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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Ursa Major

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Remembering the old saw about people who live in glass houses, the men of good will of the Western world have, in the year since V-J, functioned not as critics, but as interpreters of the developing foreign policy of the Soviet Union. American and British unilateral action in the Pacific and in Indonesia effectively prevented a liberal alignment with those elements who were beating the drum over Russian unilateral action in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The knowledge that British troops were garrisoned in Greece, that American units were still stationed in Iceland, likewise silenced criticism of the presence of Russian forces in Azerbaijan. But as the Big Four powers move crab-fashion away from their peripheral problems towards the nexus of all the problems of the peace--Germany interpretation has given way to savage criticism, and attack. With the focus of attention centered on Germany, the foreign policy of the Soviet Union has grown so alarmingly mysterious and incomprehensible as to cause a major defection in the ranks of her friends in the West.

On July 10, in a speech to the Council of Foreign Ministers, Molotov enunciated a new point of departure in Russian foreign policy: an abandonment of the French in their demand for control of the Ruhr and the Saar Basin, and opposition to the dismemberment of Germany unless "the German people express their wish to transform Germany into a federal state." The day after this speech, every newspaper in the French capital blossomed forth with a violent attack on the Soviet, including the organs of the Socialist party and the party of Maurice Thorez and Jacques Duclos. With this bid for German support and apparent jettisoning of the French, party lines were transcended and French Communists stood with all other Frenchmen in their bitter denunciation of the Soviet Union. Previous to the Molotov speech, Harold Laski had, in an article in The Nation, sharply taken issue with the Soviet Foreign Minister over his tactics of obfuscation and mystery--and Laski has been perhaps Russia's most eloquent champion in the Anglo-Saxon world.

American criticism has been more violent, if anything, than that of the English and French, with the most telling blows coming from Brooks Atkinson and Walter Lippmann. In a series of three articles, Atkinson, whose dispatches from China pinpointing the treachery and rottenness of the Kuomintang were among the most notable jobs of newspaper reporting of the past year, has assailed the Russians from all sides, cultural, political, and moral. If Lippmann is not as liberal as Atkinson, at least he is as fair-mindeed, and his interpretation of Molotov's speech constitutes the most damaging attack yet sustained by the Soviet. His thesis is that Molotov, the man who signed the pact of friendship with Germany seven years ago next month, is attempting to isolate the Western powers from Germany by inveighing against dismemberment of the Reieh and is thereby smoothing the way for another Russo-German alliance based on a new partition of Poland.

Whether Russia's foreign policy is as sinister as the reading Mr. Lippmann gives it, only time can tell. All that is discernible now is that Russia is rapidly losing her friends in the West and thereby inexorably reducing her chances for any real understanding with the United States, Great Britain, and France. If Russia is sincerely desirous of world peace, but continues in her present policy of confusion and mystory, she will not only find herself friendless, but faced with a world in which the men of good will have joined forces with Winston Churchill and William C. Bullitt.

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