A World of Escalating Interdependencies, by Dr. George W.

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A World of Escalating Interdependencies, by Dr. George W.

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A World of Escalating Interdependencies
by Dr. George W. Collins
Air University Review
September-October 1980



THE close, cordial Western European-American relationship of the first decade following the Second World War has been shattered by economic crises and by the changed nature of America's foreign policy. From Charles de Gaulle to Helmut Schmidt, Western European leaders repeatedly glance eastward as they appraise their prospects for security and independence in the light of Soviet-American relations and the U.S. commitment to Europe. For the NATO partners, security is more than a matter of a SALT II agreement, and assessments of the present and future thrust of Soviet policy must continually be reevaluated.

Walter C. Clemens, Jr., assesses probable Soviet foreign policy in The U.S.S.R. and Global Interdependence.* A political science professor at Boston University and an associate at Harvard's Russian Research Center, Clemens has published a number of works on Soviet affairs. To those who have a doomsday vision of the ultimate aspirations of the Soviets and thus look askance at any agreement that does not provide for a clear-cut American strategic superiority, Clemens suggests that there is hope for a more favorable relationship. He sees a "world of escalating interdependencies" in which Soviet interests will not best be served by the hermetic policies traditionally followed to preserve the state internal system. Moreover, Clemens denies that a more cooperative policy would be counter to Communist ideology as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels themselves, in the Communist Manifesto, preached of the "universal interdependence of nations." (p, 1)

*Walter C. Clemens, Jr., The U.S.S.R. and Global Interdependence: Alternative Futures (Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 1978, $3.25), 113 pages.

Despite the fact that the U.S.S.R is the least vulnerable major power in terms of the adequacy of natural resources, Clemens points out a number of problems facing the Soviets. No other nation is so ringed with hostile or restive neighbors nor does any have a demographic situation similar to that of the Soviets, who fear that someday the non-Slavic peoples will demand a dominant role commensurate with their numbers. Clemens also predicts finite limits to Soviet economic growth due to an inadequate agricultural system, labor shortages, and a declining rate of capital productivity.

To evaluate the probable nature of future Soviet foreign policy, Professor Clemens concentrates on four tendencies that have prevailed: détente and trade, globalism, forward strategy, and autarky. The nature of detente and trade and of autarky is evident; what he defines as globalism is a cooperative international policy in regard to environmental, economic, and other problems, and as forward strategy is the attempt to establish hegemony over the Third World. He traces the roots of Soviet policy disagreement back to earlier controversies between Russian "westernizers" and "slavophiles" and notes that unanimity still is lacking. Nevertheless, Soviet leaders since Khrushchev have staked their careers on accommodation with the West. That policy has been a calculated risk which must be monitored carefully if "the potentially contaminating effects of increased contact with the West within the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe" are to be properly limited. (p. 56)

Professor Clemens admits that speculation on future Soviet policy is risky, as much depends on the next generation of Soviet leadership. He anticipates that a mixed policy featuring elements of the four prevalent tendencies will most likely prevail. He also recommends a policy of detente and trade as mutually beneficial for both the U.S. and U.S.S.R.

LIKE Clemens, Geoffrey Williams is convinced that the Soviets are sincere Marxists, but while the former was optimistic about Soviet policy the latter remains a traditional cold warrior. Williams believes that the creation of NATO came as the "direct and inevitable result of Stalin's hostile marxist conditioned foreign policy," and that the crux of the East-West confrontation is that Soviet offensive power "has remained throughout a menacing feature of European politics." It is from that perspective that Williams, in The Permanent Alliance,* examines the "origins, development, decline, and possible future" of Western European-American relations since the Second World War. The problem for the West is how to cope with the Soviet threat; the solution is in a more organic Western European-American relationship than NATO. Williams is a senior lecturer in international politics at Portsmouth Polytechnic in Great Britain, and his research for the book was supported with a NATO fellowship.

*Geoffrey Williams, The Permanent Alliance: The European-American Partnership, 1945-1984 (Leyden: A. W. Sijthoff, 1977, $37.00), 407 pages.

On the issue of American participation in European affairs since 1945, Williams credits the British government for drawing the United States "toward the reality of an alliance" when it agreed to permit American atomic bombers to be based in Britain in the late 1940s. However, he sees in the Korean War "the real beginning of the western alliance system" because it led to the general rearming of Europe.

