Minutes of the Sixties

Minutes of the Sixties

Minutes of the Sixties

Minutes of the Sixties

Excerpt

The 1930s have been called a decade of low dishonesty; the 1960s may be called a decade of high tragedy.

The decade of the Sixties opened amidst great expectations. The world, if not at peace, was free from major war. In the United States a luminous figure took up residence in the White House. Within a thousand days came the Bay of Pigs, the missile crisis, the assassination. Then came Lyndon Johnson. He promised his people a Great Society. He left them locked in a terrible conflict in South-east Asia, and on the verge of racial war.

In the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev fell (or was pushed) from the pinnacle of power, suffering no personal injury in his descent. Under his successors Russia continued her sororicidal struggle with China, fought (so far) with words as weapons. The states of Eastern Europe, no longer satellites of Moscow (if indeed they ever were), pursued courses of their own within the ever more permissive frontiers of the socialist commonwealth.

That earlier, and more authentic, Commonwealth of Nations saddened more than it inspired those who hoped it might become a shining example of international goodwill, mutual aid, racial tolerance, and devotion to the rule of law. But they had hoped for too much, and were left to draw what consolation they could from Milton's admonition: "For this is not the liberty which we can hope, that no grievance ever should arise in the Commonwealth, that let no man in this world expect; but when complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise men hope for." Complaints about Rhodesia were freely heard and even, at two meetings of Commonwealth prime ministers, deeply considered. But they were not speedily reformed.

Speedy reform, in Rhodesia and in much else, eluded the United Nations also. Here few were disappointed, for few expected much. The United Nations in the Congo all but tore itself apart. For peace-

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