Reading 5

Reading 5 - BOOKS BY WILLIAM APPLEMAN WILLIAMS . AMERICAN...

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Unformatted text preview: BOOKS BY WILLIAM APPLEMAN WILLIAMS . AMERICAN DIPLOMACY The Shaping of American Diplomacy, (750—1970 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy Applgman Wallzams The Contours of A mentor; History _ ‘ The United States, Cuba, and Castro The Great Evasion: An Essay on. the Contempm‘m‘y . Relevance of Kari M'a‘rx The R. 0015 of the Modem An‘terican Empire From Coiony to Empire. Eways in the Development of American Foreign Remriom (Ed) SECOND REVISED AND ENLARGED EDITION ' A DELTA BOOK WM: INTRODUCTION: HISTORY AND THE We find gennine tragedy . . . only in that destruction which does not prematurely cut short development and success, but which, instead, grows out of success itself. Breakdoaen and failure reveal the true nature of things. In failure, life’s reality is not lost; on the contrary, here it makes itself wholly and decisively felt. There is no tragedy without transcendence. .This transformation may go the way of deliverance, tohere man rises to supreme reality through conquest of the tragic. cherwise this transformation may go the may of decline into irresponsible aesthetzcism of the spectator: man distracted, drifting, falling of into nothingness. ICARL JASPERS, TRAGEDY IS NOT ENOUGH. gs TRANSCENDENCE OF THE TRAGIC The tragedy of American diplomacy is aptly symbolized, and defined for analysis and reflection, by the relations-between the .Ii'lnited States and._Cuba from April 21, 1893 through April 21, 196:. The eruption of two wars involving the same two countries in precisely the same week provides a striking sense of classical form and even adds the tinge of eeriness so often associated with tragedy. After three years of pressure culminating in an ultimatum, the United States declared war against Spain on April 21, 1898. The generally avowed objectives were to free Cuba from Spanish tyranny, to establish and underwrite the independence of the island, and to initiate and sustain its development to- ward political democracy and economic welfare. During'the subsequent 63 years, the United States exercised continuous, extensive influence in and over all aspects of Cuban affairs. This ongoing intervention produced some positive results. The advantages Cuba enjoyed as an American pro- tectorate rather than a Spanish colony were significant and beneficial. Sugar production was modernized and increased. Some public utilities and other improvements associated with the basic sugar economy were gradually provided. And in the city of Havana, Americans and Cubans developed one of the business and entertaim'nent centers of the Western Hemi- sphere. As Cuba planted, harvested, refined, and sold more sugar, I 2 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy it enjoyed slow and sporadic economic development. A modest number of Cubans improved their personal and group eco- nomic welfare. Furthermore, some of the forms and mech-' anisms of representative government Were established and legalized, and some of the resulting institutions put out shal- low roots into Cuban thought and culture. Reforms were in- stituted that helped stabilize 'Cuban politics and contributed to the elementary and routine kind of law and order necessary for moderately efficient economic activity. On rather widely separate occasions, small segments of the Cuban population participated in a consequential way in the process of repre- sentative government. And perhaps most important of all, the Cubans were encouraged—and exhorted—to define their fu- ture in terms of the kind of demoeracy and prosperity pro- vided in the United States. Yet when measured by the Cubans in the course of their daily experienccs, or by outsiders concerned to discover and evaluate the results of American control, there was clearly a continuing, even increasing disparity between the actuality and the rhetoric. For the United States dominated the eco- nomic life of the island by controlling, directly or indirectly, the sugar industry,"and by overtly and covertly preventing any dynamic modification of the island‘s one-crop economy. It dened clear and narrow limits on the island’s political system. It tolerated the use of torture and terror, of fraud and farce, by Cuba’s rulers. But it intervened with economic and diplomatic pressure and with force of arms, when Cubans threatened to transgress the economic and political restrictions established by American leaders. That sad result was not the result of malice, indifference, or ruthless and predatory exploitation. Americanleaders 'were not evil men. They did nor conceive and excuse some dreadful" conspiracy. Nor were they treacherous hypocrites. They be~ l'ieved deeply in the ideals they proclaimed, and they were sincere in arguing that their policies and actions would ulti- mately create a Cuba that would be responsibly self-governed, economically prosperous, and socially stable and happy. All, of course, in the image of America. Precisely for those reasons, however, American diplomacy contained the fundamental elements of tragedy. It held within . 3 Introduction itself, that is to say, several contradictory truths. Those 12-f‘llJthSE allowed to develop according to their own logic \glt‘loud modification by men who understood that process an age on their knowledge, would ultimately clash in a devasta ng l and crisis. . uprlllfie‘i': was first the truth of American power. Measured‘in relative or absolute terms, the United States has possessed overweening power in relationl to Cuba, a power it has exer- ' ' 51 and erSistent . msfiflidileg ($31: slicondl; the truili that the use of that power failed to create in Cuba or in its relationship with Americ]: a reality that enjoyed any persuasive correlation with the idlea avowed as the objectives of the power, American po icy makers did not honor their avowed commitment to the print; ciple of self-determiniitioni and they did not modernize an ce the Cuban oitica economy. balinthird truth regulted from that deployment and use of American power. Gradually, but With increasing momentum, Cubans evolved a coalition of groups committed tp impglrtant changes in their society. In turn, that.ob]ecti‘ve implie sigé. nificant modifications in Cuba‘s relations With the [finite States. Though this