Another Captive Nations Week
by Dr. Lew E. Dobriansky
The article below appeared in the December 21 issue of the National Review.
Near the end of the Eisenhower presidency, on July 17, 1959, Congress passed - and Eisenhower signed - a resolution PL 86-90, assailing the "idea of peaceful coexistence" with a "Communist imperialism" that is responsible for the "enslavement of a substantial part of the world's population." The bill empowered the president of the United States to issue a proclamation designating the third week in July as Captive Nations Week "until such a time as freedom and independence shall have been achieved for all the captive nations of the world." That time had not yet come; and so, this past July, the United States observed the 20th anniversary of the Captive Nations Week Resolution. The 20th Captive Nations Week passed remarkably unnoticed.
Congress, it can fairly be said, did its part. In the days leading up to and following CNW, the Congressional Record teemed with addresses, proclamations and reports of foreign observances of the week. (The largest observance of them all took place in Taiwan - where 100,000 people gathered to mark the occasion). The governors of all the major states and the mayors of all the larger cities also did their part in proclaiming the week. There were parades in New York and Chicago and prayers in Texas churches. Yet all this activity provoked scant attention and aroused little enthusiasm in the country at large. Why didn't it have more impact?
In large measure, the answer - and the blame - lies in the timing and content of this year's presidential proclamation. On June 22 the Carter White House issued a statement of mesmerizing banality, guaranteed to offend nobody, least of all the captors of the captive nations. "Remembering our democratic heritage, and our commitment to human rights," read the most stirring passage in the Carter statement, "let us take this occasion to reaffirm our admiration for all the men and women around the world who are committed to the cause of freedom. And mindful of our own rich and diverse heritage, let us express our compassion and respect for persons around the world still seeking the realization of these ideals in our lands." The people of the captive nations were undoubtedly heartened by this ringing call to freedom. Yet Jimmy Carter is by no means the first President to have treated CNW more as a nuisance than as a duty.
Richard Nixon, in both his "Six Crises" and his recent "Memoirs," displays a conspicuous lack of understanding. In the former he thought of the resolution as a "call for prayer"; in the later he sees is as just "another captive nations resolution." It obviously never crossed his mind why PL 86-90 has been targeted by Kremlin for special vituperation.
President Ford, who should have known better, may have lost the presidency because of his ineptitude on the subject during the second debate in October 1976. All this and more is widely documented. It is little known, however, that George Kennan, William Fulbright, and Dean Rusk have exerted their influence over the years to circumvent PL 86-90, the latter two even seeking its rescission in Congress because it is "a thorn in the side of our foreign policy." Strange, isn't it? - Moscow, for its own reasons, views it as a thorn in the side of U.S.-Soviet relations. It is also interesting that most Soviet dissidents - Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov, Moroz, etc. - support PL 86-90.
CNW has been described variously as: "just remembering the captive nations," "a cold-war relic," "a ritualistic activity of ethnics and refugees in our society," "an irritant to Moscow," "a call for liberation that could lead to war." The pre-eminent fact is that the essence of PL 86-90 forms, on both historical and logical grounds, the core of captive nations ideology which, if we were drawn into war with Moscow and its satraps, we would unquestionably adopt instinctively, if not rationally. Its prime asset, however, is to prevent such a war by alerting Americans to the global appetite of the last remaining major empire, the USSR.
The patent vulnerabilities of the Soviet empire-state are deep and should be cultivated. The captive nations ideology embraces not only an incontrovertible genetical analysis but a historically based logic of thought with a wide spectrum of policy considerations, from trade to the Olympics. Here's the list maintained by the National Captive Nations Committee:
|* North Caucasia|
|* Far Eastern Republic|
And who's next? Nicaragua? Angola? Ethiopia? Afghanistan? Iran? Republic of China? South Korea? South Yemen?
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, December 30, 1979, No. 296, Vol. LXXXVI
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