To the Editor:
I share many of Eugene V. Rostow’s internationalist conclusions without necessarily agreeing with the premises from which he starts [“America, Europe, and the Middle East,” February]. And sometimes when I agree with the premise, I do not agree with the evidence on which Mr. Rostow bases it. I think that for reasons of ideology, political organization, the erosion of regime legitimacy, the quarrel with China, and economic rigidities, the Soviet Union is potentially capable of pursuing policies, including the use or threat of force, that could prove extremely damaging to other nations. This is one of the reasons why I have always regarded the position on the defense budget of the Democratic majority in the Senate as so foolhardy that I have compared it to playing Russian roulette. On the other hand, the Russian posture in the current Middle Eastern crisis appears fully consistent with Brezhnev’s policy of détente. Although it is possible that the Russians supplied the Egyptians with the advanced weaponry that produced the attack to break the stalemate, this policy would only parallel the policy they followed in Vietnam: a resort to third-party force designed to produce a settlement. Russian policies subsequent to the attack with respect to both Egypt and Syria have pointed toward such an end. One may deplore such policies, if I have correctly described them, as both clumsy and risky without failing to note that the aims of the policy are distinctly limited and perhaps even constructive from a wider point of view.
An assertion that Brezhnev is currently committed to a policy of détente is not inconsistent with Soviet policies that would push the U.S. out of Europe and that would Finlandize that important peninsular area. On the other hand, if we are honest, we will recognize that many of us would have no objection to policies that broke up the Warsaw Treaty Organization and that produced democratization within the nations of that bloc—at least if these policies could be pursued without substantial risk. And such policies could be consistent with détente. Quite apart from abstractly ideological impulses, institutional requirements push both the Soviet Union and the United States in this direction: vigorous processes of democratization throughout the world would erode the legitimacy of the Soviet regime to the point of instability, and our own democratic values would probably collapse in a world that had become authoritarian. A contest is going on, and how it proceeds depends upon how we formulate and pursue our policies.
There is a sense in which an isolationist policy for the U.S. might work. Despite the garbage being peddled by the Club of Rome, we have access to virtually unlimited resources. Indeed, the rest of the world is probably more dependent upon us than we are upon it, for it appears unlikely that hydroponic farming can be adapted economically in the intermediate future to the production of grains and hence of meats. Resources and ecology are economic problems far more than they are even technological problems. If crises arise for us, it will be because we have failed to foresee and provide for them. Isolation would be costly, although not so costly as some suspect and not inconsistent with a policy of long-term growth. If necessary, we could provide for our military security by a concentration of resources in that area. However, such policies would work at high cost in terms of our self-assurance, our faith in our democratic values, and our domestic harmony. Moreover, there is little doubt that the external world would be more hostile and that the incidence of possible threat would rise.
I agree with Mr. Rostow that the alternative is international cooperation. However, I do not agree that the world is more bipolar than ever. And it is because it is not that we have more to work with in pursuing cooperative policies. The nations of Eastern Europe do not desire the Finlandization of Western Europe, for that would decrease their autonomy, which they do value. The large Italian Communist party, and other smaller ones as well, share this perspective. Yet a bipolar policy would make it more difficult for these nations and agencies to provide us with subtle assistance and to resist Soviet demands. Even though it remains true that strategic nuclear power is essentially bipolar and that Europe still requires an American nuclear guarantee and conventional presence, the forces that are muting bipolarity can be of great assistance in making effective American policies that foster democratic values.
A greater problem is that just as we misused the United Nations in the late 40’s to foster immediate American policies, we are misusing the rhetoric of internationalism—and I exculpate Mr. Rostow from this—to foster immediate American security policies. The Year of Europe was designed to aid current American policies on money and trade. Our talk about a common oil policy is geared to the immediate needs of American policy. We badger the Japanese, whose vulnerability is extreme . . . in an attempt to produce support for us on Middle Eastern policy that is neither necessary nor even extremely helpful. Furthermore, a combined Western stance on oil might have threatened the stability of the Saudi regime—certainly not a result that either the U.S. or Israel should have desired. Indeed, there is no sign that the United States is capable of recognizing an area where international cooperation may be required until there is a crisis of policy.