coalition included reformers. and mo erate conservatives, it drew most of its verve and drive 'from nulli- communist radicals. Their dedication and courage in aegivehy opposing the Batista regime sustained and strengthene Eh: general movement, and ultimately won them recognitlon as symbol and positions as the leaders of the campaign for a new and better Cuba. The convergence and interaction of these three truths pro- duced the Cuban crisis of 1959—1961. Rather than contributing to general and beneficent transformation of Cuban soc1et}:j durd- ing the years after 1898, American power and policy produceCl instead a Cuban and an American crisis that characterize an symbolized the underlying tragedy of all American diplomacy in the twentieth century. In Cuba, the halfvcentury confron- tation of the contrasting truths finally erupted in a militant social revolution conceived and designed reestablish—m fact and in the present—the kind of Cuban ‘soc1ety and develop- ment that American diplomacy had promised Since 1898. The Cuban Revolution of 1959~1960 was neither plotted, 4 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy planned, not manufactured for export in the Soviet Union. Neither Russian troops nor Russian arms played any role in its success in deposing the Batista regime, or in establishing its authority throughout Cuba. Cuban communists discounted and opposed the revolution until after it had succeeded. Once triumphant behind the leadership of Fidel Castro and the 26th of july Movement, the Cuban Revolution was con- ditioned by two factors: on the one hand, the internal politics of the Cuban revolutionary coalition; on the other, the dy- namic effect of American power and policy upon that Cuban struggle. It is possible, though very improbable, that the radi— cal wing of the Cuban coalition would have secured its ulti- mate control of the revolution even if American policy had been more tolerant, more imaginative, and more helpful. But American policy was none of those things. As a result, so creat- ing the fourth truth and contributing to the tragedy, American policy interacted with the politics of the Cuban coalition in a way that strengthened the radicals. It probably also pushed them much further to the left than they had originally hoped or intended to go. Two contradictory features characterized the early Ameri- can response to the revolution. The surface pattern of formal (though noticeably cool and reserved) correctness was inter- preted by many observers as a tactical approach to some ac- commodation to the new circumstances. But beneath that veneer, and clearly discernible from the outset, there was a fundamental antagonism toward the revolution and its com— mitment to extensive but nondoctrinaire changes in the status no. q Coming to dominate American thinking and policy within a year, that opposition presented itself in the rhetoric of anti- communism and the cold war. In turn, that ideology served both as justification for a hostile posture and as rallying-cry for strong measures. Undemocratic and arbitrary actions which on a much broader, more vicious level had been accepted and tolerated as routine under the Batista and earlier regimes were suddenly in a truly revolutionary situation advanced as proof that Cuba had become a Soviet puppet. And all Cuban moves toward controlling or nationalizing the pOWetful and extensive American property holdings in the island evoked similar out- cries—and the first thoughts and discussions of retaliation. Introduction 5 In this respect, as in others, the American outlook on Cuba typified a general inability to comprehend and come to terms with two aspects of revolutions per se. Americans gamed neither understandin nor ers ective for exain le from the knowledge that during the American Revolution their own Founding Fathers arbitrarily confiscated British and colonial property. And they overlooked or discounted almost com- pletely the economic and psychological needs of poor coun- tries. Those requirements could be met only through cxtcns1ve aid or through measures of nationalization. I Just as a good many early American fortunes, and com-idea- able ca‘ flit"! orméfiEFEI—demm were obtained through confiscation and other arbitrary measures, so in the twentigth centutwah-é—new, poor countries were prompted to employ similar devices. And neither the Americans in the 17:10:; (or the early 18095), nor the Cubans in the 19605, felt secure and confident about their respective independence until the eco— nomic power of their former overlords had been brought un— der control. But all such considerations were conveniently evaded through the device of explaining everything as the diabolical work of Cuban communists and the Soviet Union. iii/Chen initially advanced, and for many months thereafter, the stereotype of Saviet influence or control was rossly at am subtly advocated by Edith] American leaders, and crudely mcrchandized as news\\ or expert opinion by the mass media, it became the accepted picture and explanation of Cuban affairs. American P011122}!!! baSed upon and derived from that mistaken view produced two grave and tragic consequences. In Cuba, AmerJCan rhet— oric and policy weakened the moderate elements 111 the revolu- tionary coalition and simultaneously strengthened the radicals. They also pushed those radicals further along their own revo~ lutionary path and into an increasingly close relatlonship With the Soviet Union. In the United States, such Cuban develop- ments intensified the original antagonism, served as convenient if distorted proof for the a priori assertion of Soviet influence, and hardened the resolve to oppose the revolution. A mo- mentum toward violence was thus established and sustained. The United States first tried economic and political weap— ons to weaken and subvert the Castro Government. Then, after those measures failed, the United States invaded Cuba by 6 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy proxy on April 17, 196:, in an efl'ort to overthrow and re- place that government by force of arms. The counter-revolu- tionary forces that waded ashore in the Bay of Pigs were financed, armed, trained, and guided in their operation by private and oflicial American leaders. The action was a blatant Violation of the treaty system that the United States had solemnly created to govern international