Tomorrow's World

Realizing that WALTER LIPPMANN is our foremost political analyst, West Germany’s lively weekly DER SPIEGEL sent one of their editors to Washington to ask those questions which every German in the East and West zones would like to have answered. Taken together, Mr. Lippmann’s answers form a philosophy for tomorrow.

Walter Lippmann

answers questions from the Germans

SPIEGEL: Mr. Lippmann, you know President Johnson and you knew President Kennedy. Both Presidents visited you here in your house. You wrote recently that the United States is back on a moderate line in domestic politics, in contrast to the line of the murdered President, who was much loved, but also much hated.


SPIEGEL: Docs it follow, then, in your view, that the United States is better governed by a man like Johnson, whom you have characterized as an “oldfashioned American”?

LIPPMANN: I wasn’t trying to say what kind of President we should have, but it is a fact that the country is much quieter and more at ease with President Johnson than it was with President Kennedy.

SPIEGEL: And why?

LIPPMANN: Because Kennedy divided the country. Johnson, on the other hand, is like an old shoe — very comfortable. And his family, too — they are very American.

SPIEGEL: Did the assassination make an impression on the American conscience? Or did the death of Kennedy pass by like any other fleeting event?

LIPPMANN: I believe that it had a great effect on the American temper and mood. You must realize that the extremists, especially the extremists of the far right, were committing more and more acts of violence. In Dallas, for example, there was an atmosphere of extremism. Johnson, when he was the candidate for Vice President, and Adlai Stevenson, when he went there a few months before the President was assassinated, were pushed around by a crowd and spat upon. The effect of the assassination was to shock people out of that.

SPIEGEL: But the public opinion researchers have found that the assassination of Kennedy has not brought any change in the moral climate of the country.

LIPPMANN: That sort of thing is difficult to measure. I am convinced that the hatred and violence have been damped down, and that is salutary.

SPIEGEL: We in Europe have a hard time understanding why President Kennedy was so hated.

LIPPMANN: It is very hard to explain. He was regarded as exotic and rather alien by a great mass of people in this country. The fact that he came from Boston, that he was rich, Harvard, Irish, Catholic — all that made him something strange and different.

SPIEGEL: Precisely these qualities helped make many people outside America ready to follow him and contributed to their seeing him as a trusted leader. President Johnson does not project so strongly to the outside world.

LIPPMANN: Certainly, Johnson is ten years older; he is no handsome young man, and not a romantic figure at all — that’s true. But on the other hand, I felt after I had been in Europe last year, just before the assassination, that many people had an idealized — no, not idealized, but a distorted view of Kennedy. He was the idol of the left — and Kennedy was not a man of the left at all; he was a very conservative man.

SPIEGEL: That is true, of course, for domestic policy. But in foreign policy, if one compares Kennedy’s policy with that of Dulles, he was more a man of the left, to the extent that one can apply these concepts.

LIPPMANN: They are bad concepts.

SPIEGEL: They still have some significance, I think. Kennedy’s approach to world policy was attractive, however, not only to the lelt, but also to the war generation, which is neither left nor right. It was new and progressive.

LIPPMANN: That is true, and it is true also in the United States. Here, too, there are many people who are certainly going to support President Johnson but who miss the electric spark that Kennedy possessed.

SPIEGEL: Even Khrushchev seems to miss it.

LIPPMANN: I think Khrushchev was genuinely saddened by Kennedy’s death. You know, they had a long correspondence which has never been published.

SPIEGEL: DO you know anything about it?

LIPPMANN: Not much. But I know it was very frank. Khrushchev is not a man who admires flatterers. He admires people who talk to him rather brutally.

SPIEGEL: AS you did?

LIPPMANN: The first man who gave me this advice was Dag Hammarskjöld, who was quite a friend of mine. Before I went to see Khrushchev, I asked Hammarskjöld how I should approach him. Hammarskjöld replied: “Whatever you do, don’t let him think you agree with him — that bores him. He doesn’t want to be bored. You must challenge him and rouse him.”

