Leaders Seen as Key To Emerging Nations

BUILDERS OF EMERGING NATIONS, by Vera Micheles Dean. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. New York. 277 pages. $5.00.

The so called "emerging nations" have been emerging all over the front pages in recent years, causing concern and puzzlement to statesmen and newspaper readers alike. As public interest in these areas of the world has risen, so too has the literary output of scholars and journalists who specialize (or pretend to specialize) in the field. Part of this literature has confined itself to the American or Western reaction to the emerging nations--dealing in precise (C. L. Sulzberger's What's Wrong with Our Foreign Policy) or imprecise (The Ugly American) terms with the weaknesses of American policy in Asia, Africa and Latin America. There have also been some admirable studies of individual countries and areas, like James P. Coleman's work on Nigeria. Another approach is the general historical and political study of nationalism in the old colonial areas (Rupert Emerson's From Empire to Nation). A fourth and final technique emphasizes the problems and processes of economic development.

In Builders of Emerging Nations, Vera Micheles Dean attempts with considerable success to embrace all four approaches in a single short volume. She is concerned more with understanding the problems and attitudes of the emerging nations than with the proper Western responses to them, but, as she implies, understanding is the first step in shaping an intelligent response. Mrs. Dean deals with the entire "emerging," underdeveloped area, but not before considering the peculiar conditions and difficulties of five areas and eighteen individual countries. What is most impressive Builders of Emerging Nations is its scheme of organization: Mrs. Dean approaches the emerging nations through their leaders, offering first a brief summary of the political social and economic peculiarities of each of five areas, (Russia and Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Asia, Africa. Latin America) and then sketches of the life and thought of eighteen outstanding statesmen. She concludes with several chapters drawing together those factors and ideas she has found common to all the under-developed nations and their leaders.

All this constitutes an imposing task for a work of less than 300 pages, and anyone who tries to accomplish it in so short a space lies open to the disparaging epithets of popularizer and over-simplifier. Admittedly, Mrs. Dean's biographical sketches, averaging less than ten pages in length, are scarcely comprehensive; most of the statesmen she chooses to treat have lent themselves or will soon lend themselves profitably to full-length biography. But the sketches are sufficient for Mrs. Dean's purpose, and she is a popularizer only in that her book is extremely readable. Builders of Emerging Nations is a solid and useful study. Mrs. Dean, editor of the Foreign Policy Association and a member of the faculty at the University of Rochester, has written eight other books on international affairs, including New Patterns of Democracy in India. Her choice of the eighteen "builders" and her analysis of what some of them have in common should be of considerable interest.

Of Mrs. Dean's eighteen leaders, ten--Khrushchev, Tito, Ben Gurion, Nasser, Nehru, Sukarno, Mao Tse-tung, Bourguiba, Nkrumah and Castro--will be familiar to most of her readers, although she adds a good deal of depth and illumination with extensive citation of the statesman's own writings. The others, two of them dead but still influential, less well-known, or at least less obvious selections, are:

*Kemel Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal), who presided over Turkey's transition from the center of the Ottoman Empire to a modern republic after World War I. His social, economic and religious reforms have been of lasting effect.

*U Nu of Burma, the Buddhist apostle of tolerance, good works and mutual trust on the national and international level.

*Mohammed Ayub Khan of Pakistan, who "rescued" his country from corrupt politicians and unworkable parliamentary democracy. Ayub Khan's experiments with "basic democracies" and his attempt to remodel Western democracy to suit an illiterate untutored population may be the most important political development in the underdeveloped area for the next several years.

*Ramon Magsaysay, whose influence on Philippine democracy remains tremendous even four years after his death.

*Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, an outstanding example of the bourgeois professional in African politics (he is a physician), France's staunchest friend in this Community, and leader of the moderate element in French West Africa.

*Tom Mboya, Kenya's young leader, who is attractive to the British Colonial Office because he lacks the Mau Mau taint, who heads Kenya's largest political party, but who apparently wants power now only to hand it over to Jomo Kenyatta, whom the British hate and fear.

*Julius Nyerere, First Minister of dependent Tanganyika. Much prized as another African "moderate," Nyerere gets Mrs. Dean's vote as the man most likely to lead any pan-Africa federation. Nyerere has done the best of any African statesman (except possibly the Nigerians) in reconciling the whites of his territory to independence, with a plea for "mutiracial democracy."

*Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela, the leader of Latin America's non-Communist, anti-Castro left. The head of one of the few regimes giving serious consideration and action to the social and economic problems to which "Castroism" is a response, Betancourt, Mrs. Dean indicates, should be the model for United States efforts in Latin America.

Except for the Communists, Mrs. Dean admires most of the leaders she writes about; she does not share Time magazine's scorn for Nkrumah and Sukarno, for example. But those she likes best (Bourguiba, Ayub Khan, Nyerere and Betancourt) are the non-ideaologues who are more concerned with social and economic achievement than with abstract principles. The necessities of conditions in these emerging nations, Mrs. Dean argues, have imposed certain pragmatic responses which Western democrats may find difficult to accept, yet the West must accept them if it is to learn to live with the underdeveloped world. First, most of the emerging nations, many after a bright democratic start, have been forced by necessity to abandon Western parliamentary democracy and to impose a certain amount of authoritarianism. Second, all of these nations, seeking rapid economic development, have restorted, again out of necessity, to a good deal of governmental control of their economics. Third, most of the nations have entertained no fixed conception of international politics, except for the old drive for independence and a newer concern for peace and quiet; thus they are diplomatically uncommitted in the Cold War. Yet, in most cases, their values come from the West, and men like Ayub Khan and Nyerere are trying to do precisely what Western statesmen should be doing--reworking the Western liberal heritage to apply it to the non-Western world. On their success or failure depend the answers to the questions that Mrs. Dean says must still be resolved: whether the present benevolent authoritarianism will turn toward democracy or toward totalitarianism? whether the guided economies will emphasize immediate welfare benefits for the people or will postpone benefits in favor of current sacrifice? whether, in short, the revamped Western values will in fact work, or whether these nations will have to turn elsewhere. Mrs. Dean's "builders" have not yet finished their construction job, and it is extremely important for the West to understand what blueprints and what attitudes they bring to their task, for it is the west that often will be called upon to supply the materials. Mrs. Dean's study, though brief, is helpful and illuminating.