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And it was these remote areas According to Nicholas speaking because of their capacity to mutually reinforce each other with maritime transport where the real key to the city to the control of Eurasia rested they had population in these areas they had industry. They were advanced economies and they had all the other attributes of national power and together they could clearly control Eurasia as long as they were not taken over by either Serry optimal or total by any landlocked power or any land power on the ration land mass. I'll get a little ahead of my story here by simply calling to your attention call your attention to the fact that Professor speak means analysis which rested so heavily on the idea of retaining control of the remote islands of Eurasia was in very real in a very real sense the intellectual forebear of the concept of containment as we adopted it in the period after World War 2 because the whole policy of containment was geared to the proposition that it was important to
U.S. security interests to contain any further expansion by to use we can term the heartland power on Eurasia into these Rimland areas. Do you mind if states must join its strength. With the indigenous strength in order to prevent. This from happening. And this is the whole idea of containment. It was not the only idea in containing the other idea being that if you applied counter-force. To any attempt to take over these Rimland areas and if you succeeded in preventing it that through time there would be a change in the character of these regimes in the heartland of Eurasia in which the threat itself could be ameliorated because of the evitable and inescapable evolutionary developments that would occur coming right down to current history I think we're all aware that these evolutionary developments are occurring and they may be in fact occurring more rapidly than we know which is particularly the events in Eastern Europe in Czechoslovakia in the last.
Weeks and months Well this one was the picture of the world with candor saying that land power was going to be the dominant power in Eurasia. And that ultimately this could control the world. With speak man saying that the rim lands of Eurasia were the key to control of that continent. That dual continent if you will and that as long as the Rimland areas were secured Eurasia could be could be secured and therefore it was not a in evitable product of history that somehow or other the Hartland power would take over the ration land mass and ultimately control the world. Now it's tempting to discuss this in considerably greater detail but time doesn't permit. Let me move on to an analysis now of. Some comments rather on the political implications of this kind of a view of the world in which in effect the land power of Eurasia. Is up against the the maritime and Rimland power of Eurasia.
In some kind of a balance. Let me talk now about the political implications of this and particularly the political implications for the United States. Remember geopolitics is a combination of geography and policy and politics. And so let's turn now to the political aspect of this particular concept. One hardly knows where to begin it's so big. Clearly as I suggest. We mean get. We are looking here at this whole question of the balance of power in the world as it affects control of your race. Now. We as Americans have. Have had an emotional. Reaction against the whole idea of something called the balance of power. When England performs the role of being the balancer of power in the world in other words the role of trying to preserve a balance in the world. England had the unenviable task of sometimes appearing to be on one side of a power balance and
at another time being on the other side of the power balance and we would characterize as this I believe as perfidious Albion there was no principle involved they were they were doing violence to our sense of. Moral justice and we were outraged by this idea that you didn't live first and foremost by principle rather than by crass power politics. Well the truth of the matter is that the Great Britain recognised is essential to her national interests to preserve a balance in one way or the other in this world. Now we enjoyed a free ride thanks to British ingenuity in acting as the balance of power balance of power in the world. It isn't that we were unconcerned really with the balance of power in the world. We were vitally concerned but we could indulge ourselves for most of our history in the luxury of letting the other fellow do it for us.
We were always involved in a very real way with how with who controlled Western Europe whether it be the French whether it be the Germans. And we were always very anxious to not permit a situation to develop in lecture in which one single power might gain a dominant position in all of Western Europe. Even our famous Monroe Doctrine you know was really a Europe balance of power oriented idea. We didn't want the nations of Western Europe. In this hemisphere for a variety of reasons but one of the reasons was that if they were to gain dominance in certain portions of this hemisphere it would represent an accretion of power which would in turn affect the balance of power in Europe and prosody permit a takeover or a dominance by one by one European power. And this is why we were concerned with preventing under the Monroe Doctrine. This from happening now of course again even in the carrying out of the Monroe Doctrine. We had the British Navy in the Atlantic. To help us out. We certainly did not
have a navy of our own we certainly did not have the power of our own to enforce this unilaterally declared Dr.. So I would I'm simply trying to call your attention the fact that we have always been concerned from the very beginning of our history with the maintenance of a balance of power in Europe the prevention of Germany by a single power in Europe. And we didn't dare make a fine distinction between whether that power was hostile or non-hostile we proceeded on the assumption that any power. No matter how seemingly friendly it might be if it were to gain this kind of dominance in Europe would ultimately represent a threat to U.S. national interests and to U.S. national security. Now the same thing has been the case in Asia on the this is a more contemporary event. But if you if you go back to the open door concept for Asia which is which is which is have been at the core of our policy for many years with respect to Asia there is the whole idea of the open door in Asia. The whole idea of well in 1051 in
