The Future of the Twentieth Century
The CBS News Mid-Century Roundup
On January 1, 1950, from 5:00-5:45 PM, CBS foreign correspondents gathered to discuss "where we've been in this half-century, where we are, where we may be going." The round table report, led by Edward R. Murrow, featured Eric Sevareid, Howard K. Smith, Larry LeSueur, David Schoenbrun, Winston Burdett, Bill Costello, and Bill Downs.
The reporters discussed the international political trajectory based on their own experiences and observations. Topics covered included the United States and its new role as a global superpower, the international perception of American influence, Europe's decline, the United Nations, and more. The full transcript below is from a promotional booklet issued by CBS after the broadcast.
It is 5 o'clock, eastern standard time, Sunday afternoon, January 1, 1950. Folks slept later than usual this morning. But now most of them are wide awake, eager to know what's cooking.
What is cooking, anyway, this brand new day of the year? (And not so brand new either —already it's 31 hours old in Chungking, 25 hours old in Moscow, 22 in Berlin and Rome, 21 in London). What's cooking in all those places and elsewhere, now that both the century and the world are cut in half? Where has everybody been all these years. Where are they going? We'd like to know.
Well, at least we know how to find out. We do what comes naturally—turn on the radio. We've been doing it for a long time, and we've always found out...we may have found out lots of things we didn't want to hear about what's going on in the world—but at least we found out.
That's the good thing about radio around these parts. There's no keeping anything secret...anything that might hurt us, or anything that might help us. It's all right there in that box anytime anybody wants it. Nobody can keep it out of the box (although some may have wanted to); nobody can take the box away from us (although some may have wanted to). And nobody can stop us from turning it on.
So now let's do it.
CUE: COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM . . . 30 seconds . . .
ANNOUNCER: For the next 45 minutes you will hear the chief news correspondents of the Columbia Broadcasting System, all gathered here in New York to talk over their business and yours—where we've been in this half-century, where we are, where we may be going. For this event, Columbia has brought home its correspondents from Tokyo to Berlin and the major world capitals in between. Each of these men has come home by airplane to sit down now together, to talk with each other and with you. As editor of this survey, we have chosen Edward R. Murrow, distinguished reporter and analyst, who served as their chief during the war years. Mr. Murrow!
MURROW: I should like some friends of mine to introduce themselves to you.
SMITH: I am Howard K. Smith, born and reared in New Orleans, La., but in Europe for the past decade, covering all points between Manchester, England, and Moscow, U.S.S.R., from Bergen, Norway, down to Belgrade in Yugoslavia. Present address: 84 Hallam Street, London, England.
SEVAREID: My name is Eric Sevareid. I grew up in North Dakota and Minnesota, worked in France, England, various war fronts, South America and the Orient, and now make home and headquarters in Washington on the Potomac.
DOWNS: Bill Downs—hometown, Kansas City, Kansas. Assignments: London Blitz, Moscow, D-Day to Berlin, Japanese surrender, Tokyo, and Far East, Bikini, Akron Soap-Box Derby, Detroit, Washington. Present address: 29 Lindenthaler Allee, American Sector, Berlin.
SCHOENBRUN: I'm David Schoenbrun. That's an Austrian name, but I'm a native New Yorker and I'm stationed in Paris. These past six years I've been overseas, reporting from Casablanca to Warsaw. It's good to be back home today.
BURDETT: I'm Winston Burdett. My home is Brattleboro, Vermont. Present assignment and address: Rome, Italy, by way of the Balkans and the Middle East, India, Cairo, the Desert Campaign, North Africa, Anzio, the Fifth Army and Washington, D.C.
COSTELLO: I'm Bill Costello. St. Paul is what Asiatics call my native place, but it's hard now to say just where my hometown is. I started newspapering in Minneapolis, while still at the University of Minnesota. And since then my stops in newspaper and radio reporting have included Honolulu, Omaha, Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles. While I'm roving through Asia, my mailing address is APO 500, Tokyo, Japan.
