Crisis in the West: American Leadership and the Global by Lionel Gelber

By Lionel Gelber

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Sample text

Washington would thus have nationalism soft-pedalled in one quarter, stimulated in another. There is, however, nothing irreconcilable between the defensive needs of the West and the legitimate demands of each particular nationalist ideology in non-Soviet Asia. Under Communist rule the latter assuredly would not be fulfilled. But so far as the West itself, with its concept of a free world order, sponsors an ideology which is a universal one, it must 46 A Global Balance Takes Over withstand the universalist ideoiogy of the Soviet credo.

As a going concern, it is the top prize of East-West contention. As an uninhabitable ruin, its peace could be no more than - to echo a classic phrase - the peace of the wilderness. The global contest, that seesaw of pressure and counterpressure, is militant, then, even where it is non-military. Ideology has been put to work by totalitarian regimes as an instrument of power. The Soviet's mass appeal across frontiers is not so restrictive. Nazism, with Teutonic self-idolatry, despised the weak; by crushing them at home but seeking them out abroad, Communism adds to Russian and Chinese strength.

Has he tapped the energies of nature only to defeat himself? Until recently, the rise and fall of civilizations was regional rather than global in scope. In the Mediterranean basin, as one civilization waned, another waxed; Europe grew and expanded overseas; India and China have had rich legacies of their own to cultivate. Although many things both concrete and intangible might decline, be lost or demolished over the centuries, there has been a certain continuity in imponderables. The interplay of cultures runs through the story of the West.

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