Politics in the twentieth century; The waiting game
The National Association of educational broadcasters welcomes you to waiting game. An examination of domestic politics versus the Cold War. One in a series of discussion programs titled politics in the 20th century for the O's been transcribed by the Community Education Project at San Bernardino Valley College. First you'll hear Samuel Nobel political analyst journalist and author speaking from his study in New York and calculating some of the forces that are remaking the American political scene. Next you'll hear a group of foreign experts and scholars breaking up the discussion in the department of government seminar room at the Moana College in Claremont California. The group will be led by Dr. Charles Nixon political scientist University of California Los Angeles and will have as its regular members Dr Frank leaves sociologist University of California Riverside and Dr. Lee MacDonald political scientist Mona college. We have as our special guest today Dr. Robert Newman of the Department of Political Science University of California Los Angeles and now here is Samuel a bell as recorded in New
York. On my return from an 11 mile trip through Europe right after the war I remarked to some friends some poet ought to write in our road to a stable government. It really is a thing of beauty and a joy forever in Germany which was then under military occupation. I had seen the utter helplessness of people who had no government of their own. They were voiceless with no value to their exertions beyond sheer physical existence behind the Iron Curtain in remaining in Hungary. I had seen what happened when a government is trying into a shotgun and its citizenry into so many clay pigeons. They had a Soviet puppet leaders were using every instrument of government from systematic inflation to the secret police to hunt down and destroy all who might oppose their rule. What I saw in Europe left me wondering how many of us appreciate what stability in government really means. It
is like the air of one breeze. When one has one takes it for granted. But let a critical supply of government stability be cut off and all living becomes our frantic choking for breath. Happily today the American government is the most stable in the world. And yet. Unable to agree among ourselves on how much government we need. We sometimes appear bent upon tearing our government apart. Or rob weakening it to the point where it cannot function effectively. This conflict over the role of government is the real test of our survival which we face in today's Cold War. Under the Soviet system the Kremlin takes what it wants of Russia's results as for war and defense first. Leaving the people to get along on what is left. In the United States and other western democracies. Our economic resources lie dispersed among the people in their holdings of private property. Before these resources can be used even in defense against a foreign foe. They must be
collected from the people through appropriations through taxes in Russia. In short. The people have only what the government gives them. In the Western democracies the government has only what the people give it. Almost that sums up the whole of the Cold War. As long as the cold war lasts we will face this constant test. Can three men yield to their own government or the defense of their freedoms require. Or will they deny their government the means of survival. Meeting that test will be made more difficult by at least two things. First we are given the freedom to choose. If the dangers were plain and immediate. Our political leaders would be ready to ask for all that might be needed and the people would be ready to give it. But in the years ahead the dangers abroad are not likely to be so apparent. We will be left exposed to the temptations of conflicting choices. It will always be possible to make out a case for
reducing taxes. We're demanding that our allies should do more. For reducing our own defense costs by underestimating the enemy's progress. For arguing that we must keep our government weak so that we do not jeopardize our freedoms unquote at home. The second difficulty is that politically at least all of us believe in ghosts. The prevailing attitudes towards government which I held by most Americans reflect in the main that dislike or support of the New Deal. But the loyalties and antagonisms of the age of Roosevelt belong to a past that is dead and which has little bearing on the problems and issues which the Cold War has brought. As one of your discussions in this series have stressed. The closeness of the party balance in the country today largely reflects the fact that we have not yet been able to struggle free political past in effect. Each of us today is standing God over the economic gains we have earned since the Depression.