LESUEUR: I'm Larry LeSueur, the CBS United Nations correspondent. Born in New York, reared in the Midwest, the son and grandson of newspapermen. My first assignment was the Lindbergh Case, reported the war from Dunkerque to Stalingrad, landed with the American troops on D-Day. Since then it's been my duty and pleasure to cover the United Nations.
|Edward R. Murrow|
MURROW: This afternoon, it is our purpose to examine briefly without benefit of statistics, without nominating any men-of-the-year or men-of-the-half-century, to examine briefly where we've been, in an effort to see where we're going. No man around this table was alive when the century began. All are reporters, historians for the moment. Let's first look at a few of the great pivots on which history has turned in the past fifty years. What are the big footprints in our own history, Sevareid?
SEVAREID: Well, Ed, for Americans 1900 ended the age of the great barbecue and 1950 begins the great age of anxiety. We conquered our continent, we saw absolute physical security and, therefore, our political isolation disappear. We flirted with imperialism, gave it up because we really didn't care for it. We fought two World Wars, took the initiative for world government with the League, gave it up, took the initiative a second time, and now find ourselves, rather unwillingly, one of only two great powers in a bisected world. And upon our shoulders is the terrible responsibility of preserving free civilization that the Western man has developed through laborious centuries. We may not succeed at that, but no one else can. In these fifty years we evolved the policy toward the Orient, restored a reasonable relationship with Latin America, and, finally, understood Europe as our indispensable bastion and partner, instead of a cunning competitor.
We saw our broken South start to mend; we began to conserve our wasted natural resources; we saw the rise and decline of organized crime, the rise of organized labor; we saw government teach that pre-eminent rugged individualist, the farmer, to expect guarantees against failure. We built mammoth corporations protected by property laws that the Founding Fathers had intended for individuals and then tried, rather vainly, to break them up. We learned to produce goods magnificently, to share them out rather badly and thus failed to quiet our fears of unemployment. We saw the businessman decline as the idol of society and the power in politics and the partial decline, at least, of riches as our personal Holy Grail. Our art forms and literary language became American and not pseudo-European. We felt what the American way of life is, but found ourselves unable to really express it to others.
We believed in the eternity of our social ideals, but at the first warm breath of an alien philosophy many of us panicked, accused people without proof, hunted witches, and became political peeping Toms, until our native good sense rallied again.
All in all, Ed, I think we have used our new world power with uncertainty but with a gentleness which is without precedent in history.
MURROW: Howard Smith, could you sketch the big turnings-in-the-road for Europe in the first half of the century?
SMITH: Well, the story of Europe these fifty years can be quickly told. Europe declined. After ruling the world with no competition for about four hundred years and giving us our still-prevalent world culture, inventing modern industrialism and spreading it through the world, Europe's situation began to change radically around the year 1900. What caused the change, I believe, was two things: First, the social problems of industrial economy, like maldistribution of wealth, unemployment and so on, caused the nations to divide within themselves. Second, the advance of science made Europe to small a space for thirty-odd nation states to exist side-by-side, with no international order above them. In 1914 the frictions exploded in the first modern total war. The war, World War I, decided very little. It left the people disillusioned and defeatist in attitude, and it created the first Communist state, in Russia. Adolf Hitler was able to exploit both of these factors—the people's defeatism and their fear of Communism—and he won his positions to launch World War II. By the skin of our teeth, we of the democracies won both world wars, but the cost was terrific to Europe. Once the seat of all the world powers, there is not a single big power left in Western Europe. Communism has advanced to the verge of the West, Fascism lies not very far at all below the surface.
The explosive problems that started it all are still there—the internal social problems, the international problem of some kind of world government. At mid-century, this is Europe's third and probably last chance to solve them.
MURROW: Most of us have ignored Asia in the past and most of us know that we can't do so in the future. Bill Costello knows more about that part of the world than any of the rest of us.
Howard K. Smith
COSTELLO: Well, Ed, in these last fifty years, Asia has roused itself like a sleeping giant, and rubbed from its eyes the crusted traditions of centuries. In the long view of history, the transformation has been so swift as to be magical. The first major turning-point came in 1905, when Japan emerged as victor in the Russo-Japanese War. That victory had three vital consequences. First, it challenged the 19th century myth of white supremacy and paved the way for the decline and fall of Western imperialism. For it demonstrated that Asiatic guns were as good as, or better than, Western guns. Second, it planted the dream of Japanese imperialism as a bargain-counter substitute for European domination. Third, it set fire to the tinderbox of native nationalism, to the struggle for self-respect, political independence and freedom from economic exploitation. In the years that followed, we have seen the progressive evolution of these three trends.
