New World

George Ball

In a musical comedy popular in America twenty or thirty years ago, the hero announced as a curtain line that he was departing to ‘join the Thirty Years’ War’. The larger wisdom implied in that absurdity was, of course, that no generation can comprehend how history may characterise major events that occur during its lifetime. While one cannot place the current scene in the context of what may occur in the next few years, however, there is still a widespread feeling – often encysted in layers of qualifications – that the world is undergoing massive change that is both political and economic. That change is of such epic proportions that one might legitimately equate it with the disappearance of the Greek city states before the swelling tide of Hellenism, with the advent of the Reformation or the experience of the Enlightenment.

Changes of major magnitude rarely occur as discrete historical events unrelated to the past. Far more often, they are the culmination of a prolonged discontent inspiring sceptical reassessment – discontent that continues to fester until a courageous new leader or a popular outburst translates the smouldering spark of grievance into political action. The massive changes we are now witnessing are reflected in the coincidence of a more realistic Soviet policy under Mikhail Gorbachev and a remarkable political convulsion in China. The common causal element in these phenomena is the conclusion by the people in the major Communist powers that their system has failed. In addition to this seminal shift, there are two other developments on the world scene which, though not of the same order of magnitude, are also contributing to the redesigning of the world’s political physiography. One is the drive to restructure Western Europe with the announced target goal of 1992; the second is the advent of Japan as a leading economic power on the world scene, with the prospect that it must, over time, be increasingly recognised as a major player in the world’s political councils.

An academic friend once told me that no speech or article on American foreign policy can have legitimacy unless it includes a quotation from Alexis de Tocqueville. The quotation most apt to the present subject is de Tocqueville’s reference to the United States and Russia as ‘two great nations in the world which seem to tend toward the same end, although they started from different points’. ‘Both of them,’ he wrote, ‘have grown up unnoticed; and while the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly assumed a most prominent place among the nations; and the world learned of their existence and their greatness at almost the same time. All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and only to be charged with the maintainance of their power ... but these are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which the human eye can assign no term.’ It was an extraordinarily prescient comment to have been written, almost a century ago, by a French aristocrat who had come to America at the age of 26 and had remained only about a year and a half. But let us now ask ourselves whether de Tocqueville was correct in predicting that the two nations will ‘tend towards the same end’.

Since the Second World War, history appeared to offer little to confirm such an optimistic assessment: throughout that entire time, both great nations remained bedevilled by what we now refer to as the Cold War. But at last there are distinct signs that the Cold War is losing its position of central focus and becoming largely irrelevant to the foreign policy either of America or its Nato partners. Sovietologists are sharply at odds as to the current state of affairs: for my part, I strongly agree with the scholar and diplomat George Kennan, who has spent a lifetime studying the Soviet Union, and who has written that the remnants of the Cold War are ‘now being dismantled at a pace that renders it no longer a serious impediment to normal Soviet-American relationships’.

A number of unusual developments account for this dismantling. First, Communism has disclosed its total failure as a viable economic system. The Soviet Union has missed the chance to approach anything like economic parity with the United States or the EEC nations and is in formidable economic trouble. Second, the leadership has unequivocally recognised that an all-out nuclear exchange would mean suicide on a global scale. Third, the Soviets are by no means eager to endure once again the agonies of mass warfare. They lost twenty to forty million killed defending their country during the Second World War, and the Soviet people have never forgotten that heartbreaking statistical summation of the ghastliness of war. They endured it because, as had so often happened, their country was being invaded, but there is nothing to suggest that they would now make a comparable effort merely to preserve and extend a doctrine which experience has discredited. Fourth, while many of the West’s nuclear theologians are concerned at what they regard as the swollen size of the Soviets’ peacetime conventional army, historians have repeatedly pointed out that the maintainance of numerically excessive ground forces in peacetime has been an aspect of Russian-Soviet policy for most of the last two hundred years, yet never in all this time have the Russians used their forces to initiate hostilities against a major military power.

