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We face a series of issues in the Middle East, some of them new and quite unprecedented. The first is how to bring to a conclusion the negotiating process that has been started. With respect to the negotiations between Egypt and Israel I do not think much needs to be said. They will be concluded within the very near future. They will create their own reality. They will mark both a political and a spiritual change, in the sense that two peoples who have thought of each other only in terms of hostility will now at least have an opportunity to address together some tasks of construction.
I would, however, say two things. It is perhaps not totally unfair to state that many Israelis, and Jews, operate on the principle that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. But I see no overwhelming political necessity that, for example, every Israeli busline establish a terminal in Cairo. I think, of course, it is important that contact starts with Egypt and Israel. I think it is important also that these contacts be developed in a manner that is compatible with Egypt's perception of itself, still a Moslem country and still related to other Arab countries. And I would strongly urge that within Israel aitd within the Jewish communities around the world some mechanism be established that vets the many brilliant approaches that are being generated by every original Jewish thinker, a number that exceeds the total Jewish population.
The keynote of Jewish history is not unity. The keynote of Jewish history is fragmentation, dispersion, and diversity. And to achieve a consensus out of this disruptive tradition is not the easiest of tasks.
Our starting point in recent days has been the certainty that there will be a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. I've had talks recently with the heads of the Israeli and Egyptian delegations and emerged convinced that a peace treaty will emerge despite some complex issues that remain to be solved. And thus we stand in the revolutionary era that begins, not in November, 1978, but in November, 1977, with Anwar el-Sadat's voyage to Jerusalem. What he achieved was to make a breach in the wall both of Arab rejection and of Israeli suspicion.
Now let us be frank with each other. Underneath the outer surface of Israeli life there has ilways been something choked and strangled, something cut off from expression, a terrible sense of insolubility, deadlock without end. The sense of being totally excluded from any affirmative contact with the neighboring world has been much more deeply at work on the morale and consciousness of the Israeli people than we might have wished to admit. And now all of a sudden the windows are open and the air comes rushing in.
Never since ancient times,” wrote Frank Dilnot for the New York Times, “has a Continent received an individual with the expectation and interest that Europe will receive President Wilson….” The assessment was accurate. When Woodrow Wilson arrived in France on December 13, 1918, a month before the opening of the peace conference at Versailles, he came as the savior of Europe and was welcomed as such.
The trip to Europe was a gamble, one he himself had said would be the “greatest success or the supreme tragedy” of history. He realized that the statesmen of Europe did not want him at the peace conference, and for that reason alone he felt he must go. For him the conference would be a struggle between the forces of good, of the New Diplomacy, and the forces of the Old Diplomacy, which had brought about the Great War and were still being pursued by the statesmen of Europe. “Europe is still governed by the same reactionary forces which controlled this country until a few years ago. But I am satisfied that if necessary I can reach the peoples of Europe over the heads ortheir Rulers.” During the war itself Wilson's methods and goals had been resented by Allied leaders, but he had gone ahead in spite of them and had succeeded in obtaining an armistice based on the Fourteen Points. In securing the peace, he would use the same methods.
The Americans are coming—not merely statesmen and diplomats, not just occasional journalists or teams of scholars or family planners or whatever, but almost anyone with enough money to pay for the privilege and accept some of the nuisance of guided tourism through the People's Republic of China. They jostle for space outside the panda pens of the Peking zoo, madly clicking cameras and shouting greetings at one another. They troop through the courts of the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, mingling with grinning off-duty People's Liberation Army soldiers and hordes of uniformed schoolchildren. They crowd the orchestras of theatres and concert halls, applauding newly revived “revolutionary” operas and dances, often with more spontaneous verve than do the respectfully restrained Chinese around them.
The spectacle of Americans in garish, multicolored dress swirling through the lobbies of Peking's halfdozen hotels for foreigners provides a startling contrast to the normal sight of Ma9-suited Chinese bicycling methodically along broad avenues or crowding sidewalks through districts in which tourists until this year were distinct rareties. The Fifth National People's Congress was in full swing in early March when the first batches of American “friends” with no special professional or political affiliations began arriving. By the end of December some fifteen thousand of them had made the tour—a minuscule figure by the standards of virtually any other nation, but a great leap from the tojal of three thousand American visitors in 1977.