The Manchu Dynasty of China collapsed in 1911, because it was too enfeebled, too morally bankrupt to fight for anything. The first World War weakened the economic power of the West and gave impetus to Japan's imperialist ambitions. In one long difficult step Asia then began the transition from the Iron Age to the Machine Age. Imperialism suffered a mortal blow, when, in 1936, the United States Congress approved an act promising freedom to the Philippine Islands in 1946. That action raised the nationalist hopes of millions in Asia. It focused the issue, and the Japanese answer was, first, the invasion of China, and, finally, the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the war that followed, the imperialist cycle came to an end, both for Japan and for the European nations. There were quick grants of independence to the Philippines, India, Burma and Indonesia. The unequal treaties were abolished in China. By coincidence, Communism won acceptance in China as the only visible means of achieving order and stability. The immediate accent now is on freedom and self-government, and the ultimate target of every starving peasant is a better standard of living.
At the end of the last half-century, Asia has come of age politically, has made a powerful assertion of national feeling. Now it embarks on the vastly more difficult task of preserving its personal liberties while economic security is being advanced.
MURROW: Perhaps one of the best ways of measuring our good fortune at this half-century is to examine what people in foreign lands regard as luxuries.
SMITH: In Britain, nearly everything British-made is a luxury. Hats, textiles and, alas, Scotch whisky are all for export only.
DOWNS: In Germany, it's doorknobs with houses on the other end.
SCHOENBRUN: And in France, hot tap water or a cake of fat soap.
BURDETT: In Italy, an orange or a clean, unfrayed shirt. In the countryside, a luxury is an electric light, a telephone, a paved road.
COSTELLO: Don't think this is exaggeration, but for a billion people in Asia—that's half the world's population—anything more than a pound of rice a day borders on luxury.
LESUEUR: At the UN, I guess, the only luxury is just one kind word.
MURROW: Now there's a list of luxuries, which we in this country regard and accept as ordinary essentials. In a world with such vast economic and social inequalities, debate, decision and joint action is difficult, if not impossible. The major instrument through which nation speaks to a nation was born with high hope and much publicity in San Francisco. The future of the United Nations is uncertain, but we may perhaps measure what it can do, by what it has done. Larry LeSueur has reported its doings from the beginning.
LESUEUR: Like the UN headquarters going up on New York's East River, peace can't be built in a day. Some of the sensational political squabbles at the United Nations have obscured its real achievements. We've heard a lot about the atomic energy control deadlock, the misuse of the veto, the disarmament impasse. It's too easy to remember the failures of the UN and to forget its successes. But remember, that when the Big Four couldn't decide what to do about the Italian colonies, they tossed it to the UN and that when the Big Powers were up a tree over Iran three years ago, the moral force of the UN, focused by the Security Council, culminated in a Russian withdrawal from Persia. It's true that the men of Israel forged their own state, but it was the United Nations that originally created it, and the war in the Middle East was kept from spreading.
The mediation of the UN helped contain the conflicts in the Balkans and Indonesia. The war is over now in Greece, and 75 million people in Indonesia get their freedom this very week. I think it was the debates of the United Nations that unmasked the true nature of Russian propaganda. These debates certainly helped to consolidate the world public opinion. And while these discussions go on before the people of the world, in the background are the continuing efforts of the UN's specialized agencies. They're trying to get after the roots of the war by making this a better world to live in. The World Health Organization is attacking scourges more deadly even than war: malaria, tuberculosis, V.D. The International Refugee Organization has already settled a million displaced persons. And the International Trade Organization is reducing trade barriers between nations. I think there's a common desire among the UN delegates not to disappoint the hopes of the ordinary men and women of the world. Of course, the UN can't settle problems like the division of Germany. That, the Big Powers have reserved for themselves.
MURROW: Or, Larry, it may be that the Germans themselves will decide which way they're going. How does it look from your post in Berlin, Downs?
