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International Socialism, Autumn 1965


Editorial 2

Love Resumed


From International Socialism, No.22, Autumn 1965, pp.2-3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


For the moment, the next decisive step in the establishment of a Soviet-American detente waits upon the West German elections on 19 September. Both powers have studiously contrived not to let the Vietnam war erode the foundations laid by Kruschev – Russia did not summon the Security Council over the bombing of North Vietnam, America did not reply to Russia’s relatively mild criticisms; Russia did, as a token, summon the Security Council over the Dominican Republic, but has now let the matter drop quietly; Russia sent aid to North Vietnam, but complained it was held up in transit across China; when it finally arrived, in the shape of anti-aircraft missiles, US bombers, raiding to within 45 miles of Hanoi (or so they claim), carefully refrained from bombing these obvious targets. For a moment, the gentleman’s agreement seemed likely to be toppled by the downing of a US plane, allegedly by one of the Soviet missiles – but retaliation by US aircraft demonstrated this could not have been so, since at least two of the Soviet missile pads were only dummies (much as is most of Soviet policy on Vietnam).

This for the negative side. On the positive, the US has continuously invited Russia to resume the Disarmament talks in Geneva and to resume the collaboration summarised in the 1963 Test Ban treaty by agreement on a new treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear powers (a ‘non-proliferation’ treaty). Russia replied that US efforts to salvage NATO unity in the face of French sabotage through a Multilateral Defence Force (a nuclear force under collective NATO control) made any non-proliferation absolutely impossible – the one contradicts the other. To this basic objection Russia added in February that the bombing of North Vietnam must end before any more collaboration – a superficial objection, quickly abandoned as soon as Washington changed its offer on non-proliferation.

This change is the most dramatic in the past quarter. Seven months ago Johnson received the report of the Gilpatric Committee on non-proliferation, and suppressed it, but on 1 July, a rumour got out that the Report urged agreement on non-proliferation with Russia as top priority over any attempts to salvage NATO. The rumour was followed by a kite-flying article, presumed to have been vetted by the President, by the Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (William Foster), which also urged agreement with Russia as first priority even if this produced

‘an erosion of alliances resulting from the high degree of US-Soviet co-operation which will be required if a non-proliferation programme is to be successful.Within NATO there could be concern that the detente would lead to a weakening of our commitment to Western Europe. The problem will be particularly acute in Germany where there will be added concern that the amelioration of the East-West confrontation could lead to an increased acceptance of the status quo in Central Europe.’ (Foreign Affairs, July)

To back up this apparently major US concession to Russia, the President despatched Averell Harriman to Moscow on 15 July where he met Kosygin and renewed the invitation to Geneva – on 18 July, Russia accepted the invitation, despite the massive American build-up in Vietnam, a new phase of which was announced shortly after Russia’s acceptance.

But if one side of the see-saw went down, the other went up – Adenauer, a ghost at the renewed banquet, accused the US of horsetrading with the Soviet Union and forgetting Europe. Schroder, West German Foreign Minister, warned Washington that West Germany would have to acquire nuclear weapons of its own if it was not permitted to participate in NATO nuclear control (MLF). West Germany, torn economically between integration into the Common Market (resisted by France), and scrapping it for freer trade through the Kennedy Round, thus becomes the crucial variable in the equation – Russia has already said a non-proliferation treaty is impossible unless it prevents West Germany getting any sort of latch on nuclear weapons. The current crisis in the Common Market complicates the issue – France’s reaction in the coming months could decide West German loyalty one way or another. Britain, true to its current role as America’s handmaiden, has come up with an ‘alternative’ – the Atlantic Nuclear Force, controlled in decision by Britain and the US although advised by the other NATO powers; West Germany is not fooled and has rejected it, but the ANF has served a function, permitting the US to back up Bonn’s rejection and seem much holier than the nasty British. More substantially, Washington has now to decide between NATO and a detente with Russia, between the warhawk version of Free World Maoism and the peacedove legend of Kruschevism: its strategy to contain Gaullism and through this, weld West Germany to America, now directly confronts its attempt to free its world power by neutralising Russia in a détente.

For the moment, Geneva is at a standstill until after September when West Germany goes to the polls, and the monsoon ends in Vietnam, thus bringing into play against the VietcQng the full strength of US air power. However, the drift is clear – Russia, despite the biggest type of Cold; War provocation by Washington in Vietnam, despite its exposure to full Chinese attack (at hysterical pitch at mid-July’s Helsinki Conference for Peace) and to the strongly asserted nationalism of the former satellites (cf. the Rumanian Party Conference, 19 July), has opted to accept American hegemony of the world as most suiting the interests of Russia’s rulers. Russia can ill-afford a sustained clash with America at the moment – its economy is in the midst of an enormous change of gear, during which its growth rate is, by past standards, poor. But, for reasons other than this simple one, Kruschev’s policy, which partly cost him his job, is back as the orthodoxy of Moscow.

The implications of this return to pursuing a detente are manifold, not least as an encouragement to European nationalism and Gaullism. NATO, CENTO and SEATO, the iron rings containing the world of the fifties, look like rusting away completely in the sixties – but not to CND’s advantage. In the ‘Third World’, ‘non-aligned’ gives way to ‘aligned with Washington-Moscow against Pekin’. Nationalist fragmentation, surmounted by unprecedented American hegemony, looks hike the approaching picture. As the devotees of ‘peaceful co-existence’ always.said, this makes the possibility of local wars much greater (and local wars can generate general wars), but it also makes popular movements, unshadowed by the monstrous tyranny of the bomb, more likely – more danger and more opportunity, more risk of war and more risk of freedom.

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