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MINDS, NERVES, AND SOULS Our Age: Radically . New in Man’s Experience Walter Lippmann, America’s greatest living journalist, was in Texas last weekend vacationing and “looking around.” His speech last Month before the Women’s National Press. Club, friends in Washington tell us, has had as deep an impact there as any address in recent times. There was no mention of it, of course, in the Texas press. Our space in each week’s Observer is severely limited, and for that reason if no other our focus is largely provincial. In this case we are pleased to make an ,exception and to reprint Mr. Lippmann’s address in its entirety. For what, after all, is the significance of provincialism in this day and age?Ed. WASHINGTON When *I sat down to prepare this talk, I considered. and rejected the idea of delivering a kind of preliminary message on the state of the Union. I remembered that this will soon be done with much more authority by the husband of a former newspaperwoman. So I decided to talk to you tonight about the state of our minds, the state of our nerves, and perhaps even about the sta’.2 of our souls. I am moved to do this by a letter I received just before Christmas. It was from a friend of mine who was a great hero in the First World War. He has been an extraordinarily successful man since then, and his letter began in this cheerful fashion. “My dear Walter: Another year of frustration, confusion, and compromise is about over.” I know that my friend is not alone in feeling this way and that during the coming session of Congress there will be many who will say what he says and feel as he does. At different times I suppose all of us share his feelings. There is indeed much frustration, much ‘confusion, andbecause we live on earth and not in Heaventhere is, of course, much compromise. Frustrations Not New I could have written back to my friend, reminding him that in every year of which there is any historical record, there has been much frustration and confusion and compromise. Anyone who thinks he can get away from frustration, confusion, and compromise in politics and diplomacy should make arrangements to get himself reborn into a different world than this one. Or if that is beyond his powers, he should move to some country where there are no newspapers to read. However, it is certainly true that in our own time we. are experiencing a very special frustration and confusion. There is, I believe, a reason for this. Certainly, if we knew the cause, we might feel better, even if we cannot do quickly something drastic to end the difficulty. The age we are living in is radically new in human experience. During the past 15 years or so there has occurred a profound revolution in human affairs, and we are the first generation that has lived under these revolutionary new conditions. There has taken place a radical development in the art of war, and this is causing a revolutionary change in the foreign relations of all the nations of the world. The radical development is, of course, the production of nuclear weapons. The essential fact about the appearance of two opposed great powers armed with nuclear weapons is that war, which is an ancient habit of mankind, has become mutually destructive. Nuclear war is a way of mutual suicide. The modern weapons are not merely much bigger and more dangerous than any which existed before. They have introduced into the art of warfare a wholly new kind of violence. ALWAYS IN THE PAST, war rl and the threat of war, whether it was aggressive or defensive, were usable instruments. They were usable instruments in the sense that nations could go to war for their national purposes. They could threaten war for diplomatic reasons. Nations could transform themselves from petty states to great powers by means of war. They could enlarge their territory, acquire profitable colonies, change the religion of a vanquished population, all by means of war. War was the instrument with which the social, political, and legal systems of large areas were changed. Thus, in the old days before the nuclear age began, war was a usablehowever horrible and expensiveinstrument of national purpose. \\ The reason for that was that the old wars could be won. In the prenuclear age, right down through the Second World War, the victorious power was an organized state which could impose its will on the vanquished. We did that with Germany and with Japan. The damage they had suffered, although it was great, was not irreparable, as we know from the recovery after World War II of West Germany and Japan and the Soviet Union. But from a full nuclear war. which might well mean 100 million dead, after the devastation of the great urban centers of the Northern Hemisphere and the contamination of the earth, the water, and the air, there would be no such recovery as we have seen after the two World Wars of this century. The damage done would be mutual. There would be no victor. As far in the future as we can see, the ruin would be irreparable. The United States has the nuclear power to reduce Soviet society to a smouldering ruin, leaving the wretched survivors shocked and starving and diseased. In an interchange of nuclear weapons, it is estimated coolly by experts who have studied it, the Soviet Union would kill between 30 and 70 million Americans. A war of that kind would not be followed by reconstruction, it would not be followed by a Marshall plan, and by all the constructive things that were done after World War II. A nuclear war would be followed by a savage struggle for existence, as the survivors crawled out of their shelters, and the American Republic would have to be replaced by a stringent military dictatorship, trying to keep some kind of order among the desperate survivors. To his great credit, President Eisenhower was quick to realize what nuclear war would be. After he and Prime Minister Churchill had studied some of the results of the nuclear tests, President Eisenhower made the historic declaration that there is no longer any alternative to peace. When President Eisenhower made that statement, no one of us, I think, understood its full significance and consequences. We are now beginning to understand them, and here I venture to say is the root of the frustration and the confusion which torment us. For while nuclear weapons have made war, the old arbiter of human affairs, an impossible action for a rational statesman to contemplate, we do not have any other reliable way of dealing with issues that used to be resolved by war. It is enormously difficult to make peace. It is intolerably dangerous and useless to make war about the fundamental issues. That is where our contemporary frustration and confusion originate. Impossible Instrument We are confronted with an extraordinary tantalizing and nerve-wracking dilemma. For as long a time as we can see into the future, we shall be living between war and peace, between a war that cannot be fought, and a peace that cannot be achieved. The great issues which divide the world cannot be decided by a war that could be won, and they cannot be settled by a treaty that can be negotiated. There, I repeat, is the root of the frustration which our people feel. Our world is divided as it has not been since the religious wars of the 17th century and a large part of the globe is in a great upheaval, the like of which has not been known since the end of the Middle Ages. But the power which used to deal with the divisions and conflicts of the past, namely organized war, has become an impossible instrument to use. PRESIDENT EISENHOWER and President Kennedy are the only two American Presidents who ever lived in a world like this one. It is a great puzzle to know how to defend the Nation’s rights, and how to promote its interests in the nuclear age. There are no clear guidelines of action be-, cause there are no precedents for the situation in which we find ourselves. And as statesmen grope their Way from one improvisation and accommodation to another, there are masses of people who are frightened, irritated, impatient, frustrated and in search of quick and easy solutions. The nuclear age is only a few years old. But We have already learned one or two things about how to conduct policy in this age. It was once said of a British admiral in the First World War that if he made a mistake, he could lose the British fleet and with it the whole war in an afternoon. Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Kennedy are in a similar position today. In a few days or so Mr. Khrushchev can lose the Soviet state and the promise of a Communist economy. He can lose all the work of all his 5-year plans, his 7-year plans, and his 20-year plans. In that same time, Mr. Kennedy can lose the Constitution of the United States, the free enterprise system, and the American way of life and, along with them, all the frontiers, old and new. THE POOR DEARS among us who say that they have had enough of all this talking and negotiating and now let us drop the bomb, have no idea of what they are talking abOut. They do not know what has happened, in the past 20 years. They belong to the past, and they have not been able to realize what the present is. In this present, only a moral idiot with a suicidal mania would press the button for a nuclear war. Yet we have learned that while a nuclear war would be lunacy, it is nevertheless an everpresent possibility. Why? Because, however lunatic it might be to commit suicide, a nation can be provoked and exasperated to the point of lunacy where its nervous system cannot endure inaction, where only violence can relieve its feelings. This is one of the facts of life in the middle of the twentieth century. The nerves of a nation can stand only so much provocation and humiliation, and beyond the tolerable limits, it will plunge into lunacy. This is as much a real fact as is the megaton bomb, and it is a fact which must be given great weight in the calculation of national policy. It is the central fact in the whole diplomatic problem of dealing with the cold war. There is a line of intolerable provocation beyond which reactions become uncontrollable. It is the business of the government to find out where that line is, and to stay well back of it. Those who do not understand the nature of war in the nuclear age, those who think that war today is what it was against Mexico or Spain or in the two World Wars, regard the careful attempts of statesmen not to carry the provocation past the tolerable limit as weakness and softness and appeasement. It is not any of these things. It is not softness. It is sanity. But it leaves us with a task; because we cannot make war, because we cannot achieve peace, we must find some other way of meeting the great issues which confront us. For life will go on, and if the answers of the past do not work, other answers must exist and must be found. The answer lies, I believe, in the nature of the struggle between our Western society and the Communist society. It is often said that the struggle which divides the world is for the minds and the souls of men. That is true. As long as there exists a balance of power and of terror, neither side can impose its doctrine and its ideology upon the other. The struggle for the minds of men, moreover, is not, I believe, going to be decided by propaganda. We are not going to convert our adversaries, and they are not going to convert us. THE STRUGGLE, furthermore, is not going to be ended in any foreseeable time. At bottom it is a competition between two societies and it resembles more than any other thing in our historical experience the long centuries of conflict between Christendom and Islani. The modern competition between the two societies turns on their respective capacfty to become powerful and rich, to become the leaders in science and technology, to see that their people are properly educated and able to operate such a society, to keep their people healthy, and to give them the happiness of knowing that they are able and free to work for their best hopes. The historic rivalry of the two societies and of the two civilizations which they contain is not going to be decided by what happens on the periphery and in the outposts. It is going to be decided by what goes on in the heart of each of the two societies. The heart of Western civilization lies on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and our future depends on what goes on in the Atlantic Corninunity. Will this Community advance? Can the nations which compose it work together? Can it become a great and secure center of power and of wealth, of light and of leading? To work for these ends is to be engaged truly in the great conflict of our age, and to be doing the real work that we are challenged to do. I speak with some hope and confidence tonight. For I believe that in the months to come we shall engage ourselves in the long and complicated, but splendidly constructive, task of bringing together in one liberal and progressive economic Communist society. I dare to believe that this powerful Western economic community will be able to live safely and without fear in the same world as the Soviet Union, and that the rising power and influence of the Western society will exert a beneficial magnetic attraction upon Eastern Europe. This will happen if we approach it in the right way. Jean Monnet, who is the original founder of this movement, has put it the right way. “We cannot build our future,” he has said, “if we are obsessed with fear of Russia. Let us build our own strength and health not against anyone, but for ourselves so that we will become so strong that no one will dare attack us, and so progressive and prosperous that we set a model for all other peoples, indeed for the Russians themselves.” At the same time the wealth and confidence of the new community will enable the Western society to assist and draw to it the societies of the southern hemisphere, where social and economic change is proceeding rapidly. You will have seen that I do not agree with those who think that in order to defend ourselves and to survive we must put a stop to progressive movement, which has gone on throughout this century. This movement began in the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. Its purpose was to reform and advance our own social order, and at the same time to recognize that we must live in the world beyond our frontiers. We shall lose all our power to cope with our problems if we allow ourselves to become a stagnant, neurotic, frightened, and suspicious people. Let us not punish ourselves by denying ourselves the hope, by depriving ourselves of the oldest American dream, which is that we are making a better society on this earth than has ever been made before. ‘All of These’ Is all this conservative? Is all this liberal? Is it all progressive? It is, I say, all of these. There is no irreconcilable contradiction among these noble words. Do not Republicans believe in democracy,