What the Western world needs more than anything else —more than a bigger bomb, more than a speedier missile—is a new set ot clichés.
When we talk of world affairs all our metaphois are military. Not only the speeches ot Dulles and Eisenhower but any editorial or any luncheon address on foreign policy is full ol words like cold war, economic weapons, political aggression. We talk of friendly nations as allies, uncommitted nations (scornfully) as neutrals, foreign aid as a weapon ol political warfare.
Ihat is one reason why foreign a ici has done so little to win friends for the West in Asia, and why the modest Canadian program seems to have been more successful, because less obtrusive, than the larger American one. War, cold or hot, is a thing any sensible man avoids if lie can. When economic aid is described by the donor as a weapon, it must appear to the recipient as a bribe. If he takes it anyway, as a hungry man may do, he takes it not with gratitude but with distrust, resentment and a certain shame. So conceived and so offered, foreign aid defeats its own purpose.
But that is only one drawback, and not the greatest, to our habit ot thinking in military catch-phrases. By translating all world problems into cold-war platitudes, we make it difficult, in some cases impossible, to see these problems as they really are.
One example is the Arab-lsraeli deadlock in the Middle East. Russia is trying with considerable success to add to our troubles there, but Communist agitation is not a primary cause ol those troubles. They would exist, and would likely be no nearer cure, if the Czar were still on his throne in St. Petersburg. 1 hey are for the moment insoluble. All that can be done now', and perhaps in the whole lifetime of men now adult, is to try to keep a highly inflammable mixture from actual conflagration. We can't do even that if we insist on seeing, and reacting to. every development as the fruit ot a Communist plot.
Nor can we hope to reach other goals even more important. so long as we think of policy as a continuation of war by other means. The most dangerous problem in the world is the unification of Germany. Until Germany is made whole again, a stable Europe is impossible. Germany cannot be made w hole on terms that either side in the "cold war” can call a victory. Only by true negotiation. not propaganda warfare at the conference table, can this common interest ot East and West be served.
But the deepest question of all has still to be asked: do we, the free nations ot the West, really want a smashing victory in what we call the cold war?
The greatest victory imaginable at the moment would be the collapse of Communist China. This is not beyond the bounds of possibility—famine could do it or a major breakdown in China’s current five-year plan. It would mean a terrible defeat lor world communism. It would also mean starvation for millions, distress for hundreds of millions, a return to the anarchy and despair that has plagued China for more than a hundred years.
Do we really want this to happen?
If we don’t we ought to stop talking as it we did. For the talk is losing friends for us everywhere. And we are losing other friends by talking continually as though the world falls into two camps, one of absolute good and the other of absolute evil, with no hope for either camp to endure except by a great catastrophe to the other.
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