relations in the West— ern Hemisphere, and a violation of its own neutrality laws. It was likewise a callous negation of avowed American prin- ciples by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (who was fond of using the rhetoric of idealism). Those aspects of the invasion, along with other charac- teristics of the episode, heightened the aura of terror that was developing around American foreign policy. One of the most pnnerving features was the extensive elitism that had become ingrained in the policy-making process. The assault on Cuba was cpnceived, planned, and implemented by a small group of men in the executive department. They opened no general dialogue with members of the Congress (even in private con- versation), and expended great effort and exerted great pres- sure to avoid any public discussion or debate. I That degree of elitism, which goes far beyond the delega- tion qfippwgriind authoiityfifluired to execute public policy, began to develop under President William lV'I'cKinley. The decision to acqiii'rE—ifll tlE—Pfiih'ppiii'ESit the end of the war against Spain was made by a small group of insiders; and military intervention in China was initiated by executive order. President Theodore Roosevelt dramatized the continuing con— centration of pOWer in the executive department with these arrogant remarks about his intervention to control the Panama canal route: “The vital work . . . was done by me without the aid or advice of anyone . . . and without the knowledge of anyone. I took the Canal Zone.” Presiflentfloodrow Wilson further extended such elitism during War I: covertly changinagfipfldlicy on loans to the Vail-res,I_anti“hierven‘iug‘svirdforeragainst—the Bolshevik Revolution Without Congressional'iifiihorityjri a siiiii'lar way, PresiEE'HEFEikliK"Delano—Roosevelt maneuvered behind the scenes to "aid—EngIand"a'fid"Fra‘HCE"a'g§inst Nazi Germany and Imperialjapan (iiKclfiHfig’th'd'fisemf‘fim‘e‘fiéifififnned forces) Introduction I 7 at a time when the American public was seriously divided over the question of becoming involved in those conflicts. The requirements of secrecy during World War II enlarged the power of the men at the top to make decisions Without general debate. The practice of informing a few chosen Con- gressional leaders of a policy just before it was put Into.opera- tion was developed as a substitute for the kind of d1alogue and compromise that characterizes meaningful democracy or representative government. President Harry S Truman used that technique in winning support for his program of global opposition to revolutionary movements at the end of the war. He likewise refined the technique of announcing and defining issues in such a way as to plaCe critics on the defensive as men and women who seemed to be challenging traditional Ameri- can values and objectives. Elitism consolidated those gains, and took new ground, dur» ing the Korean War crisis of 1950—1952. The decision to intervemisfiussion. Women and men in their living rooms, as well as their Congressional rep— resentatives, were simply confronted with the information that Americans were engaged in combat against communists. The provisions of the Constitution were evaded by calling the war a police action, and, for the more sophisticated, by argu- ing that the Congressional commitment to the United Nations included an obligation to resort to force. During those years, moreover, the Central Intelligence Agency enlarged its power and freedom to undertake various self-selected interventionist projects around the world. It de~ posed premiers, installed counter-revolutionary governments (and aided other such movements), and in all probabihty assassinated various men and women it considered dangerous or troublesome. The invasion of Cuba, in which the CIA played a major role, was but another—if a maior#stride down the road away from responsive and responsible self-govern- ment in the United States. That in itself generates terror. The kind of terror that Karl -.]aspers implies when he speaks of the destruction which grows out of success, and of the possibility that tragedy can lead to decline rather than transcendence. Such terror became ever more omnipresent during the subsequent missile confrontation 3 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy with the Soviet Union (which also involved Cuba) and the grossly unjustified intervention in Santo_Domingo-. Then came the deceitful and manipulative climax of the intervention in the Vietnamese revolutionary civil war. ' Thggujflrpatgfimanifestation of. the tragedy and the terror of American foreign pplicgbegan with encouragement to Ho Chi Minh__a_s a way of defegtiggimpffialjapanTThen the emphasis shifted to helping France maintain its position in Indochina in order to be sure of French support against the Soviet Union in Europe: And to securing access to the raw materials—and the potential customers—of Asia. Those com- mitments were deepened when— the Chinese..Communists won power. Grants of money'to France led to talk about nuclear weapons and then, when the French were defeated, to discus- sions about how to contain the Vietnamese who would very probably use a free election to self-determine themselves out of the orbit of western. capitalism. The answer to. thatproblem was for the elite to abandon elections. That done, the CIA agents became the new ward heelers. Then, terror of terrors, the acceptance. of the phi- losophy that power and freedom erupt from the muzzle of a gun. And so a few experts became 15,000 advisors under fire in the field; and those mushroomed into more than half a million men, a bombing campaign that surpassed the air assault on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, a chemical attack that destroyed children as well as vegetation and animals, and an appalling barbarism among young Americans. All in the name of assistance, reform, and self-determination. Thus, even by itself, the elitism generated terror about what was done as well as about how the decisions were made. Such dinnay was deepened by the elite‘s self-isolation from..the na- ture of reality, by its lossof the power of critical thought,- by its exaggerated confidence in American economic strength and military might, by its own arrogance and self—righteousness, and by its messianic distortion of a sincere humanitarian de- sire to help