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be made by General Eisenhower to prevent another immense
4. Meanwhile the attention of our peoples will be occupied
5. Surely it is vital now to come to an understanding with Russia, or see where we are with her, before we weaken our armies mortally or retire to the zones of occupation. This can only be done by a personal meeting. I should be most grateful for your opinion and advice. Of course we may take the view that Russia will behave impeccably, and no doubt that offers the most convenient solution. To sum up, this issue of a settlement with Russia before our strength has gone seems to me to dwarf all others.
(From Sketches From Life of Men I Have Known by Dean Acheson, Harper and
Brothers, New York, 1959)
“COMFORTABLE” AND STALWART FRIENDS
By Dean Acheson Bevin admired General Marshall. To him the Marshall Plan was—and rightly so—one of history's greatest acts of statesmanship. He told me that, as he finished reading the General's speech at Harvard in June, 1947, Sir William (now Lord) Strang, Permanent Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, came to him with the suggestion that he should instruct the Washington Embassy to inquire at the State Department what General Marshall meant by his speech.
"Bill,” he said, "we know what he said. If you ask questions, you'll get answers you don't want. Our problem is what we do, not what he meant." And he began to act at once to establish the Paris conference on European recovery.
We met first in the spring of 1949, when the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty furnished an opportunity for personal consultation and concurrence with the British and French Foreign Ministers on two matters of first importance. One was too secret for cable communication, which involved too many people; the other, too complicated. The first was the discussion with Stalin, then néaring a conclusion, about ending the blockade of Berlin; the other, the creation of a federal German government by uniting the three Western Zones of Occupation. The Kremlin had been trying without success to make the former contingent upon our abandoning the latter .
Our work together that spring of 1949 laid a solid basis of trust and respect. Berlin raised no difficulties. Both Bevin and Schuman were relieved that the end of the blockade crisis was in sight, saw at once the need for our secret negotiations, and approved the results we were working toward: the ending of all restrictions and counterrestrictions—in other words, the status quo ante—and, at Russian insistence, a Conference of Foreign Ministers on German and Austrian questions. After this, agreement with the Kremlin was reached and simultaneous announcements prepared so swiftly and secretly as to avoid the leaks, contradictory explanations, and embarrassing predictions which so often confuse joint action by democratic allies. The meeting of Foreign Ministers was to convene in Paris in May.
The conference encountered heavy weather from the start. The Russians plainly had no intention of making any agreement for German unity which would weaken their hold on the Eastern Zone. Any agreement at all which did not put all Germany under Soviet control would do this, since the Russians were hated and feared in East Germany, and the German Communists were despised as traitors. So the meetings were given over to propaganda statements and maneuvers, such as Vyshinsky's proposal to withdraw all troops from Germany in 1950 and to call a conference in Paris to write a peace treaty for Germany.
It was soon apparent that we had a more serious issue to face than the mere failure of the conference. Failure had been almost inherent in its purpose-saving face for the Russian decision to abandon the blockade. But we soon discovered that they had not wholly a andoned it. The Commandants reported from Berlin that no reil traffic was moving because of a strike on the Russian-operated railroad in West Berlin due to the refusal of the Russian management to pay Western Sector rail workers in West marks, the Eastern marks offered being worth one-fourth as much. Furthermore, the Russian Comm undant had brought the process of removing restrictions on trade to an impasse.
Here, plainly, was a test of resolution. Some within our own American group, of whom Foster Dulles was one, believed we should vigorously protest to Moscow about this, but not endanger the conference. I was delighted to find that neither Bevin nor Schuman shared this view. We three were agreed that the conference was conditioned on the complete and immediate ending of the blockade. If that condition was not met, the conference would end.
With the approval of our governments, we demanded that Vyshinsky join with us in instructions to the Commandants to conclude their negotiations and get traffic moving in three days. At first he refused; but, seeing that we were quite serious about ending the conference, reversed his position on the basis of new information just received. Someone suggested that it must have been an invisible note brought by an invisible pigeon. At all events progress began again; and, though it took more than three days to work out all the problems of Berlin traffic, it was done.