Appearing on the balcony of St. Peter's, his first words as supreme pontiff were: “May Jesus Christ be praised!” At the close of the installation eucharist John Paul II lifted high the papal crozier, redesigned by Pope Paul as a staff surmounted by the crucified Christ. In all his utterances to date the new pope has emphasized Christ as the hope of the world but has also lifted up the mankind Christ came to save. He has illuminated the variousness of this mankind, from the individual in all his loneliness, even his alienation, to persons in collectivities of family, class, race, and nation. He has described many Christians too as people often filled with doubt about their ultimate meaning to themselves or for others, both on the level of social relations of all kinds and in the redemptive community of the Church. John Paul closed his installation homily: “I appeal to all men—to every man (and with what veneration the apostle of Christ must utter this word, ‘man’)—pray for me.“
Some days later John Paul visited Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and declared that he dedicated his pontificate to the Dominican tertiary St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380). This was one further gesture of his identification with the Italian people as their national primate, for St. Catherine and St. Francis of Assisi are the two patron saints of Italy. But he was also signaling his intention, in his choice of a lay woman, a reformer, a crusader, a mystic, and a doctor of the Church (so proclaimed in 1970), to assign high positions of decisionmaking to lay women and to female religious of all orders in recognition of the prominent role women have played in the past and of the much greater role, short of the priesthood, they would be playing under his pontificate.
One of the striking features of the first two years of the Carter administration is its failure to dispel the widespread uncertainty about candidate Carter's fundamental political outlook. Jimmy Carter's two strongest traits in domestic affairs—a populist image and a concern for economic and administrative efficiency—continue to coexist without merging. Many people find it difficult to decide whether he is a liberal or a conservative. This has advantages in a period in which labels are distrusted, but it makes it hard for him to build a strong and durable constituency to support his policies.
A similar uncertainty exists about the focus of the administration's foreign policy. Foreigners often complain about this more strongly than Americans, and allies and adversaries alike stress the difficulty of making firm decisions without knowing the likely direction of U.S. policy. The administration had been in power less than a year when it began to be charged with failing to develop an integrated policy, one that could be clearly articulated by a forceful spokesman such as Henry Kissinger. Its critics argued that this deficiency accounted for its inability to follow a consistent course on matters ranging from relations with the Soviet Union to the Arab-Israel conflict. They often forget that the Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy remained far from clear after their first year in office.
George Kennan, in an interview published by the New York Times Magazine, affirmed the proposition that it is better to be “Red than dead.” Since the end of World War II the United States has been engaged in a successful effort to demonstrate that the choice thus implied is wrong. We have demonstrated, at least to date, that it is not necessary to be either “Red or dead“; it has been possible both to remain free and to avoid a nuclear war. The essential task is to continue so to do.
In the last half of the 1950's, at the time of Sputnik, serious doubts arose as to whether a time would shortly arise when that issue—“Red or dead“—could become serious. It had not been a serious choice during the period when we had a nuclear monopoly, or even when we had an overwhelming and stable nuclear deterrent. But with the Soviet development of ICBMs, the technological practicality of which was first demonstrated by Sputnik, it became possible, perhaps probable, that the “better Red than dead” issue would arise in all seriousness in a few years.
It is impossible to state with assurance what the policy of the Carter administration is with regard to civil defense. As in so many other fields of policy, the policy of the Carter administration with regard to civil defense is contradictory in different respects. Successive statements of the same officials contradict each other. The statements of different officials contradict each other Official statements are contradicted by the actual policy pursued. The realities of the situation militate against the policy announced.
For the purpose of clarifying the issue let us assume that the administration is committed to a greatly expanded civil defense effort over several years, meaning primarily the evacuation of the bulk of the civilian population from the cities. Such a policy is, according to the New York Times, “farcical” on several grounds.