DOWNS: I feel there's a distinct here-we-go-again atmosphere on this first day of the second half of the 20th century. Many new things have been added politically and economically, but the problem that made Europe a battlefield shortly after the beginning of the century still exists. It is Germany and the 67 million people who populate the heart of Europe. The German power potential that turned the Continent into a battlefield the year I was born still exists. The revival of German power today once again is under consideration—not so much by the Germans this time, as by the super-nation groups now engaged in a cold war. The reason no democratic internationalism, such as the United Nations, can solve the problem of their unlamented enemy is that each of the two most powerful nation-states in the world is wooing Germany like a lovesick swain. Both Russia and the United states want to assure themselves that if Germany does not become an outright ally, at least the German economic and military power will not become a future enemy. This is the essence of the cold war in Germany. As you know, there are two Germanys, the West German Republic, based on Bonn and sponsored by the United Nations, Britain and France; the East German State consists of the Soviet Zone and is a Soviet satellite.
The Bonn Government was chosen in free elections. The East German Government is the product of a Communist coup. But the Germans are Germans before they're anything else. They are not Communists because the Kremlin says so; neither are they democrats—with a small "d"—just because we direct them to be democratic. The question of what happens in the world during the next fifty years will, to a large extent, hinge on what the German people will do when they eventually are united—as united they will be. Their spiritual home, their culture and tradition are connected with the West, but their markets and economy and their military opportunity will best serve them by joining with the East. Basically, the problem is: will Germany finally follow the Red Star of the Kremlin or the freedom and promise of democracy? There are no answers apparent in Germany to these questions right now.
MURROW: Well, of course, it's not only Germany where two philosophies, two ways of life are in conflict. In all nations, it seems to me, the fear of war, of the inevitability of conflict between these two great powers darkens men's minds. Do you think our policy of containment will work? Or, to put it another way, do you think war is inevitable? Smith?
SMITH: I can't believe that war is inevitable. The cold war is a peculiar kind of conflict. Material interests are not directly involved. The Russians haven't got anything we want, and we haven't got anything the Russians can't do without. The conflict seems to me to be psychological, a matter of suspicions and ideologies. It seems to me that if there could be a period of mutual sufferance, on however vile terms, the world could recover somewhat, ideologies might be confounded and suspicions could be dissolved. We can have a very long period of peace—for nothing breeds peace like peace.
SEVAREID: Well, nothing is inevitable, Ed. But I think war is likely as long as Russia remains a tight dictatorship. Russia's been a tyranny of sorts for centuries, but not always an aggressively expanding one and never before a mechanized one. I just don't see how you can teach people, teach generations of very tough people that destiny has called them to remake the world in their image, and then not expect them to try to act according to their religion.
MURROW: Do you think war is inevitable, Downs?
DOWNS: Nations don't make twelve-inch guns to shoot quail. They don't drop bombs in mid-Pacific lagoons to kill fish. War is inevitable until the time comes when nations give up their sovereign right to make war and learn to settle their problems peacefully.
MURROW: What do you say, Schoenbrun?
SCHOENBRUN: I'd say that the only inevitability is hatred for the nation that starts the war or drops the first atom bomb. As for the war itself, the Communists say they'll never fight against the Soviet Union. The anti-Communists in Europe say they will fight, if war comes, but only if Americans are in the battle lines with them from the start. As for the French, they say, "no more liberations, thank you, or you'll be rescuing a corpse."
MURROW: What do you say about the inevitability of war, Burdett?
BURDETT: Ed, you asked if containment will work. I certainly don't think that war is inevitable, but I don't think that containment alone is going to prevent it. A straight military policy, designed to contain Russia, seems to me a negative thing. It can produce two armed camps, two civilizations arrayed against each other. It can never produce two worlds capable of living confidently and peacefully together.
Europeans know this. I think they will be made to feel much more secure and confident by a solid recovery of their economies than by any military alliance we can possibly give them.
MURROW: How does it look from Asia, Costello?
COSTELLO: In Asia the Cold War is on every tongue, but nowhere except perhaps Japan did I find any eagerness to fight aggressively against the expansion of Communism. For that reason, few Asiatics think war would be inevitable. On the other hand, Stalinism is not much better off than we are. In China and India especially, the Russians are regarded as uncouth upstarts. In the ethical and moral sphere, these people feel better qualified to be leaders than followers. If there is to be Titoism in Asia, it will be a moral rather than military defiance of Moscow.