By the mid-1950s the cohesion of the European-American alliance began to deteriorate. The change began with the accommodation reached by the U. S. and the U.S.S.R once they reached a strategic stalemate. That accommodation was symbolized by the 1955 Geneva Summit Conference, which heralded the beginning of the doctrine of coexistence. In addition, both nations worried about nuclear proliferation and grew suspicious of their allies' politics. Later, the American unilateral action in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis convinced many Europeans that in America's pursuit of her own special interests those of her allies "were apt to be relegated or even sacrificed." A more recent factor in the European-American estrangement when Williams wrote was the Nixon Doctrine, which he regards as a shift from the activist policy of Kennedy and Johnson toward "a pragmatic adjustment of interests. "

As a result of these developments, Williams states that if Europe is to survive it must assert its own will and resolve the dilemma posed by the "antithesis between the idea of Atlantic unity and European integration." Although he agrees that the Soviet threat to Europe has "almost certainly diminished," he considers the European-American partnership, including the commitment of America's nuclear deterrence, to be essential. That relationship should be sealed in a permanent alliance for which he suggests three possibilities: the present functional approach based primarily on military commitments; a political partnership of the United States and the European Economic Community (EEC); or an Atlantic Federal Union. Williams opts for the third choice, but he insists that if it is to be achieved, Europe must take the initiative. He admits that European integration will not occur for some time but is optimistic that EEC is a real beginning and that if proposals for a federal union are formulated quickly the institutional structure could be agreed upon before President Carter leaves office (which Williams believes will be in 1984).

Should the European-American alliance fail to materialize, Williams warns that Western Europe may slip into a subservience to the Soviet Union that, despite American efforts to prevent it, eventually would lead to Soviet world domination.

THE Clemens and Williams books present both historical summarization and speculation of certain critical international issues. But is it possible to be more precise in evaluating such matters, and is there a general theory of international relations that can be applied? These are some of the questions addressed in Glenn Snyder and Paul Diesing's Conflict among Nations.* The book is the result of a joint project conceived and directed by Snyder for the Center for International Conflict Studies, State University of New York at Buffalo, with support from the National Science Foundation and the Naval War College. Professors Snyder and Diesing separately wrote the chapters after each contributed to the other's drafts. They agree that unfortunately there is no adequate general theory of international relations and, therefore, analysts are forced to cope with fragmented conceptions of issues. While the authors recognize that their study does not solve the problem, they hope it will serve "as a theory of crisis behavior and as a contribution to the theory of international conflict or international politics generally." (p. 3)

*Glenn H. Snyder and Paul Diesing, Conflict among Nations: Bargaining, Decision Making, and System Structure in International Crises (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1977, $32.50 hardback, $9.50 paperback), 578 pages.

The authors explain their conception of international relations and the role of bargaining as follows:

Conflict is central to all politics, especially international politics, and crises are conflict episodes par excellence. Lying as they do at the nexus between peace and war, crises reveal most clearly and intensely the distinguishing characteristic of international politics and the logical starting point for theorizing about it: the pervasive expectation of potential war. , . . (p. 3)

In these interactions between states, bargaining is basic and results in either war, capitulation, or compromise. A modern problem however, is that although war historically served as a "mechanism for change and for resisting change," it is not plausible for nuclear powers who are limited to the use of "psychological force" in conflicts between themselves. Therefore, say Snyder and Diesing, to allow themselves more room for maneuver, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R have carefully managed confrontation so as to avoid loss of control while simultaneously allowing the "provocation threshold" to rise.

Those who advocate unilateral disarmament as the best prescription for peace may be disquieted by the findings of these scholars. In the cases they examined for this book (dating from the 1898 Fashoda crisis to the Soviet-American confrontation during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War), the bearing of military strength upon the outcome repeatedly was demonstrated. And Snyder and Diesing note that the Soviet buildup since the Cuban missile crisis indicates that Soviet leaders see political advantage in military strength.