In that mood we have fallen victim to a strange illusion that no one needs to pay you for the Cold War that at least is a implication of the attitude which has been taken by all of the major pressure groups in our economic and political blogger all have taken as the measure of their well-being. The income left them after taxes are paid labor for example contends that a steady rise in take home pay is needed to keep MassPike Singh power high. There is an ism source upon high Arnie's and dividends to continue I high rate of investment in new plants. What if everyone is to be better off net after taxes. Who is the foot the bill for the cold war which has been taking about a seventh of our national income. One result of cause is a struggle among the various segments of the economy to shift the cost of the Cold War elsewhere. This struggle in turn leads
our politicians to ask less of the American people for fear of upsetting the precarious political balance. The needs of winning the peace abroad tend to be sacrificed to the needs of domestic conciliation. In my own judgment that will be the crucial danger in the immediate years ahead. That our political leaders will not ask enough of the American people and that the people will be content to rest reassured that everything is going well for a nation under siege from a foreign foe complacency is the worst possible Sentinel. We are less likely to slip into those tragic neglects which could destroy us if we remain alert and aroused. And if we think things are taking care of themselves. The time to worry about this country is not when we are battling among ourselves. For it is then that our democracy
functions best. The time to worry is when all is moderation. This was Mr. Samuel Lubell recording in his study in New York. Now let's continue our discussion of domestic politics versus the Cold War as we join our scholars and their guest in Room 6 department of government have to Mona college. Here is Dr. Nixon. Thank you gentleman you've heard Mr. Louboutins discussion of the relation between the internal political conflict in this country and our ability to face the problems of foreign policy. Mr. McDonald I'm wondering as a political scientist how this type of analysis impresses you. Will Mr. Nixon the picture of the American people that Mr. Lu believes with this is a rather gloomy picture and I wonder about its accuracy. You seem to be a people holding on rather greedily and anxiously to the economic gains of the post-war period and because of our anxiety about these gains unwilling to face the challenges that come to us
in the field of foreign affairs I wonder whether we are actually this concerned about maintaining our economic gains and whether actually this produces the kind of apathy that he's talking about. Mr Lee as a sociologist Are there issues here that you see as a particular importance. Well I wouldn't drag in sociology in this respect Mr. Nixon but I would like to raise a question with respect to one of Mr Nobel's earlier remarks in which he says that the American people seem bent on tearing our apart our government or weakening it to the point where it cannot function effectively. It seems to me that a radical really in a sense outrageous statement of this sort assumes a fantastic amount of conflict existing within the country on the matter of foreign affairs. And while there certainly is disagreement as it has been in all areas of our history I just cannot wait that this is true or an accurate statement. We have as our guest in this discussion today Dr. Robert nomen of the
Department of Political Science and the University of California Los Angeles out of your broad experience both here and abroad in the field of foreign affairs. I'm wondering how Mr. LaBella discussion of the situation impresses you Dr. Newman. Well Mr. Nixon and gentleman I really object to the frame of reference Mr. LaBella idea of the Cold War. People on the siege conjures up the military or Quasar military situation which really does not quite apply to our present situation. A war is a state of affairs in which the enemy is clear in which your own side the side has one priority of interest which is that of survival in which all other issues are secondary in which you may be called upon to make great sacrifices because after all not only survival is at stake but also the war is a strictly business. Someday it is going to be over. Now the
situation that we are facing at the present time is materially different from now. We do not have merely allies and enemies but we have countries to have a more equivocal position. And they are not uniform in their position. Secondly the methods of the Cold War and the situation our own country intimately connected. For instance if expenditures made in order to prosecute a cold war were to affect materially our standard of living. That in turn would be an element of weapon in the opponent. Are you insinuating here Mr Newman that the American people might tend to reject such increases in aid. No I don't believe that that is the question here the question is that the use of the word war and siege conjures up a simplification that does not agree it was a reality and that therefore as the
question is posing an artificially oversimplified terms the answers which Mr eq. are proposing artificial terms namely the statement that he makes it is a question of whether the American people will be willing to make the sacrifices that implies that what is to be done is clear and the question is only whether we are willing to do it. But I think what is to be done is by no means clear but out there isn't it true Mr. Newman that Russia poses a military threat to Americans. Strength and that this threat must be met by military expenditures and isn't this perhaps what Mr. LaBella is talking about. If that is what Mr. LaBella is talking about then I think the statement is miscast in the first place I do not believe that the threat that we are facing is primarily military. This is not because the Russian leaders have suddenly seen religious religion and are going to be peacefully inclined but rather because the entire world including Finally the Russians have come to accept or have to accept the realities of the atomic age
it which is that nobody can contemplate it which will be forecasting the end of war then must know when under the current conditions to leave for a political scientist to become a prophet is a highly profitable venture. I think the large scale war has become exceedingly unlikely and that is as far as I'm willing to go. I would emphasize this I hasten to say that it becomes and stays and likely only as long as we are strong. Let a situation develop in which there is a great disparity of power between us and the Russians and war becomes a possibility because the Russian aggressive tendencies exist and continue to exist. But if our In other words we our military policy must continue to a degree we must we and our allies must be strong. But that is no policy in itself that is merely an insurance policy. But Mr. Norman if the provision of military defense for the West is not a policy what is the real policy or where are the areas where policy is important today.