other peoples. Even the American public came more and more to be considered as simply another factor to be manipulated and controlled in the effort to establish and maintain the American Way as the global status quo. Yet, in truth, the attitudes and the outlook of the public also Introduction 9 contributed to the sense of terror about American foreign re- lations. For, beginning with the depression of the 18703, an increasing number of farmers and urban businessmen, and even workers, came to favor and support American overseas expansion. Others acquiesced in the imperial policy as it was developed and acted upon. Many such Citizens thought this expansion would improve their own economic condition, on strengthen the national economy. Another group wanted. to strike a blow for freedom, either by blocking the expansion of European powers or by extending America’s activity as a world reformer. Or both. And still others, caught up in the nationalistic or patriotic support for the government that is common in all societies, or perhaps subllmating their frustra- tions about life in America, provided additional..support for the active expansionists. By the 13905, therefore, most Ameri- cans generally favored an expansiomst policy, though they might disagree about specific actions. I . Beginning with the rise of Jacksoruan Democracyduring the 13205, moreover, Americans steadily deepened their com- mitment to the idea that dernocracy Wis—"ihuextricablywxcon- - nected with iiidi-v‘idmismflrivate merry, and a capitalist marketplace economy. Even the great malority of critics isisting society prec1sely In order to realize that conception of the good system. The small-minority'that wanted to change central features of the capitalist 'POhthflL economy, or replace it with a new order, was viewed as an odd bag of quixotic idealists, ignorant dreamers, or dangerous____-\ radicals—or all three. And foreigners whdhad created and x“ preferred a different way of life were'conmdered inferior or backward—pgoper subjects for education and refgrm 1n thf/ American Way. I .r Those two characterisgics of_publiwvolvement 1n foggign policy were-“firmly established by the time of the Bolshevik . “" —'—'.—"__'——--—,_‘__‘ Revolution in Russra. The general support for American ex- pansion createdmnically, the power base for the increasmg elitism among the policy-makers. {and the antagonlsm toward other approaches to organizing soc1ety, and toward other value systems, provided fundamental backing for an anti-revolution- a olicy. ' _ ‘ Wighatever the periodic outbursts of OPPOSEUOH to the ba51c re The Tragedy of American Diplomacy strategy of expansion and intervention, or even to specific manifestations of that outlook, the policy-making elite felt steadily more confident of being able to generate or manipu— late effective support or acquiescence among the general pub lic. By the 1950s, indeed, the ultimate touch of terror had appeared. Not only could the elite answer critics by explain- ing that it could not change course because of popular support for existing policy, but even the reformers within the elite believed and acted upon that reading of political reality. The political system was thus immobilized as a process of peaceful change. Seen in historical perspective, therefore, what we are ac— customed tflLgthlld War—meaning the confrontation betvveen the United States, the Soviet Union, and the People‘s Republic of China, between 1943 and 1971—is in reality only the most recent pha§ewi a {11955 ggieral conflict" between the establis_hed____systemwoijgstern capitalism-andmits"internal and eggigil oppgflts. That broader view not only makes it pos- sible to understand more clearly why American foreign policy has been criticized by conservatives as well as radicals but also provides a fuller grasp of the long struggle by China (and other nations) against being reconstructed as a part of the Western capitalist system. It should also deepen our determina- tion to break free of the assumptions, beliefs, and habits that have carried us so close to the abyss of thermonuclear war. It is not enough to be more prudent, more flexible, and more efficient. We have now to cut to the bone and scrape the mar- row of our traditional outlook. Nothing is more painful or more demanding in human affairs. But we can take heart from the knowledge that such action is the source of individual self- realization and true national greatness. Only a few Americans in positions of influence or leader- ship demonstrated that kind of bedrock courage prior to 1965. It was customary for such spokesmen, even when they rec» ognized and described the difficulties, to call merely for more vigor and efficiency in the prosecution of traditional programs 'and -policies; .But Walter Lippmann repeatedly and patiently explained some of the root causes of the crisis in American diplomacy, and went on to suggest cogent if often unpopular alternatives. And a feW' other commentators such as James Reston wrote in a similar vein. . i i Introduction Another striking example was provided by foreign serv1ce officer Cienrge Etm; Kennan. At the end of World War III, Kennan played a key role in developing the containment p0 - icy tOWard the Soviet Union and other radical movements. That policy was predicated upon the assumption that, because of its great relative economic advantage and its absolute ripe] nopoly of atomic weapons, the United States was powetlp enough to force the Soviet Union to change fundamenta y; its entire system. But within a decade, Kennan so modifie that unrealistic estimate as to call repeatedly and with some eloquence for an end to the rigidity and single-track diplomacy that he had done so much to initiate. . Senator J. William Fulbright has been evon more impres- sive. Beginning in the late 19505, he initiated a keen and 5qu- phisticated critical evaluation of American diplomacy from ‘5 position on the Senate Foreign Relations. Committee. His talent for asking searching questions'and his ability to wot]; through to relevant answers earned him a reputation is one o the nation’s most perceptive critics of foreign policy. In his vigorous and unqualified condemnation ofthe Cuban invasion at a top-level meeting held before the initial landing, for example, Fulbright revealed himself as a man of magni (1 cent personal and political courage and as a