on the World Today
THE Capital is putting on the girth and the glitter of wartime in response to its transformation as the headquarters of the new Atlantic community. ECA now has a military corollary in MCA, which is being administered by former Ambassador James Bruce. This will require not only a new bureaucracy but also the presence of additional staffs in Washington representing the treaty partners. There is also an infiltration of new officials from abroad in fulfillment of the pledge in the Anglo-American economic conference to keep up constant consultations on currency and economic problems.
Point IV in the Truman inaugural will also mean a growth of officialdom when program becomes organization. Point IV is the one which called for a “bold new program” for the development of backward areas. The President sought without avail to set up a Point IV agency before Congress recessed. However, a program has been prepared, and when the legislators return, it will undoubtedly figure among the first orders of business.
The President got his appropriation for the arms program just before Congress adjourned. The delay was due to a provision in the Act which testified to the statesmanship of the Eighty-first Congress. They insisted on a plan of integrated defense for the Atlantic prior to the stage of appropriations. The insistence was due to the lesson learned from the Marshall Plan. Instead of economic integration, economic separation has been financed with Marshall money.
Once bitten, twice shy, Congress was not going to subsidize the building of separate military establishments. It spelled out what it wanted — no duplication of function, no separate plans and staff work. To make sure this was done, the President was told that he would have to pass upon the “plan ” before he could get the implementing funds. Congress thus applied a needle which made the Atlantic nations jump into action, and the President told Congress he was satisfied with the product.
Point IV would put technological know-how at the disposal of undeveloped countries on request, though they will be expected to share cost. The first constructive advice will mainly concern the eradication of disease, fishery improvement, and agricultural betterment.
Agriculturally much could be done to assist Eastern peoples to do better what they are already doing. Rice culture, for instance, is laggard. Control of pests is neglected; little has been done in seed experimentation. In these respects the Department of Agriculture contains a fabulous amount of knowledge. Its explorers have scoured the earth for new seeds and new plants for transplantation and cross-fertilization.
To some people it has seemed that all that is necessary in this particular is to put out a sign “Come and get it.” The trouble is that the toiling masses in Asia and Africa are neither interested nor able to travel. There has to be show-how, preferably by their own people. Thus the Smith-Mundt Act, which enables foreign teachers to come here, will be helpful.
There has been some misunderstanding over the guaranty provision of Point IV. Some writers think that under the bill any American investor abroad could get a government guaranty of his investment against the hazards of nonconvertibility and expropriation. This is not quite the situation. What the bill does is to spell out powers which the ExportImport Bank now possesses implicitly.
The measure would make clear the intent of Congress to give equity investments a guaranty within the framework of Export-Import Bank resources and requirements. The bank has for fifteen years exercised this power over bond issues.
The Herter bill
Representative Herter has an alternative bill which requires the negotiation of treaties establishing a code of fair practices toward foreign investment. This the State Department has promised to do. But the Herter bill would withhold assistance under Point IV from any country which has not negotiated such a treaty within two years. The Export-Import Bank thinks case-by-case agreement with the benefiting country would afford protection. However, it does not oppose reciprocal treaties.
This activity is in line with the American effort to do its part in enabling the world to earn dollars. A creditor habit of thinking seems to be coming over American business and American politics. Scarcely a murmur was heard, for instance, over the tariff slashes arranged reciprocally with ten countries on the heels of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements extension. But investment is as much the answer to the country’s chronic creditorship as trade.
In this respect the World Bank is breaking new ground for investment in Asia and Africa, and Point IV will also be a trail-blazer for investment opportunities. It is felt that aside from the actual investment program the spread of know-how will provoke a desire for development with foreign capital.
Unity of command
A clash on unification was inevitable, even though it occurred while the Defense Ministers of the Atlantic community were meeting in Washington to build the machinery to work out “all for one and one for all” defense.
The ministers might have been forgiven if they had asked whether unity of command could be developed in the Atlantic community when unity of command seemed such a willo’-the-wisp in Washington. But they saw the row as the inevitable last kick of the die-hards which all of them had experienced in their own countries.
Take, for example, Britain. Between wars the British went through the same clash in integrating their services. But now, as a visiting official said, “Give an airman, a sailor, and a soldier in England a military problem, and they would come up with more or less the same answer. Such are the benefits of the cross-education we have instituted.” Much the same comment came from the others.
The Americans are still in the birth pangs of unification, and cross-education is just beginning. Yet even now the Joint Staff of 300 officers of all branches is fairly coherent and getting to be single-minded, without much division in terms of service affiliation.
Success of unification depends not only on the retirement of the diehards but also on the spreading example of the Joint Staff. Its members are all professional officers of the highest caliber. In association or in groups within the association they are able to achieve solutions which are beyond considerations of service prestige and tradition.
For instance, two Air Force officers on the Joint Staff advocated the cause of the supercarrier. The teamwork owes much to the first director, Lieut. Gen. Gruenther, now Deputy Army Chief of Staff, who has been succeeded by a man of equal impartiality, Admiral Davis.
At the same time the Navy had many a justifiable gripe that deserved an airing. Traditionally the Navy always has been the favored branch on Capitol Hill. The status disappeared during the war because the realities showed conclusively that the sea was no longer the first line of defense. At that time the surface navy was wrangling with naval aviation. The latter, when it did get proper recognition in Navy affairs, became the Navy spokesman in the unifieation controversy.
However, the Navy airmen say they were quietly silenced by the assurance of Secretary Forrestal that he knew their problems and would watch their interests. Forrestal, as we all now know, was so engulfed by his job that the Navy never got much chance of a hearing. The situation lasted till the supercarrier was canceled by Forrestal’s successor, Louis Johnson.
