The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington

ADMIRAL ARTHUR W. RADFORD, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is known in Washington and in capitals throughout the world as a man who wants to get tough with Communist China. The label influences foreign judgments of American attitudes, and in the United States has caused considerable uneasiness. It might be useful to set down briefly what he does think.

Radford firmly believes that if the Chinese Communists are allowed to develop economically and militarily, the time will come when nothing we can do will prevent the Communization of Asia. There are good reasons, diplomatic and otherwise, he acknowledges, for differing with him. But he is deeply fearful that by the time the dissenters find they are wrong, it will be too late. The possible combination of Chinese Communist manpower and a balanced military force is, to Radford, one of the greatest threats the free alliance faces. He can even foresee a time when such a combination, having subjugated Asia, would move on to success in Africa.

The significance of the Chinese problem, to him, lies in China’s size, its position, and its manpower. He finds it different from other satellites, in that it has a better-organized hard core, controlling greater — vastly greater — resources.

In his judgment, Communist China today is just about at the stage the Soviet Union had reached by 1920. Given time, he expects it to approach Russia in power and influence in the international Communist hierarchy. But he believes it would take China a number of years to develop the industrial base which could provide balanced military power, and that its industrial build-up will be very difficult if the West does not provide assistance.

To Radford, blockading China is only one of several things that might be done if we decided to increase pressure on the Peiping regime. Radford does not now believe that blockade would have much bearing on Red China’s strategic power, because few goods feeding it are now getting in. He believes that by cutting down on consumer goods, blockade might increase the internal difficulties of the Chinese Communists. He does not think that Communist China can be detached from Moscow.

Radford would prefer to apply strategic bombing, including nuclear weapons, to military targets only, not to populations. Bombing nonmilitary areas, he believes, only makes peace harder to get — and harder to deal with — and tends to plant causes of new war. But his wish to intervene at Dienbienphu, and to retaliate last fall for Red attacks on Quemoy were counsels in extreme which the President would not sanction, and the country was with the President.

Shake-up in the White House

Just about the time the Malenkov shake-up occurred in the Kremlin, a considerable shake-up occurred in the White House. It didn’t rate the headlines won by the Moscow story, but it merited more attention than it got.

Thomas E. Stephens, who was appointment secretary to the President, and had a close personal relationship with him, resigned late in January. Bernard M. Shanley, who had been counsel to the President, took Stephens’s place. Gerald A. Morgan, who had been an administrative assistant, became counsel. Fred A. Seaton, who had been an Assistant Secretary of Defense, moved to the White House as administrative assistant.

To understand the meaning of the shifts, it is necessary to go back to the 1952 Campaign. On the Eisenhower campaign train there was a close advisory group of six men. The senior members were Sherman Adams, now the Assistant to the President; Shanley, a man of great wealth from New Jersey, who entered politics as a Stassen supporter; and Seaton, a Nebraska publisher, also originally a Stassen man. The others were Senator Knowland, Senator Carlson, and the about-to-be-defeated Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.

After the election, the seniors went into the executive branch, and the others went their separate ways. What has happened now is that all the seniors have been brought under the White House roof and have moved in closer to the President. The purpose is to put them in a position to make sure that nobody takes the nomination from their man in 1956.

The President‘s credo

After two years of learning, doing, and thinking, there has evolved within the Eisenhower Administration a fairly coherent political philosophy. It is called “dynamic conservatism,” and its principles have been applied in designing the program the President has proposed in a steady flow of messages to Congress during the first quarter of the third year of his administration, It represents an elaboration, refinement, and articulation, by minds more sophisticated than the President‘s, of the rather simple basic ideas which guide him.

It now has the stature of a credo. It could be called the manifesto of the counterrevolution against the extremes of the New Deal and the Fair deal, but, it is quiet in tone, as befits a counterrevolution distinguished by restraint.

Because the President has adopted it, the credo is of importance in American political history. It establishes a line of thought along which the Administration now consciously chooses to fight its political engagements. This is the line across which the Republican Party under Eisenhower would confront the Democrats in 1956. It is the line behind which Eisenhower Republicanism accepts rearguard action with the right-wing Republicans.

The practical application of the credo is evident in the highway program, the school construction proposal, the health program, power policy, the social welfare program, taxation, budgeting, fiscal and monetary management, resource development, housing, and agriculture. Almost the only fields where it is not governing are military policy and the conduct of diplomacy, but it does guide foreign economic policy.

“What do we want to preserve? ”

In creating the doctrine of “dynamic conservatism,” the collective intellect of the Administration asked itself this question: What do we want to preserve? In getting the answer, choices had to be made between social justice and economic development. The kind of economic development which is sought unquestionably means hurting some of the people some of the time, and the most effective criticism of the doctrine is that in some aspects it is cold-blooded to the point of being ruthless.

One of the first things the modern conservative finds he wishes to preserve is his belief in the merit of the market system, the price system, as a means of rationing goods and satisfying consumer demands. That precept being established, a guide is in hand for deciding what to do about controls, and the decision is against controls. Admittedly, the workings of the price system mean hardship for some consumers in some periods.

The modern conservative is also concerned to preserve the factors of incentive and reward in the workings of the economy. His concern has an obvious bearing on tax policy, for example.

Believing that it is not necessary to have inflation to obtain economic opportunity at acceptable levels, the modern conservative dedicates himself, in principle at least, to preserving the integrity of the dollar. He regards this as the best way to stimulate the economy, because it gives the dollar a constant meaning to savers, business planners, and all others who want to or have to look ahead.