SPIEGEL: Did Kennedy also do that?

LIPPMANN: Of course. And I think Khrushchev respected Kennedy for his performance in the Cuban crisis; I think he felt that was how he would have conducted himself if he had been in Kennedy’s place.

SPIEGEL: One did have the feeling, however, that after the first meeting in Vienna, Khrushchev was not very impressed with Kennedy.

LIPPMANN: The meeting in Vienna was a failure, in large part because President Kennedy was in a great hurry. He wanted to talk for two or three hours and then go on his way. And you can’t deal with Khrushchev that way. You have to be prepared to be there all day. On my last visit, I was with him eight hours. He just doesn’t understand the American way of being in a hurry.

SPIEGEL: You mentioned Cuba. What is your explanation for Khrushchev’s adventure in Cuba?

LIPPMANN: I think it was clear to Khrushchev, perhaps by 1960, that the United States had won the race of armaments in the nuclear field; at least, that we had a clear superiority. The first move he made in response to that situation was to begin testing again. . . .

SPIEGEL: . . .He tested the big bomb. . . .

LIPPMANN: . . .The big bomb and the antimissile missile. He was looking for the absolute weapon which would change the balance of power. Those tests failed. Our later tests were also a failure in the sense that they didn’t produce the absolute weapon. So Khrushchev was faced with the American superiority, and then I think his generals said to him: “If you put missiles in Cuba, you can reverse the situation, because the United States cannot defend itself against such missiles because of the absence of adequate warning time.”

SPIEGEL: Then it was a real gamble?

LIPPMANN: It was, and if Khrushchev had won it, the balance of power would have been changed. But from the beginning he was not prepared to risk a great war for this venture.

SPIEGEL: In the case of Cuba, America was apparently ready to take that risk. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that American superiority in the field of nuclear weapons does not solve most other world political problems.

lippmann: It solves the greatest political problem: It removes the danger of war with the Soviet Union. The superiority is of no use in Vietnam or Zanzibar. But the same is true for the Russians. They have nuclear weapons, and they cannot use them against China or against Albania.

SPIEGEL: Cuba was in a certain sense a victory for America. It marked a high point of American power. Since then — at least this is our impression — this power has become weaker.

LIPPMANN: I agree that American power in the world, relative to the power of other nations, has been declining. This had begun while President Kennedy was still alive. It is part of the natural course of events and has nothing to do with the personality of the President.

SPIEGEL: With what is it connected?

LIPPMANN: With nuclear parity, with the recovery of Europe, with the change in the balance of payments in the Western world. Victory in Cuba was a special case, possible because the island lies within the American sphere of influence.

SPIEGEL: YOU once wrote that fifteen years after a war a development begins which places in doubt all of the results of the war.

LIPPMANN: In the post-war period the United States was not only the protector but the financier of Western Europe. That is why it had supreme leadership. The post-war period has ended; it already began to end under President Eisenhower. Since then we have seen a gradual decline of the post-war position of the United States. And Kennedy inherited this development. At the same time, he inherited several foreign policies which were developed during the time when we did have supreme power. One of them is Vietnam.

SPIEGEL: Vietnam policy originated in the time of Dulles. It is running into more and more difficulty.

LIPPMANN: We were never supreme in Vietnam because it’s too far away. But we had the illusion that everything in the world would have to go the way we wanted it to go. We are now learning what every human being has to learn, that everything does not proceed according to his will. One doesn’t learn this sort of thing quickly enough. It’s going to take a long time for us to learn to live as equals with countries which we have dealt so long with as dependents and clients.

SPIEGEL: America must accept as equals countries which in terms of pure military power are not equal?

LIPPMANN: Military power isn’t everything. It is clear that France is militarily weaker than the United States. But French culture, the French language and tradition, all mean a great deal in the world. One should recall Stalin’s words about the Pope: “How many divisions has the Pope?”

SPIEGEL: Are you comparing De Gaulle with the Pope?

