A Reviewer's Notebook - 1969/1
JANUARY 01, 1969 by JOHN CHAMBERLAIN
Henry Paolucci’s War, Peace, and the Presidency (McGraw-Hill, $6.95) is just about as unfashionable as, in a time of almost universal stupidity, one could wish a book to be. A conservative who once ran for the U.S. Senate as the New York Conservative Party candidate, Mr. Paolucci is both a libertarian and a nationalist. He believes that international affairs can only be messed up by those who support any of the various movements toward "world government." Balance-of-power politics, says Mr. Paolucci, are not only inevitable; they are also healthy. A world monopoly of power would, by definition, be a power in the hands of the big population countries (Red China, India, Soviet Russia), and what this would do to the U.S., Western Europe, and the fringe nations of East Asia would be sad to contemplate. The good news in Mr. Paolucci’s book is that it isn’t going to happen.
As a libertarian, Mr. Paoluccibelieves in "leveling up" the population of the U.S., which runs counter to the fashionable idea that taxation must be geared to the process of "leveling down." He is in favor of the "possessing classes," a phrase which he would undoubtedly throw in the face of Arthur Schlesinger, who uses similar phrases about the "haves" with a sneer. Mr. Paolucci thinks the Negroes should, in the words of William Graham Sumner, "get capital"; what they need more than anything else is self-respect, which is something that doesn’t go with a life spent on relief. As a non-WASP (his Italian ancestry obviously means that he can’t very well be a "white Anglo-Saxon Protestant"), Mr. Paolucci is keenly aware of the battle which minorities have had to wage in this country to achieve financial status and a feeling of belonging. But this is the lot of minorities everywhere; it is, says Mr. Paolucci, the human condition, and there is no use weeping about it. The important thing is that, under the American form of government, individuals can pull minorities up. It has happened in the case of the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, and the Italians—and there is no reason why the Negro, coming north out of the agrarian south, can’t "make it" in his proper turn. In any case, says Mr. Paolucci, it is not the business of government to force anybody to love anybody. The business of government is to protect individuals in their rights.
Law and Order
Mr. Paolucci’s libertarian streak does not lead him to embrace the fallacy of anarchism. He believes in the check-and-balance republic of James Madison. But he also believes in "we, the people" united behind the President when it comes to facing foreign threats or the bids of minorities to dissolve the federal union. The central thought of his book is nailed down in a remarkable reply to Professor James MacGregor Burns, who, by implication, would welcome a diminution of U.S. sovereignty lest a nuclear holocaust should "wipe out all checks and balances—including the voters." Says Mr. Paolucci, "President Lincoln would have replied that a nuclear holocaust was less to be feared than peaceful dissolution which would also wipe out checks and balances and with them the way of life that makes being a voter meaningful." The best things in life, says Mr. Paolucci, are those which men are prepared to die for, and it is no less true now than in ancient times that freedom is “made secure only when a sufficient number of persons who are willing to die rather than not be free combine their willingness politically." If our federal union goes, checks and balances will check and balance nothing, the Constitution will constitute nothing, and the civil rights of everybody, the Negroes included, will be "deprived of positive value as well as legal substance."
Mr. Paolucci, though as a libertarian he could not very well think highly of Lyndon Johnson’s domestic views, rather admires the way in which a hard-grained Texas patriot decided to go against the academic liberals’ conception of the White House as the place for a continuous "internationalist" teach-in. James MacGregor Burns, Walter Lippmann, Arthur Schlesinger, the earlier Walt Rostow, all believed in a strong presidency—but only when the President was under the tutelage of the internationalists. When LBJ turned out to be a different breed of cat than some of his predecessors, all the "strong executive" liberals started whooping it up for an even stronger U.S. Senate. The new idols were Fulbright, McCarthy, and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who wanted to take the conduct of foreign affairs out of the strong executive’s hands.
But if LBJ stood out against "national dissolution," his policies were still opaque when it came to considering basic balance-of-power realities on the Atlantic side of the world. Walt Rostow, in the White House, might stand up for preserving the balance of power in East Asia. But he—along with Dean Rusk in the State Department—had been for "convergence" with the communists until the whole world was at a "takeoff" position to practice meliorist economics that would feed everybody, the drones as well as the workers. The irony of the situation, as Mr. Paolucci sees it, is that Soviet Russia has, in practice, "turned Marx on his head" by creating, not a stateless paradise, but a tough super nationalistic State that will never accede to real disarmament. Moscow talks "internationalism"—but invades Czechoslovakia, arms communist nationalists such as Ho Chi Minh, and encourages the Arab nationalists who look to Nasser as their leader. To hope to build "internationalist" East-West bridges in this atmosphere is utopian.
As for the utopia of One-World rule, Mr. Paolucci thinks it would be the prelude to disastrous civil wars on a planetary scale. The history of ancient Rome broods over many a page in Mr. Paolucci’s book. When a balance of power existed in the Mediterranean world, Roman citizens did not fight each other. They maintained internal discipline in order to stand guard against external enemies. But after the single great enemy Carthage was destroyed, the Roman classes turned on each other. The civil wars eventually came to an end, but the Roman Republic was insensibly transformed into the Roman Empire. This "One World" of antiquity established a universal peace—but the energies of the population flagged. And, eventually, the barbarians broke in. Mr. Paolucci thinks this is the "law" of One Worldism. But in modern times the barbarians lurk within the advanced countries as well as in the jungles of some of the tropical "underdeveloped" world.
There are some things that are not cleared up in Mr. Paolucci’s book. Would he regard the Clarence Streit blueprint for a federation of the Atlantic democracies as a concession to a debilitating "internationalism," or would he accept it as a proposal for strengthening the West in its balance-of-power confrontation with the Soviet East? Does he think West Europe should remain a preserve of "little nationalisms," or should it become a bigger federal entity with a possibly enhanced ability to live in a balance of power world? Before we can be clear on strategies to be pursued against the communists, there may be some arguing to do about the claims of Paul Spaak, Clarence Streit, and other prophets of larger federal units. The question is whether countries such as Belgium, France, and Italy have become the "city states" of the modern Western world. It would be good to have Henry Paolucci turn his lucid mind to the consideration of where the thinking of James Madison can be applied to larger federal units.