“Comfortable,” in the Elizabethan use, means reassuring. I felt then, as throughout our time together, what comfortable men I had to work with in the bluff English labor leader and the retiring, ascetic Lorraine lawyer.
The conference ground to its end on June 20, 1949. Little was decided about Germany. We tried and failed to get a physical corridor from Helmstedt to Berlin. But a modus vivendi of sorts was worked out on trade and traffic with Berlin, and general undertakings were made of mild and transitory benefit. Rather surprising progress was made on a treaty for an independent Austria. After many hundreds
of sterile meetings by the deputies, the ice seemed to melt. We came within a stone's throw of the result finally achieved in 1955. But the northern night descended to undo our work, as I shall tell.
At six o'clock on Monday evening, June 20, the conference adjourned sine die, with the ceremonies already described. After a final glass of champagne and polite farewells around the buffet tables, we parted, Bevin for an early dinner and the boat-train for London. At our Embassy, in the course of the liturgical ending of all endeavors, a press conference, word came to me that an emergency meeting of the CFM had been called by Schuman at the Quai d'Orsay within the hour, at the request of Vyshinsky. No reason had been given. This news broke up the press meeting. While we ate a hurried sandwich, we learned through our French friends that Gromyko, Vyshinsky's Deputy Foreign Minister, had telephoned him from Moscow after the adjournment and in most brutal language told him that his agreements on Austria were unsatisfactory in omitting an important provision and must be reopened.
Bevin and I reached the Quai d'Orsay together. On the way up the steps I gave him my report, which accorded with his.
"Any ideas?” he asked.
In the Quai d'Orsay's glass-enclosed elevator, which shook and protested under our combined weight, Ernie asked, “Do you know our labor song, "The Red Flag'?” I had to confess ignorance. “The tune's the same as Maryland, My Maryland.' Y'know that, coming from there? Let's sing 'em together, as a sign of solidarity, as we labor blokes say."
And so we did, robustly, arm-in-arm, walking through the sedate Second Empire anterooms, with the final bars at the very entrance of the meeting room. As a mark of solidarity it was impressive.
We had barely a word with Schuman before Vyshinsky reported Moscow's demand that the protocol which he had signed be reopened to provide for the payment to the USSR of "profits and other income” in convertible currency. Vyshinsky was unable to explain the scope of this provision or the need for it. He was unwilling to leave the matter for our deputies to explore.
Bevin congratulated him on a new record. Soviet agreements were fragile things, but today's was the frailest yet. It had not even survived the day. However, he saw no reason to reconsider our adjournment, or change our words. Schuman and I briefly agreed. The meeting adjourned. By midnight the lights of Paris and then London disappeared behind us as the Independence gained altitude on her northerly course back to Washington. I thought with affection of the "comfortable” and stalwart friends I had just left.
[From A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-22
by Henry A. Kissinger, Houghton Miffin Co., Boston, 1957]
THE JUST AND THE POSSIBLE
By Henry A. Kissinger What then is the role of statesmanship? A scholarship of social determinism has reduced the statesman to a lever on a machine called “history”, to the agent of a fate which he may dimly discern but which he accomplishes regardless of his will. And this belief in the pervasiveness of circumstance and the impotence of the individual extends to the notion of policy-making. One hears a great deal about the contingency of planning because of the unavailability of fact, about the difficulty of action because of the limitation of knowledge. It cannot be denied, of course, that policy does not occur in a void, that the statesman is confronted with material he must treat as given. Not only geography and the availability of resources trace the limits of statesmanship, but also the character of the people and the nature of its historical experience. But to say that policy does not create its own substance is not the same as saying that the substance is selfimplementing. The realization that the Napoleonic Empire was tottering was the condition of policy in 1813, but it was not itself a policy: That the period of revolution should be replaced by an order of equilibrium, that the assertion of the will give way to an insistence on legitimacy may have been “in the air”. But one has only to study the vacillating measures of most powers to appreciate that neither the nature of this equilibrium nor the measures to attain it were immediately apparent. However "self-evident” the national interest may appear in retrospect, contemporaries were oppressed by the multiplicity of available policies, counselling contradictory courses of action: in 1813, most Austrian statesmen who did not advocate unconditional neutrality argued either for a continued alliance with France to solidify Austria's relations with the invincible Conqueror or for an immediate change of sides in deference to the national passion sweeping across Europe. Almost alone Metternich held firm, because he was convinced that the incompatibility of Napoleon's Empire with a system of equilibrium did not necessarily imply the compatibility of a polyglot Empire with an era of nationalism. At the same moment, the British Cabinet only reflected public opinion when it urged Napoleon's overthrow and, later on, a harsh peace. It was Castlereagh who brought about a peace of equilibrium and not of vengeance, a reconciled and not an impotent France. The choice between these policies did not reside in the "facts”, but in their interpretation. It involved what was essentially a moral act: an estimate which depended for its validity on a conception of goals as much as on an understanding of the available material, which was based on knowledge but not identical with it.