LIPPMANN: Like the Pope, he is very important.

SPIEGEL: Why are you such an admirer of De Gaulle?

LIPPMANN: I must make a personal confession: I have been an admirer of De Gaulle since June, 1940, and I have known him since 1942 when I visited him in London. I became convinced then that he was one of the great figures of the war from our side, the greatest leader next to Churchill.

SPIEGEL: And that is still your view?

LIPPMAN: Yes. I have the highest respect for any long view that he takes of the problems of European and world affairs, even if I don’t always agree with him. He is one of the authentic geniuses of our time, and any man who doesn’t listen to him, even if he then disagrees with him, is a fool.

SPIEGEL: But you admire his policies as well.

LIPPMANN: I am sympathetic, with some qualifications. De Gaulle has seen that the post-war period is over, and he has seen it sooner than any other head of government in the West. Nevertheless, I think he erred in excluding the British from Europe. He acted on prejudice: the British are today Europeans; they are no longer a global power.

SPIEGEL: And what do you think of the force de frappe?

LIPPMANN: I don’t have much sympathy with it. It is an unreal gesture which one cannot take very seriously. No American who knows what nuclear power is can take those fifty French bombers seriously. On the other hand, I believe that De Gaulle’s attitude toward Russia is not what it appears to be today — that is, that he wants to have nothing to do with the Soviet Union. On the contrary, I believe that he wants to negotiate with Moscow.

SPIEGEL: Does De Gaulle need the force de frappe for that purpose? The danger of this combat force is partly that it embodies only the illusion of power.

LIPPMANN: He wanted a nuclear force because the British, who had no better striking force than the French now have, were able to exercise a greater influence on the strategy of the West than he. And then, what was more important, De Gaulle believed that a nation can be fully modern only if it has men who are able to work in nuclear weapons. If we had offered him fifty American nuclear weapons, he would have said, “That isn’t what I want.”

SPIEGEL: He wants France to be able to produce these weapons itself. But with this old-fashioned nationalism he gives a bad example, not least for Germany.

LIPPMANN: The need to develop the technological ability to produce nuclear weapons is also a problem for Germany. I am of the opinion that this should remain forbidden to the Germans as long as Germany is divided. Germany should not produce atomic weapons before it is reunited.

SPIEGEL: The policies of the French president threaten, however, to destroy NATO and to make impossible the creation of an Atlantic community.

LIPPMANN: In my eyes, the Atlantic community is a much larger matter than NATO. It is a geographic and historic fact which can never be destroyed. No one can say, “I don’t like it.” But I don’t think much of the idea of an Atlantic federation with a parliament. NATO is not a permanent institution; it was extemporized in the post-war period when Europe was defenseless. In that situation it was invaluable.

SPIEGEL: Would you apply what you have said about Atlantic federation to the idea of European federation as well?

LIPPMANN: I have often talked about that with Jean Monnet, who is an old friend of mine, and I’ve always said to him that one cannot make a federated Europe out of five and two thirds nations. European unity, which is very important, must include all of Germany; and in most plans no room is left for that. And a unified Europe must also include the rest of Europe, Poland and Czechoslovakia, although this is very complicated.

SPIEGEL: DO you believe that De Gaulle wants to discuss this larger Europe with Khrushchev?

LIPPMANN: I believe that he is convinced that there must be an agreement with Moscow. He is determined that this time when the agreement comes it shall be made by a European, preferably a Frenchman, preferably De Gaulle himself, and not by an American. He has never forgotten Yalta and Teheran, from which he was excluded. De Gaulle doesn’t want another settlement in Europe under American auspices.

SPIEGEL: Former Chancellor Adenauer recently warned that if the Federal Republic pursued antiFrench policies, there might be a French-Russian understanding at the expense of Germany. Is this in the realm of possibility?

