THE ebb and flow of international events at times appear to lake on the regularity of the tides. At least that has been the ease with Soviet-American relations, and to some extent with Sino-American relations. As the heat of summer descended on Washington, with the Congress and the executive branch both huddled in their air-conditioned palaces, a new flow became discernible in both instances. With the Soviets it concerned disarmament. With the Chinese Communists it began with the trade issue. When or where either will end is not yet clear.
Consider the disarmament issue, especially the question of ending or suspending nuclear tests. Only a year ago, after Adlai Stevenson had tried to make it a campaign issue, the Eisenhower Administration roundly denounced the very idea as a danger to the security of the United States. This summer, however, the United States and the Soviet Union came closer to agreement on that very test-suspension question than they ever had on any other disarmament issue. How did it happen?
Looking back it is fair to say that the turning point was marked by a world-wide tide of revulsion at the prospects of damage to future generations by radioactive fall-out, especially of strontium 90. Many Europeans coming to Washington say that Albert Schweitzer’s open letter played a major part in coalescing public opinion. No amount of denial of fits scientific “facts” could refute the emotional appeal.
The subsequent public hearings by the Joint Atomic Energy Committee did not settle the fallout hazard issue. But they had in a calmer vein much the same effect as the Schweitzer letter,coming as they did on top of the appeal of 2000 American scientists to halt the tests.
These moves, in one sense, played into the Kremlin’s hands simply because the Soviets have long been calling for a “ban the bomb” agreement. President Eisenhower’s suggestion to the press that somehow there might be a connection between the scientists’ appeal and the Soviet line (though he did not slate it so bluntly) did not stem the tide.
In the end, the Eisenhower Administration had to do something about nuclear tests. At first it adopted a Stassen suggestion to offer a ten-month suspension — agreed to, it appears, because no tests are currently being scheduled for at least that period. But when the Soviets came up with a proposal for a tworn* three-year test suspension, with the proviso that inspectors in the Soviet Union as well as in the West would monitor the agreement, the whole American resistance began to collapse. The Administration thus found itself, a year later, almost exactly in the position which it had condemned Stevenson for taking.
Those who have fought the tide in Washington, opposing any effort to meet the Soviets halfway on disarmament, took to using Harold Stassen as a whipping boy. He had exceeded his instructions, they said. He had been “naïve” in dealing with Soviet delegate Valerian Zorin. But these opponents, centered in the Pentagon and the Atomic Energy Commission, gradually had to give ground.
The pressure of world opinion
The tide of world opinion — and in the free world that means public pressure on governments — simply was too strong to oppose. This does not mean that an arms agreement is just around the corner or even that one can ever be negotiated with the Soviets. But it does mean that those in Washington who want to make an honest try for agreement have had some powerful backing from the normally inarticulate mass of mankind.
That sort of pressure, generally uninformed as to detail, can be very dangerous. The Pentagon has conjured up all sorts of dreadful possibilities: a letdown of the American guard, a demand to bring the boys home from overseas, huge cuts in military appropriations by a Congress lulled to sleep by Soviet promises.
Actually, there is no reason to believe that Americans in 1957 are as naïve as they were in the years between the world wars when they went in for sinking battleships and signing pledges to renounce war. Both the public and the government are more sophisticated today.
What disagreement there has been in Washington between Stassen and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles arises from different ways of looking at the arms problem. To Stassen, it has appeared to be a problem primarily between the two great powers now capable of doing such harm to each other. To Dulles, that view is not the whole story, for America’s allies, principally West Germany, must also be considered.
Yet the allies themselves push and tug at Washington. Germany’s Adenauer grudgingly consents to only the smallest sort of first-siep disarmament before an agreement of German reunification. Japan’s Kishi, another visitor to Washington, presses for an agreement on ending tests, for he is mindful of the fact that his country alone has fell a nuclear blast in war and has since been aroused over radioactive fall-out from testing in both East and West.
There have been many theories as to how serious the Soviets are about reaching an arms accord, and, if they are serious, much speculation as to whv. the fact has been, however, that the Soviets have exhibited more patience at the London conference table and passed up more openings to blast a way at the West’s apparent reneging on its earlier proposals than ever before in the past several years of negotiation.
If there is to be an agreement, it will be based on a mutual determination, separately arrived at, that such an agreement would be mutually advantageous. But so great is the suspicion of each side toward the other that agreement will not come quickly or easily.
Yet when all this is said, the fad remains that there has been a strong tide running -a tide of public opinion that somehow the arms race, epitomized In the fall-out problem, must be halted In the name of sanity.
Trade with Red China?
As to Communist China. there is no comparable emotional appeal. Yet there is a tide here too. As spring turned into summer, more and more officials in Washington, both in Congress and in the Administration, began saving that the American effort to keep Red China in isolation was both foolish and impossible.