The role of private investors

As has been made abundantly plain in Administration tax policy, the modern conservative believes very strongly in preserving the role of private investment in the American economy — a belief which puts him under a political handicap. He has been thinking about this for nearly twenty-five years. Back in the thirties he was pessimistic about the ability of such investment to do the job, and Keynes provided a rationalization for the pessimism. It was assumed that the economy could not expand without massive intervention by the government.

Now, in the maturity of the fifties, the conservative believes there was a fallacy in the view that investment responded only to existing current demand. He has concluded that a vital element was missing, which is anticipation. He believes that consumption capacity is there if investment has looked ahead and has its products ready to meet it, and that this provides a chance for expanding economic activity unrelated to the visible level of current consumption.

In order to encourage private investment, the modern conservative has to do a lot of things that are unpopular. He directs his tax adjustments at investment first and the consumer second. He grants dividend-tax relief, allows accelerated depreciation, extends the tax loss carry-back, and resists increases in personal exemptions. He is then indicted for “doing things for business,” when in his own view he is only trying to keep the heart of investment pulsating for the long-range good of the people. He feels that without anticipatory investment a free enterprise economy soon gets sick, and that when it does it gets very sick.

The modern conservative believes in indirect controls on the economy, exercised through monetary and fiscal policy, rather than direct wage, price, and credit controls.

He believes in preserving individual, local, voluntary effort, and knows he puts himself at a political disadvantage thereby. A federal program with a single appropriation and a central office can he carried out with more speed, efficiency, and precision than a clumsier decentralized arrangement can achieve. Real decentralization has to compete with the concept of decentralization of federal programs, and honest differences of opinion can arise as to which is better. Yet, even if genuine decentralization is slower and less efficient, the modern conservative chooses it, doggedly. He knows he is politically vulnerable in this because the benefits are intangible and in the future.

Finally, the modern conservative would preserve the international system in economics, trying for free markets not only at home but across national boundaries. This is contrary to the ancient tenets of the Republican Party. The reciprocal trade bill offered by President Eisenhower would suit the modern conservative goal of lifting this issue out of partisanship to the level of national policy.

There are some flaws in the execution of the doctrine. The wool subsidy is at odds with the faith in free markets, although the defense is made that it was the alternative to a tariff hike hitting wool-using industries and damaging to international relations. Again in the area of free markets, questions can be raised whether antitrust activity is being pressed with sufficient vigor, whether the merger trend is being resisted strongly enough. The Administration has been criticized on the ground that it has not proceeded rapidly enough with tax incentives for individuals.

THE Democrats‘ dilemma

At Democratic headquarters, intensive efforts go on to formulate a party program to compete with the President’s. There is a very clear difference, for example, between the Eisenhower program for school construction, with its emphasis on federal assistance for local borrowing, and Democratic proposals for substantial grants-in-aid. This is regarded as one of the best issues the Democrats have.

Health and housing are other fields in which party differences can develop. With assurances from Secretary of the Treasury Humphrey that the situation in Asia requires no changes in the budget, some Democrats decided to have a go at the Eisenhower tax policy to provide politically appealing relief for individuals.

Yet realists among the Democrats acknowledge that the party must accept much of the Eisenhower program, because it deals with the same issues that the Democrats tried to deal with. Partisan difference must be limited mostly to matters of degree, to refinements of administration.

Objective Democrats recognize two other handicaps. They believe that we are in a period of political apathy, and that there is little room for the kind of swashbuckling reform-and-progress legislation on which the party lived so well so long. Furthermore, the conservative Southern leadership of Congress seems content to get along with a President of opposite party. These leaders have the power they want. In a sense, they are better off than they would be with a Democrat in the White House. The Republican presidcncy relieves a Democratic committee chairman of problems of party loyalty. the is freed of the dilemma of preserving his principles in the face of proposals from a Democratic President catering to Northern tastes.

Democrats against free trade

The political base of the Democratic Party is changing, too, as industrialization proceeds in the South. This was clearly demonstrated as Congress dealt with the reciprocal trade agreements bill. For the first time, Democratic leaders had trouble keeping their members in line to support this legislation, a Democratic invention. The main reason was the growth of the textile industry in the South and the intensification of its difficulties in the North. Pressure of the industry against the bill was more powerful than that of any other bloc. Southerners, historically free traders, found themselves yielding to the pressure.

The same thing happened with Representatives from Northern industrial constituencies. The change was neatly summed up in the person of Representative A. J, Forand,Rhode Island Democrat. During eight previous terms in Congress he had always supported reciprocal trade bills. This year he cast the only opposing Democratic vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Republican diehards

Proof that the dynamic conservatism of President Eisenhower is something new is given by the opposition it excites on the Republican right. Meeting in Chicago in February, these diehards attacked the President on the ground that he is the captive of “people of questionable Republicanism.” His highway and school programs, his unbalanced budget, his advocacy of liberalized foreign trade, and his opposition to the Bricker amendment were top targets. McCarthy, Dirksen, Jenner, Malone, and Velde were their heroes.

But the outcries rallied no popular support visible from Washington, and certainly not enough to divert the President and his “captors” from the course they have set. One of the meanings of the presidential program, in fact, is that the modern conservative in the White House is prepared to cut the right wing loose to drift if it doesn’t want to go along with him.