LIPPMANN: AS I understand De Gaulle’s attitude toward Germany, he has the feeling that Germany must be regarded as an invalid as long as it is divided. And that one must stand close by this invalid for fear that it will do something quite irrational. His attitude toward Germany is benevolent; he is afraid of what might happen as a result of the partition of Germany.

SPIEGEL: IS De Gaulle, as a result of this concern, seeking the reunification of Germany as a part of a settlement with Moscow?

LIPPMANN: Not unreservedly. He is, after all, a Frenchman and surely not enthusiastic in the matter of German unity. He used to say, “Germany is much better divided.” He doesn’t say that anymore. But I don’t think that he is in any hurry about reunification. You know the old saying about reunification — It’s like heaven: we all want to go there but not too soon.

SPIEGEL: Whatever De Gaulle may have in mind for individual problems, his present line of policy in Europe, just as much as vis-a-vis Southeast Asia and Latin America, indicates that he has France in mind first of all, and not much else.

LIPPMANN: I don’t know. De Gaulle is a man who has an objective but never a very detailed plan. He makes his plans as he goes along. His plan in Algeria was to liquidate the war. How he did that came later.

SPIEGEL: De Gaulle has proposed the neutralization of Vietnam. Is it conceivable that he has a kind of neutrality or neutralization in mind for Europe, for Germany?

LIPPMANN: I do not believe it is conceivable or desirable for either France or the United States to make an agreement with the Soviet Union to neutralize all of Germany. Germany can be reunited only if Europe is not neutralized and also no longer in danger. In other words, you have to settle the Russian problem with Europe. In that atmosphere it would be safe and possible for Germany to be reunited.

SPIEGEL: Isn’t it also necessary to solve the Polish problem — in other words, the problem of Germany’s eastern borders? You were in Poland last fall and found there a predilection for Red China.

LIPPMANN: I was fascinated that Gomulka absolutely refused to say anything that was not friendly to the Chinese. I finally came to the conclusion that he wants to have somebody with whom he can defend himself against the Russians, because he is dependent on the Russians for the defense of his new western territories. The Romanians are behaving similarly. Behind these flirtations with the Chinese lies the fear of the Russians.

SPIEGEL: DO you believe that Germany could bring the Poles to reconcile themselves to German reunification if there were a settlement of the problem of the borders?

LIPPMANN: Oh, yes, I think so. It’s the frontier that worries the Poles. They have the most to lose from German reunification, and also the most to fear. If the Oder-Neisse line were stabilized as the border by an international guarantee, that would create a new situation.

SPIEGEL: What else can the West do to further the reduction of tensions?

LIPPMANN: We are started on the way. The conscious detente really began last summer, in July. East and West now agree that there will be no nuclear war over Europe. That’s a very big thing.

SPIEGEL: You are thinking of the test-ban treaty?

LIPPMANN: Yes, but this treaty was the result of the Cuban crisis. This occurred in October, 1962, and the test-ban treaty was signed in June, 1963. The period between those two dates was a period of gradual reduction of tensions. The Russians accepted the fact that we had nuclear superiority, but they also recognized that we were not dangerous, that we would not exploit this superiority. The test-ban treaty is the result of this recognition.

SPIEGEL: And do you think that disarmament will proceed further?

LIPPMANN: I was speaking of detente, not of disarmament.

SPIEGEL: But disarmament is a part of detente.

LIPPMANN: The detente is more important than disarmament. How much disarmament we shall actually get remains for the future The need to disarm is greater for Russia than it is for the United States because we can afford the armaments race better than they can.

SPIEGEL: DO the plans for a multilateral nuclear force under NATO hinder the disarmament negotiations?

LIPPMANN: I don’t know, but I hope that nothing will come of the MLF. It has no military value and costs a lot of money and awakens fear and suspicion all around the world. If you’re going to take risks, you should do it for some real purpose. I think the MLF is frivolous. Nothing could be worse for Germany and ourselves than a German-American military alliance instead of NATO.

SPIEGEL: Such a development would then disrupt not only disarmament but also the detente: Is that your concern?

