The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington

WASHINGTON has been under an intellectual siege in recent weeks. A long line of visitors has come to the capital from abroad, each determined to impress on the President, Secretary Dulles, and if possible the Congress and the American public, his view of what is going on in the Soviet Union, and to offer his prescription as to how the United States should react. Indonesia’s Sukarno, West Germany’s Adenauer, France’s Pineau, all in turn urged their points of view — all but Adenauer making it clear they believe that major shifts in American policy are necessary because of important shifts in Soviet policy.

The effect of these interchanges should, in the long run, be useful in the formulation of new American policies. For such policies must of course take account of the views of our allies and friends if they are in fact to be in our national interest.

But the short-run result has been to intensify the world-wide view that the free world is badly divided and that the Atlantic alliance, if not actually falling apart, is cracking at the seams. For example, the first effect of the Sukarno visit was to decrease slightly the antagonism in Washington toward the Asian neutrals. But the subsequent conflicting Eisenhower and Dulles statements on neutralism were indicative of the confused state of Administration thinking on the East-West issue.

Dulles found himself to be somewhere between Adenauer, who called for maintenance of a rigid cold-war stand against the Soviets — a stand widely felt to be too inflexible — and Pineau, who called for so much relaxation that a good many here thought him rather muddleheaded. Adenauer said that “nothing has changed in the Soviet Union,” while Pineau contended that economic changes in Russia are “absolutely irreversible.” Nothing better illustrates the massive task ahead, of revamping the Atlantic alliance so as to make the North Atlantic Treaty Organization something more than a defensive military organization.

Dulles’s own view has best been put in these words: “The more the Russians seem to become what we would like them to become, the more dangerous they are, up to the point where they become what we want them to become.” This is an excellent diplomatic epigram. But it is an exceedingly slippery base on which to build a new policy.

Revamping NATO

NATO is fundamental to the Atlantic alliance militarily because America’s air-atomic deterrence power depends on overseas bases and will continue to depend on them for an indefinite period despite all the talk of the intercontinental ballistic missile. But beyond this military fact lies a morass of uncertainty about NATO in the military field. No one in Washington will admit on the record that the Administration is beginning to reconsider the old land army concepts in which the proposed twelve West German divisions have been marked as essential; but in fact there is at least the beginning of reconsideration.

It is exceedingly difficult to revamp NATO in the political or politico-economic, field until NATO’s military future is clearer. However, the task has begun. The appointment of retiring Senator Walter F. George as a special ambassador on this problem was a genuine effort by Eisenhower and Dulles to tackle it, on the theory that anything George would agree to would be acceptable to Congress.

Current Administration thinking opposes any NATO changes which would require a treaty amendment and thus further ratification—an attitude based less on fear of the United States Senate than of the West German Parliament, which might seize the opportunity to take Germany out of the alliance. It also opposes any idea of consultations which might imply an obligation to be bound by the majority view of the fourteen other NATO member nations; and it opposes any limitations, direct or implied, on American freedom of action in the non-NATO areas of the world, especially where American policy is likely to be contrary to that of its NATO allies in the colonial areas of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

When all these limitations have been put down, as they have been by Dulles with the President’s agreement, the area for discussion is sharply curtailed. Yet, in the end, some move away from the nationalism which grips all the NATO nations, some giving-up of their sovereignty, may be the only effective solution.

State Department officials shudder at the mention of sovereignty. They know that this is an election year and that the right wing of the Republican Party as well as some Democrats would set up a howl. The NATO issue is not, of course, going to be settled before election day.

One idea advanced here is to use the NATO Council (once its stature is increased by having what would amount to vice secretaries of state serve on it) to sit as a sort of continuing body to assess Soviet, satellite, and Chinese Communist moves and tactics. The hope would be that such assessments would lead to joint policies.

Divided counsels

From Washington’s point of view, however, the problem begins at home. Last fall, for example, before the London talks of the United Nations Disarmament Subcommittee, the British, French, and Canadians asked Harold E. Stassen to sit down with them in advance and work out a common policy. He agreed to do so. But every time the allies asked when they could meet, Stassen had to say that the United States was not yet ready. In the end there were no prior consultations. The only reason Stassen was able to take an American program to London was that Dulles, at the insistence of Robert R. Bowie, chief of the State Department’s policy planning staff, went to the President to force a break in Stassen’s deadlock with the Atomic Energy Commission and the Pentagon.

Or take the issue of East-West exchanges and contacts. For months, those who feel that the United States must get out from behind the ironcurtain label which the Russians have pinned on us have sought in vain to get a policy decision. Resistance by Under Secretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., and others has made Cabinet agreement impossible.

The President takes the position that he wants an agreed program brought to him. The result is no program and no decision — except when a decision is inescapable, as in the case of the Soviet invitation to Air Force Chief of Staff Twining and later to his fellow chiefs. In those cases the President resolved the issue on an ad hoc basis only.