MURROW: Well, this is a matter on which you might have something to say, LeSueur.
LESUEUR: That word "inevitable" has me stumped. If we cut it down to the foreseeable future I think that a final conflict between the United States and Russia doesn't take place. I think that Russia prefers political expansion and that the interests of the United States are certainly based on peace. But limited clashes between small allies are not only inevitable, they've already occurred. I think it's a question of hoping for the best while we keep our powder dry.
MURROW: Well, that is an area where there is obvious disagreement as you've heard. But we can at least agree that even if it isn't an enduring peace it has endured a great deal already and there is still room for reasonable men to hope. We are agreed that no one can predict with certainty what the Russians are going to do. So let's examine for a minute the direction in which the non-Communist world is moving; right, left, or down the middle, what do you say, Schoenbrun?
SCHOENBRUN: I think the right. The swing of socialism in Europe was sharply reversed last year. Socialists have been kicked out, sold out, bought out or they've bowed out of government throughout the west. In Belgium, they're out of the government for the first time since the liberation. In Italy, the Socialist party divided itself like an amoeba—sterile cells warring on each other. In Germany, a still strong Nazi undercurrent and an anti-Socialist majority.
And in my own territory, France, I've watched the so-called "Third Force"—the democratic center—whittled away on both sides. The first half of this century looked for a moment like the golden age of socialism. Now it looks like the age of conflict—swirling tides running in all directions, and chances are that the undercurrents of the next 50 years will depend on how the tides run in America and Asia, not Europe.
MURROW: Which way is the political tide running in Italy, Burdett?
BURDETT: In Italy there's a special phenomenon worth noting. At no time in this past half-century has the Roman Catholic Church enjoyed such a florid period of prosperity and influence. This is not a religious phenomenon. It is not a spiritual revival. It is rather a sign of the remarkable political resurgence of Catholicism. I think it's mainly due to the fact that after the wreck of Fascism and the upheaval of war, the Church emerged as the one intact and uncompromised symbol of stability and order. Conservatives rallied around it. Anxious people throughout Western Europe turned toward Catholic leadership in their search for security. Right now in Italy the sharp political undercurrents are rightward. The left-running tide has ebbed. The floating mass of voters, the middle class, is again looking for security and right-wing leadership.
I think this is a deep trend, a long-term trend, and not a passing reaction.
MURROW: Costello, what would you say the general trend in politics is in Asia?
COSTELLO: Burdett's point raises an interesting contrast in Asia. People in the Orient are not drifting inexorably in any direction—either right or left. There's generally a sense of bewilderment and confusion. On the other hand Asia does have an asset which is conspicuously absent in Europe. There has been a kind of spiritual revival in this century. It's not in any sense a religious movement. It might be accurately compared with the humanist movement, which grew up in Europe during the latter Middle Ages. It consists mainly of a feeling of individual pride and self-respect. People no longer allow themselves to feel humiliated and degraded as the slavish property of some landlord or warlord or foreign overlord. The great symbol of their emancipation was Mahatma Gandhi, who emerged as the voice of Asia's conscience. Gandhi denounced the old moral law of fatalism and subservience, and, using nationalist feeling as a foundation, he created a new sense of personal worth and dignity, which today infuses the whole of Asia.
MURROW: Well, you fellows from overseas must remember that we have politics in this country too. Sevareid, what would you say the informed opinion is in Washington as to the direction we're going?
SEVAREID: My opinion, Ed—and I represent Washington today—is that there are some basic differences. Europe had an old encrusted class society and we did not. We are not trying to level out our inequities, not by the Socialist means of state proprietorship, as in Europe. Developing a so-called welfare state and distributing benefits is not really socialism. It's hardly leftism or rightism. But we certainly have changed the function of our government and our society. First, our government was to stay aloof from the economic forces and preserve only civil freedoms, then it was to be a balance wheel preventing any economic forces from overwhelming others, now it's to provide benefits, not for classes, but for groups: farmers, labor, veterans, the aged and so on. America's original motto was "equality for all—special privilege for none." And now to try to preserve a rough kind of equality it is "special privilege for all."
MURROW: I suppose it is true that the only people who complain about special privileges are those who haven't got them: and viewed from the outside, it seems to me that we in this country have more of them than anyone else.
