Western Values & Total War
Last May, in observance of its fifteenth anniversary year, COMMENTARY invited SIDNEY HOOK, H. STUART HUOHES, HANS J. MORGENTHAU, and C. P. SNOW to participate in a three-hour round-table discussion of the moral and political questions surrounding the possibility of a nuclear war. The discussion, held before a selected audience of writers, editors, clergymen, and educators at the Institute of Human Relations and moderated by NORMAN PODHORETZ, editor of COMMENTARY, was wholly spontaneous. What follows is a slightly abridged transcript of the entire proceedings.
SIDNEY HOOK is chairman of the department of philosophy at New York University and the author, among many other books, of From Marx to Hegel and The Quest for Being. H. STUART HUGHES, professor of history at Harvard, is the author of Consciousness and Society and Contemporary Europe. HANS J. MORGENTHAU, who now conducts the bi-monthly department “Public Affairs” for us, is director of the Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy at the University of Chicago. C. P. SNOW,* whose novel sequence Strangers and Brothers is now nearing completion, is also the author of the widely-discussed essay The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution.
Norman Podhoretz: The problem we’ve selected for discussion this afternoon is a very, very broad one, “Western Values and Total War,” but we’re going to try to focus on several slightly narrower themes, the main one being the question of whether or not, in a situation that threatens thermonuclear war, there is an inherent contradiction between the job of preserving and extending the liberal democratic heritage and the job of protecting the national interests of the various countries in the Western bloc who presumably represent that tradition.
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