Until the Nato Summit Meeting on 29 May, my own government did not appear to have progressed much beyond the puerile view that the Gorbachev initiative was a mere Soviet ploy in a public-relations contest. Though the White House had failed to propose any initiatives of its own, it still issued shrill warnings against more affirmative responses by its Nato partners. But those warnings had little effect, for, without exerting itself to devise a common Western response, most Western European governments – with the possible exception of the United Kingdom – resisted Washington’s negativism. The problem perhaps is physiological: latent in the genes of most Western political leaders is a resistance to major changes that disturb rigid ideas and vested interests and thus generate their own opposition. So today even our more enlightened bureaucrats find it difficult to free themselves from their entrenched attitude that the Cold War is the only framework in which policy should be formulated. They are, one suspects, concerned that adjustment to the new reality will require them both to engage in new and complex analysis and to undertake the awesome task of inventing a fresh vocabulary of clichés and banalities.

I am aware from personal experience that, prompted by a conditioned reflex, Western diplomats have long responded to any new foreign policy proposal by first asking: ‘How much will such a move advance or discourage the expansion of Soviet interests?’ The new American Administration will need a clear White House decision before it abandons a shibboleth that has served it so long as a device for avoiding difficult decisions on complex issues.

Reflections of this kind often lead me to recall a poignant news item that periodically appeared in the American press as late as the Seventies – the report on a lonely Japanese soldier discovered hiding in a cave on one of the more remote Pacific islands. He was still cowering in fear of discovery because no one had ever come by to tell him that the Second World War had been over for decades. When I hear the alarmist rhetoric still emanating from the top reaches of my own government, I sometimes worry that no one has yet penetrated the cavernous chancellories of Western capitals – and particularly those huge Romanesque buildings in Washington – to tell our leaders that the Cold War is substantially ended and that we must now revise our thinking in consonance with a new set of realities.

The effective ending of the Cold War will not automatically mean cessation of all rivalry between the Soviet Union and the West: almost certainly, interests may conflict in other parts of the Third World, as they do now in Afghanistan, certain areas of Africa, and Nicaragua. Since each of the superpowers wishes to avoid a head-on clash, however, those problems should be amenable to solution through diplomatic rather than military means. What we shall see is a return to the rivalries which existed prior to 1914; Moscow will continue to seek recognition of its great power status and will endeavour to busy itself with the affairs of neighbouring nations where it has legitimate interests. Many recent developments suggest the great degree of eagerness with which an economically-exhausted Soviet Union is seeking to retrench at home and restrict its revolutionary commitments abroad. One finds such evidence in the impressive series of proposals by which Mr Gorbachev is trying to reduce the Soviets’ arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons, in the Red Army’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, its reduced role in Angola, Ethiopia and South Yemen, its gestures of civility toward Israel, and its pressure on Syria and the PLO to adopt a more accommodating stance regarding Middle East peace negotiations.

These and other reasons make me confident that the Cold War is no longer of central relevance, and that we should now fashion our policies to conform to the new reality. The fact that the nuclear stand-off has made war between the superpowers unthinkable does not mean that our problems have suddenly become simple, but rather that we must resolve our remaining differences at a higher level of complexity. Since, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, ‘humankind cannot stand much complexity,’ many ask the simple question: ‘Can Mr Gorbachev long survive as leader of the Soviet Union?’ No one knows the answer, but I feel confident that even were Gorbachev to depart tomorrow, the Soviet Union would not move toward the hard line that prevailed under his predecessors – or revert to Stalinism. Whoever may succeed Gorbachev will have to face the same tangled assortment of unfinished business, and he will be equally wary of actions likely to produce a superpower clash. He will try to continue along the broad lines set by Gorbachev, not because of any special wisdom, conviction or statesmanship, but from the universal reflex of self-preservation. Even Hitler, mad as he was, rejected the use of Nazi supplies of poison gas, because he had had a whiff of it in the First World War and understood that, if the Germans were to initiate its use, everyone, including Germany, would be enveloped in a cataclysmic gas cloud. While perestroika has so far failed to show many visible results for Soviet consumers, even a brief Soviet experience with freedom under glasnost makes any return to the past virtually impossible: in fact, many doubt that the security forces could any longer be relied on to carry out such a repressive programme, and though some may regard recent events in China as challenging that conclusion, I see the two situations as neither comparable or interactive.

As we finally halt the practice of defining our foreign policy primarily in the constricting framework of the Cold War, we must urgently undertake some rethinking less narrowly focused in purpose and therefore difficult to elaborate. As a first priority, we should move speedily forward to try to reduce the conventional weapons on both sides in Europe, while at the same time seeking to reduce the superpowers’ hypertrophied nuclear arsenals.

