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Devil's Advocate


The State Department's immediate reaction to Marshal Tito's recognition of the East German government has been a familiarly negative one. The prospect of cutting off aid to Yugoslavia is unfortunately on its way toward becoming a reality.

Such a measure would be a retaliatory one and would result only in further alienating Tito. It would, moreover, be an admission of the complete bankruptcy of our policy in Yugoslavia, where we have attempted to keep the breach between Moscow and Belgrade open.

Tito's formal recognition is not a sign that the wound has healed completely. It only indicates that he is interested in economic, as well as political relations with the satellite German state. The consequences of this interest may be harmful to the West if they result in trade between the two countries, a trade which could serve to strengthen the East German economy. But the U.S. can act to make such trade unimportant.

The only reason that Tito could wish to deal with the communist sphere is that his financial needs have not been satisfied by the West. The fault for this situation lies, in part, with America, for discouraging trade with communist nations, simply because they are communist.

By ending what amounts to a moral embargo on Tito, the United States can make it unnecessary for him to have to deal with communist states. Beyond making it unnecessary, there is little else we can do but hope that he decides it will also be unprofitable in the long run.

Of course, if the State Department does decide to cut off economic help to Yugoslavia, Tito will have no alternative but the Soviets and their satellites. The Yugoslav economy is already showing signs of strain--the five year plan is not working as well as was expected--and some sort of financial security is needed to keep Tito in control. Since at present there seems to be no organized alternative to Tito except a regime even more definitely committed to Moscow, the U.S. has little choice but to help Tito and hope for the best.

While this attitude is not a particularly positive one, it appears the most expedient at the moment. Without Tito in Yugoslavia the USSR would be certain of its much-sought-after Mediterranean port, and the free world would lose a valuable, if not respected friend.

Tito has already suffered a good deal of humiliation from the outcry which Americans raised at the prospect of his visiting the U.S. It would be a great mistake to alienate him further by terminating an aid which he considers necessary and which we must hope is well spent.

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