He was 80 years old at the time and recovering from a stroke. But 30-year-old cabinet documents declassified last week by the British government reveal that then-prime minister Winston Churchill remained intellectually alert, brooding over American power and the dangers of nuclear war, even as his influence in the governing Conservative party began to wane. Churchill provoked a cabinet Churchill: waning influence crisis by writing to Soviet Premier Georgi Malenkov—without consulting the cabinet—and proposing a summit meeting between the two leaders. The invitation angered Washington, which was engaged in delicate negotiations to resolve the French war against Communist forces in Indochina. For his part, Churchill rejected U.S. plans to use nuclear weapons in Indochina if China intervened. Indeed, the documents released last week show that international relations were no simpler in 1954 than they are now.
An elusive compromise
Under United Nations auspices, Lebanese and Israeli negotiators will meet again this week in the border town of Naqoura to discuss the future of Lebanon. The talks, which began on Nov. 7, reached an impasse last month when Israel accused Lebanon of intransigence and threatened to withdraw its 12,000-man force unilaterally. That threat, which would lead to a civil war in South Lebanon, resulted in a decision by Lebanese President Amin Gemayel to meet with his Syrian patron, President Hafez al-Assad, in Damascus. Jerusalem had demanded deployment of UN peacekeepers as far north as the Awali River. For its part, Beirut had insisted that UN forces should be confined to a narrow strip between the Litani River and the Israeli border, with the Lebanese Army policing the area farther north. But Assad reportedly gave Gemayel permission to accept the Israeli proposal. In effect, the concession recognizes that the Lebanese Army is not yet strong enough to contain the various militias—Christian, Shi’ite and Druze—that are competing for control of the South. The army has still not been able to take command of the coastal road leading south from Beirut. But if an agreement on the UN’s role is reached, the two sides will soon face another controversial issue—the future role of the Israelibacked South Lebanon Army. Jerusalem wants the SLA deployed along the border. Beirut has refused, calling the SLA an extension of the Israeli Defence Forces.
The next leap forward
For several years China’s leaders have insisted that the remarkable reforms initiated under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping do not amount to an abandonment of Marxism. But events last week confirmed that China has moved a long way from the days of Mao Tse-tung’s Cultural Revolution. First, officials announced that 40 high-ranking army officers —most of them over 60—had been persuaded to retire, making way for younger officers. The retirements were part of a campaign to create a streamlined and more efficient
army—a dramatic departure from Mao’s era, when the army acted mainly as an ideological advance guard for the Cultural Revolution. Then, at a convention of the Chinese Writers’ Association, speakers—among them Hu Qili, a protégé of party secretary Hu Yaobang—repeatedly condemned past abuses of Chinese writers and called for greater creative freedom. On New Year’s Day, Chinese newspapers prominently displayed a 6,000-word speech by Deng praising Western investment as a means of hastening modernization and prosperity. Finally, Premier Zhao Ziyang announced that state subsidies for food production—one of the last vestiges of Maoist agricultural policy—would be replaced this year by market pricing. It is still unclear whether Deng’s ideological reforms will attain the status of Maoism, but China seems certain to continue to relax its rigid centralized controls—in an orderly fashion—as long as Deng remains in command.
A summit on Cyprus
For the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the development has been a long time coming. But the island’s Greek and Turkish communities finally appear to be prepared to sign an agreement that could end a decade of tense stalemate. Relations between the two communities have been strained since 1974, when a Greek-backed military coup against Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios by the Cyprus National Guard provoked a Turkish invasion to protect the minority TurkishCypriot population. Makarios ultimately returned to power, but the Turkish army remained, and Cypriots withdrew to respective sides of the United Nations-imposed “green line” dividing 120,000 Turks in the north from 500,000 Greeks in the south. In 1983 Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denkta§ proclaimed an independent Turkish state, and next week Denkta§ will hold a UN-sponsored summit with GreekCypriot President Spyros Kyprianou. That session is expected to ratify agreements worked out by UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. If approved, Cyprus will become a “bizonal federation,” with a Greek president and a Turkish vice-president. Three of 10 cabinet posts will be reserved for Turkish Cypriots, any two of whom could veto government legislation.
The other Ethiopians
For centuries virtually no one knew they existed. Until 10 years ago religious authorities refused to acknowledge that they were legitimately Jewish. But Ethiopia’s estimated 25,000 black Jews—known as Falashas (strangers)—are no longer being rejected. Israeli officials revealed last week that half the Falashas had been secretly airlifted from ¡Ë Ethiopia to Israel via Sudan, i The exodus began in 1977 but Falasha: no longer rejected gained urgency late last year as -famine spread across their African homeland. Roughly 5,000 Falashas have been moved in recent weeks, despite the opposition of Ethiopia’s Marxist government, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel. Among those relocated were victims resembling survivors of Nazi concentration camps. One four-year-old child weighed only nine pounds. But, at least for some Ethiopians, the nightmare had ended.
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