One may hope that President Bush’s proposal in Brussels will prove a step toward a better conventional balance, although, given the Soviets’ anxiety to maintain at least minimum control over their Warsaw Pact partners in Eastern Europe, they could find it difficult to accept all of the asymmetrical cuts requested by Bush. In approaching this task, we should be sensitive to the divergence of attitudes between Europeans and Americans. To many in Europe who had for centuries suffered an almost endless cycle of conventional wars, the nuclear weapon offered the first hope of finally breaking that cycle. But for Americans who hadn’t known an external attack on their territory since the British burned the White House in 1814 and attacked New Orleans in 1815, the advent of nuclear weapons proved fearfully upsetting. It meant that we Americans could no longer count on the protection of our moat of two oceans and that for the first time our homes and families were exposed to the possibility of external destruction. Many Europeans would abhor the thought of eliminating all nuclear weapons, therefore, because it might again expose them to the old cycle of war and destruction, while most Americans would applaud a development which relieved them of an unwelcome fear. That divergence is a factor of major political importance.

At the heart of Nato strategy today is the doctrine of ‘flexible response’ which envisages that, should the Soviets ever make a military move towards the West, the Nato nations could buy time by employing a range of conventional weapons before having to fall back on the last resort of a nuclear exchange. But the inventors of that doctrine contradicted their own logic the moment they included short-range nuclear weapons in the chain of graduated violence. By that decision they made it clear that they had not adjusted their thinking to the quite different implications of conventional and nuclear weapons. They assumed quite wrongly that by using tactical nuclear weapons, Nato might halt a Soviet advance without triggering an almost certain exchange of strategic weapons – in other words, that one might still fight a limited nuclear war. On more mature thought, however, most nuclear strategists have now concluded that the issue is falsely conceived: for whether the nuclear taboo is broken by tactical missiles based in Europe or by strategic missiles, escalation will inevitably follow. There is therefore no advantage in basing weapons in Europe.

Nato strategists must take account, not merely of the effectiveness of nuclear weapons as deterrents against a Soviet advance, but also of their utility as a reassurance to our Western allies that we would use those weapons on their behalf. Out of mistrust of America’s promises, some European nuclear theologians even argued for the forward basing of such weapons in Europe, in the belief that whether the United States liked it or not, the local commander would be forced to use those weapons if they were about to be overrun. That argument was both morally wrong and tactically misconceived. No American leader would ever deliberately yield the awesome decision to blow up the earth to the vagaries of an enemy land attack. In addition, the argument’s tactical premise was badly flawed. Even battlefield missiles cannot be fired without a Presidential decision, and if the missiles were about to be overrun, no local commander would dare use them: lacking authority from the White House, he would almost certainly move or destroy the missiles to keep them out of enemy hands.

Our leaders should not continue obtusely to reject the German case, since it is a compelling one. The range of the battlefield weapons based in the Federal Republic means that the warheads they deliver would primarily kill Germans in the Federal Republic, and even if those weapons should, as now proposed, be modernised to extend their range, they could still do little more than kill Germans in East Germany.

Nato has held together since its outset because its member nations have respected each other’s special problems. For many years we worried about the embittering effect on German opinion of excluding that nation from the nuclear club. Today, British and American rejection of Bonn’s demands for prompt negotiations to limit missiles based on German soil holds great danger of reviving that latent resentment: what is called by some Germans ‘Anglo-Saxon arrogance’ already shows signs of stirring German bitterness, which might produce a situation far more dangerous than any that might result from the removal of battlefield missiles.

In immediate terms, the problem is primarily political, since few Americans could foresee a Presidential breaking of the nuclear taboo unless American lives – including those of our army in Germany – were directly at risk. That is a carefully ignored secret in Nato circles; it is never honestly discussed since candour might undercut the whole framework of assumptions on which the theologians have spun their theory of extended deterrence.

One cannot help but take note that British and American leaders who oppose Bonn’s demand for immediate negotiations on battlefield weapons are grounding their arguments on a false belief by asserting that such dickering might denude Europe of nuclear protection. That assertion is wrong both in fact and in its basic assumption: for even without any battlefield weapons there would still be plenty of airborne missiles in Europe as well as offshore seaborne missiles. In any event, no American President would be greatly discouraged from breaking the nuclear taboo by the fact that he could no longer use battlefield weapons, but would have to choose between approving the delivery of nuclear weapons from aircraft based in Europe or from submarines lying off the European land-mass – with the knowledge that in either case the resulting all-out nuclear war might require him to put in play the strategic intercontinental missiles based in America.