LIPPMANN: Definitely. The rearmament of Germany is still Khrushchev’s greatest worry in Europe. Today he is convinced that the United States is not going to attack him. He thought differently five years ago. At that time, I said to him, “We’re not going to attack you,” and he said, “But you are allied with the German Hitlerites, and they are smarter than you are, and they will get you into war. We’re not afraid of Germany, we’re afraid of you, and we’re afraid you’ll be led into war by the Germans.”

SPIEGEL: What is the concrete form of the detente, if it is not disarmament?

LIPPMANN: It is first of all a psychological matter. But there are also other examples: the Russians agreed to let the United Nations try to settle the Cyprus problem, although it was a great temptation for them to get into the situation. I think they are telling Castro to stop landing guns in Venezuela, and Castro would like very much to do that. There are even signs that Castro would like to make peace with us, and I believe that the Russians have influenced him in that direction. Of even greater importance is the opening of the Eastern European countries to the West.

SPIEGEL: The pass agreement in Berlin at Christmastime was along this line.

LIPPMANN: That’s right. The whole talk about blockading West Berlin has stopped. I think the next great step will be in the matter of trade, and there Germany will play a big part.

SPIEGEL: Are you of the opinion that the Berlin ultimatum has been dropped by the Russians for good?

LIPPMANN: At least for the time being. Of course, Khrushchev has said, “We’ve got your finger in the door.” I don’t know what could cause this ultimatum to be revived. Perhaps so dreadful a thing as a full-scale war with China about Vietnam. Then the Russians would certainly do something to help the Chinese. It would be foolish to assume that the Russians could be on our side in such a war,

SPIEGEL: Under the circumstances, wouldn’t it be a good idea to find a solution for Berlin so that you could get your fingers out of the door?

LIPPMANN: It would be reasonable, but it isn’t easy. As long as the war generation is still alive and the memories of the war on both sides are so strong, I don’t believe that it will come about. The reunification of Germany must precede a settlement in Berlin. As long as there are two Germanys, there will also be two Berlins.

SPIEGEL: We mean a provisional solution for Berlin rather than a final settlement.

LIPPMANN: I, too, would view a modus vivendi as a favorable development. In such an agreement, the freedom of West Berlin and access to it should be guaranteed, but on the other hand, Berlin should cease to be a center of espionage and propaganda.

SPIEGEL: That brings me to the question of whether you would like to see a moderate modus vivendi between the two Germanys.

LIPPMANN: I would. I think Germany can be reunited only if the German nation itself insists upon it. Unification cannot be brought about by Washington, nor even from Moscow. At the moment it looks as if the Germans are not very interested in unification, and are even afraid of it.

SPIEGEL: That is in part because the Germans, because of the negative stand of the Soviet Union, have the impression that reunification is impossible.

LIPPMANN: I don’t believe that it’s impossible, but I think that the precondition for it is that negotiations be undertaken by both German states. The Russians will not liquidate the German Democratic Republic, and they will also not allow Bonn to liquidate the G.D.R. But they would permit them to come together as two Germanys wanting to be one Germany.

spiegel: This is just another way of liquidating the G.D.R.

LIPPMANN: That may well be. I may be wrong, but I think that the people in the G.D.R. don’t want to be part of a conservative state like the Federal Republic. They would want to be left-wing Social Democrats, I think.

SPIEGEL: We don’t believe that. For within European socialism there is a tendency toward the right which would not stop at the borders of the German Democratic Republic.

LIPPMANN: I agree with you. This trend to the right makes it easier for the Social Democrats to enter into coalitions with the Christian Democrats. But there is also a movement to the left among the Christian Democrats. I haven’t been in the G.D.R., but in Hungary and Poland there is a movement toward a more bourgeois social order, and with the blessing of Moscow.

SPIEGEL: How do you explain that? LIPPMANN: Because the same thing is happening in Moscow. The Russians, too, are becoming increasingly bourgeois with the change of generations, with the improvement in the standard of living, with a certain affluence. They are materialistic people like the Germans and the Americans.

