The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington

on the World Today

TO INDIA’S Nehru, “the center of gravity of conflict is shifting from Europe to Asia.” To France’s De Gaulle, Russia, “a white nation of Europe which has conquered part of Asia,” now stands “face to face with the yellow masses of China.” In London the British Government looks upon the Russians as half European, half Asian, and hopes to convince the Soviets that they are in fact all European.

In Washington Secretary of State Christian A. Herter has enunciated a doctrine of partial responsibility, a partial Soviet responsibility for the acts of its neighbor and ally Red China. And in Geneva the United States and Britain try to work out a nuclear test ban agreement with the Soviet Union, an agreement which both sides know might be the way to prevent Peiping from joining the nuclear club. All these are symptoms of what may turn out to be the great world problem of the 1960s — the problem of Communist China.

In the long years when America’s China policy was under the control of John Foster Dulles and his ardently pro-Chiang deputy Walter S. Robertson, the official line was that Peiping’s policy was largely made in Moscow and that it would be the height of folly to hope for any break in the PcipingMoscow relationship. But in the past year, especially in the months since the Chinese repression of Tibet, and since Herter succeeded Dulles, attitudes in Washington have begun to change.

Sino-Soviet differences

The shift in attitudes has been based on some solid evidence of Soviet unhappiness about Red China. It began with Khrushchev‘s remark to Senator Hubert Humphrey that the Chinese commune system was reactionary; it multiplied with Khrushchev’s lecture in Peiping last fall — met with stony silence — that the Chinese should not test the United States in a passage at arms. It has been confirmed by the differing reactions in Moscow and Peiping to the Eisenhower-Herter response to Khrushchev’s peaceful coexistence campaign and his visit to the United States.

Moscow’s Pravda, for example, printed the full text of Herter’s November speech, which said that the world was moving into “what may become a new era of competitive peace.” Herter, said Pravda, “comes much nearer to understanding peaceful coexistence than his predecessor.” But Peiping’s Kwangming Daily called Herter “the true heir” to Dulles and said the secretary merely “reveals the real purpose of the war preparations made by the United States ruling quarters, under the cover of peaceful avowals.”

All these bits of evidence, and they include Khrushchev’s stand of something akin to neutralism in the Indian-Chinese border dispute, have altered the Washington view. The problem now is how to play upon these increasing Sino-Soviet differences in view of the accepted principle that the ties that bind the two Communist giants are still far stronger than the divisive forces.

There is widespread gratification in Washington that Chinese belligerence has just about destroyed the Bandung spirit which for so long cast a spell of warmth toward China among the Asian neutrals. Peiping has aroused all the latent Asian fears of historical Chinese expansionism, and its aggressiveness has provoked such actions as the Indonesian drive against Chinese merchants and the strong Indian reaction to Peiping’s border incursions.

It was for these reasons that Eisenhower’s visit to India came at such a good moment psychologically. Perhaps the most useful step which the United States and its Western allies can take to exploit the anti-Chinese attitudes in Asia is to increase economic aid to India and other nations. But that is sure to run into new budget problems within the Administration.

Where the China story will end, one can only guess. Many had hoped that the second Eisenhower Administration would somehow establish a two-Chinas policy. It did in fact take some steps in that direction, but the offshore-island issue was loo big a problem to overcome. Some Washington observers suggest that the only possible resolution now is to have the United States saved by its friends; that is, to have Red China voted into the United Nations over U.S. objections, with Formosa relegated to separate membership in the General Assembly only.

The nuclear test ban treaty may turn out to be the chief action of a spring East-West summit conference. If so, it will come before the Senate this year for ratification. And if it does, the China issue will get an airing on the Senate floor in a new and perhaps less emotional context than at any time since the Korean War. Somehow, the treaty will have to cover Red China, and therefore the United States will have to deal with China far more than it has up to now. There are some senators who think that the public pressures for such a treaty, because of the fears of radioactive fall-out, will be sufficient to break down the resistance to dealing with Peiping.

Cuba’s sugar quotas

State Department officials concerned with Latin America are currently looking anxiously in two directions as they survey the Cuban headache: toward Havana, where they fear things will get worse before they get better, and toward the Capitol, where they expect a lot of congressional sound and fury, especially over renewal of the Sugar Act, which expires on December 30, 1960. If it were not that some legislative action is necessary on sugar this session, the diplomats would feel a bit easier. President Eisenhower last year asked Congress to extend the Sugar Act, but the uncertainties over the Castro regime led both Senate and House agriculture committees to delay action. Senate Chairman Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana has had some strong words to say about the Castro regime, though House Chairman Harold D. Cooley of North Carolina has said that he does not plan to open up the quota provisions if it can be avoided.