How does this country look from the outside anyway? All of you fellows have spent years abroad. Tell us how we are, as others see us. Smith?
SMITH: Well, the British have been the world's money lender long enough to know that nobody loves a money lender and they should be sympathetic with us. But even the British can't suppress a natural resentment of accepting charity. It has been said, and, I think, truthfully, that if either of the British political parties campaigned in the British elections on a policy of twisting Uncle Sam's coattails that party would probably win the elections. It's just human nature, I fear, and the resentment won't end until Europe recovers and can play the role of equal trade with us, rather than that of a poor relation, with his hand outstretched.
MURROW: How do we appear to the Germans, Downs?
DOWNS: How we look to the Germans depends on which side of the dividing line your particular German lives. In the West, we have the position of a stern and wealthy grandfather, meting out punishment and rewards at the same time. Some Western Germans say behind our backs we're a little foolish for being so good to them. While in Communist Germany, the flood of anti-Western propaganda is beginning to have its effect. With little to counter the party line we're coming more and more to be the capitalistic, monopolistic, war-mongering villains.
MURROW: How do we appear to the French, Schoenbrun?
SCHOENBRUN: Depends on which Frenchman is doing the looking. A French automobile manufacturer sees us as giants. But a Paris fashion magazine editor thinks we're a little flashy. Tens of thousands of French war orphans think that an American is Santa Claus. But to many a nervous French mother you're a trigger-tempered kid brother who may get the family into a brawl. We're stern uncles to French government officials; we pay their debts but try to run their lives. We're loved and hated in France; feared and admired, sneered at, flattered, envied but we're not ignored.
MURROW: And the Italians, Burdett, what do they think of us?
BURDETT: Italy and Europe, looking at America, not Americans mind you, but America, is like a proud man who has suddenly developed an inferiority complex late in life. Psychologically, it is not easy at Europe's age to have to be grateful for charity, to see your position at the center of the world suddenly eclipsed and taken over by a newcomer. Europeans are painfully conscious that they cannot get along without us and that there's very little they can do to help us even though we call them our allies. So, they are irritated by this unpleasant sense of dependence. I think there's only one solution to the dilemma. There'll be a healthy mental balance again when Europe feels she's once more carrying her own weight in the world, even though she cannot hope again to lead it.
MURROW: What view do the Asiatics take of us, Costello?
COSTELLO: Well, Murrow, it's my impression that Asiatics treat Americans sometimes with exaggerated courtesy because we have both money and military power. That doesn't mean they like us as a nation or that they respect our leadership and our morality. Many of them are frankly suspicious even when they ask our help. They think of us as being potentially the authors of a new 20th century imperialism. They resent our ignorance about Far Eastern history and culture and civilization. They don't like our brusque and sometimes patronizing attitude. We need to send Asia a lot of students as well as money if we want to build a permanent resevoir of good will.
MURROW: Of course, there are a number of foreigners in this country who are getting a rather closer look at us, those who are stationed at the United Nations. What do they think of us, LeSueur?
LESUEUR: Well, as you say, the United Nations has 59 members. Some of them look upon us as imperialists, others as their protectors. None of them likes to be pushed around. But all of them regard us with respect. And no one will deny that the United States is the strongest influence in the UN, and that influence is constantly increasing.
No discussions can take place in a vacuum. The very physical presence of the United Nations in New York has made a tremendous impact on these representatives from all the corners of the earth. The one time everyone listens is when the delegate of the United States speaks. He reflects the power, the prestige and the money of the strongest nation on earth. I won't say that every decision goes in the direction that we want it to. Far from it. But when the chips are down there are mighty few things that the United States can't get done at the UN if it really wants them.
MURROW: Let's pursue this matter of the United Nations for a moment. Of course it wasn't set up to make the peace but rather to keep it. How's it doing, Smith?
SMITH: Contrary to most people, I have been greatly encouraged by the UN this last year and mainly by one incident. When it became a question of Yugoslavia getting a seat on the Security Council all the skepticism and cynicism about the uselessness of the UN suddenly dissolved and the powers fought tooth and nail over that seat. I believe that the UN can develop into something like the world's conscience if not the world's government.
MURROW: What do you say, Sevareid?
