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THE UNITED STATES AND THE UNITED NATIONS
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 1975
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:15 a.m., in room 4221, the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. John Sparkman [chairman] presiding.
Present: Senators Sparkman, Symington, Clark, Case, Javits, and Percy.
The CHAIRMAN. Let the committee come to order please.
Several other Senators have indicated they will be here, but I think we had better get moving.
Today marks the fifth day in the series of hearings by the Committee on Foreign Relations on the United States and the United Nations. We have heard from many distinguished persons so far,
Our topic today is United Nations, “other visions", which will be discussed by a panel no less eminent than those who preceded them.
As I introduce them I will ask each one of them to take a seat at the witness table. First, is the Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who has been university chaplain at Yale university since 1958, but has announced his intention to leave soon. He is equally well known for his deep involvement in various causes, such as civil rights and antiwar efforts.
Next we have a representative from the world of so-called think tanks, Mr. Seyom Brown, who was for many years with Rand Corp. and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Among his publications is “New Forces in World Politics," of which we expect to hear something this morning.
The following witness, Mr. Norman Cousins, hardly needs introducing. Since his biographic sketch in "Who's Who” takes some 50 lines, I will say only that he has been editor of the Saturday Review for many years and a noted writer. I understand his plane had been delayed a little but, he is here now.
a Then we have Mr. Alvin Toffler, another distinguished journalist, author, and educator, whose visions of the future have kept us intrigued and thinking.
Senator CASE. I admire the chairman's eloquence in introducing these men. He has not repeated himself once and that is pretty good. [Laughter.]
[Discussion off the record.] The CHAIRMAN. Our first witness will be Mr. Coffin. We are very glad to hear from you now.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, CHAPLAIN, YALE
Mr. COFFIN. Thank you. We even outnumber you right now, first of all.
The CHAIRMAN. We will overwhelm you later.
Mr. COFFIN. First of all, may I thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee for which I have often had great admiration. I often thought this committee was trying to tell the American people that we strongly need new power and we do not know how to use it.
I took very seriously, sir, your notation of vision in your letter. Obviously, a preacher is not an expert on nuts and bolts of the level of the Ū.N. It is one thing to say just like muddy water, something else work out of the irrigation system. So I am going, if I may, with the vision, feeling as I do, that the world is less and less visionable because our moral is less and less coherent. I will if I may, to use the language of my trade, I do not think God is a monkey, I think the world swings on an ethical hinge and we have loosened that hinge, and that is why history and nature is feeling shocked.
If I may start, sir, with a little biblical history very rapidly.
WARNING AGAINST COUNSELS OF FEAR
you well recall, after a long trek the children of Israel finally reached the borders of the promised land and spies went out and they returned predictably with a minority report and a majority report. The minority report said we can go ahead as long as we do not lose hope which we can translate a passion for the impossible. The minority report, far from being prophetic, was pragmatic.
The CHAIRMAN. I believe he said let us go in and take the land.
Mr. COFFIN. That is right, sir. But the majority report you may remember, said we can not go in and take the land because there are giants in the land and we seem to ourselves as grasshoppers and so we seem to them. And the prudence of counsel very thinly veiled, I think, the cowardice of those submitting the majority report. Then you certainly remember, Senator Sparkman, that the loud cry went up and there were murmurs against Moses of Israel and people said let us go back to Egypt. That line "we seem to ourselves as grasshoppers” seems to bear out the statement of a great President of some years ago, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. It is also fear, it seems to me, does us in, which is why the scripture says the opposite of love is not hatred but fear. Perfect love casts out fear.
Those seek the truth fear safety and fear distorts the truth. It seems to me not by exaggerating the problems of the world but by understanding our ability to deal with them that we seem to ourselves as grasshoppers. Fear seeks safety and safety lies in failure.
It seems to me majorities are prone to the protective strategy of the deliberate failure. If you do not place any bets you will not lose any money. If you sleep on the floor you will not fall out of bed. And if you can blame your sense of failure on giants in the land, on other people, you do not feel so badly about being a failure. And then, finally, if you can feel those who tried to wean you from your sense of failure are only trying to use you, you can resist them with good conscierice and, OK, Joshua, as you recall were stoned.
A PROMISED TIME AHEAD
I recall this little bit of biblical history not because I think there is any promised land left for anyone but I do think that there is a promised time, if you will, for everyone. That is that after an even Ionger more arduous trek all the inhabitants of the globe now stand on the borders of a time which was always promised and it will come to pass in the latter days. It was always promised in scripture that they could, in fact, be a world that was a world without famine, a world without borders, a world one in piece. But instead of moving forward to occupy the promised time, it seems to me that we Americans are adopting the protectice strategy of deliberate failure, our failure of nerve. We are talking about giant obstacles as if they were not brilliant opportunities, brilliantly disguised. And from a religious point of view it is particularly distressing. God is ahead as much as he is within or above us. So it seems to me that our task these days—and I assume that this Senate committee has sent out spies, as they were, in to the promised land to see what it looks like—is to figure out whether we can go ahead or not. I would like to take just a few moments now to say what seems to me we should be having in our minds in the way of a vision as we try and go forward into this land, and let me stay, if I may, with my religious talk.
