The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington

EIGHTEEN months ago President Eisenhower and Soviet. Defense Minister Georgi Zhukov talked together in Geneva for two hours. In this talk the President is said to have made it clear that the United States was prepared to re-examine the Western defense structure in an effort to meet Soviet fears for Russian security, provided the Kremlin was prepared to come to an agreement on German reunification.

But, as became plain four months later at the Big Four Foreign Ministers Conference, the Russians decided to stand pat on a divided Germany and a divided Europe. The best American guess was that the Soviets wanted time to reorganize their own affairs, both at home and throughout the Communist orbit, in part with the hope of someday winning over all of Germany. Just what effect Eisenhower’s assurances, public and private, that the United States had no aggressive intentions had on that Soviet decision remains unknown.

The standpat Kremlin posture and the general relaxation of international tensions after the meeting at the summit at first worked to Soviet advantage. New friends were recruited in Asia; the Egyptian arms deal brought Russia into the Middle East; there were overtures from Moscow toward a united front in Western Europe with the nonCommunist left. But the downgrading of Stalin released opposition to Communism both at home and in the East. European satellites to a degree which has certainly shocked the Kremlin. Poland under Gomulka wrested an impressive share of national freedom, even to the extent of a concordat with the Catholic Church. Hungary erupted into open rebellion far beyond the expectations of either East or West.

Opposition inside ltussia

In the Soviet Union itself there is a great ferment. In mid-December a Soviet Lithuanian Communist leader unwittingly expressed the depth of the ferment when he said that “provocative rumors” after the Hungarian rebellion “sometimes influence certain representatives of the intelligentsia and students who are unable to think critically. These people begin to inflate shortcomings and mistakes which occurred in our work while forgetting about the great achievements of the workers.”

In this atmosphere of uncertainty the United States has been examining the Western defense structure to see how an agreement might be found with the Kremlin. Eighteen months ago Zhukovtold the President not to hurry the Soviet Union, that it would take time to reach detailed agreements. In retrospect, this may have been part of a stall. At any rate, the events in Poland and Hungary and their reverberations within the Soviet Union made imperative a new American and Western evaluation of the basic East-West disagreement.

There has been much talk emanating from Washington these past weeks on the possible withdrawal of American forces from Germany in exchange for a Soviet equivalent from the satellites; talk of new American plans for arms limitation and control, including offers of moratoriums on hydrogen bomb testing and ballistic missile development.

The compulsions toward seeking an agreement grew increasingly as the Hungarian rebellion went on and on. The unprecedented proposal by the Swiss government for a summit meeting of the American, Russian, British, French, and Indian heads of government sprang from jitters over Soviet troop movements in early November. West Germany, as was made manifest by Foreign Minister Heinrich von Brentano at the meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council in Paris, has been greatly alarmed that rebellion would burst forth in East Germany and that West Germany could not escape involvement.

There has been a wide body of official opinion both in Washington and in the Western European capitals which feels that the Soviets can not and will not permit the loss from Communism of any satellite nation. No nation, once Communist, has ever escaped to freedom as a nation. Titoism, national Communism, yes, but not freedom even on the neutral Austrian or Finnish model. That is a line which Marxist dogma teaches cannot be crossed.

Furthermore, as unrest and rebellion have continued in the satellites with reverberations in the Soviet Union, Washington has been uncertain as to the right moment to make an offer. Official leaks on arms control proposals were designed to show that America was willing to talk, as it will this winter in the new round of meetings of the United Nations subcommittee on disarmament. But there have been firm statements that West Germany must remain in NATO, that a reunified Germany must be free to join NATO if it wishes, that “under present circumstances" the United States has no intention of offering a German withdrawal in exchange for a satellite withdrawal.

Timing is, of course, a key factor in diplomacy. No troop withdrawal offer is likely to be made until there is some clarification of the future of Soviet forces in the satellites under the Warsaw Pact — and until West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and America’s other European allies have agreed on some common plan. Yet the problem is not to let the moment of opportunity pass. And many officials within the Administration have felt that the Hungarian rebellion offered a first such moment of opport unity,

The price of Soviet withdrawal

Troop withdrawal, which to so many Europeans has overtones of an American return to isolationism, however absurd that may seem here at home, must also be related to both arms control and political settlements. The Administration’s hope is that these problems might be wrapped up into a single package, although the immensity of such a settlement staggers those who are struggling with the infinite details of the fragments alone.

A European political settlement which would take the Red Army back to its own frontiers is the aim of American policy. American officials know, of course, that the United States and its allies must pay a price for such a major Sov iet move, if indeed it can be obtained at any Western price. But they also tend to feel that the Soviet demands in exchange may be altered by force of circumstance, by the necessity of some solution of the satellite problem and the Russians’ reaction to it.

