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Imminent failure of the United States in fostering democratic forms of government in the Far East and recourse to militarization in those lands were predicted this morning by Robert B. Sheeks '44 in his commencement part. Sheeks graduated today magna cum laude in Far Eastern Languages.
"The eyes of the world, and particularly those of Asia," he said, "are upon us looking for assurance that we, as the most powerful country in the world, are really at the forefront of democracy, as we claim: assurance that--the Atlantic Charter applies to the Pacific." As a consequence, however, of our inertia, Sheeks claimed "we are slowly forcing upon them the conviction that militarization is the only way."
Interest In Orient
Sheeks pointed out that because our culture is entirely based upon the heritage of the West there has been up to this time a lack of interest in the East except among a few businessmen, missionaries and statesmen. He characterized the people of the East, two thirds of the world population as being "in the process of a tremendous change from being static to dynamic members of the family of nations."
"These peoples," he stressed, "are not interested in the maintenance of a status quo, in laissez-faire or direction less growth, but "are determined to take conscious control of their social development in order to destroy those plagues of civilization which are war, poverty and oppression."
As a classic example of short-sightedness and bad faith Sheeks quoted the current policy of the United States towards the Philippine Islands which will receive their independence on July 4, 1946. "It was this promise," he claimed, "which kept them fighting for us during the long years of war. It is the belief in this promise that made them destroy their homes, made them scorch the earth, and fight from the hills."
Sheeks castigated the United States, for having to this date contributed nothing towards the rehabilitation of the Philippines, and for having made all promises of aid contingent upon the islands conceding to American demands "which will negate their independence." If American conditions are accepted, Sheeks warned, it "will deny them all political, economic, and military independence. They would have no control over their imports, exports, currency, or tariff until 1974, and even then, the United States is to retain a controlling position."
U. S. bald-faced economic imperialism in the Far East was revealed by Sheeks, who quoted Senator Tydings "The whole philosophy is to keep the Philippines economically even though we lose them politically." Sheeks scored the entire policy as "a hoax as cynical and as tragic as any in history."
Swinging to a broader condemnation he spoke next of tragic circumvention of the Atlantic Charter in China, Indonesia, India and in Siam. He summed up his condemnation of international failure in the Far East "we cannot, with any conscience, continue to prevent others from taking the very steps which we ourselves have taken. Placing the responsibility for what is happening is a minor problem. It lies perhaps with individuals, with school curricula that have almost wholly disregarded the Far East, or perhaps with a press that has failed to provide an objective basis for intelligent opinion on foreign policy."
The potential role of the United States as a leader in a crusade for democracy and human rights, Sheeks claimed, was in part negated by the knowledge of our failure to represent these ideals in the part. "If we fail to curb racism at home," he said, "and continue to compromise democracy abroad, then to countless millions of hungry people all over the world, our talk of votes, free enterprise and high standards of living, will become empty moralizing."
"What we do in the world toward a solution of the old but now terribly urgent problems," Sheeks concluded, "will not prove the moral superiority of our generation; but it will demonstrate that we posess the requisite reforming energy and spirit."
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