Owen Lattimore, a far-Eastern expert who was once a prime target for attacks by the late Sen. McCarthy, last night declared that the U.S. should cease supporting all foreign regimes which rely on American aid to maintain themselves against the desires of their own people.
Citing such examples as Chiang Kai-Shek in China, Ngo Dinh Diem in South Viet Nam, and Syngman Rhee in South Korea, Lattimore claimed that the U.S. could not possibly be successful in forcing a country to accept a form of government its people no longer wanted.
Lattimore cited a recent remark of Chetti Jagan, the unashamedly Marxist premier of soon-to-be-independent British Guiana, as being indicative of the problem the U.S. faces.
Jagan had maintained that America must decide how far it is willing to go in letting a people have the government it chooses, even if that government turns out to oppose U.S. interests. This, Lattimore declared, would be the true test of America's concept of democracy.
The second member of the Law School Forum panel, Arthur Smithies, Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economy, disagreed with Lattimore's assumption that world problems could be settled without reference to the military aspects of the world situation.
He justified aid to Franco by emphasizing the military importance of American bases on Spanish territory. "We may have to pay rent to people we don't like."
Smithies also maintained that it would be unfair to the people of an underdeveloped country to deprive it of aid simply because we dislike its form of government. "If a dictator deprives a people of their liberty, should we come along and deprive them of their livelihood?" he asked.
Smithies and Lattimore agreed that democracy and Communism were not clear alternatives in most underdeveloped areas.
Lattimore claimed that in many cases democracy was "not a feasible alternative to those involved" in the underdeveloped countries. He therefore stressed the importance of aid to nominally Communist countries like Yugoslavia.
In such cases, the U.S. aid could serve to weaken the "monolithic character" of the Soviet camp.