SEPTEMBER 13, 1948
HYDE PARK, Sunday—News from Berlin grows more serious every day. To the Russians, it may seem perfectly natural to fire into a crowd of Germans who are trying to express the fact that they disapprove of the Communists, but it is not natural to anyone who lives in a democracy. Sooner or later the Russians will discover that terror tactics inspire resentment in the peoples, but not a desire to acquiesce in Russian control.
One begins to wonder what this behavior on the part of the Russian government really means. Stalin tells the representatives of the other great powers that the difficulties among them are technical difficulties and he is sure they can be worked out. When the representatives meet with Mr. Molotov and Mr. Vishinsky, they do not feel so sure about it, and when the meetings begin in Berlin the Russians seem to have decided not to work out anything at all!
The other night I asked someone who had long years of experience in Russia whether he really thought that Russia wanted war. The answer was: "The Russian people do not want war. The Russian government may think that under no circumstances would the American people be willing to go to war, and therefore they are trying to get all they can, no matter how irritating they may be."
If they are successful in thus obtaining control over more and more territory and in making the other allies kowtow to them, the Russians feel sure they can impress their own people with their great success and tell them that this means added security and more assurance of peace. Should they be unsuccessful, there is just one thing of which they want to be sure—that any action leading to war can be laid at the door of the democracies. This they must be able to tell their own people in order to carry through the idea they have instilled, namely, that the imperialist nations have wanted all along to attack the USSR and bring on another war.
One prays that no one will be irritated to the point of retaliating in any manner that might be labelled an act of war. But one also cannot help but look with horror on tactics which are so devious.
It would seem that the United States had proved to the world, when it gave up the Philippines, that it had no desire for imperialism and would not countenance it in the present situation. Hitler believed, however, that if you repeated something often enough you were bound in the end to convince people that the statement was true. The USSR follows that theory in spite of all its invectives against Fascism. Russian spokesmen keep on repeating to the people of Europe that the USA is an imperialist nation which, through the Marshall Plan, is going to enslave the peoples of all the democracies. One can only pray that the peoples of Western Europe, at least, will examine this statement carefully in the light of known facts.