Some saw in the latest dialectic pronouncements from Peiping the chance of a Moscow-Peiping rift. Others took a more pragmatic view. The antiAmerican rioting on Formosa plus the British refusal to continue strict controls on trade with China made the old system nonsense, they claimed. Senators began to say these things publicly — and no angry pile of mail descended on them.
Two years ago when Chou En-lai announced at the Bandung Conference that China would be willing to sit down and talk with the United States about their problems, a great sigh of relief went up all over Asia. The war clouds began to part. Since then there has been an ebb and flow in the Washington-Peiping relationship. But the issue of whether American newsmen should be allowed logo to China put the Administration on the defensive. Dulles began to see that unless he compromised he might lose the near-100 per cent editorial-page support his overall China policy had received.
Many people have felt that Japan’s economic problems would be the issue on which the Red China trade controls would be broken. In fact, they were broken by the British, who seized the opportune moment just after the rioting on Formosa. The Washington response was more in sorrow than in anger. In turn this emboldened those — in Congress and elsewhere — who, like the British, seem to think there is money to be made in the China, trade.
Where the tide of Sino-American relations will carry in its current phase is hard to tell. Yet the atmosphere has so altered in the past few months that it is no longer a certainty that Congress would vote to take the United States out of the Ynited Nations if the Communist Chinese were voted in over our protest. There would still be a major row, it is true. But the outcome now is in doubt. Whether the UN General Assembly meeting this bill will provide the test is at the moment unclear. Given another year, and if more Americans were released from Chinese prisons, however, it would seem that Congress as well as the Administration could swallow even Red China’s entry inlo the UN.
Both the Soviet Union and Communist China remain enemies of The United States by any method of measurement, Yel all three nations have come to realize that we do, indeed, have to live on the same planet, as Nikita Khrushchev put it. And so American adjustments have begun to be made — adjustments but not surrenders.
The Republicans civil rights
In all the discussion over civil rights legislation in the Congress, one point seems to have been generally overlooked. The Senate has been called the “graveyard of civil rights laws" for so long that nobody has considered what might happen if the Senate did pass such legislation, however toothless it might seem to its more ardent advocates.
The fact is that any legislation passed by Congress could turn the spotlight from the legislative to the executive — “from trying to get a bill enacted into law to trying to make some use of it.
Some observers in Washington venture the guess that passage of any civil rights legislation would put the Republican Administration on much more of a spot than it anticipates. Whatever executive action by the Justice Department might be taken under a new law would be anathema to much of the South. And at the same time it would fall far short of the hopes of Northern civil rights advocates of both parties.
In short, it is hard to see how the Administration could win, politically speaking. Or so this thesis goes. Of course, if the law had enough teeth and the Justice Department enough skill and determination to use the available legal weapons, some important changes might come about in the South, to the Republicans’ long-term political advantage.
But some of the Democrats think it wouldn’t work out that way. And that is an added reason why some Northern Democrats have been pressing hard for civil rights legislation — almost any kind of legislation at this session of Congress. They want to see the spotlight shifted from a Democratic-conlrolled Congress to a Republican Administration.
The strength of I the Court
The rush of Supreme Court decisions on Bill of Rights issues as the 1956-1957 term came to an end has demonstrated how difficult it is to predict what a man’s performance will be once he is named to the highest court.
As it has turned out, three Eisenhower appointments have generally joined the three remaining Roosevelt appointees, with the two Trumannamed justices regularly in dissent. Previous party affiliations of the justices appear to mean very little in their decisions.
Chief Justice Earl Warren, in the less than four years he has served, has become a towering figure on issues of individual freedom and the Bill of Rights. His sweeping pronouncements in the Watkins and Sweezy cases, opposing unlimited powers of investigation by the congressional committees, deserve to take their place along with his historic opinion in the public school segregation cases. At sixty-six, Warren has earned a place in the Court’s history both for the breadth of his judgments and his ability to bring together his colleagues on the bench.
Generally siding with Warren have been Eisenhower appointees John Marshall Harlan and William Brennan. It was Brennan who wrote the opinion saying that the government must turn over to the defense, and not just to the trial judge, pertinent FBI files — a decision with ramifications far from settled.
The Warren-Harlan-Brennan triumvirate generally is joined by (he three Roosevelt appointees — Hugo Black, William O. Douglas, and Felix Frankfurter — a trio which not long ago appeared to be destined for perpetual dissent in the area of the Bill of Rights,
The result of this three-plus-three combination has been to make Truman appointees Tom C. Clark and Harold Burton the dissenting minority — Clark even more often than Burton. The ninth justice, Charles E. Whittaker, took his seat, too late in the term to take part in the major cases and so he musy be judged an unknown until another year has passed.
The resurgence of the Court after the era of MeCarthyism, during which the justices had begun to sway if not bend before the prevailing pohlical winds, is one of the most heartening events of the year. It has served to give sharp public notice to both the legislative and executive branches that this is, after all, a tripartite government of cheeks and balances and that the Court intends to have its allpowerful say in the process, with a liberal interpretation of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights as its guidepost.