So let us conclude that there would be no difference in the deterrent effect. But what about the requirement of reassurance? Should Europeans feel less secure if the battlefield weapons were removed? I would answer that question with a resounding negative: the issue of reassurance would be far better met by the continued maintenance of American forces in Europe than by the continued basing of missiles on German soil. What most disturbs me is that the current argument emits stale odours of the post-war feeling that the principal members of the alliance were entitled to treat a defeated Germany as a kind of junior member. How, for example, would Mrs Thatcher respond if asked to station missiles on English soil that could reach no farther than Scotland?

Since the logic of warfare suggests that missiles based in Europe are by no means essential, alliance unity requires that the partners show greater sensitivity to the political problems of the Germans. As we move towards increasing collaboration with the Soviets, it is essential that we maintain the unity of Nato as a potential bargaining entity which we may one day wish to trade for the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact. Thus, in the current brouhaha, the Germans’ political concern should not be dismissed as merely a footnote. Since there is no doubt that the CDU is in trouble, no serious Western politician should cavalierly dismiss the prospect that stubborn adherence to the current British and American policy could well lead the German electorate to replace the current CDU government with a coalition of the Greens and the SPD. Such an event would undoubtedly multiply Europe’s fear that Germany will ultimately drift toward the East.

As I see it, then, our leaders should not only put aside their irrelevant childish squabbling but promptly go forward with the serious business of arms limitation, both nuclear and conventional – perhaps linking the two – while at the same time seeking to identify and explore other areas of policy where the West and the Soviet Union have common interests. These fall roughly into two large categories. First are the policies needed to cope with regional wars now in progress that seem capable of exploding into larger world conflicts. Up to now we have disabled ourselves from finding solutions to several of those conflicts by insisting on approaching them as mere aspects of the Cold War, when they are primairly provincial affairs – most often the product of racial hatreds, ethnic rivalries, irredentism, and a sense of discrimination or maltreatment. The scene of regional conflict most likely to explode in the near future can be located somewhere in the Soviet Union itself. Within the four walls of that great land-mass there are 170 distinct nationalities speaking over a hundred different languages: for them to have maintained any sense of unity represents an incredible tour de force. So it is not surprising that, as Mr Gorbachev undertakes to apply his schemes for perestroika in an atmosphere of glasnost, the Kremlin should hear rumblings of disintegration. There is nothing Western governments should try to do either to soften or to exploit conflicts within the Soviet Union. No doubt the government of my own country will be assailed by domestic minority groups with an interest in particular ethnic elements of the Soviet people, but it should resist anything the Kremlin might regard as interference.

A different set of considerations applies to conflicts arising, not in the Soviet Union itself, but in its larger Eastern European empire, as one after another of the Warsaw Pact members displays the stirrings of independence and there is a revival of ancient feuds among themselves. We have already seen evidence of such unrest in Poland, and one also hears sounds of discord in Czechoslovakia, while Hungary, which has managed to achieve a limited freedom, is still proceeding with caution in memory of the bloody events of 1956. That has not prevented the Hungarians from quarrelling with Rumania over the treatment of the Magyar minority in that land.

Again, as I have suggested, the West should not try to hasten the disintegration of the Soviet empire, but we can still take reassurance from the probability that the chilling effect of Eastern European disarray will contribute a deterrent element to Soviet territorial expansionism. The Soviets know better than anyone that the Warsaw Pact force would be more likely to impede than assist a Red Army advance toward Western Europe. It seems clear, therefore, that, in facing a conventional weapons negotiation, our arms control negotiators should no longer blandly accept the mythology of overwhelming strength on the Soviet side. It is stupid to compute the conventional disparity by crediting the Soviets unreservedly with the manpower and weapons of the Warsaw Pact nations, and we should revise our thinking accordingly.

The conclusions from all this are easy to formulate. First, no matter how strongly our own neo-conservatives may urge such a course, we should firmly avoid any effort to accelerate the disintegration of the Soviet empire. The Kremlin has for decades used its control of the Warsaw Pact countries to maintain an unstable peace in that part of the world. But we may now expect that one after another of the Warsaw Pact countries will seek to resume its ancient ties to the West, and the process will be strongly encouraged as Western Europe accelerates its drive toward unity and moulds itself into a great lodestone that exerts formidable magnetic attraction on nations of the Warsaw Pact. The hope is that they can achieve these natural ambitions without a repetition of the events of 1953, 1956 and 1968.