Johnson gets tough
Johnson is an enigmatic personality, and on nothing about him is there any unanimity, except, perhaps, his soaring ambition. Forrestal used to say that a Secretary of Defense should forswear political ambition. This was the reason he bowed out of the Truman campaigning.
It was for Johnson’s giant’s share in that campaigning, however, that Johnson got the Defense portfolio. He is a burly man, with a corresponding toughness in his handling of the mammoth problem at the Department of Defense. He is inclined to disingenuousness, is given to riding roughshod over people, and is averse to listening to all sides. He is as impetuous as Forrestal was indecisive.
What the Navy resents about the supercarrier is not so much the cancellation — or so it says — as the manner in which it was done. Johnson asked the Navy Department to prepare itself for a briefing, but the Department never got the call for an appearance, and the first thing it knew the cancellation had occurred.
It alleges the same injustice over the reduction in big carriers. Eleven is the current number, to be reduced this year to eight; and according to report, the figure next year will be four— all decisions made by Johnson without a Navy hearing. The Navy has had the mortification of reading in the newspapers official assurances that the Navy morale is good, when it knows that, on the contrary, it is bad. Hence the rash of smear stories emanating out of Navy back rooms till the explosion in public permitted by Congress.
It is clear that the whole object of unification would be destroyed by any return to a three-budget system. This the Hoover Commission inveighed against. Three budgets mean waste, a balancing of forces on the basis of compromising rival service claimants, duplication, and a perpetuation of separation. Most people agree that we should not return to such a system.
What is necessary is assurance of a hearing for the Navy on the allocation of economies, though even here there must be an understanding over functions, not to say submission to some framework of an over-all plan. The Navy, faced with this argument, will say, “But we are always outvoted two to one in the Joint Chiefs.” Till there is proof, however, that the Navy in fact is wedded to the idea of an over-all plan, not much sympathy will be elicited for the Navy standpoint: that there should be autonomy of allocating economies.
There is much sense, to a layman, in what the Navy is now enabled to say on strategic doctrine. The view of the Air Force in this department has hitherto prevailed. And it is a believer in strategic bombing—that is to say, in a strategy aimed at reducing Russia’s cities to rubble.
The strategic bombing theory has had little rebuttal. Those laymen with “lob over an A-bomb” ideas have acquiesced in it. But the Navy blasts the theory on many a count, and thinks that “Red Atom Day” has made the strategic bombing theory valueless. They repeat with the British military historian, General Fuller, that it is morally wrong, militarily wrong, and politically suicidal.
The nation, the Navy contends, must decide whether this kind of warfare — which has now become mutual obliteration — is the way to achieve the more perfect peace which is the aim of warfare. Is there not a way short of mutual annihilation that would accomplish the war purpose?
In effect the Navy is putting a prime question to the National Security Council. Never has there been a firm outline of a policy the achievement of which would settle our differences with Russia.
A bill-of-particulars policy must be spelled out before the Joint Chiefs can embark on a strategical plan to achieve the objectives in case coldwarfare diplomacy not only fails but sets off an explosion. It is starkly clear from the Navy testimony that there are no basic plans either in the Security Council or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Crisis diplomacy appears to be taking up the time of the Security Council; strategic bombing fills the vacuum in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The military wrongness of the doctrine is attested in illustration. Navy men say that one of these days we shall wake up to find that guided missiles have outmoded the B-36 as the delivery agent of the A-bomb. The layman is impressed with this argument, though he cannot assay other naval arguments aimed at demonstrating that the B-36 is not all it is cracked up to be, and that the Russians are better prepared against it than the Air Force admits.
The case for carriers
At any rate, the case for carrierbased planes, and therefore carriers, has been pretty well re-established.
To the Navy they are essential for a number of reasons, some of which derive from Red Atom Day. No landing field in Europe may be tenable in a war with Russia. Carriers would be the means of aiding Western Europe in resisting attack, rather than in liberating Europe, as Army and Air Force heretofore have stressed. The Navy air arm, being mobile, could keep the Russians guessing where attack was coming from, so that the Russians, guarding against surprise, would have to secure their entire sea and land frontier.
A subsidiary lamentation throughout the Navy is the Navy’s deficiency in the infighting in the Battle of the Pentagon. This was a way of criticizing former Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Denfeld. Denfeld is a mild man, without the authority of a King or the prestige given to a Nimitz. He is a product of the “silent service,” the submarines, and although he lived up with the other admirals, he was certainly a fish out of water in the row between the Navy and the Air Force.
No wonder the Navy looked to Radford, the brilliant leader of the fight in’ and feudin’ between the services. Johnson made no secret of his disdain for Denfeld, and the Navy knew it.
The Mood of the Capital
The mood of the Capital at the time of the adjournment of Congress reflected as much satisfaction with achievement as the President himself indicated. In foreign affairs Congress acted with a marked sense of responsibility and a demonstration of statesmanship, particularly in the handling of the arms program.
On the home front a good deal of work was done, some of it in conformity with the President’s program. However, the kind of welfare state envisaged by the President fell far short of enactment. No socialized medicine, no socialized fanning, nothing on civil rights, no alternative to the Taft-Hartley Act.
Why, in view of these omissions, the President praised the first session of the Eighty-first is somewhat mysterious. Most of the satisfaction of Congress was expressed precisely because Congress did not act on these basic measures. In actual time spent on the public work, the legislature must have made a record. Much history has been made, and the tempo in Capitol Hill has been almost killing.