GLOBAL FUTURE AND UNITY
The first thing I think we have to recognize is that God cares for all as if all were but one. I am often told you have to be realistic and I am completely in agreement. What else are we to be in the world if not realistic? What is reality and for religious points of view, remember America, it is that we all belong one to another. That is the way God made us, all 3 billion odd people on this planet. We all belong one to another. The Christian point of view is Christ died to keep us that way. IVe are constantly trying to put assunder what God himself put together. Am I my brother's keeper? No, I am my brother's brother. We are not called on to create, only to make it manifest. And what strikes me very apparent these days is there is a confluence now between ancient religious vision, Christian, Buddhist, a confluence between an ancient religious vision and absolute pragmatic need. The global future is the only future for all of us. It used to be that looking at the globe we say that part cannot protect itself against that part but now the whole cannot protect itself against the part. I am thinking of the ozone layer, the whole cannot protect itself against the parts any more, which is to say this survival of the unit in our time is not an individual, not an
individual nation, it is obviously entirely human race plus its environment. So God cares for all if all were but one. But having that, I would say, that I think we always have to be on notice that God cares for each as if he had each to care for, which is to say the bottom 30 percent of the economic ladder of the planet around is just as important to God as any other part of the economic ladder.
I stress that because Mr. Scali is not going to stress that. I stress that because Mr. Kissinger does not seem to understand that. Mr. Kissinger seems to believe in a global village, but Mr. Kissinger, like so many other people, seems to feel that the powerful are the village elders and the global unity has to be based on law and order, and on a hierarchy of power and not on equity.
THIRD WORLD-THE MORAL PROBLEM OF OUR TIME
Now it seems to me that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights. I think justice is the moral imperative of our time, which means that the Third World is the moral problem of our time.
I am impressed, in bicentennial terms, that we are now at that stage that was called the olive branch petition years and I am sure you, Mr. Chairman, will remember the shot fired that was heard around the world took place in April 1775 but we did not declare independence for over a year because the colonies did not want independence, most of them. They were too tied by communal bond to the mother country, they pleaded with the King and Parliament for unity based on law and justice, but the King and Parliament chose law and order, perhaps proving once again, as patronage is the last refuge of the scoundrel, so law and order is the last refuge of the violent. Now I think the Third World is holding out that what we might call the olive branch; the only kind of global unity that makes sense is the global unity based on justice.
SHARING OUR WEALTH
Now, if that means, as I think it does, that the United States has to share its wealth, that by me is just fine. In fact, I think the rich are more at the mercy of the richest than the poor at the mercy of poverty. We have a spiritually devastating effect. I think it would be a fine thing if the spies in the promised time would come back and say we have a new understanding of austerity.
There are two ways to be rich, obviously. One is to have lots of money, and the other is to have few needs. "The American people are really given the second option. But austerity seems to me is not a necessary evil so much as a necessary ingredient for human solidarity, because the desire for greater abundance is disruptive on human solidarity. We have been ruthlessly greedy in this country with devastating effects, spiritually speaking, which is the only significant way to speak. Therefore, if we have to go for global unity based on justice, by sharing some of our wealth, that seems to me is only going to improve the morale and certainly the moral health of this country.
Now, with that kind of a vision, it seems to me, we can do many things, whether within the United Nations or outside the United Nations. For instance, with regard to world food, territorial discrimination is now as evil as reparable discrimination. That is what that kind of vision is saying. And I know that is a tough vision to live out. But it seems to me it is our only option, and we need desparately to have spokesmen for this kind of vision. Territorial discrimination is as evil as reparable discrimination. Every human being on this planet has the right to live, not the way the Catholics define it narrowly, but simply in terms of a basic life, which would mean that food is certainly part of the right to life, and, therefore, sharing it is not an option of charity but an obligation of justice. If we define problems in this fashion we will find solutions, and we will have perhaps instead of a private food reserve, and instead of national food reserve we will have a world food reserve and we will seek deliberately to put it under world auspices so it can reflect more accurately the type of global community in which we believe.
REDUCING ARMAMENTS TO FINANCE DEVELOPMENT
Certainly I would argue that we work very quickly to reduce the armaments in this world. I do not see how we can go on with what we are doing now. It simply proves that society like misery likes company, and maybe a 10 percent reduction of the world military budget will be the best way to finance long-term development under terms which the U.N. may be able to work out, given the news in the morning paper. My concern, as I said at the beginning, is not with the nuts and bolts. It seems to me we need to have a moral reality that is more coherent; we need to have a global vision which makes sense. I would hope that the spies in the promised time will come back and say to the American people that the promised time is better than the good old days. We now have a world; we created a world for all of us.
Thank you very much. The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, sir. Now we will hear from Mr. Brown of Brookings Institution.
STATEMENT OF SEYOM BROWN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION Mr. Brown. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am honored to be able to share some of my views about the world crisis and the U.N. with you this morning. Let me relate to the phrase of Reverend Coffin that the whole cannot protect itself against the parts. That recognition, that realization, I think, is becoming shared by more and more people today. There is a recognition, universally, that the need for international cooperation is essential, yet the United Nations system, the main hope for protecting the whole against the parts and also for protecting the legitimate rights of the parts, the U.N. system is in its deepest trouble yet. Ironically, when its prestige is at its low mark, the U.N. system is more implicated in world politics and economics than at any time since its founding. This is what is alarming—the fact that it is more needed just at the time that there is more despair about its ability to perform these needed tasks.
And I gather that it is this problem, this paradox, that is the reason why the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is devoting special attention to this problem today; and I also assume that this is the reason why someone with the perspicacity of American Ambassador Moynihan seems to have an itch to participate in U.N. debates. The U.N. is where the action is more so than ever before.