Well I think the areas where policies I'm pointing to. First of all in our relationship with our allies and the attempts and endeavors to stabilize and improve that alliance in the second place it is the battleground of the so-called uncommitted nations in order to commit them not necessarily to our particular way of life but to an internal stability to a stake in their own existence and in their own order so that a solution or situation which may be over and. Our government would not develop. But Mr. Newman It seems to me that what we are not implicitly recognizing at this time is that you knighted States technology the example of the United States industrially productively to the rest of the world is such that we create a revolutionary situation in those countries which are so-called underdeveloped at this stage in history. Now at the same time that we're doing that's of course the United States for various
reasons and we might say and opposition to our traditional policy is consciously supporting the status quo all over the world. Now it seems to me that we not only confuse ourselves in such a situation but we confuse the rest of the world that nobody knows what to expect from us next. And I think there is something to that argument comes perhaps out of the confusion between the objectives of the Marshall Plan and the objectives of the plan is a much broader foreign aid program the Marshall Plan was directed towards you. First of all in other words an already established integrated industrial society. The aim there was very large nevertheless limited in short time time in nature. The industrial societies of Europe it suffered as a result of war and click and it was to be placed in a position of the damages of the past could be painted and it's taken up again and then when we supported existing regimes and
as we. Try to help take anomic order. We had a policy or two policies which dovetail with one another but our way now is still trying to maintain and support and strengthen the economy as Andy might say the economic resources of those nations in order to maintain the strength of the Western alliance. You know Mr. Nixon because our present economic program is focused primarily towards the far east and the Middle East. And there is no economic order to maintain by the new one to create in other words on the one hand on the political side frequently. And Mr. Lee is quite right in criticizing that helping existing regimes but on the other hand on the social and economic level we are trying to effect very great changes. If we try to increase improve the standard of living and strictly underdeveloped countries you create a mass bases of consumption to try to do that. You know once you change the social relationships
entirely you overthrow the social order. And as you do so all you'll get not a new order but disorder. Is it possible that these kinds of policies are so subtle that it is impossible to. Explain them fully to an electorate and that this is a kind of elite decision that has to be made apart from partisan politics over Mr. Macdonald that is a very real point and it is a measure in my opinion of the I think very much a growing maturity of the American people that they should understand the subtlety of the situation but I think this is this process of education is not advanced by selling phoning it on what I believe to be this is namely on the basis of military aid on the bases if you spend 5 billion more then you will have 10 percent less if you are communists. Well I'm wondering if this doesn't really bring us back to the point that Obama was making that though he may have missed the frame of reference in which he put his point doesn't this suggest that his main point is still operative here. That is that our political leadership today because
of internal political reasons is not presenting the issues of the international situation to us in the correct light. I agree it was the last part of the statement that the political leadership is and that is true of both parties is not presenting the issues in a comic light. I don't think they do that for a time in our lives for domestic reasons although that may be an element in that that some policies are easier to sell than others you know. As far as relations to Congress are concerned I believe it has been true in the past at any rate that you can get a large appropriation if you emphasize the defense can't be done. They're more subtle and more complicated and more long range economic and fiscal aspects. But on the other hand I fear very much that the real reason for the present difficulty is that the problems which we are confronted have not been sufficiently explored. But anyone that the experts of all parties and other non-POD is next
prez as well as a party leaders do not know honestly what to do next and therefore their are swimming alone repeating the oft mooted phrases of the Marshall era of the cold or cold war. Perhaps the politicians assume that the people are not able to take this kind of. Policy and discuss it intelligently and exercise a self restraint necessary to use patience in foreign relations but again perhaps we're getting back in different terms through what Mr. LaBella was saying about the willingness of people to endure a certain amount of sacrifice while the sacrifice may not be dramatic and heroic. Nevertheless there is a sacrifice perhaps in restraining one's impulses in the field of foreign affairs. I think that the people probably have a greater capacity for self restraint in this realm than they are often credited with talking to party workers recently I've been impressed with the number who have stressed foreign affairs as the prime
emphasis that should be attacked in political campaigns. Maybe they are rationalizing economic interests with this. Concern with foreign affairs but I feel that quite often it is a genuine concern and one which we have not honored sufficiently. Don't these comments militate against another aspect of the analysis of Mr. LaBella had suggested to us. He had implied that some are rather the close balance between the parties the fact that neither had a clear majority at the present time that we'd arrived at something of what he calls a stalemate in our current political scene made it impossible for one party to take a clear cut lead with respect to presenting the American people with what the real situation is and what the cost of that situation would be to us. I'm wondering if the real fact isn't this is the this and that is that both parties have in fact affected a high degree of agreement in the foreign policy field so that when it does come to the US foreign
aid questions we've had strong support from both Republican and Democratic Parties in. Passing this kind of legislation and making the necessary appropriations so that in this particular area the apparent even balance between parties has not in fact inhibited unity with respect to foreign policy. I believe that is entirely correct Mr. Nixon and I think that this high degree of agreement between the parties has brought about an increasing degree of concern is very legitimate concern and not apathy on the part of the citizen was the questions which they confronted but this concern cannot translate itself into action to a concrete program as proposed. Now when that program is proposed I think the agreement between the parties will be the basis of a very high degree of strength behind such a program. But isn't it true nevertheless that the Republican Party when confronted