The test of a statesman, then, is his ability to recognize the real relationship of forces and to make this knowledge serve his ends. That Austria should seek stability was inherent in its geographic position and domestic structure. But that it would succeed, if only
1 The argument that policy is “objective" because it reflects the requirements of security amounts to a truism which assigns a motivation to completed action. For the crucial problem of statesmanship is not to find a formal definition for accomplished policy, but to understand its content at any given period. Disputes over policy never concern a disagreement over the wisdom of safety but over its nature, nor about the desirability of security but about the best means to accomplish it.
temporarily and however unwisely, in identifying its domestic legitimizing principle with that of the international order was the work of its Foreign Minister. That Great Britain should attempt to find security in a balance of power was the consequence of twentythree years of intermittent warfare. But that it should emerge as a part of the concert of Europe was due to the efforts of a solitary individual. No policy is better, therefore, than the goals it sets itself. It was the measure of Castlereagh's statesmanship that he recognized the precedence of integration over retribution in the construction of a legitimate order, as of Metternich's that he never confused the form and the substance of his achievements, that he understood that the Central Empire could survive, not on its triumphs, but only on its reconciliations. It was their failure that they set themselves tasks beyond the capacity of their material: Castlereagh through a vision beyond the conception of his domestic structure. Metternich through an effort unattainable in a century of nationalism.
But it is not sufficient to judge the statesman by his conceptions alone, for unlike the philosopher he must implement his vision. And the statesman is inevitably confronted by the inertia of his material, by the fact that other powers are not factors to be manipulated but forces to be reconciled; that the requirements of security differ with the geographic location and the domestic structure of the powers. His instrument is diplomacy, the art of relating states to each other by agreement rather than by the exercise of force, by the representation of a ground of action which reconciles particular aspirations with a general consensus. Because diplomacy depends on persuasion and not imposition, it presupposes a determinate framework, either through an agreement on a legitimizing principle or, theoretically, through an identical interpretation of power-relationships, although the latter is in practice the most difficult to attain. The achievements of Castlereagh and Metternich were due in no small measure to their extraordinary ability as diplomats. Both dominated every negotiation in which they participated: Castlereagh by the ability to reconcile conflicting points of view and by the single-mindness conferred by an empirical policy; Metternich through an almost uncanny faculty of achieving a personal dominance over his adversaries and the art of defining a moral framework which made concessions appear, not as surrenders, but as sacrifices to a common cause.
The acid test of a policy, however, is its ability to obtain domestic support. This has two aspects: the problem of legitimizing a policy within the governmental apparatus, which is a problem of bureaucratic rationality, and that of harmonizing it with the national experience, which is a problem of historical development. It was no accident, even if it was paradoxical, that in 1821 Metternich had greater difficulty with the Austrian than with the Russian ministers, or that in every negotiation Castlereagh had to fight a more desperate battle with his Cabinet than with his foreign colleagues. For the spirit of policy and that of bureaucracy are diametrically opposed. The essence of policy is its contingency; its success depends on the correctness of an estimate which is in part conjectural. The essence of bureaucracy is its quest for safety; its success is calculability. Profound policy thrives on perpetual creation, on a constant redefinition of goals. Good administration thrives on routine, the definition of relationships which can survive mediocrity. Policy involves an adjustment of risks;