man‘who graspe the full dimensions of the tragedy of American diplomacy. He flatly asserted that the proposed attack was morally, legalliy, and practically a grave mistake: certain to cause incalcula le negative consequences whether or not it succeeded in its im- mediate objective of initiating the overthrow of the Castro Government. Fulbright also questioned the Judgment of th; proponents of the invasion in arguing that castro 5 Cuba pose a serious threat either to the military security or. to the vital national interests of the United States. But even if that argu- ment were granted, Fulbright insisted that the means would subvert the ends of American diplomacy. And that was his key insight into the general as well as the immediatecrisrs. b Fulbright’s powerful performance at the meeting on Cu ‘a can be more fully understood against the background of his earlier analysis of the difficulties underlying American foreign ' ' ‘ d conservative " Fulbri ht is rha the best example of the enlighteue I I as cfiticgof Amlfi'icanpsforeign policy. My respect for his position does not imply agreement with him on all foreign or domestic issues. :2 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy policy. Writing late in r958, he advanced his central points with unusual clarity and candor. “If there is a single factor which more than any other explains the predicament in which We now find ourselves, it is our readiness to use the spectre of Soviet Communism as a cloak for the failure of our own leader- ship.” Quite aware of Russia‘s challenge to American leader— ship, and in no way disposed to discount or evade that issue, Fulbright nevertheless insisted that it was crucial “to ask our- selves some very searching questions." “We must stop thinking about these problems in terms of a stereotyped view of the world,” he concluded. “We must abandon the clichés and reconsider all our assumptions.” He then acted to break open the clichés employed by the elite. The drastic escalation of the intervention in Vietnam undertaken by President Lyndon Baines Johnson through the winter of 1964—1965 generated a wrenching awareness of the tragedy and the terror of American foreign policy among a small group of students, professors, and concerned citizens. They snuggled, through the tactics of teach-ins and non- violent demonstrations, to dramatize the issues, to arouse the public, and to force the policy-making elite to open a conse- quential dialogue with the citizenry. Their efforts did arouse many students, but most others were slow to break free of the chains of tradition. The critics did not muster the power to force a strategic confrontation with the elite. Then Fulbright used his position as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to launch a nationally tele- vised inquiry into the war. The maneuver was skillfully con- ceived and beautifully executed: he pushed the issue into the daily experience and consciousness of the body politic and revitalized the essential process of serious, sustained dialogue. He forced the policy-making elite on the defensive (though their power was sufl'icient to mount an effective rear-guard action), he transferred his respectability to the larger body of critics (despite the periodic outbursts of violence that scared many citizens), and he gave other politicians reason to believe that their consciences might win votes (though that kind of confidence in the eSsence of democracy took a bit longer to materialize). It was a notable achievement. Fulbright did not go on, however, to “reconsider all our Introduction ' I" 3 assumptions.” That involves, of necessity, a re—examination of the history of twentieth-century American forelgn relatlons (and the relationship between foreign pohcy and the domestic economy). In proceeding according to that intellectual strat- egy we first confront directly what happened: We learn the ideas and the actions of the men who made or Influenced pol- icy, and the consequences of those events at home and abroad. Second, at the end of such a review of the past, we return to the present better informed. Finally, that increased knowledge and understanding may help us to muster the nerve to act 1n ways that can transform the tragedy into a new beginning. For history is a way of learning, of getting closer to the truth. It is only by abandoning the cliches that we can even define the tragedy. When we have done 'that, we Will no longer be merely acquiescing in the deadly inertia “of the past. We will have taken the first and vital step in making history. Such a re-examination of history must be based upon a search- ing review of the way America has defined its own problems and objectives, and its relationship with the rest of the world. The reason for this is simple: realism goes nowhere unless it starts at home. Combined with a fresh look at Soviet behavror, such an understanding of American policy should help in the effort to outline new programs and policies designed to bring America’s ideals and practical objectives closer to realization. In the realm of ideas and ideals, American policy is guided by three conceptions. One is the warm, generous, humanitarian impulse to help other people solve their problems. A‘second is the principle of self-determination applied at the interna- tional level, which asserts the right of every socrety to estabhsh its own goals or objectives, and to realize them internally through the means it decides are appropriate. These two ideas can be reconciled; indeed, they complement each other to an extensive degree. But the third idea entertained by many Americans is one which insists that other people cannot really solve their problems and improve their lives unless they go about it in the same way as the United States. This feeling is not peculiar to Americans, for all other peoples reveal some degree of the same attitude toward the rest of the world. But the full scope and intensity of the Amer- ican version is clearly revealed in the blunt remark of former ---.