The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington
A GOOD deal of confused soul-searching has been going on in the Republican Party since the November elections. The party is still divided between what are derisively called me-tooers and anti-me-tooers— better put, progressives and conservatives. The only unanimity is the realization that to survive as a hopeful for the succession, let alone as a vigorous opposition, the Republican Party must prove to the country that it has arrived at an agreed-upon body of doctrine.
Of one thing there can be no doubt. The GOP will have to change its slogans. “Stalism” is a bastard term that John Foster Dulles has made much of, but President Truman had little difficulty in covering it with, so to speak, hick-like ridicule, and got a national laugh. The “Welfare State" as a fit object of attack is even weirder. Most people believe in a state of welfare, and even when the phrase is decked out with capital letters, it carries no punch.
Indeed, some of the best arguments for a welfare state have come from the writing and campaigning of Senator Taft. Taft believes in a ceiling above this and a floor below that, and says that the government should make a “minimum decent living available to everybody. Evidently Senator Lodge agrees with him. Lodge, moreover, has been berating the Old Guard for being so lackadaisical on civil rights—a subject on which the GOP does not share the geographical disabilities of the Democratic Party.
Thus the second session of the Eighty-first Congress will assemble with the Republicans suffering from some disablement — and in more ways than one. Mr. Dulles won’t be there. And in spite of all that Herbert Lehman said about him, Dulles was a tower of strength to what Senator Vandenberg persists in calling the nonpartisan foreign policy. It is wrong to suggest that nonpartisanship or bipartisanship in this respect has hitherto carried a me-too obligation to the Administration. Take the arms program. Few men did more than Dulles to rewrite that program and make it accord with both realities and hopes.
Vandenberg’s enthusiasm for nonpartisanship in foreign affairs, by the way, has seemed at times on the wane, especially in connection with the arms program. He was irked over the ineptness of the Administration’s bill and the way the bill was presented. A personality difficulty with Senator Connally adds to his troubles. Connally can be the most ornery of the Senators, and that is saying a great deal. As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he is many notches below Vandenberg, and the spectacle of the bumbling and irritable Texan guiding the deliberations of the committee is conducive neither to bipartisanship nor to intraparty harmony.
In Ohio, Taft has been trying to find a new position on foreign affairs, and he has come up with a plan for the extension of the Monroe Doctrine to Western Europe. In other words, he wouldn’t bother to strengthen our friends, but would leave them to the Bear with only the assurance that America would liberate them.
Who tells the National Security Council?
The bitter interservice wrangle before the Vinson Committee showed that the Navy and the Air Force are locked in a struggle over which arm should have the dubious honor of delivering the bomb. Already there are several carriers equipped to carry the bomb, and the Navy wants to nurse and improve this status in offensive warfare. The merits and demerits of strategic warfare must wait upon a determination in a place other than an open hearing before a Congressional committee.
The place where the controversy should be decided is in the National Security Resources Council. this is the top policy board, where the objectives are laid down for strategists and statesmen alike. Judging from the Vinson hearings, objectives still await clarification.
The suspicion grows that the Council is playing by ear, dealing for the most part with events as they arise. At any rate, this much can be said: the Council is not the vital organ it is supposed to be. Under action at the first session the Vice President was given a place on it. The President was opposed to the move—a surprising attitude in view of his own lamentable ignorance of affairs when Roosevelt died.
A suggestion is being made that a Congressional security committee should be established in some relation with the National Security Council. It is difficult to see how another committee would help Congress. What Congress needs in these times of cold war is party responsibility and a legislative council. It should of course have the President’s confidence on security and policy.
Why not add two party leaders from both houses to the National Security Council? Suggest this, however, to the military leaders, and they will raise their hands in horror and exclaim, “And have everything leak!” This is unfair to the record of Congress. As Dr. Vannevar Bush explains in his new book, Congress was entrusted with the highest of high classified information in wartime — namely, the A-bomb preparation. And not a syllable leaked.