SPIEGEL: Have you spoken with Khrushchev about that? Do you know how the old revolutionary feels about this process?

LIPPMANN: I haven’t seen Khrushchev since 1961. At that time he spoke of peace — what he called peace and what I call detente. He knows what war with thermonuclear weapons would be like, and he realizes that he is one of two men in the world who could produce such a war.

SPIEGEL: DO the Chinese also know what such a war would mean?

LIPPMANN: I can’t imagine that a man like Chou En-lai would be any more willing to have a nuclear war than Khrushchev or Lyndon Johnson. He wants nuclear weapons for the same reasons that General de Gaulle wants them. If China had nuclear weapons today, there wouldn’t be any question about anti-Chinese governments on the frontiers of China. Countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Burma would be in the Chinese sphere of influence.

SPIEGEL: What should the West do about that? LIPPMANN: What can you do? You can’t stop a development of that sort. The Russians slowed it up, and that is surely one of the causes of their quarrel with China.

SPIEGEL: What other causes are there? LIPPMANN: There is a historic rivalry between China and Russia. The longest and most difficult frontier in the whole world is the Chinese-Russian border. And Russia is in the possession of land that the Chinese think belongs to them. That is one of the reasons why the Russians don’t want to give the Chinese nuclear weapons.

SPIEGEL: How should the West, how should the United States, conduct itself with relation to China?

LIPPMANN: America must attempt to reach the point of detente which we have achieved today with Russia before China disposes of nuclear weapons.

SPIEGEL: Do you consider a change in the antiChinese policy of the United States to be possible?

LIPPMANN: Not now or in the next two years. But in ten years, certainly. We are now bound in honor to Chiang Kai-shek. But what will happen when Chiang Kai-shek dies? I am sure that the Chinese then will come to an agreement with each other.

SPIEGEL: To what extent is the conflict with China forcing the Russians to taper off the cold war?

LIPPMANN: The Russians have an old rule of warfare: never fight on two fronts. You recall that they appeased Japan as soon as they got into the war in Europe. The Asiatic front is more dangerous to them in the long run than the European front. They cannot afford to be the supreme power in Asia against the Chinese and the supreme power in Europe against the Western allies. Economic help, financing, trade — they need a great deal which the West alone can supply and which cannot be had from China.

SPIEGEL: What has the West to gain from a detente with the Russians?

LIPPMANN: Only through a detente can we achieve the unity of Germany which I regard as an absolutely necessary goal for the coming generation. Germany cannot be left divided. The Germans are one people, and they have been punished enough for the war. They have lost territories which they can’t get back. This punishment cannot be increased, certainly not for the future Germans. And the reunification of Germany will bring with it the unity of Europe, which would enable us — Europeans and Americans — to turn our attention to the rest of the world, where the problems are enormous.

SPIEGEL: You are thinking of South America, Asia, and Africa?

LIPPMANN: The United States alone cannot make a decent policy in Latin America. The American empire in Latin America has collapsed. And a part of South America is closer to Europe than to the United States. We are faced with a revolution which goes much deeper than Communism, with the revolution of the submerged peoples. This revolution is going to go on long, long beyond anything that any living man can foresee today. The rest of this century, certainly.

SPIEGEL: So you see a form of class struggle between the nations?

LIPPMANN: Yes, this is the real struggle, this is the real revolution of the twentieth century. Whether the backward peoples sometimes imitate the Communists and are infiltrated, or try to do it with us, is secondary to the fact of the struggle.

SPIEGEL: The world will not be peaceful, and neither Russia nor America can lead it?

LIPPMANN: The post-postwar world has begun, in which there are many centers of power and not merely one or two. The idea of supreme American leadership is a silly idea, and it infected no more than a few generals and bureaucrats here. The American people didn’t even want to go into the Second World War until we were pushed into it. We all have to make the attempt to live in this unruly world, to canalize and civilize the revolution. But we must not try to fight it.