The heart of the discussion in Conflict among Nations is about game and decision-making theory. The writers found most useful for analysis of the structure of international bargaining situations the 2 X 2 game and the "supergame" (which links sets of 2 X 2 games). For analyzing the decision-making process, they favor the "bounded rationality" theory in which the players "search for an acceptable, not a best strategy." In order to obtain a complete picture of crisis resolution, the structure of the bargaining situation and the decision-making process must be interrelated, but as previously noted, no existing model sufficiently incorporates all the variables. And for those skeptics of systemic analysis who prefer historical analogy, Snyder and Diesing have a rejoinder:

History is not only more complex than chess or geometry, it is qualitatively different in that it never repeats itself. The use of historical analogy to deduce mechanically a proposed strategy is always irrational insofar as it obscures the new features of the present bargaining problem. Consequently those statesmen who reason deductively from historical analogies. . . [reason] irrational[y], while those who try to deal with a crisis in its own terms are more likely to be rational. (p. 371)

The authors conclude that what is needed is a model incorporating "various cognitive processes--search, information processing, building up and revising subjective estimates of the bargaining situation, constructing and revising strategies." (p. 182)

POLITICS and Markets by Lindblom, Sterling Professor of and Political Science at Yale, is unlike the other books reviewed.* Whereas they primarily address international issues, Lindblom is more concerned with internal affairs, and his particular goal is the best politico-economic system for enhancing the quality of life. He also is less interested than they are in historical development or prediction and, instead, concentrates on analyzing "those fundamental aspects of the systems that have been with us for at least several centuries and show every sign of persisting indefinitely." (p. x) Politics and economics do matter, Lindblom insists, and he singles out Adam Smith and Karl Marx because of their contributions: Smith for insight into the wide-ranging scope and authority of the market system, and Marx especially for his study of the relationship between property rights and government.

*Charles E. Lindblom, Politics and Markets: The World's Political-Economic Systems (New York: Basic Books, 1977, $15.00), 403 pages.

Lindblom inquires as to the best means for man to control his destiny in the face of the authority wielded over him by the state and the market system. He concentrates primarily on the politico-economic systems of communism and of market-oriented polyarchy. (He prefers the word polyarchy, the rule of many, to the more frequently used democracy.) For his analysis he postulates models of both systems and draws comparisons.

Looking for a world guided by reason and egalitarianism, Lindblom gives high marks to Communist theory. He argues that, at least in theory, communism has a more optimistic version of man's capabilities and that it attempts to guide him intellectually. Moreover, since communism has a comprehensive theory of what the best society is, that theory is used to provide direction for the society and any policy may easily be evaluated as to its theoretical correctness.

Professor Lindblom notes that the spread of communism to one-third of the world's population and one-fourth of its territory has been phenomenal, and he believes that the movement has not yet been spent. Nevertheless, he realizes that communism has difficulty in encouraging innovation and reform. He also argues that one should not be misled by the barbarism with which communism has taken hold. Although admitting that countless thousands have perished, Lindblom denies that it proves the system is inherently inhumane anymore than the wanton destruction by America in World War II and Vietnam implies the same for polyarchy.

In contrast to communism, he presents market-oriented polyarchy as having a more pessimistic view of man's capabilities and as therefore relying on other than intellectual means of guidance. In addition, as polyarchy has no synoptic theory of society, its leaders utilize their own visions and volitions. He summarizes the differences between the two models as harmony and discovery (communism) versus conflict and choice (polyarchy).

Professor Lindblom's criticism of polyarchy extends to its dependence on a market-oriented economy that intensifies the inequality of income. He is intrigued that "the mere possibility that business and property dominate polyarchy opens up the paradoxical possibility that polyarchy is tied to the market system not because it is democratic but because it is not. " (pp. 168-69) The basic economic flaw that he perceives is the tremendous power of the business corporation. He declares that the progressive decline of self-employment is the "unplanned revolution" of modern times. Less than two hundred years ago, eighty percent of American workers were self-employed, but that has declined today to less than ten percent. That constituted a revolution that "fundamentally changed the work patterns and other forms of human interdependence ... Not a revolution pursued for egalitarian, democratic, or other humane motives, its motives are profit and power; and it succeeds for no more lofty reason than efficiency." (p. 28) Moreover, the corporation so dominates the market, and through it the society, that it is beyond governmental control. In fact, he charges that the private corporation has no place in democratic theory.

Several recommendations are offered by Lindblom, for the improvement of the polyarchic system, including consideration of a redistribution of wealth and of more centralized planning. He is encouraged by what he sees as a broad international movement toward employee management of business and, particularly, by the more radical "market socialism" introduced in Yugoslavia for businesses employing more than five workers.