1015 we rejected the outrageous twenty one demands of Japan with respect to Asia. Why did we reject. Because we recognize that acceptance of these Japanese demands would lead inescapably to ultimate Japanese domination in all of East Asia and we looked upon this as a severe threat to our interests and our vital interests. The. The Washington Treaty and the One Power treaty one thousand nine hundred one thousand twenty two. If your concern is concerned with with the peace in East Asia and concerned with the balance of naval power particularly in the in the far Pacific was something that we supported because we looked upon this is a way of preserving a balance of naval power and of military power in the East Asia and in the western Pacific. The Stimson doctrine of non-recognition in 1932 with respect to the Japanese conquest of Manchuria was a further manifestation of our. Long standing powers are preventing Asia likewise from coming under the
domination of her agenda me. A Germany of a single state. The quarantine the aggressor speech by President Roosevelt in one thousand thirty seven in Chicago had this same basic. Policy background. As you recall of course this was a very unpopular idea in 1037 and President Roosevelt was unable to sell the American people on the importance of a wresting aggression. Of quarantining aggression. At the outset before it might come to threaten us in a very serious way 1939 we. Abrogated our commercial treaty with Japan for the same reason. And all of this of course finally led to World War 2 against Japan. And one. Was World War Two all about. Ultimately it was the same fundamental objective of preventing domination of these days in the western Pacific by a single power which in this case would clearly be hostile to US interests. Now what's the relevance of all this for the world in which we live. Now.
I've already suggested that the doctrine of containment has evolved in the post-World War Two years forty seven forty eight although particularly oriented towards the Soviet threat and what it might mean with respect to domination in Western Europe containment as I've suggested the intellectual and it's intellectual for barium into Beekman analysis but the whole idea there was to prevent. Domination of Western Europe by a single state in this case the Soviet Union. And you can box the compass around Eurasia and you can look at how U.S. policy has expressed itself. In almost every situation since World War Two whether it be Korea whether it be Southeast Asia whether it be India whether it be the Middle East our whole concern has been to prevent. Domination of Europe by a single state or of Asia by a single state. Well again we could we could develop this at great length. And I'm sure that in the discussion period we may want to explore more fully and
in some depth. Various aspects of this. Let me turn now to some final comments against this broad background of geography and U.S. policy to a couple of just closing observations. The way one looks. At the World and of history and it what U.S. policy should be at any juncture in history is going to be heavily influenced in my judgment by two considerations. One we are we all have some concept of where we are in history where we are in history in this year 1968. Now admittedly this is a rather obscure notion let me try to flesh it out. When the history of this era is written
will there have been a world war three. Certainly we can all ask this question now if we go from that to the next question and say. Is it conceivable that either by actions or inactions in this period prior to what might have been or might be a world war three. Have we made that war more or less likely. I would suggest ladies and gentlemen that a very fundamental aim in US policy in this entire world war. Two period the ultimate logic of the policy has been to prevent a world war 3. Now you've heard this said in various ways it's been said for example that one of the reasons where in Southeast Asia is to prevent a lot and even a larger war at some time in the future. But the most dramatic way it seems to me to to put the proposition is
that the ultimate logic of everything we've been trying to do rightly or wrongly. Since World War 2 is to prevent a world war 3. And I need for this audience why it is imperative that a world war 3 fought with modern weapons of war. Clearly it's a contradiction in terms to talk about any such war. Ever serving any foreign policy or national interest of any country would be the ultimate disaster for all concerned. So it would be a contradiction in terms to speak of this kind of a war supporting foreign policy. And as I recall the great German philosopher of conflict said that a war must serve the interests of policy. If it is to make any sense at all otherwise its strategic nonsense. So the ultimate logic of what we've been trying to do right here long since World War 2 is to prevent a world war three we have engaged in a Korean War we haven't. We have committed our military power either overtly or threatened to use in other situations in order to forestall a shifting in the balance of
power which we have judged would be either disadvantageous to the United States would either Its would might threaten our security interests and might in some ultimate sense mean some step along the road to a world war 3. Now there is no way in which a mortal can say the by action or inaction in any particular situation. We are assuredly in some sense either preventing a world war 3 or making a world war 3. Certainly I think all of us instinctively feel that with respect to the history of the 1930s that had France and had England then had the United States acted different at the time of Ethiopia or at the time of Manchuria 1031 the systems of non-recognition doctrine or had we acted differently at the time of the occupation of the Rhineland or his occupation of Austria or Czechoslovakia or Munich. You can list them all for yourself that we
all instinctively feel that somehow had the station nations opposed to Germany in the situation acted differently in Europe that World War 2 might have been prevented. And yet I would suggest that even with all the advantage of hindsight it would be a bold man who would assert that World War 2 would not have occurred had that policy been different in any particular instance that had we contested the occupation of the Rhineland as some wished to do and as we know now Hitler was unprepared to go to war in case it was contested. Or had we acted differently at a time of unique wine and Ethiopia or what have you I think would be a very able man who would assert that this assuredly would have prevented a World War Two. Well if you can't do it with all the advantage of historic hindsight. How impossible it would be to judge contemporary history living history to say that by action or inaction in a given situation we are