-u.n—.. _ :4 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson. He phrased it this way in explaining and defending the American program of foreign aid as it was being evolved shortly after the end of World War II: “We are willing to help people who believe the way we do, to continue to live the way they want to live.” This insistence that other people ought to copy America contradicts the humanitarian urge to help them and the idea that they have the right to make such key decisions for them- selves. In some cases, the American way of doing things simply does not work for other people. In another instance it may be satisfactory, but the other society may prefer to do it in a different way that produces equally good results—perhaps even better ones. But even if the American way Were the only effective approach, the act of forcing it upon the other society -——and economic and political pressure are forms of force—— violates the idea of self—determination. It also angers the other society and makes it even less apt to acccpt the American suggestion on its own merits. Hence it is neither very effective not very idealistic to try to help other people by insisting from the outset that they follow closely the lead and the eitample of the United States on all central and vital matters. The same kind of difficulty arises in connection with the economic side of American foreign policy. The United States needs raw materials and other goods and services from foreign countries, lust as it needs to sell some of its own goods and services to them. It might be able literally to isolate itself and survive, but that is not the issue. Not even the isolationists of the late 19205 and early 19305 advocated that kind of foreign policy. The vital question concerns instead the way in which America obtains what it needs and exports what it wants to sell. Most Americans consider that trade supplies the answer to this problem. But trade is defined as the exchange of goods and services between producers dealing with each other in as open a market as it is possible to create, and doing this without one of them being so beholden to the other that he cannot bargain in a meaningful and effective way. Trade is not de- fined by the transfer of goods and services under conditions established and controlled largely by one of the parties. Here is a primary source of America‘s troubles in its eco- \._. _. . . m... -_._..—__ __._ __ _.... n I I Introduction 5 nomic relations with' the rest of the world. For in expanding IltS own economic system throughout much of the world, America has made it very difficult for other. nations to retain their eco- nomic independence. This is particularly true‘in Connection with raw materials. Saudi Arabia, for example, is not an inde- pendent oil producer. Its oil fields are an Integrated and cpn- trolled part of the American oil industry..But a very 511m at, if often less dramatic, kind of relationship also develops in manufacturing industries. This is the case in countries where established economic systems are outmoded or lethargic, as well as in the' new, poor nations that are lust beginning to industrialize. American corporations ‘exermse extensive au- thority, and even commanding power, in the political economy of such nations. Unfortunately, there is an even more troublesome element involved in the economic aspect of American foreign policy. That iS‘the firm conviction, even dogmatic belief, that Amen" ica’s WWNEWWh _ sustained, ever— increasin overseas economic ex ansion. Here is a convergence of economic practice with intellaial analysrs and emotional involvement that creates a very powerful and dangerous pro— pensity to define the'essentials of American welfare in toms of activities outside the United States. _ I It is da erous for two reasons. First it Leads to an 111de- ference toward, or a neglect of, internal development: which are nevertlEless of imary importapce. And second“, this _strong tendency to exfirgize the sources or causes of gTi'dEl things leads naturaflLenoEthpfian even greater inchTEi-ation‘mngit- plain—tHe-‘l‘ahc‘k ofThe_gppdfil£eTb-y_5lanpng if on Wign i-i viduals, groups, and nations. Thismlnndh of externaliznig evi serthof'dffly‘t'd'aHfagfinififihe outSiders, but further intenSi- fies the American determination to make them over in the proper manner or simply push them out of the way; ‘ L The over-all result of these conSIderations is that America s humanitarian urge to assist other peoples is undercut—even subverted—by the way it goes about helping them. Other so— cieties come to feel that American policy causes them to lose their economic, political, and even psychological indepen- dence. The people in such countries come to feel that they are being harmed rather than helped. That inclines them to resort :6 The Tragedy of American Dipiomacy to political and economic retaliation, which only intensifies and further complicates a problem that is very complex at the outset. Thus the importance of trying to understand how the contradictions in American policy have developed. If that aspect 'of the problem can be resolved, perhaps then it will be possible to evolve a program for helping other people that is closer to American ideals and also more effective in practice. But it is wise to avoid deluding ourselves even before we begin. "History writing,” as Sir Lewis Namier has observed, “is not a visit of condolence.” History is a mirror in which, if we are honest enough, we can see ourselves as We are as well as .the way we would like to be. The misuse of history is the mis- use of the mirror: if one uses it to see not only the good in the image, but to see the image as all good. As Oliver Cromwell spoke to England, so history speaks to all men: “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, consider that ye may be mistaken.” The courage 'to accept that challenge is the precondition of winning even a chance to transform the tragedy into anew opportunity for great achievement. THE TRAGEDY OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY . ._ ..__-._- -.'..