on the World Today
COMBINED with the prevailing realism in the country there is also a pacifism which would be demonstrated if there were any official movement to march resolutely to war. For this reason the White House and the State Department are handling the peace offensive of the Kremlin with circumspection.
A better job could be done, however, if an effort were made to show that the United States has always kept the door open to the Russians. The United Nations conferences in Paris are a good example of this policy. The American delegates approached the Russians 150 times in quest of adjustment of various issues. But no American delegate was approached by a Russian delegate with any proposal to get an adjustment. The same disparity was noted in the previous Genera! Assembly at Lake Success.
The record is proof that there is no truth in the occasional charge that the Administration is stubbornly pursuing the cold war without regard to the possibility of obtaining agreements on specific issues. It is simply refusing to allow itself to be duped by Soviet propaganda.
Our responsibility is to be prepared for war without being provocative. This was always Secretary Marshall’s aim. As his last act he succeeded in keeping the military budget down to 15 billion dollars, though not without a struggle with the Pentagon. He is said to have written Secretary Forrestal: “If you insist on a 25-billion-dollar budget, I shall have to tell the President the price: to go on the air and declare the country in a state of war.”
Secretary Marshall wanted preparedness, but not too much of it, for his job was to keep the peace. His firmness with Forreslal seems to have been justified. At any rate, one of the Satellite ambassadors in Washington commented, with reference to the reduced budget: At that figure nobody in Eastern Europe could think you are aggressive.”
State Department’s Webb
In this task of keeping military expenses at a statesmanlike level Secretary Marshall was helped by James E. Webb, then Director of the Budget. Mr. Webb is another man of whom the Pentagon ts in awe. Now Under Secretary of State, he has had a meteoric rise. As Director of the Budget Mr. Webb seemed instinctively to know the political implications of his duties in screening all requests for appropriations. In addition, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of government finance, was a good administrator, and had the charm to make his refusals to Cabinet officials sound gracious.
As Under Secretary, Webb is being groomed to be Secretary Acheson’s deputy in policy matters. To be relieved of duty abroad, Acheson is building up a corps of ambassadors-al-large, but there will be times when lie must be away. Under Secretary Webb will then find himself in the public eye.
The quiet reorganization of the State Department will be comprehensive. The State Department had run down partly because of the absences abroad of the Secretary of State and much of the staff. But the main responsibility naturally rested with former Secretary Marshall. Marshall was less militaryminded than many civilians in Washington. Yet he had a military sense of organization — the sense that relies on pyramidal stafl work and accepts the results wit hout question. The staff in Marshalls ease were former friends and associates who never plumbed the resources or mobilized the knowledge of the State Department.
Secrecy and the bomb
The President is dead set against revealing the number of atom bombs in American possession. Senator McMahon is the prime mover in the campaign to end the secrecy about atom bomb holdings. His arguments are persuasive. He asserts that Congress cannot properly appraise the military budget without data on the bomb stockpile, and that it is compelled to make defense appropriations with insufficient knowledge. This is not a very comforting situation in a government run on the representative system.
To the contention that publicity would aid the Russians, the answer is that they would be informed that America has the wherewithal to act. That this is the ease is proved hy the eagerness of the Air Force to have light shed on atom homb holdings. Why the President is opposed has not been explained.
Claims of the Air Force
The President has resolved the military-civilian struggle for possession of atom homb holdings. The hat lie on the military side was led by dynamic (Jencral Kenney when he was head of the Fniled Stales Strategic Air Command, It had been thought that I lie conflict had been set t led \\ lien t iencral Kenney was tranferrod. But any such opinion underestimated the feeling in the Pentagon.
The Air Force thinks that any future war would start with an instantaneous strike, and that retaliation must he equally instantaneous. It feels that it must have immediate access to the bombs. ’The President lias ruled that the bombs should still he in the care of the Atomic Energy Commission, but that liaison and availability should he improved.
The airmen are confident of their ability to deal effectively and instantly with an aggressor. They* claim that they would he able to assemble the atom bomb on a bomber in flight; that they could make nonstop flights around the world; and that they could cover every aggressor target. A mark oi their confidence is their support for Senator McMahon’s proposal to publish 1 he number of atom bombs on hand. II the Air Force assertions are not accepted as readily as they arc proffered, the reason perhaps lies in the memory of the wartime claims of “Hap" Arnold, and the post-war reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey.
What the Marshall dollar buys
The Economic Cooperation Administration has changed its complexion since it was legislated. At that time provision was made for offshore purchases — that is, purchases from other surplus areas with Marshall dollars. Canada has been a particular beneficiary under this arrangement. However, the aid is really triangular. The European country gets the goods, Canada gets the dollars, and the United States gets trade with Canada which otherwise might be embargoed for want of dollars.
These of!shore purchases could be made only if a commodity were not declared surplus by the United States. The list was fairly generous during the first year of operations, but as the second year approaches, farm surpluses have piled up. Thus the likelihood is for less offshore purchasing, and perhaps, with certain commodities, transformation of ECA into a relief-to-the-Ameriean-farmeroperalion.
