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The recent frantic scramble for freedom by thousands of Cubans via the Peruvian embassy and in chaotically dispatched boats is an eruption of long-simmering anguish, not a sudden, new development. But the island might just as well be in the China Sea as ninety miles from the U.S., considering how little is known or acknowledged about life under the Revolution. There are several reasons for the misconceptions that have prevailed these twenty years. Castro's brilliantly orchestrated propaganda managed to conceal the darker realities, while in the U.S. the shrillness of right-wing attacks detracted from their credibility. Then there were the leftists, most of whom regarded Cuba as sacred territory: One did not dare criticize Castro's regime for fear of dooming revolution elsewhere.
There is much talk lately about the rising level of defense interest in Japan. So far as I know, there is no country in the world over the size of 200,000 that does not have something in the nature of an armed force. At the extreme we have the two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, and perhaps China. The range is from wide-scale, virtually all-spectrum military capacity to extremely limited capacity. Japan lies very much at the lower end of the scale: very limited in terms of possible missions, in terms of its own security doctrine, in terms of what domestic public opinion would permit, and in terms of Japan's perception of its position in the world.
A psychologist has observed that when a man gets lost in a dense forest, he tends to run faster and faster. It seems this is what all of mankind is doing in today's crisis-ridden world. In recent years we have witnessed a great many commissions and conferences along with a flood of reports and documents, all purporting to solve the grave problems of our times. Yet it would be no exaggeration to say, borrowing a phrase from Churchill, they have been "less luminous than voluminous."
We may very well stand at one of those decisive turning points of history which separate whole eras from each other. For contemporaries entangled, as we are, in the inexorable demands of daily life, the dividing lines between eras may be hardly visible when they are crossed; only after people have stumbled over them do the lines grow into walls which irretrievably shut up the past.
Hannah Arendt (1975)
In 1972 a conclave of distinguished American historians debated whether the United States was going the way of Germany's ill-fated Weimar Republic. (The colloquium proceedings were published in Social Re search, Summer, 1972.) They concluded that it was not, that the differences outweighed the similarities. But a few participants, such as Geoffrey Barraclough, were already worried, and today reappraisal seems overdue.
Pope John Paul II explored the African continent this May with all the stamina, exuberance, and gusto of the nineteenth-century missionary-explorers Stanley and Livingston. He had to call on his talents as linguist, diplomat, humanist, and intellectual to deal with the complex problems he faced —and continues to face. For examples: How should Rome react to the continuing Africanization of the evangelization of the Church? What is the position of Christianity vis-à-vis the proliferation of Marxist/socialist experiments in Africa? Can Christianity coexist peacefully with Islam in a continent where the latter is growing at a rate of 3 1/2 million adherents per year?
A comparison of conditions in Iran in the last years of Pahlavi control and in the first year of the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic government illustrates nothing better than the difficulties inherent in governing a developing nation as diverse as Iran despite a leader's good intentions. A review of State Department reports on human rights in Iran for 1977 and 1978, in conjunction with the observations of private groups monitoring basic rights, indicates that the country was then in a period of transition. In response to international and domestic pressure the shah's extremely authoritarian administration had initiated the first series of measures aimed at ultimately liberalizing the nation's political climate. Ironically, these very reforms aided the shah's opposition in mounting the challenge that drove him from power in January, 1979.