The Diffusion of Power: An Essay in Recent History

The Diffusion of Power: An Essay in Recent History

The Diffusion of Power: An Essay in Recent History

The Diffusion of Power: An Essay in Recent History

Excerpt

This essay is one man's view of the years 1957-1972. It is a portrait of how the world community and the United States moved through an extraordinary passage, with elements of both continuity and change. As the period ends, anxieties exist that existed also in the late 1950s: What are the Russians up to in Cuba? Will there be another Arab-Israeli war? What of the future of Southeast Asia? Is there a United States-Soviet missile gap and is it dangerous? What about the American balance of payments?

But the changes are even more striking. We have moved from the terrors of nuclear blackmail to the negotiation of the nonproliferation treaty and the SALT talks. We have seen Mao proclaiming that Moscow should lead world communism in a global crusade, then confronting more than forty Soviet divisions on his frontiers, and finally greeting Nixon in Peking. We see, initially, an exuberant Khrushchev, confident that Soviet heavy industry production would exceed that of the United States by 1970 and denying the automobile age as a capitalist aberration; but his successors, in the midst of a somewhat sluggish economy, decide to bring the automobile cheaply and efficiently to the Soviet consumer, with the aid of Fiat and other Western firms. We begin with Eisenhower's complacent America of the mid-1950s at the zenith of high mass-consumption, content to see its excessive gold stocks drain off to build the reserves of others; but even in his latter years, the United States begins to be thrown on the economic defensive by the rise of Western Europe and Japan; and, then, in the 1960s, it is simultaneously challenged and becomes uncertain in . . .

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