A few months ago there was a widespread feeling in the Capital that NATO was falling apart and that the Soviets might win a bloodless victory in parts of Western Europe. But events in Poland and Hungary have completely altered that feeling. The West may be able to get a much better bargain now that NATO is back on its feet again.

The new Congress can be expected to make considerable noise on foreign policy, but only the Administration can really make positive policy. This applies not only to an East-West settlement but also to the foreign aid issue.

The Western European economic pinch because of the closing of the Suez Canal led the President and Dulles to the conclusion that additional American financial help for Western Europe, especially for Britain and to a lesser degree for France and perhaps Italy, would be necessary. Both the International Monetary Fund and the American ExportImport Bank were quickly employed to shore up the pound. But talk of grant aid, even though it had not hardened into any firm Administration policy, drew quick disapproval from Treasury Secretary George M. Humphrey. The Secretary has a way of guarding the Treasury doors which was most effective in the first Eisenhower term and there is no reason to believe he will change his ways.

What Hertor brings to State

The problem of foreign aid, not just for Europe but in the long run, for the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, is more often a matter of attitude than of amount. The $3.7 billion w hich has been voted by Congress for the current fiscal year and the approximately $4 billion which is being requested for the new year beginning on July 1 will be ample, in the judgment of many in Washington who call themselves liberals in this field, provided: 1) that the executive has enough flexibility in the use of money to shift it from one nation or area to another to meet unforeseen needs; and 2) that the Congress does not tack the American flag on every dollar.

As the new year began and retiring Massachusetts Governor Christian Herter prepared to take over on February I as Under Secretary of State, there was a revived hope in the Administration of a better deal on these points from Congress. Herter’s predecessor, Herbert. Hoover, Jr., could hardly have had worse congressional relations. Herter, on the other hand, is a ten-year House member with a reputation of such distinction that his nomination to the Under Secretaryship brought public praise from the liberal and conservative wings of both parties. This does not mean he has merely to ask to receive. But it should mean that what he says and what he asks will be given the kind of serious consideration Hoover never was accorded.

Herter can operate, however, oidy within the framework set by the President. This in turn will probably depend on the strength of Eisenhower’s conviction of the increasing importance of the economic field in foreign policy. As to the Congress, what Congress votes is generally determined by the nature of the international crisis at the time of voting. President Eisenhower’s request for congressional sanction to allow the United States to move against Soviet aggression in the Middle East got a mixed reaction from Congress. How effective the warning will be against infiltration is the big question.

Nehru’s visit

The Washington visit of Indian Prime Minister Nehru just before Christmas was a fascinating exercise in personal diplomacy by the heads of the world’s two largest democracies. It probably will not be until their respective memoirs are published that the full story will be known. But Nehru himself revealed enough of the interplay of their personalities to demonstrate the value of the meeting.

The professional diplomats take a dim view of such personal diplomacy, claiming with good reason that at such meetings the top men agree on a lot of generalizations which the diplomats then must struggle with for years to implement. This probably will apply to the Eisenhower-Xehru talks, for both are generalizers and moralizers and often find it. difficult to apply their principles to the specific ills of the world.

The test, in any immediate sense, of the talks will lie in the practical nature of Indo-American cooperation both at the United Nations and through diplomatic channels in the solution of such great problems as the Suez-Palestine issues, the SinoAmerican deadlock, and the eruption in Eastern Europe and the related possibility of a German settlement. None of these issues are within the sole power of the United States and India to solve, of course. But a common Indo-American policy or approach on any of them would greatly help.

Nehru’s remark that he found American policy in general less rigid than he had thought was, in itself, enough to demonstrate the usefulness of his visit, even though flexibility may appear to be denied by the firm words of Administration officials on the China issue.

Nehru came away from Washington with a new understanding of the problem of arms limitation. For Nehru quite clearly was convinced that the United States’ seeming preoccupation wit h the essentiality of an inspection and control system was not, as the Soviets so often contend, a dodge to avoid agreement but a vital necessity in keeping the peace. In all his public appearances in the Capital, Nehru was at his most charming. His radio-television remarks about the United States amounted to the most lavish praise he has ever given this nation. His handling of searching, even unfriendly, press conference questions was superb.

Democratic nations are, in a sense, the sum of the individuals which compose them. But they also must have leadership and guidance by men whose eyes can see the far horizon as well as the problems on the desk of today. That both Eisenhower and Nehru too often are peering at the far horizon and forgetting the immediate may seem to many undeniable; but national policies are shaped by a country’s concept of that horizon.

At this moment in history, no other two men exercise so vast an influence on the minds of men, not only in their own great nations but far beyond their borders. The value of the Eisenhower-Nehru talks thus lies in the understanding each has gained of the other and of the other’s country — an understanding which, given time, cannot escape affecting the course of history.