17: America's Responsibilty
<< 16: The Island Submerged || Appendix I
IN THE American and British zones of occupation, the trend is to provide a way for the
people to make their own living~direcdy the reverse of the Russian policy. It had looked
as though we had settled down to a long occupation with the idea that the American
taxpayer would indefinitely furnish food and supplies, not only for inhabitants of our
zones of occupation, but also for those of the Russian zone.
Before the war fifty percent of the exports of Czechoslovakia went to Germany. In the case
of other Danubian countries, the percentage was even larger. The exports of England,
France, Belgium, Holland and the Scandinavian countries to Germany were very important to
the economies of those countries. With Germany prostrate, not even able to support
herself, and divided up into zones with no common purpose in mind, this could not but
affect adversely the recovery of all of Europe. Should a central section of the U.S.A.
containing eighty million people be permanently ruined, the rest of the country would very
soon be in the same condition.
In keeping Germany prostrate the Allies pretended fear where the danger no longer
existed, in order to appease Stalin, who determined our attitude. He too is no longer
afraid of Germany. His aim apparently is to push Soviet rule forward into the very heart
of Europe, and for this reason he needs a new order which brings, in reality, anarchy.
The economic conditions of Europe are inherently at variance with the doctrines of the
Morgenthau plan. They offer the development of German agriculture as a substitute for
German industry. But they forget that German agriculture cannot be developed without
German industry, because the farmer would stop producing for the market if he were unable
to buy industrial articles with his proceeds. He could buy foreign articles, but would we
or England be prepared to deliver these in exchange for German foodstuffs? As a matter of
fact, German agriculture was so highly developed before the war that there remains a very
small margin for future improvement.
Europe, despite its political fissures, was an economic unit. For the rest of the
European continent, Germany was the decisive buyer and seller. If this situation had not
been in existence, Hjalmar Schacht would not have been able to misuse it for the purpose
of furthering Germany's war economy. That situation is not unalterable. But it cannot be
changed by the economic destruction of Germany which does not enrich, but impoverishes
Europe-including Great Britain.
The striking similarity between the situation that existed before the last war and that
which exists today cannot be ignored. The difference is that today there is only one
supreme power in Europe, Russia, and opposition to her is still hesitant and disorganized.
Europe itself is prostrate. Generally speaking, all over eastern Europe, particularly in
Soviet-occupied countries, the importance of the individual has been reduced. He has never
been respected there as in the Anglo-Saxon world, but the evil teaching of Hitler's state
worship, superseded by the Soviet denial of basic human rights and care for the masses, in
which the individual hardly figures, has made men and women desperately conscious of their
insignificance. Nazi Germany has been defeated, but true democracy meets everywhere
practically insurmountable difficulties. Millions of people live in a lamentable state.
Not only are there incredible physical sufferings in consequence of the hardships of war,
but there are moral sufferings which are much greater and harder to bear.
In all these huge regions of Europe under Soviet domination, no one is sure of his
life, his liberty or his property. There is no more human dignity. As one Hungarian
diplomat has written me, ". . . the Bolsheviks take our women, our children, our
homes, our daily bread, and yet we dare not complain. You are obliged to be delighted and
to thank these profane Red liberators." Freedom from want, the prerequisite of normal
behavior, cannot be said to exist in eastern Europe, and freedom from fear is a phrase
that has become a mockery.
Some people are perhaps wondering why the communists, who are now in the saddle in
Warsaw, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, Prague (and as of May 1947, Budapest), are taking such
great pains to mislead us. Why all the camouflage? Why do they not openly confess what
they are doing? The reason is that they are still in need of our help. To me, the most
charming feature of Marxism has always been the admission that socialism must take over
the nation at the highest peak of capitalistic prosperity. This does not express great
self- confidence. The Poles, Czechs and Yugoslavs who are telling us that the economic
chaos left by the Germans can only be overcome by socialistic planning and regimentation
are, at the same time, stormy applicants for American gifts and loans. They are quite
certain that we shall feed the serpent which yearns to bruise our heels. Perhaps they are
right. Did the UNRRA not obey Tito's orders?
We Americans cannot get over the idea that if we do not want war, we won't have it.
Certainly, no sane human wants war. We did not go to war with Germany and Japan because we
wanted war; we went to war because finally we realized that we had no choice. It is hard
for the man on the street to believe that some incident which happens in Iran is of any
particular importance so far as he is concerned. Russia wants oil. Well, what does he
care? To the man on the street, oil is of interest only to big capitalists; it has nothing
to do with him. So, why bother? Actually, these incidents are of greatest importance
because of what they portend. Time after time, Hitler could have been stopped, and the
second World War could have been prevented, if we had faced facts instead of believing in
what we wished to be true. A third World War is certainly not improbable, in fact it is
quite possible. It can be avoided; but not by the same methods that we used with Hitler,
which would prove futile all over again.
Our diplomatic service is certainly equal to or better than that of any other country.
Our greatest difficulty, however, is that our foreign policy is subjected to internal
politics. Consequently, shifts and changes occur where stability is needed. It was
heartbreaking to see a great leader, as President Roosevelt had been, sacrificing American
principles for the sake of political expediency. After his death, in the decisive period
when the war came to an end, when everything was still fluid, weak leadership and internal
leftist opposition within the Democratic Party deprived this country of its freedom of
action, stalemated its efforts to bring about a measure of international justice and
transformed our military victory into the biggest political disaster we ever suffered.
Stalin's will became supreme, for he alone knew what he wanted and could pursue his
policy of imperialism and oppression with determination, while America was desperately
trying to appease his insatiable greed. On February 9, 1946, Stalin's blunt speech
revealed the futility of the American policy of appeasement. Since then, we have
established a foreign policy which is grounded on American principles and is accepted on a
bipartisan basis by the majority of the nation. But can anything be done this late? Can
peaceful methods be applied where force has already accomplished so many brutal facts?
The world has not been, since the Dark Ages, in such a chaotic and distressed
condition. A moral force is needed, and what country other than the United States could
supply it? We are in the focus where the desperate hopes of a tortured humanity converge.
To what other place on earth could they be directed? Certainly not to Moscow, the main
source of oppression. Perhaps to London, where the voice of decency has never been
silenced. But Great Britain has to climb a steep path to her own recovery. Only we have
some practical, surplus strength left. The manner in which we use it will decide whether
we shall reap humanity's curse or humanity's blessing. The responsibility to a large
degree is ours because we are the one nation that could bring order out of chaos. Upon
whether, when, and how we meet that responsibility the future of the world depends.
<< 16: The Island Submerged || Appendix I