When one compares the television pictures that result from glasnost in the Soviet Union with the student demonstrations in China, it is clear that they are related manifestations of the same phenomenon. But as each nation responds to a profound disenchantment with its form of the Communist system, each manifests its discontent in the idiom of a quite different culture. China has already made progress in injecting the market system into its agricultural sector and in thus raising living standards. But the people – particularly the educated young – have discovered that more food does not satisfy their aspirations. So they are clamouring for the right to have a say in their governance. How the situation will evolve is, for the moment, clouded in Oriental mystery. The military have reacted by baring their fangs and breathing fire with the ferocity of a wounded Chinese dragon, and there is no doubt that their brutal tactics have dealt a serious blow to the students’ pervasive idealism. Yet I think it unlikely that the incident has put a permanent stop to what has been happening. The students have demonstrated to all of China (and to the world) that members of the emerging generation are prepared to risk their lives to challenge the system, while the system’s response has, if anything, fully confirmed the students’ allegations that it is not only corrupt but also mindless and cruel. However, there is no more hazardous profession than trying to read tea leaves: in a world now changing so unpredictably, no one is equipped to see more than a few inches into the future.

Mr Gorbachev in the Soviet Union has not yet, it seems, been able to match China’s performance in agricultural reform, nor has his effort to apply the market mechanism to selective areas of the indusrial sector proved more effective, since out of fear of the political consequences of inflation, he has left intact the prevailing fixed price system. So far, therefore, he has sought to distract public attention from the failure of perestroika to show immediate gains for the consumer by undertaking reform of the political structure. That has yielded limited results, manifested most spectacularly in the free elections of last March, and unless and until there are visible goods in the marketplace, political reform will only marginally touch the lives of the Soviet people. It is not surprising that the Government is reputed to be dipping into its foreign-exchange reserves in order to restock its stores with imported consumer goods.

If there is little that the West can do to assist political and economic evolution in China, we might still undertake some co-operative undertakings with the Soviets, which would enable Gorbachev to demonstrate that his policies had elevated Soviet status in international politics. The leaders of the Soviet Union have waited for decades to gain world recognition that the USSR is one of the two superpowers, and in inviting their co-operation in the solution of common problems, we might strengthen Gorbachev’s hand by visibly recognising the Kremlin as an equal player in great power politics. Such co-operative action is made all the more imperative in view of the way in which nuclear arms have proliferated together with the progressive erosion of those essential taboos that inhibit the use of weapons primarily designed for the massive destruction of civilian populations.

There are two major taboos: the ban on the use of chemical and biological weapons which governments have observed ever since the First World War; and the taboo against the use of nuclear weapons. By using poison gas against the Iranians and Kurds, Iraq has now broken the first taboo and has thus made it easier for some nation to violate the second. That development could change the calculus of power. The increasing spread of ballistic missiles will enable more and more nations to overcome the defensive shield of a well-trained and equipped air force and freely deliver poison gas – or nuclear warheads, if they possess them.

If the members of Nato are to find some common formula that would encourage perestroika, they might at least tentatively agree on two kinds of measure. First, we should undertake to involve the Soviet Union in working with the West at trying to solve those regional problems which, if permitted to fester, would present the greatest danger of escalation into a major war. The case that best illustrates that danger is the endless conflict between the Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East. There, the increasingly widespread possession of chemical weapons, the proliferation of ballistic missiles, and the frenetic efforts of Israel’s neighbours to join the nuclear club, create a situation of extraordinary danger – particulary urgent so long as Israel obstinately insists on riding herd on a million and a half restive Palestinians. Every day more and more young Palestinians are slaughtered in the occupied areas: yet, under pressure from Israel’s friends, the government of my own country has until recently merely repeated the tired bureaucratic litany devised to excuse inaction: that this is not a propitious time to try to bring about a settlement of the issue.

That is merely a means of evading the hard choices required for a settlement; it utterly ignores the fact that America can never achieve peace in the Middle East solely by its own efforts. Our only hope for settling the dominant quarrel of the area is to reject our practice of trying to pre-empt the issue for America alone: instead, we must involve the Soviet Union together with the EEC nations in a common effort to find a settlement. In referring to his well-advertised experiment in shuttle diplomacy, Henry Kissinger’s proudest claim was that he had successfully kept the Soviets out of the Middle East: but in his memoirs he admitted that without Soviet participation there could be no long-term solution to the Arab-Israeli struggle. Unilateralism is the most enervating disease of American foreign policy, yet it has a strong base of silent support, since it is the modern expression of America’s traditional isolationism.

