Sample B23 from National Review, xi: 26 (December 30, 1961) Pp. 445, 462"We Shall return" by William F. Buckley, Jr. P. 446"Tangle in Katanga" by James Burnham A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,015 words 156 (7.7%) quotes 5 symbolsB23

Used by permission of National Review, 150 E. 35th St.,NY 16

National Review, xi: 26 (December 30, 1961)

Typographical Errors: U.S. [1250] [U. S. elsewhere 1380,1410,1430] Gigenza [for Gizenga] [1440]

Header auto-generated for TEI version

Everywhere I went in Formosa I asked the same question . I was searching for an accent of self-delusion or , even , of hypocrisy . I never found it among any of the Chinese with whom I spoke , though granted they were , almost all , members of the official family who , presumably , harbor official thoughts . But I questioned , also , professional soldiers , who would not easily be hypnotized by a septuagenarian's dreamy irredentism . Their answer was : it can be done , and we will do it . And then I put the question as pointedly as I could directly to Chiang Kai-shek : `` In America '' , I said , `` practically no one believes that you subjectively intend to re-enter the Mainland . What evidence is there of an objective kind that in fact your government proposes to do just that , and that it can be done '' ? ?

He smiled . ( He always smiles -- at least at visitors , I gather . He smiled also at a British bloke seated next to me , who asked the most asinine questions . I recalled sympathetically the Duke's complaint in Browning's `` My Last Duchess '' . ) He smiled , and said a word or two to the interpreter , who turned to me , `` The President wonders where you are going after you leave Taipei '' ? ? That , I smarted , is a royal rebuff if ever there was one .

I answered the routine question about my itinerary , rather coolly . Chiang spoke again , this time at greater length . `` The President says '' , the translator came in , `` that the reason he asked you where you were going is because he hoped you would be visiting other areas in Southeast Asia , and that everywhere you went , you would seek the answer to your question . He says that if he were to express to you , once again , his own profound determination to go to the Mainland , and his faith that that return is feasible , he would merely sound redundant . So you yourself must seek these objective data , and come to your own conclusions . Any information we have here in Taiwan is at your disposal '' .

Fair enough . What are the relevant data ? ? For every person on Taiwan , there are sixty in Mainland China . If the raw population figures are crucially relevant , then it is idle to think of liberation , as idle as to suppose that Poland might liberate Russia . Relative military manpower ? ? Less than 60-1 , but at least 6-1 . The estimates vary widely on the strength of the Chinese army . Say four million . The armed forces of Taiwan are at a working strength of about 450,000 , though a reserve potential twice that high is contemplated . Skill ? ? Training ? ? Morale ? ? It is generally conceded that the Formosan air force is the best by far in Asia , and the army the best trained . The morale is very high .

Even so , it adds up to impossible odds , except that the question arises , On whose side would the Mainland Chinese army fight ? ?

The miserable people of China , the largest cast ever conscripted to enact an ideological passion play , cannot themselves resist overtly . They think , perforce , of physical survival : everything else is secondary . But the army which Mao continues to feed well , where are its sympathies ? ? The psychological strategists in Taiwan stress the great sense of family , cultivated in China over thousands of years . It has not been extirpated by ten years of Communist depersonalization . Every soldier in the army has , somewhere , relatives who are close to starvation . The soldiers themselves cannot stage a successful rebellion , it is assumed : but will their discontent spread to the officer class ? ? The immediate families of the generals and the admirals are well fed : a despot does not economize on his generals . But there are the cousins and aunts and nephews . Their privations are almost beyond endurance . In behalf of what ? ? Leninism-Marxism , as understood by Exegete Mao . To whom will the generals stay loyal ? ? There is little doubt if they had a secret ballot , they would vote for food for their family , in place of ideological purity out on the farm . It is another question whether `` they '' -- or a single general , off in a corner of China , secure for a few ( galvanizing ? ? ) days at least from instant retaliation -- will defy the Party . But the disposition to rebel is most definitely there .

But there must be a catalytic pressure . The military in Taiwan believe that the Communists have made two mistakes , which , together , may prove fatal . The first was the commune program , which will ensure agricultural poverty for years . The family is largely broken up ; ; and where it is not , it is left with no residue , and the social meaning of this is enormous . For it is the family that , in China , has always provided social security for the indigent , the sick , the down-and-out members of the clan . Now the government must do that ; ; but the government is left with no reserve granary , under the agricultural system it has ordained . Thus the government simultaneously undertook the vast burden of social security which had traditionally been privately discharged , and created a national scarcity which has engendered calamitous problems of social security .

The second mistake is Tibet . Tibet has historically served China as a buffer state . A friendly state , sometimes only semi-independent , but never hostile . China never tried to integrate Tibet by extirpating the people's religion and institutions . Red China is trying to do this , and she is not likely ever to succeed . Tibet is too vast , the terrain is too difficult . Tibet may bleed China as Algeria is bleeding France .

These continuing pressures , social , economic and military , are doing much to keep China in a heightening state of tension . The imposition of yet another pressure , a strong one , from the outside , might cause it to snap .

