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August 19, 1961
Kennedy and Khrushchev
in the World Revolution
Andrew Gunder Frank
Will Kennedy and Khrushchev lead the U S A and the U S S R towards a rapprochement ?
There has been widespread hope and optimism from most quarters in the world that they will: fear
and pessimism that they may by those like Senator Goldwater Chancellor Adenauer, Generalissimo Chiang Kat
Shek (and, may be, even Mao Tse Tung) who were most concerned that Kennedy not be elected.
So far apart on other issues, the Left and the Right are in .substantial agreement on the liklihood of
a thaw in the cold war during the administration of Messrs K and K.
But there is much cause to take exception to this optimism (or pessimism ). and the time has come to
voice a dissenting note.
OP T I MI S M f or i mpr ovement i n
Sovi et -Ameri can relations is
war r ant ed onl y i f the t wo count r i es
and t hei r leaders have good i nt en-
tions and if they are in fact able to
det ermi ne t hei r own and others l at e.
The mi l i t a r y and economic power
of the U S and the U S S R and
the space the press devotes to Ame-
rican and Russian affairs, has led
many people to believe that the Big
Two do have this power to trans-
f or m t hei r i nt ent i ons i nt o r eal i t y.
Muc h of t hi s feel i ng, par t i cul ar l y i n
the Uni t ed States and Europe whom
hi st ory has gi ven an exaggerated
sense of t hei r own i mport ance, arises
out of mi st akenl y percei vi ng the well
spr i ng of wor l d events i n Ameri ca
and Russia and not. where in real i t y
it is. in the crisis of the wor l d social
r evol ut i on. It then appears i ncon-
gruous, in a wor l d in whi ch the U S
and the U S S R ar e regarded as the
t wo hi g dogs, to find f r om t i me to
t i me a Congolese or a Cuban t ai l to
be waggi ng the dog. Appar ent l y
Castro ( i nvar i abl y pi ct ur ed as puny
and small i n Amer i can newspaper
cartoons, even t hough he is 6 feet,
5 inches t al l ) is waggi ng the Ame-
r i can dog i n La t i n Amer i ca, and the
Congo' s Kat anga and Kasai t ai l s
are waggi ng bot h Kennedy and
Some wi l l deny, of course, that
Cuba and the Congo are really
maki ng Amer i can and Soviet pol i cy.
Rut as in al l paradoxes, the sol ut i on
to this puzzle lies in a restatement
of the pr obl em. Cuba, Congo, Chi na
and of course al l of the under-deve-
l oped and heretofore under pr i vi l eg-
ed part s of t he wor l d are the dog,
t o cont i nue our analogue, and the
rel at i vel y r i ch U S and U S S R are
the t a i l We wi l l i ncreasi ngl y f i nd
in the fut ure that the C C C dog is
indeed waggi ng the K K t ai l .
Two Revolutions
There are in the wor l d today two
maj or revol ut i ons one t echni cal , and
the ot her social, economic, pol i t i cal
and may be s pi r i t ual . The technical
r evol ut i on does have its source in
Russia and Ameri ca and perhaps in
the l ong r un it is the one whi ch wi l l
shape the wor l d and thereby its pol i -
ties. But in the short and medi um
r un, it is the social revol ut i on,
based in the underpri vi l eged 2/3
of the wor l d whi ch wi l l shape
events. Soviet arid Amer i can forei gn
pol i cy i ncl uded.
The technical and social revolu-
tions have their count erpart s in a
basic pol i cy argument between West
and Fast. Westerners mai nt ai n t hai
income must be increased first,
t hr ough t echni cal means,, before it
can be desi rabl y di st r i but ed. Mar-
xists insist that power and wealth
must first be redi st ri but ed t hr ough
social r evol ut i on before income can
rise. One need not be a Mar xi st ,
however, to note that in a wor l d in
whi ch, f a i l i ng this r edi st r i but i on.
the poor grow poorer whi l e the r i ch
gr ow ri cher, the verdi ct of hi st ory
is heavi l y on the Mar xi st side of
t hi s argument . But Mar xi st theory
or West ern, the wor l d social revol u-
t i on wi l l proceed i n the Chinas.
