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International Socialism, Summer 1964

Barry Hindess

God Bless Us

From International Socialism (1st series), No.17, Summer 1964, p.32.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Southeast Asia in United States Policy
R.H. Fifield
Pall Mall Press, 45s (21s paperback)

The New States of Asia
Michael Brecker
OUP, 30s.

The tone of Professor Fifield’s book is set in the first chapter, Dimensions of the Challenge. The challenge is that of international Communism which, since it is aimed at complete domination of the area, is its main threat to peace, progress and democracy. US policy is, on the contrary, dominated by idealism – in its opposition to colonialism, its desire for human well-being and democracy – and, to a lesser extent, by self-interest. Its aim, and Fifield’s is to prevent direct or indirect aggression by international communism.

Even with this outlook it should still be possible to write an interesting book. Fifield has not done this. His analysis of the position since the war is entirely in terms of treaties and other formal relationships between governments. He is therefore unable to deal with the role of the US government, or CIA, in, for example, the Padang revolt in Indonesia. Since he talks of the need for responsible government with sound policies under effective leadership even his limited analysis is not very useful.

Brecher is also anti-communist but unlike Fifleld, he does attempt to be realistic and has written a book which is good by comparison. Unfortunately he shows democracy as matter of form rather than content and gives, unwarrantably, a high value to stability. These faults apart the first essay is a fair, but short, history of colonialism in the area. There is a chapter on the relations between Israel and the Afro-Asian bloc and, for those who like this kind of thing, an appendix giving an edited version of some interviews with Nehru. The rest of the book deals, unsuccessfully, with political instability and with attempts to develop a model of international relations in the area. In this his merits are the recognition that the cold war is not the only problem and that Asian states are. to some extent, subjects as well as objects of international history. Readers of this journal will always know this and will find the book useful only if they know very little of the area.

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