\r_<._-_- - E : CONCLUSION: THE WISDOM OF AN The tradition of all past generations weighs like an Alp upon the brain of the lining. KARL MARX It is not my duty as a historian to predict the future, oniy to observe and interpret the past. But its lesson is clear enough; we have lived too long out of contact with reality, and now the time has come to rebuild our lives. CALLITRAX, HISTORIAN OF LYS, in the City and the Stars, BY ARTHUR c. CLARKE Yes, strictly speaking, the question is not how to get cured, but how to live. MARLOW T0 STEIN, IN Lord Jim, BY JOSEPH CONRAD 306 “ vh- f” " ‘~ \, OPEN DOOR FOR REVOLUTIONS The students, teachers, and other dissenters who initiated and led the movement to end the war in Vietnam understood that the pattern of intervention was ineradicably entwined with other inequitable and destructive aspects of American society. Many had been early foot soldiers in the on-going battle to end racism and discrimination against Black Americans. Others had concentrated on the Problem of poverty, or on the stulti- fication of high school and college education. A few were dedicated pacifists, and some had given much effort to help workers improve their lives. Most of them had become aware. whatever their age1 of three other deeply disturbing develop- ments in America: the steady loss by the individual of his ability to self—determine himself in postwar society; the loss of almost all sense—was well as the realityuoi a community in an increasingly managed and manipulated system; and the de- cline of a commitment to being moral (or, conversely, the increasing hypocrisy). The recognition of those failures gradually created, during the long and difficult struggle to end the war, a conviction that existing American society had to be changed. Otherwise there would he more interventions and more deterioration at home. Not all of the millions who came to oppose the war in Vietnam developed that kind of understanding or commit- ment. But many did come to sense the necessity of going beyond the question of ending the war. As a result, the begin- 307 308 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy nings of a true social movement appeared for the first time since the turn of the tWentieth century. Much of that prOCess was reinforced by the continuing suc- cess of revolutionary movements throughout the world. The dedication and determination of the Vietnamese to truly self- determine their own lives forced many Americans to confront the implications of trying to sustain traditional American I foreign policy. They sensed, even if they did not fully under- stand, that such a course would involve its own kind of drastic changes in the United States. It would mean ever less freedom and ever more enforced work and privation. It would mean living with the death of friends and loved ones as a routine experience. And it might well mean the death of all. Even in its existing unfocused and unorganized state, that awareness among the citizens first forced the elite to manifest a new degree of caution and circumspection. During that phase of its response, the elite clothed its maneuvers and ma- nipulations in the traditional rhetoric of victory for a free and peaceful world. Then the reality of massive death-counts in Vietnam and the increasing strength of the opposition in the United States forced President Johnson to withdraw from the election of 1968. Finally, the growing recognition of the true nature of the terror began to affecr the thinking of some erst- while imperial-minded leaders (like Robert F. Kennedy) and led others (like President Richard M. Nixon) to attempt to stabilize the existing empire by cutting losses in Vietnam and by negotiating an interim mode: oioendi with Russia, the People’s Republic of China, and various other revolutionary governments. Hence the meaning of the title of this chapter has changed since I wrote it in December 1961. Then I was primarily con- cerned, having tried to show how History offers a way of learning, to do what I could to break the terrifying momentum toward disaster that ultimately carried us into Vietnam. Thus I emphasized the methods by which we could change our tra- ditional ways of dealing with other peoples. I see no reason to alter anything in the list of suggestions I offered at that time, except to drop the device of the rhetorical question.” '.Which I used, despite my stron dislike of the form. in the hope of givmg the general reader a sense 0 the relevance of History, and of en- gaging him in a serious reevaluation of his existing outlook. Conclusion '1}. ‘ps W h \ 309 It is time to stop defining trade as the Control of markets for our surplus products and control of raw materials for our factories. It is time to stop depending so narrowly—in our thinking as well as in our practice—upon an informal empire for our well—being and welfare. It is time to ask ourselves if we are really so unimaginative that we have to have a frontier in the form of an informal empire in order to have democracy and prosperity at home. It is time to say that we can make American society function even better on the basis of equitable relationships with other people. It is time to stop defining trade as a weapon against other people with whom we have disagreements. It is time to start thinking of trade as a means to moderate and alleviate those tensions—and to improve the life of the other people. It is time to stop trying to expand our experts on the grounds that such a campaign will make foreigners foot the bill for our military security. It is time instead to concern ourselves with a concerted effort to halt and then cancel the armaments race. It is time to stop saying that all the evil in the world resides ' in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. It is time to admit that there is good as well as evil in those societies, and set about to help increase the amount of good. It is time to admit that our own intelligence reports mean that the Russians have been following a defensive policy in nuclear weapons. It is time to take advantage of that attitude on their part, break out of our neurosis about a Pearl Harbor attack, and go on to negotiate an arms control measure. It is time to admit, in short, that we can avoid living with communist countries only by embarking upon a program that will kill millions of human beings. It is time, therefore, to evolve and adopt a program that will encourage and enable the communist countries to move in the direction of their own utopian vision of the good society as We endeavor to move in accordance with our own ideals. Nor do I see any reason to modify the following passages: Once freed from its myopic concentration on the cold war, the United Sfitwmo"griprwith..the_cefl_ntral prob- lem of reordering its own society so that it functions through 5:0 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy such a balanced relationship with the rest of the world, and so that the labor and leisure of its own citizens are invested with