Cubus, and Congos f r om Af ghani -
stan to Zanzi bar. These revol ut i ons
and the last di t ch struggles against
them by the local l andl or d and ur-
ban pr i vi l eged class opposi t i on wi l l
occur i nevi t abl y regardless, of en-
couragement or di scouragement by
Last or West. If yesterday saw
t hem i n Egypt and Cuba, today i n
Laos and Congo, t omor r ow wi l l
surel y witness t hem i n South Vi et -
nam. I r an. Angol a. Peru, etc, Som
wi l l cry "' Wars of Li be r a t i on" ani
others "Communi st Aggressi on. " but
al l wi l l be dr awn i nt o the fray. Th
U S and the U S S R are par t i
cul ar l y commi t t ed to posi t i on
i n. and response to this struggle
Thus, the wor l d revol ut i on move
ment and the conflicts to which
it gives rise i nevi t abl y wi l l and
must i mpor t ant l y affect the degrei
of conflict of rapprochement be
tween the U S and the U S S R. It
is a maj or thesis of this art i cl e tha
Sovi et -Ameri can relations in the
comi ng years wi l l therefore depend
less on Kennedys and khr ushchev' s
i nt ent i ons than on wor l d events and
the commi t ment s the I S and tin
U S S R have t owar d t hem. What
then are these responses and com-
mi t ment - likely to be ?
Support to Status Quo
The hi st ory of all Ameri can res
ponse to social revolutions since
Wor l d War I I , except towards
Yugosl avi a, has been to oppose
social and economic r ef or m govern-
ments parties and movements, and
to suppor t instead status quo govern
ments, parties and movements, rang
i ng f r om the mi l i t ar y di ct at orshi ps
i n Sout h Kor ea, Sout h Vi et nam.
Tur key, Spai n, and indeed in the
US' s own Oki nawa all of the go-
vernment s represent i ng the ar my.
the l andowners and the Chur ch. to
Governments or moderate r ef or m
movements of the r i ght representing
l andowners or ur ban mi ddl e classes,
generally commer ci al l y rather than
i ndust r i al l y based, or coal i t i ons of
the t wo such as those of Bent ancourt
i n Venezuela. Ki s hi i n Japan, and'"
Kasavubu i n the Congo. I n 1960
alone, the U S support ed and
prot ect ed r i ght wi ng dictators, even
against "palace guar d" reforms i n
Vi et nam, Sal vador, Guatemala and
Ni car agua. The Uni t ed States mi l i -
t ar i l y support ed the overt hrow of
the moderate left r ef or m government
of Arbenz i n Guatemala and sup-
por t ed a r i ght wi ng government i n-
stead. She flew troops to Lebanon
to suppor t the conservatives there.
She sent arms to Bat i st a unt i l the
end and t r i ed t o persuade hi m t o
resign in favour of a r i ght - wi ng com-
promi se government whi ch was t o
be i mmedi at el y recognized and sup-
pl i ed wi t h more arms i n order t o
prevent the vi ct or y of Castro' s t hen
s t i l l mi l dl y reformi st movement. The
U S has financed the ent i re army of
the ri ght wi ng Laot i an government
and keeps mi l i t ar y advisors there ( i n
vi ol at i on of the Geneva agr eement ) ,
and it has balked for mont hs at a
neutralist settlement i n Laos.
The U S has consistently opposed
even the non-communist reformer
Sukar no i n Indonesia, and Nasser i n
Egypt , and i t undermi ned f r om the
begi nni ng the influence of Lumumba,
who had then vi si t ed New Yor k and
had made a deal wi t h an Amer i can
for large scale fi nanci ng and orga-
ni zi ng of Congo economi c develop-
ment. Though the U S di d sponsor
a Japanese l and r ef or m, economic
power in, i f anyt hi ng, more concen-
t rat ed today i n the Zai bat su of Japan
t han i t was before the war. Amer i ca
has f ound i t impossible, except i n
Suez, to disengage itself f r om sup-
port of the col oni al i sm of its
N A T O and S E A T O allies. The
st oni ng of Ni xon i n La t i n Amer i ca,
the mobbi ng of Eisenhower i n the
Far East, the attacks on Amer i can
embassy as well as Belgian after
the death of Lumumba are not, as
is so uni versal l y suggested in the
U S, ent i rel y the resul t of success-
f ul Communi st pr opaganda; they
are reaction-, by the under pr i vi l e-
ged peoples of the wor l d to the U S
record of consistent opposi t i on to
t hei r much desired social r evol ut i on.
