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Optimism About the Cold War

THE CURTAIN ISN'T IRON by Joseph C. Harsch, Doubleday & Company, 192 pp., $2.00.

By Herbert P. Gleason

A map of Europe inside the cover sets the tone of this new book by the present Chief of the Washington Bureau of the Christian Science Moulter. Shown in grey are "countries still dominated by Russia." "The Curtain Isn't Iron is an optimistic book.

After travelling through eastern Europe in 1947 and again in 1949, Joseph C. Harsch thinks that "Russia, to make herself secure in her empire, is taking measures which must make her less secure." In a very few pages, he gives one of those fascinating summaries of what the Kremlin worries about its satellites.

Harsch believes that Russia's strength, like that of all religious states, is weakening around the edges, Tito, of course, is the obvious example, and the author thinks America's best hope lies in the nationalist heresy. He also takes courage from the failure of the communist coup in Finland in 1948 and the Western victory in Austria (though I think the rumblings of neo-Nazis in the latter place undermine his statement that "Austria is a great Western success story").

In Poland, he calls Russian influence something less than welcome. He reminds the reader that Poles are 97 percent Catholic, 98 percent anti-Russian, and 99 percent passionately Polish. He also points out that they are altogether unsympathetic with Soviet attempts to woo the Germans, who they recall, killed more than 8,000,000 Poles. The speed of Polish recovery is based on Silesian industry. Should Russia's pals, in Germany set return of that region as a condition of their friendship, the Kremlin would be very seriously embarrassed.

When I say this is an optimistic book, to friendly governments in the East, I do not mean that Harsch looks forward even in the remote future. He carefully points out that "the men who have seized power in eastern Europe are not so foolish as to bring only evil to those they have captured. If we insist on seeing only that one evil side of the communist governments behind the iron curtain we are only deluding ourselves. and we might quite possibly delude ourselves disastrously."

But he does see a chance for peaceful separation of the social reform, which the East wants, from Russian domination, which it does not. You may think Harsch underrates the extremes to which the Kremlin will go to stamp out nationalism. But optimistic books by people who usually know what they're talking about are rare these days, and it is reassuring to find one so well argued

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