Whether it can be avoided is a question. Under the Sugar Act, domestic and foreign cane and beet producers are allotted specific shares of the huge American market. The result is stability in the sugar market at the cost of the United States consumer, who thereby pays about twice the going world price. Nearly half the sugar consumed by Americans is from Cuba. The Cuban quota is 3.2 million tons, and the next largest foreign producer, Peru, has a 95,000-ton allotment. Hawaii and Puerto Rico have allotments of more than 900,000 tons each.

Reports have circulated in Washington for some time that domestic producers of both cane and beet sugar will try to take advantage of the dissatisfaction with Castro to get Congress to trim the Cuban quota. State Department officials say that such action would only compound the problem, probably driving Castro closer to the Communists.

The outcome on the Sugar Act almost certainly will depend on what occurs in Cuba itself. In recent months the State Department’s attitude has hardened toward Castro, in part because of a belief that his free-swinging activities in the Caribbean have alienated many of the liberal regimes in Latin America, such as Venezuela, which had been his ardent supporters against the remaining dictators in the area. United States officials link the direction of Cuban events to the rise of Communist influence.

The danger of intervention

The Administration is determined not to be provoked by Castro’s nationalization or confiscation of American and other foreign-held property. It is well understood that nothing would play into Communist hands more than a United States intervention in Cuba.

There is general agreement that Cuba long has needed land reform and that the American concerns in Cuba are not entirely spotless, but the United States insists on viewing the Castro activities in terms of Anglo-Saxon law. This is an old problem for the United States in dealing with the Latin temperament in all of the twenty republics to the south. With Castro’s bitter anti-American tirades and the evidence of Communist influence, the picture, viewed from Washington, is dark.

The overworked Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, like many of the district courts and courts of appeals, faces an increasing work load. The burgeoning American population, along with its increasingly complex legal problems, inevitably creates additional cases for the courts. A Harvard Law Review study by Professor Henry M. Hart, Jr., recently noted that the Supreme Court each term considers more than 1500 requests for review of decisions in the lower courts. Since the justices sit in Washington thirty-six weeks in the year, Hart estimated that, except for the regular Friday conference at which they vote on decisions and cases to be heard, the justices have on the average only twenty minutes to study each remaining case. Of the 1500 applications, the Court selects about 125 for review, with opinions to be written in most of them.

For many years now, Justice Felix Frankfurter, at seventy-seven the oldest justice and second only to Justice Hugo Black in point of service, has been lecturing his brethren because he thinks they agree to consider too many cases.

Last May, in dissenting on an insurance case, Justice Frankfurter said from the bench that “the case involves merely facts. It has no business here. No question of state or federal law is involved.... It has not even the value of a precedent. It will guide no lawyers, It wall never do anything.” In November, Frankfurter was at it again, this time in a seamen’s injury case. He had some valuable assistance from Justice Potter Stewart. “Cases like this,” wrote Stewart, “do not belong in this court. To review individualized personal injury cases, in which the sole issue is sufficiency of the evidence, seems to me not only to disregard the Court’s proper function, but to deflect the Court’s energies from the mass of important and difficult business properly here.” In this instance Frankfurter was joined not only by Stewart but also by Justice John M. Harlan. On some occasions Justice Charles E. Whittaker also has taken this point of view. Usually, however, the justices will grant review of a case if four of the nine want it, and Frankfurter has a lot of trouble convincing five others to prevent review.

The argument on the other side, to which Justices Black and William O. Douglas adhere, is that personal rights usually are involved in such disputed cases. Furthermore, they say, the Court really does not review very many of the numerous cases of this type which come before it.

However, a good many lawyers in Washington tend to agree with the view of Professor Hart that “the opinions of the Justices confirm the conclusion that the Court is trying to decide more cases than it can decide well. . . . Few of the Court’s opinions, far too few, genuinely illumine the law with which they deal.” Hart termed this “misuse of power” not only “a denial of equal justice to litigants whose cases are not heard, but also a grievous frittering away of the judicial resources of the Nation.”

Mood of the Capital

The sudden withdrawal of Nelson Rockefeller from the Republican presidential race has given Vice President Nixon another boost in his ambition to do what no other Number Two man has done since Martin Van Buren in 1836 — move up by the elective process to the Number One job. Rockefeller was viewed in the Capital as every inch a candidate, and his withdrawal was a surprise simply because most observers felt that he would like to be President. No one had doubted that it would have required “a massive struggle” to wrest the nomination from the front-running Nixon, who had so assiduously courted the Republican professionals the last eight years.

The expectation in Washington is that Nixon will try to run a “high road” campaign capitalizing on the Eisenhower peace crusade. A good many Democrats, however, doubt that he will be able to stick to it. They contend that, before election day, Nixon will be back to his more normal type of slugging campaign. In large part, his methods will depend on who is the Democratic nominee and how he attacks Nixon and the Eisenhower Administration’s record. This session of Congress doubtless will see a lot of potshots fired in Nixon’s direction as the Democrats jockey for position.