Collaboration with the Soviets seems the first order of business, but it need not be confined to making common cause in the settlement of international disputes. No doubt we face an even more formidable common enemy in the forces now at play that would diminish those attributes of the Earth that make it an effective support system for humanity. One force threatening to promote that diminution is demography – the problems created or aggravated by an overpopulation that largely results from the advent of medicines that diminish the rate of infant mortality and greatly extend normal life-spans. For the first time a universal population explosion is beginning to validate the wisdom of the Reverend Dr Malthus’s theory that mankind’s rate of reproduction might threaten its own survival. Yet the problem today is not merely how to find the food and other items necessary to sustain increasing numbers of mankind, but also how to deal with the consequences of a technology that creates by-products or waste for which we can find no safe means of disposal.

Our inventiveness in the area of applied science, and our extensive utilisation of fossil fuels, are already beginning to threaten our agriculture, poison the air of many of our great cities and pollute the water in our lakes and rivers. At the same time, our chemical processes are releasing gases that threaten the ozone layer and could materially alter the world climate with the threat of making large parts of the world uninhabitable. Another ominous problem exists with the denuding of tropical forests and the potential effect on oxygen supplies, and the growing greenhouse effect from rising carbon dioxide levels. None of these problems is confined to a single country, for pollution knows no national boundaries.

Western Europe found to its dismay that the accident at Chernobyl had harmful consequences for cattle and people as far away as Scandinavia, and the Canadian Government has long noted the effect of American-generated acid rain on Canada – though only now is my own government beginning to try to cope with the problem.

If one accepts my thesis that the United States and Western Europe should make common cause with the Soviet Union in addressing those subjects where there is an overlapping of interest, we should avoid the appearance of collusion that the rest of the world would regard as indicating a superpower condominium – a cartel through which the most powerful nations seek to impose their will on the poorer and weaker. We can avoid such suspicions only if we envelop our common actions in an institutional context. In that way, the world will accept these common efforts as an initiative by all peoples acting together under the reassuring flag of the United Nations.

When its thoughtful framers first drafted the Charter of the United Nations against the background of experience with the Concert of Europe and the League of Nations, they concentrated the peace-making function in the Security Council, which they empowered to adopt resolutions binding on all members and to enforce those resolutions through the imposition of a specified range of sanctions, not excluding military action. Unfortunately, the emerging Cold War rivalry between the Soviets and West undercut the basic assumption that the great powers would be able to make common cause; and throughout the past four decades each superpower has reflexively used its veto in the Security Council to block initiatives by the other, thus rendering that body largely impotent.

Because of Soviet obstructionism and America’s tendency to ape Soviet practices by using its veto indiscriminately, many Americans have come to disparage the UN as a useless relic of diplomatic idealism. But the fact that we have been unable to use it effectively does not mean that the Wilsonian concept of institutionalised diplomacy is unworkable. It implies rather that it has never been tried under conditions where it could possibly be effective: first, because the United States failed to ratify the League of Nations, and second, because the Cold War has, up to now, precluded the superpowers from making common cause in the United Nations forums. Now with Western Europe’s move toward unity, and our discovery of areas of common interest with the Soviet Union, we can create, as it were, an alliance of adversaries, or concert of the powerful – and by this measure at last have the chance to test Wilsonian principles pragmatically. But if we undertake to use the United Nations effectively, Americans will have to change their thought patterns and throw off the unilateralism to which we are now addicted.

That will certainly require a major reorientation in our thinking and a substantial reconsideration of our strategy. Yet it is important that we do so. If we neglect that chance, America will continue to pursue unilateral policies at high cost, great danger and with dubious results.

So far, the evidence suggests that the Soviet leadership is more sensitive to these possibilities than is the American. In recent months, Mr Gorbachev has been proposing a new effort to revivify the United Nations through more effective use of the Security Council, and it seems that he is prepared to put his money where his mouth is. In other words, at a time when America is in gross financial default on its UN commitments, the Soviets have begun to liquidate their arrearages and have even provided financing for peacekeeping operations, both prospective and retrospective. Let us hope that the governments of Nato will show the political imagination needed to exploit a development that could offer possibilities for a radical improvement in the conduct of world politics.