General Bradley and Admiral Sherman
A while ago Senator Wherry tried to make General Bradley out a scaremonger, though he is probably the most levelheaded man in Washington. General Bradley’s great standing in the country survived the assault upon him and the assault he made on the Navy. It is the kind of reputation that is amply justified.
In Washington one hears continual discussion of the military mind. What is it? The phrase is meaningless if it is simply taken to connote warmongering. There is a military mind, but it is a mind that has an addiction to preparedness, and always more preparedness. That is different from warmongering. Brass and braid don’t want to fight because they never are ready to fight. There is always a last button to fix, the moon (as Lord Salisbury put it) to fortify, so that the real danger of too much military in authority is felt in the budget. They would sink the budget and ruin the country with preparedness if they had their way. The military mind in the sense of warmongering is oftener found among civilians. It is not uncommon to find a civilian holding forth on the need for a preventive or prophylactic war in the presence of a depreciating general or admiral.
Speaking of admirals, the new Chief of Naval Operations, Forrest Sherman, is also a man of caliber. He had a great record in war. He is wise as well as firm, and if any man can rule a Navy where central authority has never existed, that man is Admiral Sherman. As one of the authors of unification, he will also help to make a team out of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Navy is bound to suffer in the new era of warfare. The surface fleet has value, great value, in the cold war, but in a shooting war its main jobs will be convoying and killing submarines. An aeon divides the spectacular assignments of yesterday in the Pacific from the prosaic assignments of the foreseeable future. It is sad to contemplate technological unemployment coming in the Navy. But sentimentality cannot be allowed to freeze completely outmoded ways of doing things, especially in national defense.
Bruce and the MAP
The interservice tempest produced wry smiles from the defense ministers of the Atlantic allies from whom we expect a framework of defense integration as the condition of arms aid. But there was no relaxation in the push toward the military understanding which will start the weapons rolling to Europe.
The arms program, which is in the hands of James Bruce, seems to have been organized efficiently. Mr. Bruce wants to keep the program from being administered in an atmosphere of saberrattling. The strength of the organization would be demonstrated by keeping military hands off it. If the military got control, the temptation would be irresistible to try to dump on Europe secondgrade equipment in the hope of getting replacements, That would hardly be consonant with the need either to share arms production on the basis of resources and ability or to make a strong bastion out of Western Europe. Expertness has to be united with strength in preventing the program, in so far as it relates to European production, from impeding economic recovery.
Mood of the Capital
Secretary Johnson has gained good will in the country as an economizer. In Washington there is dubiety, because the aim is not regarded as disinterested. Everywhere you go, the opinion is encountered that Johnson is building up political prestige with his power and from his eminence at Defense.
In the making of foreign policy, too, Johnson has a role, now that foreign policy has come under the jurisdiction of the National Security Council. Johnson and Acheson are completely antithetical. Johnson’s view of the world is that Communists are Communists, no matter where situated, and therefore enemies of the United States. His rule seems to be that there is not a fig to choose between Stalin and Tito or between Stalin and Mao Tse-tung.
Acheson, having to practice the country’s diplomacy, is not so blackand-white, though the feeling is growing that he is having difficulty in countering the Johnson influence.
The issue of atom bomb secrecy will be debated vigorously as the result of the resignation of David E. Lilienthal, head of the multibillion-dollar Atomic Energy Commission. The only thing one can find that Lilienthal was guilty of was bad guessing about the Russian A-bomb. He thought that the Russians would not have it until after 1952, as did President Conant of Harvard and Dr. Bush. The year 1952 formed the basis of military calculations.
Now that the Russians have the A-bomb, there is no premium at all on secrecy. It is absurd not to let Americans know what the Russians obviously know. It is generally acknowledged that the Atomic Energy Commission has a good record of security. Any leaks, it is said, happened during the crucial year of 1945 when the Manhattan Project under General Leslie R. Groves was in process of demobilization.