The notion of bipolarity may have played a positive role in bringing about the current more relaxed international posture despite the animadversions of revisionist historians. However, it did emphasize the coordination of international policies along a single line of cleavage: that between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Even during the height of the cold war bipolarity was sometimes pushed to counterproductive limits, as in the attempt to bring Egypt within CENTO and in the setting up of SEATO. Coherence was purchased at the price of adaptability. And unfortunately for American policy, the external requirements of that policy were often inconsistent with the internal aspirations of elites in developing countries.
If Europe should decide to go it alone with a genuine nuclear force and an adequate conventional force, I see no reason why the U.S. should oppose or deplore such a development. On the contrary, useful assistance would be more likely to maintain those elements of common endeavor that are generally important. Our bases in Japan probably could not be used in defense of South Korea in the future but do prejudice our alliance with Japan.
The alliances with Europe and Japan are important, given the vulnerabilities of both Western Europe and Japan. However, it is urgent that we disentangle security policy from those other aspects of statesmanship that are required for the direction of international strategy. We had a genuine interest in disentangling Japan from the Middle Eastern question. On the other hand, we have a joint interest with the Japanese and Europeans and also with the oil-producing states in coordinating an energy policy. This should be accomplished in a manner that takes into account some of the important interests of the oil-producing states. And it should do so with their cooperation, if they are willing. We should plan the development of alternative energy sources while at the same time negotiating the extent to which they will be developed and used. We should bargain for an assurance of supplies and of reasonable pricing policies in return for assisting the oil-producing nations to develop other sources of productivity to advance their development after their oil is used up.
For years underdeveloped countries dependent upon single types of raw-material exports have been complaining that their political planning and economic development are subject to the vagaries of a world market that overwhelms the local economies. We have not responded to these needs. Perhaps we will understand these complaints better now. The policies suggested for oil should be extended to the entire realm of resources, including those in the ocean.
Moreover, the speculation that the oil-producing states may buy up American industries, although probably somewhat far-fetched, should perhaps make us more receptive to the hostility of some countries to foreign capital that dominates their economies. In developing new sources of raw materials, we should plan to do this on a capital-liquidating basis that fosters locally-controlled development while obtaining assurances of supplies and pricing in return. These policies should not be linked to the security axis lest they create unnecessary suspicion and resistance. The Soviet Union and China should be invited to participate.
Policies of this suggested kind might do much to diminish some of the extremes of nationalism and some of those political convulsions that appear dangerous to the U.S. I am not projecting a world of harmony, for there will be important conflicting interests and some issues that may have to be hammered out in very hard bargaining. But I am suggesting that this mode of procedure has much to recommend it and that it may be more supportive of genuine American interests than the linking of oil and resources policies to the security axis.
I agree with Mr. Rostow that it may be possible at last to attempt an agreement on settling the Middle Eastern question. I think that we will require the cooperation of the Soviet Union in doing so, and I believe that it will be important to conduct the main negotiations privately. I do not believe the negotiations can succeed, and they may not do so in any event, unless we give serious attention to the legitimate demands of both sides.
The interest of Israel is relatively simple, although the instruments to sustain that interest are subject to debate. Israel is interested in surviving as Israel. No settlement that threatens this objective can or should be forced upon the Israelis. The Arab states demand the restoration of the territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war. This demand is legitimate. The world cannot recognize the seizure of territory by force. On the other hand, the Israelis would be foolhardy to give up any substantial amount of this territory in the absence of a settlement that provides reasonable minimal guarantees for their security. If the 1973 war helped unfreeze the situation, it also demonstrated that an Arab first strike can be extremely costly to Israel and that it might be deadly in the future if launched from the pre-1967 borders. In addition, the Arab states have some complex interests in the Old City of Jerusalem and in the future of the Palestinian refugees.
How can we reconcile these legitimate interests? We cannot simply go back to the 1948 boundaries. There has been too long a history of Arab hostility toward Israel. Indeed, to suggest such a retreat by Israel would sustain both the Arab and the Israeli hawks. On the other hand, the idea that a settlement can avoid a return of these territories is also delusory. This is Israel’s dilemma. How can a state that is scarcely fifteen miles wide between the border with Gaza and the border with Jordan survive in a sea of hostility? Israel could scarcely place any credence in a United Nations guarantee; the voting history of that organization in the last decade has shattered any belief in its neutrality on this issue. Israel will scarcely forget that the Johnson administration did not honor the Dulles guarantee with respect to the Straits of Tiran. And this was even before the age of Fulbright.
