on the World Today
ALTHOUGH Washington was prepared for the news of the Chinese nuclear explosion, it was as surprised as the Russian people and the Communist leaders outside Russia by the sudden removal from office of Nikita Khrushchev.
The greatest interest and curiosity were focused on the strange and unexpected event in Moscow. The deposed Soviet leader had made as deep an impression on his age as any other ruler of the last dozen years. The manner of his removal emphasized the remoteness and the isolation of the Russian people from those who govern themselves. Instead of unifying the Communist world, the harsh treatment of Khrushchev clearly has fragmented it further, at least for the foreseeable future. The astonishing suggestion by United Nations Secretary-General U Thant that Khrushchev “make a public statement on the circumstances leading to his exit” only added to the bizarre aspects of the case.
In the immediate aftermath of the Kremlin upheaval the major interest was in the reaction of the other Communist states. The Sino-Soviet conflict has become so far-reaching and the ideological argument so pervasive that any papering over of the dispute would be superficial. The course of relations between the two rivals may have its ups and downs. And the course certainly will be influenced by events far from Peiping or Moscow. The test-ban treaty, in which the United States was a prime mover, had a profound effect on the Sino-Soviet quarrel.
It is an irony of history that Eastern European countries benefited from the Sino-Soviet conflict and at the same time led in trying to alleviate it. A further irony is that many of the Eastern European Communists who deplored Khrushchev’s attacks on Peiping criticized the way in which he was overthrown. The new Soviet leaders, though they may assail the former Premier, cannot escape the path he has plotted for them in relation to Eastern Europe. Too much light and air has been let in to be expelled except by repressive military measures.
While Moscow’s problems appear to be far heavier than Washington’s, the Chinese bomb presents the West with critical decisions. The pressures for admission of Red China into the United Nations and for negotiations between all the nuclear powers will inevitably increase. It is idle to pretend that the 700 million people of China can be ignored much longer. But the formula for negotiating with them has not yet been discovered. China has moved far ahead in its stride to become a major power. It has added to the fears that other nations will demand to augment their arsenals with nuclear weapons.
India needs food
Recent new evidences of a food crisis in India came as no surprise to officials in Washington informed about the facts of the population crisis.
The news emphasized once again both the inadequacies of the present foreign aid program and the challenge which the northern half of the globe faces from the southern half. I. R. Sinai writes in his book The Challenge of Modernization: The West’s Impact on the Non-Western World that the societies left behind by the old colonialism are not viable in the modern sense and that there is retrogression rather than progress in many of them.
The extra which foreign aid was supposed to provide has not produced the takeoff expected, partly because the assistance was inadequate to the job at hand, but mainly because in most countries the gains achieved could not keep pace with the population increase.
Since 1959, for example, India’s food-grain production has increased by 2.7 percent, its population by 12.3 percent. A food crisis was inevitable. More crises will follow unless population growth is drastically checked or food production is enormously increased.
When Lal Bahadur Shastri became Prime Minister earlier this year, he called the food shortage India’s “most formidable problem.” Despite heartening progress that has been made on a limited scale to improve India’s agriculture, the production of food has not kept pace with the population growth. According to India’s official planners, the country is growing at about 2 percent a year. They expect that from the beginning of the third Five-Year Plan in 1961 until the end of the fifth Five-Year Plan in 1976, the population increase will total 187 million persons. In fifteen years, therefore, India must expand its food production sufficiently to feed an additional population equal to that of the United States.
In one of the most somber studies an American government agency has ever made, as somber indeed as Malthas’ conclusions 165 years ago, the Department of Agriculture concluded that world food production must expand at a faster rate than ever before in history if the people who will be born in this century are to be fed. But the study said that where the need is greatest the tillable land is in the shortest supply. Yields per acre in the industrial countries of the West and in Japan have increased enormously in the last quarter century; yields in the poorer countries have not kept pace with the population growth.
Improved yields per acre are possible in many areas if fertilizer production, scientific management, and extensive capital can be provided. But one indication of the size of the task is the conclusion in the Department’s report that fertilizer production in the less developed areas should be expanded nearly twentyfold in the next thirtyfive years. Professor Raymond Ewell told the American Chemical Society this fall that unless fertilizers are available to increase yields by at least 50 percent in China, India, and Pakistan, they will face famine conditions within ten years.