Change Wi l l Be Difficult
It has frequently been suggested
t hat the Kennedy admi ni st r at i on wi l l
change Amer i can f or ei gn pol i cy for
the better. But that wi l l be difficult
at best. It is no accident that the
Uni t ed States has pursued t hi s con-
servat i ve pol i cy against the wor l d
social revol ut i on movement. Mor e-
over, the past has saddled Kennedy
wi t h some bad si t uat i ons; consider,
for instance, the Congo and Chi ang
Ka i Shek. It has also been suggest-
ed that Kennedy wi l l reverse the
reliance on f or ei gn pol i cy tools of
his predecessors, and r et ur n t o
Teddy Roosevelt' s adage of "speak
softly and carry a bi g st i ck". But
the earl y statements and decisions
of his admi ni st r at i on i ndi cat e that
"speak softly and use a bi g st i ck"
wi l l more apt l y describe the f or ei gn
pol i cy of his admi ni st r at i on. Indeed,
l i t t l e else could be expected of the
par t y i n power i n a count r y i n
whi ch the opposi t i on par t y can cr i p-
ple i t after any indigenous revolu-
t i on such as those in Chi na and Cuba
by chargi ng that the government
par t y has "gi ven the count r y away
to the Communi st s".
Kennedy' s first act i on on the i n :
t er nat i onal scene was to procure an
i mmedi at e increase i n ai r force t r oop
car r yi ng capaci t y, in order, as he
hi msel f announced, to be able to
deal more effectively wi t h "Commu-
nist aggression" ( synonymous wi t h
" wars of l i be r a t i on" , remember)
anywhere in the wor l d. No f ur t her
evidence of t hi ngs to come is real l y
needed, but mor e is available. Kel i -
nedy has several times announced
that he seeks to prevent the "Cuban
menace"' f r om spreadi ng r evol ut i on
t o other parts of La t i n Amer i ca. I n
ot her words, the U S wi l l cont i nue
t o resist al l i ncl udi ng i ndi genous,
social r ef or m movements i n Lat i n
Ameri ca by cal l i ng them Cuban and
Communi st subversion. To put teeth
i nt o this resol ut i on, Kennedy has
appoi nt ed to head his Lat i n Ame-
ri can "task force" A A Berl e who.
in the classical pat t ern, now vehe-
ment l y attacks the social reforms
abroad whi ch he support ed at home
dur i ng the Roosevelt era.
Kennedy and Stevenson, his
Ambassador to the U N have not
changed Amer i can pol i cy i n the
Congo, not wi t hst andi ng t hat even
the Amer i can press says that Kasa-
vubu has a smal l and decl i ni ng
par t of the support of the Congolese,
next t o the gr owi ng popul ar suppor t
f or the Lumumbai st s. Nor does the
Kennedy admi ni st r at i on accept any
responsi bi l i t y by the Uni t ed Slates
f or the depl orabl e si t uat i on whi ch
now exists in the Congo. Thi s is a
question, not of swi t chi ng support ,
but onl y of admi t t i ng the conse-
quences, known al l over Asi a and
Af r i ca, of suppor t i ng Kasavubu and
Mobut u t o the hi l t , whi l e f ai l i ng t o
oppose N A T O al l y Bel gi um' s
support of Tshombe and Ka l onj i .
But there is no sign of a better f u-
t ure bui l t on an admission of a past
mistake. The same mi ght be said to
hol d t rue as regards Chi ang in For-
mosa. Indeed, the co-architect of
Amer i ca' s pol i cy t owar d Chi na at
the t i me Ma c Ar t hur crossed t he 38t h
par al l el wi t h the admi t t ed i nt ent i on
of maki ng war on Chi na has become
Kennedy' s Secretary of State.
Though Kennedy also appoi nt ed
Chester Bowles as Under Secretary
of State, and at t hi s wr i t i n g seems
wi l l i ng to support some neut ral i st
settlement ( whi ch wi l l i nevi t abl y be
t empor ar y) i n Laos, the mai n stream
of the Kennedy f or ei gn pol i cy wi t h
respect to revol ut i ons is clearly l ai d
out : Business as usual, at t he same
ol d stand.
Wi t h respect t o the other mai n
Russi an-Ameri can issue, disarma-
ment, Kennedy has made his posi t i on
equal l y clear. Al t hough he has ad-
mi t t ed, first in a TV campai gn de-
bate and again in his State of the
Uni on message that the U S has not
in the past seriously sought di sarma-
ment he has l eft no doubt by wor d
or deed that t hough he wi l l discuss
and negotiate, he does not real l y
seek di sarmament ei t her, but rat her
the arms preservi ng "arms cont r ol "
pol i cy. Indeed, Kennedy promises
to increase armament s.
