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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 7, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta Tuesday, January 7, 1975 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 1974, the year of increasing perils By Dr. I. J. Adel-Czlowiekowski, University of Lethbridge professor The great continent of Asia is one of the crucial areas in which the unsteady balance of power between the United States, Soviet Russia and China can be tipped decisively to the advantage of either the Chinese or Russians. In India, the second most populous country in the world with 600 million people, about 40 per cent of the population have no regular employment and are deprived of the essen- tial means of subsistence. Two failing monsoons could plunge another 30 per cent into abject poverty. About one-third of the rural and almost half of the urban pop- ulation, are permanently un- dernourished. The "green revolution" which was to make India self- sufficient in the production of food has failed to fulfill its promise. Mrs. Indira Gandhi publicly admitted in 1973 that that would be the most dif- ficult year in India's history. That year was bad enough but 1974 turned out to be far more critical owing to India's inability to pay for essential imports of oil and raw materials. The years to come will be still worse. The country seems to be falling apart and a military dic- tatorship a la Ayub Khan in Pakistan is a strong possibility. The situation in Pakistan is not any better. After the loss of its eastern part known as Bangladesh, Pakistan is threatened with total liquida- tion by its more powerful neighbors. Perhaps the emerging power of Iran will save Pakistan from the par- tition. The smaller countries of the East and Southeast Asia are enjoying a semblance of an independent existence, but not for long. In Cambodia the ma- jority of the population lives practically under the Com- munist rule, and in South Viet- nam the war goes on un- mitigated regardless of the armistice, ft is only a question of time until the Van Thieu regime will fall. Once In- dochina is unified under Com- munist rule the fate of Thailand and Burma is sealed. They will lean in due time the power that exerts a dominant influence in the region, Communist China. The countries on the outer rim of the Asian land mass, the Philippines and Indonesia, are free from major troubles. Indonesia's economy has even markedly improved as a result of petroleum and other mineral exports, but there is growing social tension, and an insurrection in the outlying islands could topple the military junta led by General Suharto whose hold over the country is rather uncertain. China has only recently settled down after the up- heaval of the "cultural revolution." The army still remains the main force of cohesion, its influence is wide- ly felt throughout the political, administrative and economic structures of the country, notwithstanding the revival of party committees in 1970 and the ousting of Marshal I.in-Piao and his chiefs of staff in the following year. Before the "cultural revolution" and the defection of Lin-Piao, the authority of the party was supreme. It is no longer.' Although Chairman Mao Tse-tung seems to have reasserted his authority, the party is split into rival fac- tions maintained in a delicate balance. With Mao's inevitable demise anything could happen. What makes the situation even more precarious is the fact that. China is facing a dou- ble secession, the one of Mao himself and the other of Premier Chou En-lai who has been ailing for several months. The coming struggle for succession is likely to have considerable external reper- cussions; should the army win the contest a more con- ciliatory policy, if not a rever- sal in Chinese-Soviet relations, should not be entire- ly discounted. This naturally bodes ill for the West for it would allow the Soviets to double their pressure elsewhere, for example in the Middle East and in Western Europe. The Yom Kippur War has amply demonstrated how es- sential it is for the West to keep the Persian Gulf region out of the Soviet reach. For almost.two decades the Soviet Union has been pursuing with great obstinacy a hostile policy towards the West, ex- ploiting very skillfully the Arab-Israeli conflict. The ul- timate goal is to extend the Soviet overt or covert rule over the oil-rich Middle .East; their minimal objective is to deny this fabulously rich source of vital energy to the energy deficient industrial West and Japan, forcing thereby their vassalage. For the time being an uncertain armistice prevails in the area owing to the tireless efforts of Dr. Kissinger and President Sadat's unexpected about- face. However, it would be naive to suppose that the conflict will be readily settled, since a major party to the dispute, the Soviet Union, has no interest in the restora- tion of peace: Although Europe has lost her former predominance, nevertheless in view of her very great economic wealth, her abundant human resources, high level of scien- tific knowledge, and powerful technology, she still plays a considerable role in the world. After two decades of un- interrupted, high economic expansion made possible by remarkably stable governments and the absence of social strife, the major West European nations seem to have lost, at the beginning of this decade, their sense of purpose, their drive and self- confidence. The momentum toward political unity had vanished two years ago and a closer military co-operation has not been achieved. Under the impact of stagflation, further reductions in defence spending became necessary, so that Europe could no longer make progress towards full political and military independence. Today, Europe is in full retreat. The entry of Britain into the Common Market in 1972, instead of strengthening, has actually weakened European cohesion. Politically Europe is back now where she was in tue 1950s, only on a higher level of material prosperity. The Yom Kippur War reveal- ed Europe's helplessness ana her glaring vulnerability to Arab oil blackmail. The spec- tacle of European governments courting favors of a few Arabian oil poten- tates was indeed humiliating. Their dependence on the volatile Arab governments is likely to grow in the years to come. Runaway inflation and the full impact of the economic crisis have generated serious social un- rest and mass strikes in France, Britain and Italy. In the latter countries it is no longer clear who actually runs the nation, the government or the trade unions largely penetrated by the extremists or outright revolutionaries. France is deeply split and her new, youthful president, Giscard d'Estaing, will have to muster all his economic ex- pertise to save the country from political turmoil and economic collapse. While western Europe appears to be despondent in the face of the approaching gale, the Soviet Union has been quietly building up her formidable conventional forces and nuclear weapons