SEVAREID: Ed, as you said the United Nations was not designed to make the peace after this war—it was designed to keep it once it was made.
So perhaps the UN hasn't really yet had its chance and won't until the powers do make the peace. But, anyway, I have doubts about the UN, unless by some magic it gets real enforcement powers. It's caught between the two great eras, the rise of the era of passionate nationalism in the East and the decline of that era in the West. This is one world all right but only in space; it's two worlds in time.
MURROW: What do the Germans think of the UN, Downs?
DOWNS: One might say, Murrow, that the Germans have a kind of cynical respect for the United Nations organization. They're interested in joining. But they remember Versailles and they see the East-West struggle outside the UN as the real fight and one that the UN seems powerless to settle. I stick to my original contention that the UN or any other international organization will have little real effectiveness until the nations' state are willing to give up those parts of their sovereignty to settle their problems by war.
MURROW: How do the French feel about the UN, Schoenbrun?
SCHOENBRUN: Two out of three Frenchmen always say "no" to anything. It's essentially a negative country. But on the UN France is positive; support is strong. There's also a big following for world government movements there and lots of friends of world citizen Garry Davis.
Frenchmen are often cynical and pessimistic. But the United Nations still looks like an ideal that even a cynic can buy.
MURROW: Burdett, how does it look to the Italians?
BURDETT: The Italians have centuries of power politics behind them. They take what I'd call a dispassionate and utterly disenchanted European view of the UN, namely, that the UN is a collection of sovereign nations that can do no more than mirror the world pattern of power politics. It can do the job if the nations which have the power are able, ready and willing to make it work. And Italians are only too acutely aware that the nations in question are just two.
MURROW: What's the view of the UN in Asia, Costello?
COSTELLO: Well, Murrow, it's a little ironic that the United Nations achieved one of its outstanding successes in settling the Indonesians' problems as Larry LeSueur pointed out a moment ago. It's ironic because most Asiatics appear to give the UN very little thought. Each country, each locality is too preoccupied with its own renaissance to concern itself with distant international maneuverings. There's a tendency to over-simplify all their foreign problems by looking primarily to the United States for help and guidance. One prominent Indian statesman admitted to me frankly that it is the United States which is preparing the world for eventual world government.
MURROW: Larry LeSueur, you spend most of your time out at the United Nations, do you want to add anything to what you said earlier on the subject?
LESUEUR: Well, I think your original question was "can the UN do the job." I wish I could answer that one with a simple "yes," but I can't. The United Nations can't accomplish more than the member states put into it. It can't provide military security for the world but it can and does provide moral authority. Its great strength lies in its ability to focus world public opinion. I can say this, that if the UN fails and the world goes up in flames, the first thing the survivors will do is form another United Nations. Men just can't live without hope.
MURROW: Certainly no one can deny to the UN its record of achievement in settling disputes of a minor nature, or its usefulness as a meeting ground for conversations between the major powers. But it's also true that the major powers are attempting to use it as they did the League of Nations for the promotion of their own national interests. The fact is that in a power world the United Nations itself is sadly lacking in power. But it remains the most massive achievement in international organization in the first half of this century.
Well, fellows, let's stop talking about nations and organizations and juggling hemispheres. I'd like to put a very simple question to all of you. You've flown here from a half dozen different capitals a total distance of about 22,000 miles, just for this program. Tomorrow you'll all be flying back. We have enough time left for each of you to take just half a minute to say just anything you feel like saying. Smith?
SMITH: One thing has struck me in my reporting in Europe since the war. Almost every time I start tracing some individual European problem to the possible source of remedy, the road leads almost every time not to some place in Europe but to the U.S.A.
It's clear to me that the fate of the world in the next half-century will be decided nowhere but here and with the American people and their wisdom or—God save us—their lack of it.
MURROW: What do you want to say in 30 seconds, Sevareid?
SEVAREID: I agree with Howard Smith. It's up to America to demonstrate that men remain free and secure in a mechanized society. But, we can't prove it to others till we prove it first to ourselves. We tend to forget our own ideals. But the tough thing is that there is a basic conflict within those ideals, the conflict between our drive for equality and personal freedom on the one side, our drive for personal aggrandizement on the other. And I think, Ed, that half the world is waiting to see if we can fit them together.