Soviet Position
What of the Russians ? Wester-
ners, and par t i cul ar l y Ameri cans,
have l ong accused the Russians of
"Communi st aggression, " or l eadi ng
an i nt er nat i onal Communi st conspi-
racy to subvert the l i ber t y of free
peoples. But the si t uat i on is more
compl i cat ed t han t hat . Most people
of Asi a, Af r i ca, and Lat i n Amer i ca
never had any l i ber t y t o begi n wi t h
nor the people of Hungar y ei t her ) .
That i s precisely why they are i n
open revolt against t hei r rul ers,
f or ei gn and domestic. These strug-
gles are of l ocal or i gi n, not of Mos-
cow' s or Washi ngt on' s. To pursue
our question of Russi an-Ameri can
rapprochement possi bi l i t i es, t he
question arises what the Soviet
Uni on' s posi t i on and Commi t ment
t owar d these is.
The Soviet Uni on has i n t he past
unquest i onabl y support ed these l ocal
social revol ut i ons i n the mai n, but
August 19, 1961
August 19, 1961
not as single mi ndedl y as Ame r i -
cans have cl ai med or as Tr ot skyi st s
arid Maoi st s woul d have wished-
The Soviet Uni on di d not, let it be
remembered, suppor t the Chinese
Communi st s at the t i me of Chi ang' s
succession to Sun Yat Sen, nor di d
St al i n suppor t Mao' s war against
the Nat i onal i st s dur i ng and after
Wo r l d Wa r I I . Onl y when present-
ed wi t h a f ai t accompl i i n Chi na
di d the Soviet Uni on swi ng i n be-
hi nd Communi sm there. And the
Russians have been careful never
to share the at omi c bomb wi t h the
Chinese since. Thi s same issue
about "consol i dat i ng the r evol ut i on
at home" versus "spreadi ng the re-
vol ut i on i n the wo r l d " has of course
di vi ded the Stalinists and the Tr ot -
skyisls a l l al ong. The Cuban Com-
munists di d not support Castro
unt i l seven mont hs before he won,
and the Russians di d not send hi m
ai d unt i l a year after. Though
Soviet support of social revol ut i ons
has not been unqual i fi ed, the Rus-
sians do have a strong commi t -
ment to support these movements.
No less than when Al exander Nev-
sky was si mul t aneousl y beleagured
by the Teut ons and the Mongol s in
the t hi rt eent h cent ury, is Russia to-
day embat t l ed by bot h the West and
Chi na, and the "emer gi ng" coun-
tries of the wor l d as wel l . And
possibly mor e t han at any t i me
since Peter the Great first opened
a wi ndow to the West is Russia to-
day t r yi ng t o move West. But the
West, and par t i cul ar l y the U S.
shows scant appr eci at i on f or Rus-
sia's di l emma and does not make
her task any easier. The West re-
mains i nt ransi gent about di sarma-
ment, whi ch woul d free Russia' s
resources to increase and Wester-
nize her st andard of l i vi ng, and
Amer i can intransigence i n per mi t -
t i ng never mi nd suppor t i ng, mi l d
social reformers such as Nasser.
Sukarno, and the earl y Castro and
Lumumba movements, forces these
movements to look to Russia for
suppor t .
Apa r t f r om the more obvi ous
mor al , i deol ogi cal and pol i t i cal
motives to support the "wars of
l i ber at i on" and t hei r more mode-
rate vari ant s, the Soviet Uni on has
other reasons to respond act i vel y to
t hi s wor l dwi de movement . Not the
least of these is that whi l e the left
ext remi st s at home demand to see
results i n the r evol ut i on abroad i f
they are goi ng t o support Khr ush- ,
chev' s di sarmament pr ogr amme,
the Chinese in wor d and deed pres-
sure the Russians not to sacrifice
the speed and i nt ensi t y of the wor l d
r evol ut i on to Russia's desire to co-
exist wi t h the Imperi al i st s. An d i f
Chinese words are not sufficiently
i mpressi ve to Russia, i ncreasi ng
Chinese influence i n Af r i ca and
Lat i n Amer i ca is.
For the present, t hen, the U S
and the U S S R remai n al i gned
and commi t t ed to opposite sides of
the wor l d social revol ut i on move-
ment. The U S has been support-
i ng mobi l i zat i on f or a counterrevo-
l ut i on in Cuba; the U S S R wi l l
almost surel y cont i nue to support
Castro' s r evol ut i onar y government .