in the European theatre. The Soviet military effort is staggering; Russian dis- senting academician, Sakharov, estimates the Soviet military expenditure at some 40 per cent of the budget, which in terms of its. purchasing power exceeds the American defence outlays. According to reliable sources .the Soviet armed forces in East Central Europe com- prises 31 divisions, of which 20 are armored, another 40 Book review divisions are deployed along the China border and a further (iO divisions are stationed in European Russia. This alone makes for a redoubtable ar- mada; however, the main Soviet effort has been channelled to the build-up of the most up-to-date nuclear weapons, both strategic and tactical as well as a strong navy and air force. As of now the Soviet navy is reputed to be the largest in the world. Confident in her unparallell- ed military preparedness, the Soviet Union appears to be no longer really interested in the negotiations aiming at the limitation of strategic arms and the balanced reduction of conventional forces. It is clear that the Soviet Union stands to make gains from a political and economic breakdown in western Europe. The Soviets are trying hard to expand their sphere of influence elsewhere particularly in the Middle East and in Asia. Com- munist parties may seize power in a few more countries; a popular front kind of government may be set up in Italy and France and very likely in the Iberian peninsula after the death of General Franco. The general trend will be toward dic- tatorships at once nationalist and socialist, so that by the end of the present decade no liberal, democratic govern- ment may survive in the Old World. This sounds like a lurid nightmare, but the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of a harsh and distasteful future unless the free nations of Europe and North America can marshall all their spiritual and material resources to meet the challenge. Love your neighbors and enemies? By Eva Brewster, freelance writer COUTTS There was a time when you could acquire a pretty thorough knowledge of recent history by reading end-of-the-year re- ports even if you had never opened a news paper or listened to radio and television dur- ing the previous 12 months. Now I challenge anybody to condense the worldwide troubles of the past year into a digestible account without ignoring at least some human misery story somewhere. And I challenge any writer to compile a summary of positive universal achievements that would amount to even a few paragraphs without dwelling in great detail on minor individual results. Many journalists must have broken last year's resolution, to keep a diary of day to day international events towards a final com- position of "that was the year that by late spring. My own notes, which petered out February 7, remind me of what now amounts to no more than the "tip of the iceberg." By that date, the list included to mention just a few trouble in the Middle East; Grenada's prime minister, having achieved independence, arresting the opposition prior to general elections and the resulting general strike there; Britain suffering from the im- pact of the miners' strike and escalating terrorism in Northern Ireland. In the U.S., a truckers' strike caused a quarter of a million people to be laid off work and violence threatened to involve federal troups. Patricia Hearst was kidnapped by the SLA and there was, of course, Watergate. Terrorists in Singapore blew up an oil tank and terrorists in Kuwait had occupied the Japanese em- bassy. There was an army mutiny in Jordan, political unrest, killing, and sporadic coups in South America's Argentine, Chile, Brazil, and Bolivia. South Africa, Uganda and Rhodesia were persecuting their respective minorities or helpless majorities; Mainland China was in the midst of an inter- nal power struggle and growing rm'litancy against Russia; France had just sold Iraq, probably the most aggressive of Arab nations, more than worth of arms in return for oil; world wide monetary dif- ficulties had caused an ounce of gold to reach in the international money market and in Canada, food prices had risen by 16 per cent and were expected to rise higher still to pay for increasing farm labor costs. All that and more, I repeat, had happened by February 7. The page in my notebook headed "grounds for optimism" is, I'm sorry to say, dis- tressingly empty. At point of writing, even the few hopeful notes like President Nixon resigns, ceasefire in Cyprus, hope for U.S. Russian nuclear disarmament pact and Kurt Waldheim achieves extension for UN peacekeeping forces, must end on a sour note. The basic problems of Watergate are not resolved yet. Nuclear weapons may be reduced next year but leave enough of those deadly monsters to still kill off every man, woman and child a few times over, not to mention the newly ac- quired nuclear capacity of smaller nations, some of which are notoriously trigger happy at the best of times. Finally, Kurt Waldheim's "achievement" of keeping UN soldiers on the Golan between Syria and Israel was predictable to anybody knowing that area. With or without peace keeping troups, no conventional war could be waged on those heights in the winter months. On the strategic slopes of Mount Hermon, soldiers froze to death even during and after the Oc- tober war and in the lower lying plains, any parts that don't freeze iip turn into an im- penetrable sea of mud during the winter rains. Therefore, all we have really got is a breathing space until spring makes an all out war possible again and confirms Presi- dent Sadat's statement that "the Middle East is a bomb about to explode." In the meantime, the industrialized nations are being squeezed dry by Arab oil producers and Canada U.S. relations are at their lowest ever ebb, due mainly to mutual energy and trade restrictions. Yet, if there is any hope for this continent, it lies in the traditional interdependence of our two nations and in close co operation with all others, which paradoxically would not mean we have to abandon all personal and national pride or give in to blackmail. On the contrary, the old saying "united we stand divided we fall" still holds true. Let's hope therefore that 1975 will bring nations together again and, if that seems like a difficult proposition, remember Chesterton's not un- timely remark: "The Bible charges us to love our neighbors and our enemies; probably because they are usually the same people." Safety for spelunkers "Cave Exploring" by Jen- nifer Anderson (G. R. Welch Company, Limited, paperback, 126 This excellent book was 4thdrBW February More than in prizes FREE is, PRIZE million PRIZE million 3rd PRIZE f 4th PRIZE Up to winners Buy your tickets NOW! Available at banks, trust companies, caisses populates, credit unions and in which province you live OR Fill in and cut out the order form below and erlclbSEi yBu'r cheque or money order for perticket (no cash, please) Olympic Lottery Canada cCh Olympic rfh Loterie WeLottery NSOi Olympique