Or take the East-West trade issue. In his off-thecuff remarks at the editors’ convention here this spring, the President was eloquent in pointing out the necessity of permitting trade with the Communists by certain of our allies — he cited Japan in some detail. Yet in last February’s negotiations with the British and in the June talks with the French all that was agreed was that experts should study the whole problem further.

Or take the issue of the admission of Communist China to the United Nations. There is hardly a foreign diplomat in Washington outside the Nationalist Chinese Embassy who does not think that the Peiping regime very probably will be voted into the UN by the Assembly which meets after our elections. Yet publicly the diplomats, American and foreign, go around on tiptoes lest they break the egg too soon. The result is likely to be a severe shock to an unprepared American opinion, in Congress and out.

The satellite policy

The satellite question crossed both the East-West trade and the exchange of persons issues. But it also is closely related to domestic politics. Dulles does have a policy on the satellites but it is called the “unannounced policy” or the “Brioni policy” by his associates. This is the story; —

Last fall, before Dulles flew down to Brioni to visit Marshal Tito, he concluded that the only approach possible on the satellite issue was to divide it into two parts. He decided upon this policy: first, encourage the national independence of the Eastern European nations to help them become free of Moscow; second, once the satellites are free in a national sense, encourage steps toward democratization of their regimes.

Tito and Dulles agreed on objective number one, for which a prior sounding had been made on Dulles’s behalf by Deputy lender Secretary of State Robert Murphy. Dulles and Tito did not discuss objective number two since Dulles knew, of course, that Tito has no more desire than Khrushchev for Western-style democracy in Eastern Europe.

The reason Dulles has never announced his satellite policy is simply that to do so would rouse enmity - ami political hostility - of the national minority groups, especially the Poles and Czechs, in the United States against the Republican Party. Dulles, the author of the “liberation" doctrine in the 1952 GOP platform, is reportedly at work trying to find words to bridge the chasm for the '56 platform. That it will not be easy may be seen from Adlai Stevenson’s experience with the same problem.

After George Kennan recently declared that “there is a finality, for better or worse, about what has occurred in Eastern Europe” and that the best the United States can hope for is the evolution of the Communist regimes “to a position of greater independence and greater responsiveness to domestic opinion,” Stevenson received a shocked letter from Democratic Congressman Thaddeus M. Machrowicz, Polish-born representative of Detroit’s Hamtramck district. Machrowicz, a Stevenson supporter in '52, noted that it had been reported that Kennan was a Stevenson adviser. He wrote that if Kennan’s views had Stevenson’s approval, “tacit or expressed,” he would lost “the vast majority of votes of Americans of Polish descent and of all others who have roots or forefathers in any country behind the Iron Curtain.”

Stevenson denied that Kennan was or had been connected with his staff. And he said that he disagreed “specifically and completely” with Kennan’s remarks on the satellites, and “emphatically” rejected Kennan’s finality view. Here is a case where both political parties are inhibited from rational consideration of an important foreign policy problem for fear of domestic repercussions. For what is true of Stevenson certainly holds for any of his rivals for the party nomination.

Yet the Khrushchev secret speech made public by the State Department, and its reverberations both in Eastern Europe and among Western European Communist parties, have opened a new field for free-world exploitation — in contacts, in trade, in other fields of interchange.

The right to know

Secretary Dulles’s brother, Allen Dulles, chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, for over a year had been contending that “in introducing mass education, the troubled Soviet leaders have loosened forces dangerous to themselves. It will be difficult for them henceforth to close off their people from access to the realities of the outside world.”

In the wake of the Khrushchev speech, students in Czechoslovakia and Poland especially have been noisily demanding the right to read Western newspapers and to visit abroad. Moscow, too, has allowed enough of its scientists and other technicians to go to the West to create a demand by their colleagues to see the outside world. Education alone, if the history of Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan is any example, may not be enough to alter the course of the Soviet Union and the satellites. But education plus communication could, in the view of an increasing number of those both within and without the government who follow Communism as a profession.

The Allen Dulles thesis is that the educated Soviet man cannot long remain, as described by one defector from that class, “a man divided.”The human mind cannot be compartmentalized; the man who has freedom to pursue his work in the physical or biological sciences, even in economies, literature, or history, must in time begin to seek the truth in the political realm. Yet it is true, as the scoffers point out, that even American scientists have been notoriously apolitical and naïve — witness the Oppenheimer case — and can stay buried in their laboratories.

Perhaps, comes the answer, if they remain in Russia or the satellites. But if they have firsthand contact with the West, it will be impossible. And now that the Soviets of Khrushchev, Bulganin & Co. are willing to permit exchanges, the West is indeed foolish if it does not agree to them.