The following terms outline a settlement that might be acceptable, although perhaps it should be imposed in stages. All of Gaza and Sinai would be returned to Egyptian civil rule. The area would be completely demilitarized except for joint Israeli/Egyptian military patrols of designated size and scope. The Golan Heights would be returned to Syrian civilian control. It would be demilitarized except for specified Israeli/ Syrian units. Because it dominates northern Israel, Israeli military elements would remain atop the Heights and at the base on the Syrian side. Syrian military elements would be stationed on the Israeli side of Lake Galilee. All of the territory taken from Jordan except the Old City of Jerusalem will be returned to some form of Jordanian/Palestinian civilian rule. The former Jordanian territory that Israel returns will be demilitarized except for joint Israeli/ Jordanian military patrols. The Old City of Jerusalem will remain united with modern Jerusalem for municipal purposes. It will be Jordanian/Palestinian, however, for national purposes. It will be demilitarized except for small Israeli/ Jordanian military units. The Muslim mosques with the exception of the Western Wall itself will be put in the custody of the Saudi-Arabian king. The Western Wall, cemeteries, and synagogues will be placed under the Israeli religious ministry. Christian churches will be placed in the custody of a Christian council headed by the Pope. Israel shall be assured access through the Suez Canal and the Tiran Straits. Jordan shall be assured access through Jaffa. The entire agreement shall be sealed by a peace settlement reached by all parties in council. Remilitarization of the demilitarized territories or obstruction of assured access shall constitute a casus belli.
In addition to the peace settlement, new political institutions shall be established in the area. The territory on which the Israeli and Syrian troops are stationed shall be made into a confederation. The territory on which the Jordanian and Israeli troops are stationed shall be made into a confederation. The territory on which Egyptian and Israeli troops are jointly stationed shall be made into a confederation. In addition, there shall be a supra-confederation of all these states and also of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. . . .
One additional federation shall be established unless implementation of this last proposal would interfere with implementation of the previous proposals. An additional federation excluding Israel but including Kuwait, the Trucial States, and Yemen shall be established, the purpose of which shall be to use the oil wealth of the region for the benefit of all the associated states.
The peace settlement will take account of the interests of the Palestinian refugees. Repatriation, where desired, will be fostered provided its scope does not threaten the political integrity of the Israeli state. Financial indemnities shall be paid to Palestinian refugees, but these shall be balanced against indemnities to Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim states.
Although the settlement does not fully meet the claims of the states that are party to the conflict, it meets them to the maximum extent that is possible without frustrating even more basic claims. It is consistent with the national integrity of Israel. Additional concessions to Arab claims either would be inconsistent with the survival of Israel or would place that survival at Arab mercy—a circumstance no sovereign state can be expected voluntarily to accept. Therefore the response of the Arab states to such a proposal will test the seriousness of their desire to make peace.
Morton A. Kaplan
Center for Policy Study
The University of Chicago
Eugene V. Rostow writes:
I find it difficult to parse Morton A. Kaplan’s letter. He writes that he agrees with many of my conclusions (which he labels “internationalist”) without necessarily agreeing with the premises from which I start, and sometimes, he says, with the premises, but not with the evidence on which I base them. But his letter gives little concreteness to these categories, except for the influence of nuclear weapons on the structure of world politics. It remains true, Mr. Kaplan writes, that strategic nuclear power is essentially bipolar, and that Europe (and presumably other areas protected by American nuclear power) requires the presence of American conventional forces to make the American nuclear guarantee credible—and to avoid the necessity, during crises, of considering the use of nuclear weapons. But he adds, inexplicably, that the world is not becoming more bipolar than ever, as if political and economic policies could be divorced for long from relations of security.