assuredly producing a given consequence some time down the road. So I my first point then is I think any one's view of the world anyone's view of policy is heavily conditioned by where you think we are in history. And how you judges everyone judges it differently how you judge this will have a profound bearing on how you feel about our policy with respect to let's say NATO's or the Middle East or our concern with respect to the new Soviet strength developing in the Mediterranean. The whole new development of Soviet strategic power which will increasingly make itself felt around the world in the Indian Ocean Mediterranean and elsewhere. How one feels about the consequences of this development. Where are we in history. I think this will heavily influence how you think about the policy. The second way in which I think we are all heavily conditioned by. Our environment I suppose you might say is what's our geo political image of the world. And that's the thing
I've been talking about mostly this morning. And how did how does this translate out in practical terms it means that with respect to something like Vietnam for example you assess our national interest in Vietnam where you assess the strategic importance of Vietnam in terms of really not the strategic importance of Vietnam as such but the strategic importance let's say of Southeast Asia as a whole and the relevance of it now for possible developments in Southeast Asia as a whole. And you in turn assessed the strategic importance of Southeast Asia as a whole. In terms of if you're judging the geopolitical of the importance of that area to East Asia as a whole and to the future of the Western Pacific as a whole as Southeast Asia goes. Does Indonesia go likewise. And you can spin this out in great detail. This is not an oversimplified idea of a domino theory where assuredly if one domino falls all the other fall as well.
The other dominoes might fall even if the first one doesn't. How does one view in other words the relationship of states the space they occupy in an international environment. Of great tension great conflict indeed of incompatible purposes and objectives at the present time. So I suggest that in turn your vision of the importance of East Asia as a whole and Western Pacific as a whole so far as the United States is concerned is going to be heavily conditioned by whether you subscribe to the proposition as we historically have that we must not permit East Asia to come under the domination or under the Gemini of a single power friendly or hostile on the grounds of course that a friendly power if we were against such a gentleman might ultimately acquire hostile interests. But these two things then it seems to me heavenly condition how we judge any particular policy whether it be with now. Whether it be our interest in NATO How vital is a particular
part of the Rimland Asian Asian area. That's what Vietnam is all about. Going back to speak with. I the room why it's important to the United States. Well I suggest that there crucially because. The truth of the matter is as I indicated earlier technology has a lot to do with distance. SE Asia is not far from the United States. There's a very strong article by Albert whilst better in foreign affairs I believe the April issue of this year called the illusion of distance. It's no more difficult for the United States to go to Vietnam than it is for the United States to go to Colombia. It's equally difficult by the way to move around in both Colombia and Vietnam after you get there. These are those and last as I was talking about earlier. And it may be very difficult to get troops ready to get in the aircraft and fly them to South Vietnam. Or aboard the ships with them and put the equipment their equipment on ships and ship it to Saudi and then they take a long time to get the troops and equipment
ready to put on the transports. But it's a very easy job. In terms of strategic distance. The truth of the matter is that the world has literally shrunk we use this as a cliche but it is the case. And this has profound implications for future politics as as Professor Wall Streeters pointed out for example the whole idea of regionalism may be a dying idea. In this sense. That Geographic propinquity does not assure. A commonality of interest and distance is going to be No. Barrier to conserving your policy. If there is a real mutuality of interest I would remind you that the OPEC the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Which is an outgrowth of the old organization for European Economic Cooperation. The always c d is almost a worldwide organization that includes the countries of Western Europe. It includes ourselves and it
includes Japan. There is no geographic propinquity that has produced this great community of interest. Rather this is a common interest of highly advanced economic states and they do have a lot of common interests. And as Professor was dead I would say distance is going to be no barrier whatsoever to states concerning their policies because of a lack of a deep and abiding and fundamental interest and the fact that you happen to live next near some state doesn't at all indicate necessarily that you will have a common interest and therefore that this will produce regional vanities. I only have to remind you of the fact that Israel is very close to the Arab states but it's rather difficult to conceive of a regional. Arrangement in the Middle East which would encompass Israel. Well on this note then let me conclude. And repeat it seems to me our judgment with respect to any policy issue is heavily conditioned by where you think we are in world history
and second how you view the world. Geo political or geo strategic. And I would suggest as Professor wells that are has that distance is an illusion. Certainly with respect to what we have we commonly refer to as. An all out war. A general war a nuclear war. Distance is irrelevant to the question of a nuclear exchange between the United States and the USSR. But I hastily add this is not to say for one minute the geography may not be important in lesser conflicts and that is why our postwar policy has been geared to this long standing proposition that the remand areas of Eurasia are important to the United States that our national interests are vitally involved. And the most fundamental of all national interests may be involved because through action or inaction if we. Wind up with a world war three we will have sacrificed the
most obvious parity of national interest. Thanks following the presentation by Colonel Donald Busey. The moderator Professor Minos generalise open the Institute on world affairs to questions from the floor. Colonel Busey responded to the following question. Is World War Three more or less likely because the generation coming into power are not those who are engaged in World War 2. Well. Some analysts of course have made the very sad commentary almost historic fatalism that every generation faces its great war. There are those who say that based on historical evidence that you can anticipate a world war every twenty three twenty five years based on historic experience. I for one do not accept this notion at all of historic inevitability.