creative meaning and purpose. A new debate over the first principles and practiccs of government and economics is long overdue, and a statement of a twontieth-century political econ- omy comparable to The Federalist papers would do more to enhance America’s role in the world than any number of rockets and satellites. The configuration of the world of outer space will be decided on the cool green hills of earth long before the first colonizing spaceships blast free of the atmos- phere. Having structured a creative response to the issue of democ- racy and prosperity at home, the United States could again devote a greater share of its attention and energy to the World scene. Its revamped foreign policy Would be geared to helping other peoples achieve their own aspirations in their own way. The essence of such a foreign policy would be an open door for revolutions. Having come to terms with themselves— having-achieved maturity—Americans could exhibit the self- discipline necessary to let other peoples come to terms with themselves. Having realized that “self-righteousness is the hall- mark of inner guilt," Americans would no longer find it neces— sary to embark upon crusades to save others. In this fashion, and through a policy of an open door for revolutions, Americans would be able to cope with the many as yet unknown revolutions that are dependent upon peace for their conception and maturation. Only in this way. can either the general or the specific tragedy of American diplo- macy be transcended in a creative, peaceful manner. To transcend-tragedy requires the nerve to fail. But a posi- tive effort to transcend the cold war would very probably carry the United States and the world on into an era of pane and creative human endeavor. For the nerve to fail has nothing at all to do with blusterng and self-righteous crusades up to or past the edge of violenc . It is instead the kind of quiet con- fidence that comeswith and from accepting limits, and a con— current understandin‘g that accepting limits does not mean the end of existence itself or of the possibility-of a creative life. For Americans, the nerve to fail is in a real sense the nerve to say——and mean—that We no longer need what Turner called Conclusion 3 r I “the gate of esCape" provided by the frontier. It is only in adolescence or senility that human beings manifest a com- pulsive drive to play to win. The one does not yet know, and the other has forgotten, that what counts is how the game is played. It would actually be pathetic rather than tragic if the United States jumped from childhood to old age without ever having matured. Yet that is precisely what it will do unless it sloughs off the ideology of the Open Door Policy and steps forth to open the door to the revolutions that can transform the material world and the quality of human relationships. Perhaps it is by now apparent to the reader that there is a basic irony involved in this conception and interpretation of American foreign policy as tragedy. This irony arises hem, and is in that sense caused by, the truth that this essay is in two resp_ects written from a radical point of view. First, itmal'iiiutliat ifiks to uncover, describe, and analyze the character and lo ifimfifimrfign policy sincefiefibbmt 15 tfiefiml sense of nof‘beifig‘confent with rhetoric and other appearances, and of seeking instead to establish by research and analysis a fuller, more accurate picture of reality. Second, it is radical in that it concludes from the research and reflection, that American foreiflpilicy must be changed fundamentallwafilthfi‘d welfare of the Unitemmure. ThiFessayrrecommends that the frontier-expansionist explanation of American democ— racy and prosperity, and the strategy of the Open Door Policy, be abandoned on the grounds that neither any longer bears any significant relation to reality. This essay also points toward a radical but noncommunist reconstruction of American society in domestic affairs. And it is at this point that the irony appears: there is at the present time no radicalism in the United States strong enough to win power, or even a very significant influence, through the proc— esses of representative government—and this essay rests on the axiom of representative government. Hence, ironically, the radical analysis leads finally to a conservative conclusion. The well-being of the United States depends—in the short-rem but only in the short-mn—upon the extent to which calm and conufindemrfi" enlightened conservatives can see and bring ‘\ \ a / 3:2 The Tragedy of American Diplomacy themselves to act upon the validity of a radical analysis. In a very real sense, therefore, democracy and prosperity depend upon whether the New Frontier is defined in practice to mean merely a vigorous reassertion of the ideology and the policies of the past or to mean an acceptance of limits upon America’s freedom of action. /---—'The issue can be stated as a very direct proposition. If the United States cannot accept the existence of such limits with- out 7—.tsunami?ocsé'thfsalltnce and extend democracy within suchnlimitslthen the traditional effort to sustain democra___y_ byeapansion.will-leadifd {Ht destruction \- of democracy. I ____________H We now know that the conservatives did not act upon a radical analysis. Yet the proposition remains true: that was the only way the disaster in Vietnam could have been avoided. And it remains true in the deeper senSe that short-term pallia~ tives devised from selected portions of the radical critique will serve at most to postpone—not avoid—further such terrors. And so now we confront another irony. There is today the beginning of a social movement that could change America in a radical way, and thereby realize our most cherished ideals and aspirations. Hence we must recognize the wisdom of in- cluding in our outlook the idea of an open door for such a revolution in America. Chile has demonstrated the possibility of choosing that course in a democratic election. Perhaps we Americans, whose votes have mattered increasingly less in recent decades, can restore the integrity of our own franchise through a similar display of self—determination. ._._____..— - I.‘ _3_,_. . ...
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Reading 5 - BOOKS BY WILLIAM APPLEMAN WILLIAMS . AMERICAN...

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