The Agriculture Department’s exhaustive study, written by Lester R. Brown and entitled Man, Land and Food, says that arable land per capita is declining in every part of the world. “Densely populated, low-income countries face the possibility of being trapped permanently at low-income levels,” Brown writes. He notes that the highly developed countries never experienced a population growth comparable with that now being experienced in the underdeveloped world.
600 million Latin Americans?
The largest growth rate today is not in Asia but in Latin America, which President Kennedy once called “the most critical area in the world.” Latin America’s total population has tripled in this century. In the next thirty-five years, its population is expected to jump from the current 200 million to nearly 600 million. In the first half of this century, North America and Latin America had comparable population totals.
If the present projections are realized, there will be twice as many people in Latin America as in North America by the year 2000. The southern continent obviously is not prepared to feed that many additional persons adequately. Yet its potential food-producing areas are much greater than those of Asia, which before World War II was a net food exporter and is now a food importer.
At the beginning of the century, Asia, Africa, and Latin America contained one billion persons, or 67 percent of the world’s total. By the end of the century, barring widespread famine, epidemics, or nuclear war, the three continents are expected to have five billion persons, or 79 percent of the total. Widespread famine may be a more dangerous threat than nuclear destruction.
Curtailing the birthrate
Japan is the only country faced with a rapidly increasing population that has taken effective measures to curtail the birthrate. With limited land resources, Japan’s population was expanding at a rate of 2 or 3 percent annually in the years immediately after the war. “The Japanese reacted quickly,” Brown says. They initiated a program of family planning, in which both government and private groups cooperated. By the end of the 1950s the annual population increase was below one percent. At the same time, Japan’s economic and industrial growth was unprecedented.
When the United Nations Trade and Development Conference (UNTAD) was held in Geneva last spring, it devoted only minor attention to the population crisis. Yet population is basic to a solution of the trade and aid problems that were discussed. The underdeveloped nations left that meeting convinced that they had made great strides in putting before the world their case for fairer trade practices and more aid. They were confident that in the future they would be more influential in determining the rules by which the world trades. But they neglected the population problem, the one area in which they could affect the course of development most directly in their own countries. If India, for example, could check its population increase, it would be less dependent than it is on foreign capital, on trade, and on aid.
The pressures for more aid from the wealthier countries will increase as long as the population explosion in the underdeveloped countries is unchecked. For the immediate future, the West is producing sufficient food to prevent widespread famine in the underdeveloped world if it is willing to give the food away. The poorer countries cannot afford to buy it. Already the underdeveloped countries depend upon the richer countries for industrial purchases; they cannot also rely on the richer countries to produce their food.
Before UNTAD meets again in 1966 it should concentrate on the population challenge and on the new proposals to meet it. The problem, which concerns the rich as well as the poor in its broader implications, overshadows all others in the relationship between development and trade, especially the aid and trade issues that have attracted the principal attention in the postwar years.
The presidential succession
When shortly before adjournment the Senate approved without opposition the Bayh amendment on presidential succession, it helped set the stage for a fight which almost every expert believes must be made in 1965. With the adjournment of Congress, the Bayh proposal died. It must begin the long route through Congress again in January. Nevertheless, the careful committee study and the unanimous Senate vote, plus the Warren Commission report, helped to keep the need for action before the public. Now, with a President and Vice President elected and coming into office in January, there should be no hesitation in either branch of Congress. A gaping hole in the Constitution needs to be filled at once.
While the proposed amendment does not meet every contingency, it does two extremely important things. First, it provides that “whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority of both Houses of Congress.”
Sixteen times in our history, for a total of thirty-seven years, the country has been without a Vice President. If the Bayh proposal is adopted, the nation will be assured that there will be a Vice President at almost all times, and the debate over succession to the presidency of officials elected or appointed for other purposes will be effectively put aside.
Second, the proposed amendment enables the Vice President to act as President in the event of presidential disability. It empowers a President who decides that he is disabled to turn over his powers and duties to the Vice President until his recovery. If the Vice President decides that the President is disabled, he is empowered, with the written concurrence of a majority of the Cabinet, to assume the powers and duties of the presidency pending the President’s recovery.
The language in the section on disability is similar to that in the agreement between President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon and that between President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson. The weakness of those informal agreements is that they had no support in the law. The three most recent Attorneys General, while approving the agreements, nevertheless warned that the only way to settle the disability problem was by means of a constitutional amendment.
In the words of the Senate Judiciary Committee, there is an “urgent need” for a constitutional amendment “which would distinctly enumerate the proceedings for determination of the commencement and termination” of presidential disability. The Bayh amendment does that in clear language.