Because I think some of the premises upon which it seems to be based are invalid. I am not a prophet and I do not know whether there will be a world war 3. If there is a world war 3 I do not know whether it will be attributable to the fact that historic memory of living people is bad but I do take great comfort in the fact that while the world has been shrinking in the distance it's also been shrinking in terms of communication. People understand more fully the world in which we live. But I also take and this is a great paradox. I take great comfort in the fact that with all the dangers and risks of the contemporary world of the nuclear age it may be those very dangers and risks of the nuclear age that may have the most profound effect of all whether we have a world war 3. In other words the
consequences of another war are so great and they're there for all to see. It's certainly responsible leadership will bend every effort to certainly never initiate such a conflict and also to avoid taking actions which are likely to produce such a comic's conflict. One of the tragedies of history of course is that once wars get started it's awfully hard to stop. Nobody made a decision for example to start World War One. Somebody got assassinated in the Balkans. You had a comms figuration of political circumstances involved. You had short sighted military plans which visualized either for mobilization or normalization. There was no grey area in between. Something called partial mobilization and as a result we had the Guns of August. I'm sure you read Dutchman. To use circular McNamara's phrase in a very different consonant sounds to con. Tent. In a very upsetting you have a mad momentum once a war gets started. We're
not wise enough to reverse these processes so this is a great danger but I think responsible leaders recognize that danger. Therefore they're very careful to try to avoid confrontations and conflicts which somehow become irreversible. And might explode into the Great War. So as I say I'm not a prophet. I can't I can't predict whether there'll be a world war three but I go back to something Professor Jacob Vyner a University of Chicago economist said and he said this in 1045 by the way this is a speech she gave in November of 45 just three months into the atomic age. I think it's worth just a mention here. He gave this by the way to the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Society and did this speech appears in their January 1946 proceedings and the speech was called the. The international implications of the atomic bomb are substantial and he ticked off three possible. Futures a future where this one was yes that with an atomic world there might be another world war starting out of the blue
attacks to use our contemporary terminology. You consider this most unlikely. Because of the consequences of such a war. Second there might be lesser wars. In which atomic weapons were not used. And that nations would never use atomic weapons unless they really literally felt backed into a corner where they had no alternative because their survival was judged to be at stake. And I could spin this out which I want but the third are for your purposes the most important hypothesis which Professor Vyner advanced. And mind you he said I don't know a thing about the atomic bomb but I know some about international relations and he said the most important thing that the atomic bomb may produce in international affairs is that it may not affect so much the way in which war is waged as will affect the institution of war itself because any war has within it the seed of a big war. Nations will become increasingly reluctant to go to war at all to use military force at all for any purpose to defend a vital interest to try to achieve some
judged important national interest for fearing that if you go to war. You may produce a chain of events of uncontrollable circumstances that although we produce a disaster of a nuclear war. Well I think this is a very profound hypothesis which as he said merited consideration in a classic of academic understatement. I think this is what's happened. Responsible leaders have become very reluctant to use military force at all. I'm talking now about the nuclear powers because that's what we were where we would be concerned with here. By the way it's in that kind of a world however that the non-nuclear powers the little powers in the world seem to feel quite secure somehow in waging little regional wars of their own including internal and domestic wars because they have a feeling that the big powers will elect to sit this out at least in terms of direct intervention for fear of producing the very kind of war that they have always to avoid. Colonel Donald Bussey speaking at the twenty sixth annual Institute on world affairs. It's topic you're getting with this institute central theme of revolution was
geopolitics revisit. This is James H Macy inviting you to join us next week on the series for another presentation from the Institute on world affairs. This program was produced by the Department of Telecommunications and film at San Diego State College in California. This is the national educational radio network.
Revolution: 20th century phenomenon
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#11 (Reel 2)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #11 (Reel 2),” 1969-03-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #11 (Reel 2).” 1969-03-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #11 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from