THESE four books are well written. Geoffrey Williams's The Permanent Alliance is the least original, yet readers may profit from his discussion of British and French policy. However, he missed the mark in his urgent call for an Atlantic Federal Union. One might agree that the challenges of diminishing natural resources and communist expansion lend credence to his argument; nevertheless, the timing he believes possible, i.e., a basic plan for a federal structure by 1984, is far too optimistic. Despite President Carter's declaration of the nation's determination to act in the event of an attempt by another power to seize control of the Persian Gulf area, American foreign policy has returned to a posture not unlike that of the 1920s, which the late Daniel M. Smith characterized as "limited liability." Several polls have indicated that Americans would accept the overthrow of virtually any government through force or subversion without reacting militarily. In these circumstances prospects for a more intimate "permanent alliance" are nil.

Williams's recommendations for a revised NATO "forward strategy" merit consideration. I agree that the deployment of the neutron bomb is an acceptable means for offsetting the Warsaw Pact's numerical superiority but not with his argument that fixed fortifications and trained paramilitary forces armed with portable antitank and antiair weapons could "give NATO a more flexible defence capacity." (p. ix) A lesson of twentieth-century warfare would be that such defenses would be of minimal value in halting a massive ground and air blitz.

The efforts of Snyder and Diesing, in their Conflict among Nations, to further the development of a general theory of crisis management is laudable. In their writing they are modest about their own contributions while they unfailingly document the ideas of those scholars from whom they have drawn. Yet, despite the increasing sophistication and subtlety of game and decision theory, one is left with the uneasy feeling that international relations and crises are too complex and varied for mathematical or computer solutions. The final paragraph of Snyder and Diesing's text bears this out:

In future big power crises, the bargaining power and bargaining strategies. . . will depend more than in the past on who is in charge and on the values placed by incumbent decision makers on the going relationships with the other two members of the triangle [U.S., U.S.S.R, and China]. With changing regimes these valuations may well shift. Such internal changeability, and the inherent ambiguity of interests in a system that is at least moving toward multipolarity, augurs unpredictability. . . . (p. 530)

The importance of leadership also is emphasized in Walter Clemens's U.S.S.R. and Global Interdependence. He observes that the future of Soviet policy will be dependent in large measure on the next generation and that a policy of patience is advisable until that next generation takes control. Today the precarious health of the aged Leonid Brezhnev indicates that the old guard Soviet leadership is indeed drawing to an end, and therefore assessments, like Clemens's, of future Soviet policy are even more pertinent.

The matter of leadership has a bearing as well on the ideas presented in Charles Lindblom's Politics among Nations, which is the most provocative of the books reviewed. Criticism of the operational flaws of the American politico-economic system is not unusual, but his charges of its fundamental theoretical inequality are like a challenge to "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie" and, yes, even "Chevrolet." Lindblom admits the distinction between theory and practice but concludes that if the theory is correct it ultimately will prevail. However, just as he insists that politics and economics are important, so too is leadership, and to ignore it, as he virtually does, is to project a very sterile view of societal systems. One is more inclined to agree with Clemens as to the importance of leadership as a decisive factor--whatever the system.

Professor Lindblom also too easily dismisses the brutality with which communism has been imposed. To compare that with the death and destruction inflicted by America while at war is possible only by accepting the Marxist contention of perpetual war until the Communist revolution is universally successful. The tragedies of the Gulag Archipelago surely are not evidence of communism's optimistic faith in the superior nature of man nor of a humane, egalitarian, preceptorial system.

His strictures against the business corporation go far beyond President Eisenhower's fear of the military-industrial complex or Jean Jacques Servan-Schreiber's of the multinational corporation. However, the trends that Lindblom sees toward greater employee management or ownership may not be the answer. Such arrangements are no more infallible than corporate directorates in making decisions. Moreover, if the only solution for failing communal enterprises is governmental relief or takeover, it appears that the inability for innovation and reform, which Lindblom recognizes as a problem already within Communist systems, may become more widespread.

This is a world of escalating interdependencies both within systems, as Lindblom observes, and between them, as Clemens points out, a world in which the nations will find competitive policies more dangerous. Matters of military, political, and economic systems and balances are important, and those who are interested in the course of events over, the next twenty years will find food for thought in these books.

Air War College
Maxwell AFB, Alabama


George W. Collins (Lt. Col., USAF, Ret., Ph.D., University of Colorado) is currently Professor of Military History at the Air War College. He is Associate Professor of History at Wichita State University, Kansas. He served as B-17, B-29, and KC-97 navigator and taught navigation and history at the Air Force Academy. Dr. Collins was a Fulbright lecturer in Afghanistan. He has published articles in professional journals and is a previous contributor to the Review.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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