with economic difficulties at home at least this is the bill's contention and some of his other writings is tempted very often to wave the flag of nationalism and isolationism at least certain elements in the Republican Party in order to offset the economic disadvantages of a turned in the standard of living. Well there's a certain element of truth in that. Both political parties have some people who get the similarity in the aims and experiences of the two parties and would prefer to see a greater emphasis of differences in the Republican Party the symbol of those people is is the foreign policy issue on which they hang that is a good. Do you see any possibility Mr. Newman of a new isolation or rising in the south and the guise of people like Governor Tom Ridge who is taking quite a strong stand at the present time against foreign aid to the extent that Governor Senator George has even had to modify his
previous policies. Well that is a possibility but that I think is as much a problem within the Democratic Party and as the question of being too much given away in foreign affairs is a problem within the Republican Party the Super Bowl the disagreements between the parties rather than an issue disagree. Gentlemen it seems to me that in the course of our discussion here there seems to be a pretty general agreement that in studying the issue of the relation of Foreign Affairs to our domestic politics Mr. LaBella has pretty well missed the boat in putting this than traditional wartime terms are calling it in Cold War terms that actually the character of our present international situation is not as clear cut as the term war would seem to apply. Secondly is that the problems which are important today. I have a different character than Marshall Plan aid or merely
bolstering up our European allies that in fact the real problems of foreign policy today. I was respect to the kinds of impact which we will have what are known as the underdeveloped areas and those areas which perhaps have had a certain position of neutrality in the apparent conflict between Russia and the United States. And thirdly that in the obscurities of foreign policy problems as they are presented to us domestically the real difficulty is not what the cost should be and it's not that the cost of the policy have been hidden from the American public but in fact the reasons for the policy have been somehow obscured and that there is perhaps an attempt to sell a policy on the basis of reasons which seem more acceptable to the American people rather than an attempt rather than everything as well to ask for the a price which needs to be paid. I'm wondering if there are other aspects of this problem which still need to have some comment made on them. Mr. McDONALD Well perhaps this is only an illustration of the
point you were just making. But Mr Lubow mentions that the pressure groups active in the area of foreign affairs seem after after income and economic gain primarily net after taxes to use his phrase. Well it's quite true that the disinterested pressure groups are nonexistent perhaps that most pressure groups are after their own economic gains but we should not overlook the fact that pressure groups are not the only elements in our political society and that when confronted with issues dramatic or otherwise that deeply affected people most people respond I think this is the Democratic face at least in a fairly intelligent way. This is an age old problem of politicians too timid to present the people with hard facts. But I think it is not a problem which is insurmountable. Mr Lee other other problems that you think we should be concerned with here. No I would just like to reiterate the necessity for the United States realizing a tremendous impact which we
have in a revolutionary sense upon the so called underdeveloped nations and to the extent of course that we destroy as Mr. Newman has brought out the existing social fabric of these countries. We therefore of course force them into a new foreign policy which in turn reflect upon us and that it is extremely necessary for us to exercise a more conscious control over these present implicit circumstances. Mr. Newman Do you think there are problems there that we've missed the daie still important for us to consider. Well perhaps I could just elaborate on one point. The subtlety of the foreign aid policy which is so complicated today is made greeted by the fact that it cannot be disassociated from the cultural patterns of the countries concerned. Under some circumstances and this is particularly said in opposition to Mr. LaBella who assumes that it would be desirable to do more. And there are circumstances under certain circumstances it is better to do this and this is in circumstances you frighten. In other
developed it was a tremendous impact and economic advisors coming in and turning the country upside down sometimes to do lists is doing a good deal more and consequently the American public has to learn a great deal more of the subtleties of his issue before it can take an intelligent stand. Mr. Newman I want to thank you for joining with us in this discussion today and I want to thank our regular panel participants Dr. Levy from the University of California at Riverside and Dr. MacDonald of the AMOA College in Claremont California for participating in this discussion of the relation of American domestic politics to the conduct of our foreign policy. You have been listening to waiting game and examination of domestic politics versus the Cold War one in a series of discussion programs titled politics in the 20th century. First we heard from Samuel Lubell political analyst and journalist and author as recorded in his study in New York. That across the
- The waiting game
- Producing Organization
- San Bernardino Valley College
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program, "The Waiting Game," is an examination of domestic politics versus the Cold War.
- Series Description
- This series consists of moderated panel discussions on American political affairs in the mid-20th century. It features Samuel Lubell, Professor Charles Nixon and others.
- Broadcast Date
- Politics and Government
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Panelist: Lee, Frank
Panelist: McDonald, Lee Cameron
Panelist: Newman, Robert
Producing Organization: San Bernardino Valley College
Speaker: Lubell, Samuel
Speaker: Nixon, Charles
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-8-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Politics in the twentieth century; The waiting game.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 22, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-j09w4z8g>.
- APA: Politics in the twentieth century; The waiting game. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-j09w4z8g