Clearly, Mr. Kaplan’s heart is with a policy of old-fashioned isolation, backed by enormous military budgets, although he says that a policy of “Fortress America” would have high costs. It might be difficult for us, he concedes, to remain a democracy if Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and other areas came under Soviet control. If we did pursue an isolationist policy, he says, the external world would be more hostile and more threatening. In the end, he does not quite opt for a return to isolation, although it is hard for this reader to be sure.
I thought I had made my own answer to these questions clear. The foreign policy I advocate is not “internationalist,” whatever that word may mean, but national—a policy of protecting the basic interest of the United States in its own security and prosperity. In that perspective, the first national interest of the United States is to achieve and maintain a balance of world power, on the basis of which we could hope to deter Soviet imperialism, and, at some point, to persuade the Soviet Union to accept and respect the rules of the charter governing the international use of force.
For me, this must be the essential meaning of the word détente, a political condition which the American government and its allies have sought to achieve since 1943, at least. It is obvious that Mr. Kaplan does not agree, although he offers no alternative definition of détente. He says that Soviet policy in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia is “fully consistent” with Brezhnev’s policy of détente, and represents only a “distinctly limited” and “perhaps even constructive” use of force “to produce a settlement.”
The Declaration of Basic Principles to Govern the Relations of the United States and the Soviet Union, signed in Moscow on May 29, 1972, provides, on the contrary, that in conducting their relations the two governments will proceed from the common determination that in the nuclear age there is no alternative to peaceful coexistence. To fulfill that principle, they promise to work together to achieve peaceful solutions for situations of tension in many parts of the world, to exercise restraint in their mutual relations, and to negotiate and settle all differences by peaceful means. Whatever Brezhnev thought these words meant, it is clear that Nixon believed they meant, inter alia, that both countries would support diplomatic efforts to achieve a peace agreement in the Middle East pursuant to Security Council Resolution 242, and the negotiation and then the full enforcement in East Asia of the agreements finally reached in January and March 1973 regarding peace in Indochina.
But there is no sign of a Soviet effort to carry out the Geneva agreement of 1962 about Laos and Cambodia, or the Indochinese peace agreements of January and March 1973. On the contrary, it seems apparent that the Soviet Union is moving heaven and earth to nullify those agreements.
Similarly, in the Middle East, far from working with us to induce Syria and Egypt to make peace under Security Council Resolution 242, which was surely the President’s legitimate expectation when he signed the Moscow declaration, the Soviet Union prepared, encouraged, and indeed incited the October War against that resolution, and only desisted when the Arabs were defeated by Israel, with our staunch help.
Since the Soviet goal in the October War was NATO, and the American link to Europe, not Israel alone, the issue is absolutely vital to the security of the United States and of its allies.
Mr. Kaplan seems to believe that in both the Far East and the Middle East, Soviet policy is “constructively” addressed to producing a settlement. To me, this assertion is simply incredible. In both regions, Soviet policy deliberately employed military force to produce total victory for itself. In the Middle East, both in 1967 and in 1973, the Soviet Union would not discuss a cease-fire until the Arab armies were defeated. And in East Asia the Soviets continue to support North Vietnam in completely ignoring its promise to withdraw from Laos and Cambodia, and to cease from interfering in the internal affairs of South Vietnam.
Mr. Kaplan remarks that we should be happy to witness the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, and the democratization of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Of course that is true. The point, however, is that since World War II we have not used force to achieve that goal, whereas the Soviet Union is deliberately using force, and the threat of force, to attain its goals. From the point of view of the charter and the possibility of peaceful coexistence as a political reality, the difference is fundamental, and defines the meaning of the word détente. For Mr. Kaplan, détente is indistinguishable from cold war. To accept this definition would be an abuse of language.
Two points of detail:
Mr. Kaplan says the Arab demand for all the territory Israel occupied in 1967 is legitimate, since “the world cannot recognize the seizure of territory by force.” Whatever weight one may give to that debatable thesis, it cannot apply equally to territory seized in the course of a war of aggression and one of self-defense. Taking Mr. Kaplan’s comment as an absolute would make aggression costless. If the attack failed, the aggressor would automatically return to the status quo ante. This cannot be—and is not—the rule of international law, as the armistice agreements of 1949 attest.
Secondly, Mr. Kaplan says that the Johnson administration did not honor Eisenhower’s guarantee with respect to the Straits of Tiran. This is not correct.