There can simply be no doubt that protection of noncombatants is a major priority of the Western tradition on warfare, generally called the “just war” tradition. Its general concerns are two: to define when the violence of war is allowable (the problem of justification) and to set limits to what may be done in even a just war (the problem of limitation). Paul Ramsey, for example, finds both these concerns in the thought of Augustine of Hippo and argues that for him and for Christian just war theory generally they should be regarded as requirements of divine love. A Christian, on this view, has a duty in love to protect innocent persons being unjustly threatened by violence or subjected to it, and he may utilize counterviolence, if necessary, to effect such a defense. At the same time, the use of such counterviolence is limited by a number of restraints also derived from love, foremost of which is a duty also toward the unjust assailant not to harm him any more than necessary to defend his victim.
A similar pattern of reasoning emerges in Jewish tradition. Talmudic ethics allows use of violence against one who pursues with the intent of doing harm; yet the counterviolence that is permitted is limited by two constraints: First, one may do no worse to the pursuer than what he seeks to do, and, second, one may do no more than needed to make the pursuer leave off his evil intention. Secular contributions to Western just war tradition have provided analogous ideas: The medieval code of chivalry, for example, defined the knight as having a duty to protect noncombatants, while the concept of limited war originally defined and put into practice by such military theorists as Frederick the Great sought to ensure absolute protection of noncombatants outside a combat area and relative protection inside such an area.
Before our government embarks on the proposed forms of civil defense I hope that the following reasons for not doing so will be taken very seriously.
Preparations for the evacuation of cities in a society as free as ours would involve such drastic actions that they would be more of a signal than we would intend of our readiness for nuclear war. Combined with any build-up of strategic nuclear arms that suggested a first-strike capability to the other side, they would be more provocative than appears to us, to whom they would seem innocent and defensive. This reminds me of the account by Thucydides of the great pains the Athenians took to conceal from the Spartans the fact that they were rebuilding their walls after the Persian wars. What could be more innocent and defensive than a wall!
Greater account must be taken of the fears of the Soviet Union. In the long run they may fear China more than the U.S. We are their powerful adversary, who for decades expressed, more unofficially than officially, hostility to the Soviet Union.
Anyone who believes that the Soviet Union, because of its civil defense program, is better able to survive a nuclear war than the United States is totally misguided. And anyone willing to accept such a foolish argument is blind to three basic facts.
First, the massive urban evacuation program would have limited effectiveness in reducing the disastrous effects of a nuclear attack on the general population, even supposing that such a scheme could be effectively carried out on a national scale. Second, targeting for population destruction is not in any case a primary goal of our current strategic planning. Third, if Soviet strategic planners are contemplating a first-strike scenario against the United States (as many American hawks state in their arguments for an American civil defense evacuation scheme), they would be unable to employ their urban evacuation plan, because to do so would obviously destroy the element of surprise needed for any first strike to succeed.
The policy of the Carter administration is to increase substantially civil defense expenditures. In terms of moiney it is not a “majority priority,” since the administration plans to lock us into overall military expenditures on the order of $1.8 trillion in 1977 dollars by 1988. The justification for the increased civil defense expenditure’ is that it is a “modest” increase in response to demands for a much bigger program and a counter to the Soviet program. There is a strong pork barrel element in the program too. Just as civil defense was the justification for building the nation's highway, system, it is now being quietly presented to local officials as a way to get some money into local communities in a time of austerity. It is also a way to buy off opposition to a SALT treaty, or so it is thought.
All such justifications for the program are utterly irresponsible. To spend billions on civil defense when crucial programs essential to the strength of the nation are being slashed is pathological. Appeasing critics of the SALT treaty by throwing them a “harmless” bone is self-defeating, for the program lends credibility to their view of reality, not that of the treaty advocates, and creates a climate in which it is easier to defeat the treaty.
While the Carter administration is clearly paying more attention to civil defense and will undoubtedly request more funding for crisisrelocation planning, this does not yet constitute giving "major priority" to civil defense. Most policymakers seem to believe civil defense can play only a very limited role in mitigating the effects of nuclear weapons.
Many of the questions related to the desirability or undesirability of more stress on civil defense are essentially unanswerable. We simply cannot know with assurance how it will affect U.S. security or the chances of nuclear war. Plausible points can be made on both sides, but it is mostly speculation. Nobody who feels strongly one way or the other is likely to have his views changed. The debate will be predictably inconclusive.