MURROW: Now, Bill Downs.
DOWNS: Well, for the past 10 years that I've been a foreign correspondent, the events that stick in my mind are those that make me ashamed. I was ashamed for being fat when a hungry woman in Amsterdam was so overcome by a can of beans that I'd given her that she cried. In Moscow, I was ashamed at being powerless when one of my friends was shipped to Siberia by the secret police just because he was my friend. In America, I've been ashamed of the color of my white skin when encountering racial prejudice.
On D-Day when I saw the crumpled body of a young kid that could have been your brother, I was ashamed in a way to be still alive. During the next half-century, the part that I'll live through, I'd like to see this kind of shame abolished from the earth.
SCHOENBRUN: It struck me that we Americans have one characteristic that distinguishes us from all other nations. We want to be loved. We're not content just to have allies, they've also got to be pals, buddies, with a Presidential system just like ours and perhaps a dash of ketchup on their hamburgers. We seem to wear our hearts on our sleeves and we're easily hurt. Maybe the trouble is that our pocketbooks are as open as our hearts and we're secretly afraid that we're loved only for our money. I wish we'd grow a thicker skin in the next 50 years.
MURROW: Now 30 seconds for you, Burdett.
BURDETT: Well, I think, Murrow, that this problem of Western Europe, which is now ours, is the problem of an insecure civilization. It seems to me that one main reason why Russian pressure seems so formidable and threatening is that the old society of the West is so unsure of itself. If that is so, then our task is enormous.
We can never accomplish it by a purely negative policy dedicated to the idea that everything anti-Russian is good. We can only do it by helping to build a new society, by giving the West a new sense of independent strength, of help, or permanence. By helping Europe to create conditions, the moral and social conditions, for a stable democracy and so for an abiding faith in democracy.
MURROW: Now, a half a minute for you, Bill Costello.
COSTELLO: I'd say this, gentleman: Asia today is a keg of dynamite with a lighted fuse and most Americans just don't realize it. We've got to revise our thinking. The old legend of the white man's burden in Asia has been tossed into the limbo of history. The people of Asia today want partnership not patronage. They're willing to buy and sell. But they won't be bought and sold. They don't even want to be dominated by their own governments. They feel just as the Americans do—that people are more important than institutions. In this next half-century we've got to extend something more than just material aid. They'd like our money, yes, but they insist on having our respect.
MURROW: Now, a half-minute for Larry LeSueur.
LESUEUR: I guess, Ed Murrow, that my chief concern is that the question of war and peace must dominate the rest of our lives. There'll be some very dangerous periods ahead, especially after Stalin dies. A new and insecure Russian leader could plunge that country into war in an effort to preserve his power. On the other hand, the whole communist movement may break up within the next fifty years. Look at Tito! I think our best hope lies in patience and cultivation of allies and that one of our greatest problems will be to erase feelings of racial superiority between ourselves and those allies of another color.
MURROW: Gentleman, it occurs to me to suggest that a great deal of sense was talked in those thirty-second efforts you just made. And it seems to me, listening to this conversation, that there's been a theme running through this whole discussion—and it is that the last fifty years is a record of unceasing conflict between the individual and the state. When dictators have risen to power, it has happened because the individual has abdicated his political and economic rights and assigned his responsibility as a citizen and as a human being to an individual or to a political party. When dictators have been overthrown, it has been the result of the determination of people to retain or to regain that freedom.
Wer seem to be agreed that the struggle will continue in all of its various forms. The search for security, both national security and individual security, will continue and it'll be intensified. It seems to me that this discussion has demonstrated beyond doubt that what we in this country do—that is, what our government does—will determine as never before the fate of civilization. The time when we could separate domestic and foreign issues has passed. Whether we like it or not, the awesome responsibility of the leadership of the free world has been thrust upon us; we didn't seek it. We have come into our full inheritance at an early age, but youth has never been acceptable as an excuse for failure. We in this country are the fortunate few who live in a generous, bountiful and capacious land. We are, as you have heard, viewed abroad with a mixture of fear and admiration. But it seems to me that, having regard to our history, our heritage and our strength, we can afford to greet the unknown with a cheer. And now, there is ten seconds left, which gives me the opportunity of wishing all of you fellows much luck, good journey and good news!