Volume 12, No.1 - Spring 1966
Editor of this issue: Thomas Remeikis
ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 1966 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


John C. Campbell, AMERICAN POLICY TOWARD COMMUNIST EASTERN EUROPE: THE CHOICES AHEAD. (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1965). 

Somewhat in the vein of a classical diplomatist, the author of this unpretentious volume thinks that the strains now vexing the once monolithic Communist realm make this the right time for the United States to reappraise its policies toward Eastern Europe. (Much to the regret of those interested in the Baltic states, the term "Eastern Europe" here excludes Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. This kind of "recognition" that those states are incorporated into the USSR is becoming more and more fashionable in journalism, scholarly research, and popular usage. For the sake of convenience, if for no other reason, the Baltic states are simply associated with the Soviet Union proper). Dr. Campbell hopes that his book, which originally was a basis for discussion at the Seventh Midwest Seminar on United States Foreign Policy, will spark an instructive debate on our official attitude toward that area. 

Undoubtedly this seems to be an opportune time to take another look at Russia's reluctant satellites; however, Dr. Campbell's work, though not through his fault, is not likely to be such a catalyst. It will surely take another series of lectures over the B. B. C. or another "spring in October" to deter Washington from its habit of coping with concrete problem-situations and make it recognize the need for comprehensive conceptions before problems arise. But the author should not be dismayed by the limited effectiveness of his analysis, because the book itself is a creditable accomplishment. 

One should keep in mind that this survey was not intended to and does not recommend a definite course toward Eastern Europe; rather, it was to serve merely as a basis for discussion. In preparing that basis, the author was eminently successful. Both in reviewing the factual background about the various aspects of United States policy toward Eastern Europe and in outlining the alternative courses that this nation might choose to follow, Dr. Campbell — with an impartiality fit for a Speaker of the House of Commons — managed to produce a concise, systematic, and well-informed paper. It will surely be a candidate for required reading in colleges offering courses on Eastern Europe. 

In his last chapter the author weighs, among other things, the alternative American policies for Eastern Europe. The general lines of policy that he envisages are three: resurrecting the policy of liberation calling for a political and economic offensive against Soviet and Communist domination of Eastern Europe (the hard line), attempting to subvert the ostensible fraternity of the Russians and Eastern Europeans with a view to a gradual emergence of an independent Eastern Europe, and relying on the process of liberalization inside the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (the soft line). Again, his handling of these alternatives and their specific aspects indicates the author's proficiency in dealing with an arabesque context. It attests to his ability to discern the essential and dissect it in a way that renders the decision-maker's choice so much simpler. 

One aspect of the problem, however, deserves more attention than it receives here: that is the American-Soviet relations and their impact upon Eastern Europe. Dr. Campbell is quite right in concluding that "the trend toward autonomy and self-assertion on the part of the Eastern European states is a fact of international life, not easily reversed. How it will develop in the future depends in large measure on events outside the area itself. ..." One such event is the possibility of a gradual rapprochement between the United States and the Soviet Union as an end in itself especially in the light of Red Chinese enmity toward both. Needless to say, rapprochement would invite an adjustment of differences on Eastern Europe. "We recognize the Soviet Union's historical concern about their security in Central and Eastern Europe," said President Kennedy in 1961, "and we believe arrangements can be worked out which will help to meet those concerns..." Similar overtures, indicative both of Washington's awareness of Russia's "historical concern" with Eastern Europe and its readiness to take that concern into account, were made on more than one occasion. Dr. Campbell should have examined more exhaustively this possibility of an understanding between the two Powers, as well as the implications of such an action for Eastern Europe. 

Leonas SabaliŻnas
Eastern Michigan University