The planners in Taiwan struck me as realistic men . They know that they must depend heavily on factors outside their own control . First and foremost , they depend on the inhuman idiocies of the Communist regime . On these they feel they can rely . Secondly , they depend on America's `` moral cooperation '' when the crucial moment arrives . They hope that if history vouchsafes the West another Budapest , we will receive the opportunity gladly . I remarked jocularly to the President that the future of China would be far more certain if he would invite a planeload of selected American Liberals to Quemoy on an odd day . He affected ( most properly ) not to understand my point . But he -- and all of China -- wears the scars of American indecisiveness , and he knows what an uncertain ally we are . We have been grand to Formosa itself -- lots of aid , and , most of the time , a policy of support for the offshore islands . But our outlook has been , and continues to be , defensive . A great deal depends on the crystallization of Mr. Kennedy's views on the world struggle . The Free Chinese know that the situation on the Mainland is in flux , and are poised to strike . There is not anywhere on the frontiers of freedom a more highly mobilized force for liberation . The moment of truth is the moment of crisis . During the slow buildup , the essence of a policy or a man is concealed under embroidered details , fine words , strutting gestures . The crisis burns these suddenly away . There the truth is , open to eyes that are willing to look . The moment passes . New self-deceiving rags are hurriedly tossed on the too-naked bones .

A truth-revealing crisis erupted in Katanga for a couple of days this month , to be quickly smothered by the high pressure verbal fog that is kept on tap for such emergencies . Before memory , too , clouds over , let us make a note or two of what could be seen .

The measure was instantly taken , as always in such cases , of public men at many levels . One knows better , now , who has bone and who has jelly in his spine . But I am here concerned more with policy than with men . Public men come and go but great issues of policy remain .

Now , everyone knows -- or knew in the week of December 10 -- that something had gone shockingly wrong with American foreign policy . The United States was engaged in a military attack on a peaceful , orderly people governed by a regime that had proved itself the most pro-Western and anti-Communist within any of the new nations -- the only place in Africa , moreover , where a productive relationship between whites and blacks had apparently been achieved . Of course the fighting was officially under the auspices of the United Nations . But in the moment of truth everyone could see that the U.S. was in reality the principal .

The moment simultaneously revealed that in the crisis our policy ran counter to that of all our NATO allies , to the entire Western community . By our policy the West was -- is -- split .

But the key revelation is not new . The controlling pattern was first displayed in the Hungary-Suez crisis of November 1956 . It reappears , in whole or part , whenever a new crisis exposes the reality : in Cuba last spring ( with which the Dominican events of last month should be paired ) ; ; at the peaks of the nuclear test and the Berlin cycles ; ; in relation to Laos , Algeria , South Africa ; ; right now , with almost cartoon emphasis , in the temporally linked complex of Tshombe-Gizenga-Goa-Ghana .

What the moments reveal This prime element of the truth may be stated as follows : Under prevailing policy , the U.S. can take the initiative against the Right , but cannot take the initiative against the Left . It makes no difference what part of the world is involved , what form of regime , what particular issue . The U.S. cannot take the initiative against the Left . There is even some question whether the U.S. can any longer defend itself against an initiative by the Left .

We can attack Tshombe , but not Gigenza . No matter that Gizenga is Moscow's man in the Congo . No matter that it is his troops who rape Western women and eat Western men . No matter that the Katanga operation is strategically insane in terms of Western interests in Africa . ( Even granted that the Congo should be unified , you don't protect Western security by first removing the pro-Western weight from the power equilibrium .

We can force Britain and France out of the Suez , but we cannot so much as try to force the Russian tanks back from Budapest . We can mass our fleet against the Trujillos , but not against the Castros . We can vote in the UN against South African apartheid or Portuguese rule in Angola , but we cannot even introduce a motion on the Berlin Wall -- much less , give the simple order to push the Wall down . We officially receive the anti-French , Moscow-allied Algerian FLN , but we denounce the pro-Europe , anti-Communist OAS as criminal .

In the very week of our war against Katanga , we make a $133 million grant to Kwame Nkrumah , who has just declared his solidarity with the Communist bloc , and is busily turning his own country into a totalitarian dictatorship . As our planes land the war materiel that kills pro-Western Katangans , we stand supinely bleating while Nehru's troops smash into a five-hundred-year-old district of our NATO ally , Portugal .

What explains this uni-directional paralysis ? ? It is the consequence of the system of ideas that constitutes the frame of our international -- and in some degree our domestic -- policy . The Suez-Hungary crisis proves that this system was not invented by the new Administration , but only made more consistent and more active .

Key to the puzzles Most immediately relevant to these episodes in Goa , Katanga and Ghana , as to the Suez-Hungary crisis before them , is the belief that the main theater of the world drama is the underdeveloped region of Asia , Africa and Latin America . From this belief is derived the practical orientation of our policy on the `` uncommitted '' ( `` neutralist '' , `` contested '' ) nations , especially on those whose leaders make the most noise -- Nehru , Tito , Nkrumah , Sukarno , Betancourt , etc. . Our chief aim becomes that of finding favor in neutralist eyes .

If we grasp this orientation as a key , our national conduct in all of the events here mentioned becomes intelligible . And it becomes clear why in general we cannot take the initiative against the Left .