It has hitherfo been a fixed idea in manv quarters in Europe that the Marshall Plan was a means of getting rid of American surpluses. That idea was not only mischievous; it was a misconception of the Marshall Plan. In order to carry out the Plan, real sacrifice had to be made by Americans — not only by the American taxpayer but also by the American consumer, who laid to wait I or goods in short supply.
But even before the first year was up, the picture had begun to change, and some of the ECA missions have had to work alongside missionaries from the Department of Agriculture, trying to evoke an appetite for such things as Tennessee tobacco. Regrettably there will be more missionary work of this description, though, of course, it will be limited to agricultural commodities.
Slockpiling by ECA
The Congressional watchdog committee feels that ECA has done a poor job in its stockpiling of strategic materials. ECA did not spend anything like the amount that Congress authorized. But the reasons are simple. Western Europe and its colonies produce only a limited amount of goods and only a few of the strategic materials that the United Stales wishes to stockpile.
Moreover, production can be stimulated only by long-term contracts. A producer is not likely to go to all the expense of enlarging output and introducing new facilities if he thinks ECA cannot buy after 1952. ECA wants to be of service, but suggests a new agency for procurement and contract-making. Other observers think that the stockpiling job does not properly belong to ECA. an agency primarily concerned with recovery in Europe, whereas the stockpile item is a strategic concern. How anachronistic the provision is appears from the watchdog committee report.
“This provision,” it says, “appears to reflect the intent of Congress that the countries of Europe should emphasize in their recovery programs the production of strategic materials and that the Fniled States share in this production as an offset to the depletion of our own resources of materials which has been brought about by the war and by our foreign affairs aid deliveries.” Self-interest is served by the recovery program, but this item scarcely corresponds to enlightened self-interest.
The watchdog committees are an innovation. There are two such groups. One was set up in connection with the Taft-Hartley Law, the other in connection with the ECA. At the end of the year both of them, on the whole, made excellent reports. But the question arises whether they constitute in actual operation an invasion of the Executive’s sovereignty of administration. An official of t he NLRB says the Taft-Hartley watchdogs were helpful in “interpreting the law.”Is it proper, however, that an agency should administer a law with a Congressional group at its elbow?
ECA does not grumble over its particular watchdogs. But the agency has leaned over backward in trying to carry them along with it. For instance, the drafts of the bilateral agreement governing Marshall aid were submitted to the committee for suggestions.
Sharing our know-how
Closely akin to the strategic material item in ECA is the item making technical information available to the participating countries. In this case, too, the allocated sum has not been spent, though some good projects, such as the Anglo-American Committee on Productivity, have been initiated.
It has been suggested that this clause ought to be regarded as the germ of the famous Part IV of the President’s inaugural address. Therein Mr. Truman advocated “a bold new program" for the development of backward areas, with the emphasis on social and economic benefits to areas of operation. The idea has excited attention the world over. The origin is the need for a river conservation scheme in the Middle East.
No doubt a great work of pacification and reconstruction remains to be done in the area adjacent to the Holy Land. The interdepartmental committee on economic foreign policy is engaged in studying all ramifications of the “bold new program.”
The fact remains, however, that the program is neither new nor bold. The British are ready to go ahead with the development of the Nile. In the United States several individuals and corporations are engaged in schemes of development for the benefit of the peoples in the areas.
Under the leadership of Nelson Rockefeller an “international basic economy corporation” has been established in South America. This gerial supervision, and technical skills. At present its enterprises abroad are located in Venezuela and Brazil.
Other groups have taken a leaf out oi Nelson Rockefeller’s copybook by allying their capital with national groups. Some of the companies running such projects are U.S. Steel, General Electric, American Cyanamid, Westinghou.se, General Tire, Hoppers, Allis-Chalmers. These arc all operating in South America.
Elsewhere there have been other experiments, the principal one a corporation in Liberia which hits on its directorate such men as Joseph C. Grew and Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.
The Mood of the Capital
The mood of the Capital is hardly one of Executive-Congressional harmony. This is not to say that Congress is fractious. Far from it. It will simply not be rushed off its feel, as is shown by its refusal to heed the Administration in limiting hearings on a new labor law. It likewise refused to let Mr. Truman dispense with specific powers in connection with national strikes.
The President is also questioned on his foreign policy program. He would like to give the Europeans a specific promise of military aid in ease of altack. He has found that Congress intends to reserve its power to declare war. Its notion of the “association’' promised to Europe under the Vanden berg resolution is not a military alliance. Congress is not sinking back into isolation. On the contrary, it merely wants to retain its own prerogative, and to build associative relations for peace rather than to declare a military link for war.
The Administration has been at fault in letting the North Atlantic Pact get off to an inauspicious start. There has been far too much secrecy and too much reliance on strategy instead of statesmanship.
Not all the trouble arises from the dominating position of the military in the National Security Council. Civilians as well as the military can have a military mind. But most of the trouble has been due to the sloppiness with which the preliminaries were handled.
This has endangered bipartisanship as well as Congressional support.