peace, prosperity, and plenty.

However, in all frankness, it must be stated we shall not have peace if we place all our reliance in the new world organization fashioned at Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco. That world organization is today a weak reed and represents a mere beginning.

It is well to recall that the new organization is not a world federal union. A world federal union would have its own armaments and armed services and would operate directly on peoples. It is not even a confederation. A confederation would have its own armaments and armed services and would get money and men by levying quotas and contributions on its member states. The new world organization is a mere league of nations. It has no armaments or armed services. It has no police force of its own. Armaments and armed services are still in the hands of the various sovereign states. The new world organization can only ask that its member states apply economic and military sanctions against an offending state. Not only is the new world organization a mere league of nations but it is a weak league of nations as the big five veto power only too well shows. This new world organization may in time grow to be strong enough to keep the peace among the big powers, but during the next critical ten years it will still be too weak.

How, then during the next critical ten years—those crucial ten years—can we keep peace? We shall keep it, if indeed we keep it, by getting along with Russia and Britain and China. We shall keep it largely by diplomatic machinery outside the new world organization. We shall keep it by pursuing wise domestic policies and wise foreign policies. We shall keep it by playing (and I hate to confess it) wise power politics.

What are these wise policies which, in my opinion, will keep the peace? Allow me to enumerate them.

First, we in the United States must prevent a depression in our country. A depression in the United States would be followed by a depression in all parts of the capitalistic world. If we allow an economic binge in the years immediately following this year, then we shall surely let ourselves in for a descent into the whirlpools of depression. A depression is not inevitable. It can be prevented by government controls, But we are in no mood for the continuation and the applied tion of these government controls. We seem to be hell-bent for one more round with so-called free enterprise.

Peace is indivisible. This is true even in a wider and more fundamental sense than Litvinoff meant it. Domestic policy and foreign policy are intimately interwoven and there is really no way to separate them. The providing of sixty million post-war jobs in the United States will do as much or even more to insure peace than the establishing of the new world organization. The program of Henry A. Wallace for the America of the post-war world has as much connection with world peace as the conference at San Francisco. It is a pity that some of our Southern senators, who give so much lip-service to international cooperation, do not see this connection between domestic policy and foreign policy.

Second, we had better frankly acquiesce in a Soviet sphere of influence in the countries and territories which border the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is determined on this sphere. Soviet leaders regard this area as their security region just as we regard the western hemisphere as ours. After all, it is doubtful if we would yet allow a communist government in the western hemisphere, and we certainly would resent Russian pressure in this hemisphere. They likewise resent our intervention and pressure in what they regard as their proper sphere. Moreover, our intervention in this area is likely in the long run to prove futile. We do not intend to fight over anything this far East because we do not regard the extension of Russian influence in this area thus far as a real threat to the balance of power. And the Russians know this. Therefore, our intervention in this area can only arouse false hopes among the anti-Soviet elements there. Moreover, the Russians probably have more popular mass support in this area than many Americans are willing to grant. After all, the so-called democratic peasant parties had their innings in this area in the 1920's—the Green Socialist movement—and by 1930 in every Balkan and Danubian and Succession state they had failed completely and the question of land reform was still unsolved. Of course, as stated before, in recognizing a sphere of influence we are still up against marginal or peripheral territories. At what point does such a sphere end? Only good sense and constant diplomatic attention can solve these questions as they arise.

Third, we must insist that in the areas outside the Soviet sphere—in China and in Germany and in France and in Italy, for instance—the Russians refrain from interfering in behalf of communist parties.

Fourth, the United States and Great Britain, on the other hand, must refrain from intervening in China, Germany, France, Italy, and elsewhere to suppress socialist and communist parties and governments. This may prove more difficult for Britain and the United States than for Russia, because the ideological trend is with the Left anyway, and Russia will not feel as strong an urge to intervene.

Fifth, the United States should not become an ally of Britain with respect to the points of imperialistic conflict between Britain and the Soviet Union. Instead, the United States should essay the role of go-between and try to mediate and compromise the differences between these two countries.

A future war between the United States and Russia is not inevitable. If we are clear-eyed and resolute and adopt wise long-run policies we can avoid such a catastrophe.


If the new world organization is too week to keep the peace between the big nations, then of what good is it? Should the United States join it? By all means. Let us not be so naive as to exaggerate its strength. On the other hand, let us not be so cynical as to underrate its potential good in the long future. If the influence of the new world organization in the keeping of peace in the coming decade is only five per cent or ten per cent of the total, let us accept that and be grateful.

It is true that if we avoid trouble during the next decade or so it will be because of conditions, forces, and diplomacy

operating largely outside the new world organization. However, in the meantime we shall get in the habit of periodic international meetings of the new organization and we shall benefit from the growing international cooperation in economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian matters as envisaged in the machinery provided for by the Economic and Social Council, the most hopeful feature of the new league of nations. Then when the critical years are successfully past, when the socialist revolution of our day has spent its force, when time and experience allay the suspicions of socialist countries for capitalist countries and capitalist countries for socialist countries, we can take as a nucleus the international organization already provided, amend it, strengthen it, abolish the big five veto, establish an international air force, gradually convert the league into a confederation, and by evolution slowly move into a truly international world.