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America & the World Revolution

- Abstract

Norman Podhoretz: By way of putting our subject into some sort of manageable perspective, let me quote something Walter Lippmann said in May of 1961, about a year after President Kennedy took office: “We cannot compete with Communism in Asia, Africa, or Latin America if we go on doing what we have done so often and so widely, which is to place the weak countries in a dilemma where they will stand still with us and our client rulers or start moving with the Communists. This dilemma cannot be resolved unless it is our central and persistent and unswerving policy to offer these unhappy countries a third option, which is economic development and social improvement without the totalitarian discipline of Communism. For the only real alternative to Communism is a liberal and progressive society.”

There are, of course, people who would disagree with that definition of the situation, but assuming for the moment that Lippmann is right, two large questions immediately present themselves. In the first place, to what extent is the United States capable of offering these “unhappy countries” a third option? After all, forces exist in this country which oppose a policy of lending support to socialist and neutralist regimes, and one of the things we want to know is whether they are strong enough to inhibit a really effective program from being put into action. We also want to know how strong the other inhibiting factors are: our own well-advertised reluctance to intervene directly in the internal affairs of other countries; the equally well-advertised corruption of the governing elites in some of the underdeveloped countries; and the consequent difficulty we have had in fostering social reform even when, as in the case of the Alliance for Progress, we have made social reform a precondition of American aid.

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