Today' s settlement i n Laos wi l l be-
come unsettled again t omor r ow,
and lead to a clash there. Russian-
Amer i can disagreement as to whe-
ther the newly f or mi ng Af r i can
trade uni ons shoul d be pol i t i cal ,
European style, or "br ead and
but t er ' , Amer i can style, forebodes
deeper and more far reachi ng dis-
putes i n that cont i nent . Who knows
whi ch count ry wi l l expl ode next
and draw Amer i ca and Russia i nt o
conflict on st i l l other front s. Since
in the comi ng years the local strug-
gles can be expected to mul t i pl y
and i nt ensi fy, the good i nt ent i ons
of Kennedy and Khrushchev not-
wi t hst andi ng, Ameri ca and Russia
arc not l i kel y to be able to effect
much "rapprochement.
Prospects for Rapprochement
If prospects for a real t haw i n
the cold war are not good for the
present, what of the fut ure? No
crystal bal l is necessary. I bel i eve;
the handwr i t i ng is on the wal l for
al l t o read who wi l l . The Uni t ed
States wi l l cont i nue to oppose the
wor l ds social r evol ut i on and t o
bal k at di sarmament i n the f ut ur e
as it has in the past. Hopef ul l y,
( or fearful l y, dependi ng on where
you st and), the U S wi l l in t i me
moderate its opposi t i on to even
moderate pol i t i cal and social refor-
mers and t hereby l i ght en the pres-
sures on t hem and the Soviet Uni on
to move st i l l furt her to the l eft ex-
treme. But more l i kel y, the U S
wi l l stiffen rat her t han relax its
oppos i t i on: Amer i can i nt ransi gence
is al ready l oosi ng the U S the sup-
por t of its allies, and i t wi l l con-
t i nue to do so i ncreasi ngl y in t he
f ut ur e Ma k i n g up f or t hi s lose of
suppor t , par t i cul ar l y when Br i t a i n
and Canada begi n to seri ousl y
abandon Amer i can forei gn pol i cy,
is l i kel y to pr ompt the U S to sub-
st i t ut e a stiffer and st i l l more mi l i -
t a r i l y based f or ei gn pol i cy of its
own. To r al l y the necessary sup-
por t for such a pol i cy. Amer i ca is
l i kel y once agai n t o t ur n, McCar-
t h y ^ style, and on a scale hereto-
fore unheard of, to r ed- bai t i ng any
and al l r ef or m movements as well
as domestic cri t i cs of that f or ei gn
pol i cy. Domest i cal l y, this prospect
rests on the substantial, and else-
where unappreci at ed, di rect demo-
cracy of the force of Amer i can
public opi ni on, combi ned wi t h the
demonstrated abi l i t y of the press
and TV t o moul d t hat opi ni on on
issues of f or ei gn affairs where the
Amer i can publ i c cannot discern
t hei r own interest t hrough di rect
personal experience. Onl y if a sig-
nificant part of the press is wrested
away f r om the cont rol of the Amer i -
can r i ght Wi n g does the above
prospect not seem i nevi t abl e.
The Soviet Uni on, for its part ,
wi l l gr adual l y lend less and less
support to the wor l d' s r evol ut i onar y
movements. As before Russia first
sought to "consolidate" Communi sm
:it home whi l e she was poor, she
then wi l l seek to "enj oy" at home
the riches that Communi sm has
brought her Al r eady cont endi ng
against the Chinese, who wish onl y
extreme revol ut i ons, that moderate
r ef or m movements should also re-
ceive support . Russia wi l l increas-
i ngl y support only moderate and
evol ut i onar y social r ef or m move-
ments. The role of suppor t i ng the
more extreme left reforms wi l l i n-
creasingly f al l to Chi na, as that of
pr ovi di ng a model to the new re-
vol ut i onar y movements for the
conquest of power and i ni t i at i on of
agr ar i an r ef or m has al ready passed
f r om Russia to Chi na. Russia, who
all but ski pped a Mar x' s capitalist
stage of hi st ory wi l l be left wi t h an
equal l y attenuated peri od of wor l d
l eadershi p. For the prospect of
better Russi an-Ameri can relations,
t hough not necessarily for the good
of the wor l d, this l ong r un t rend
augurs we l l : Russia and Amer i ca
wi l l yet uni t e to face poverty social
revol ut i on and Chi na as t hei r com-
mon enemy.
August 19, 1961

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