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March 02, 1969 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1969-03-02

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Page Six


Sunday, March 2, 1969



Days: A

matter o]

Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the
Cuban Missile Crisis, by Robert
F. Kennedy. W. W. Norton Co.,
Far more important than the book
which the late Senator Robert Ken-
nedy wrote on the Cuban missile crisis
was the book Kennedy wanted to write,
but didn't.
As Theodore Sorenson reveals in a
closing note to this brief chronicle, it
"was Senator Kennedy's intention to
add a discussion of the basic ethical
question involved: what, if any, cir-
cumstances or justification gives this
government or' any government the
moral right to bring its people -and
possibly all people under the shadow
of nuclear destruction."
Even without invidious comparisons
to unwritten companion pieces, the
Kennedy memoir would be disappoint-
ing. Covering only 105 pages of rather
large print and wide margins, the
narrative adds little in terms of infor-
matiori or interpretation to our cur-
rent knowledge of the crisis.
However, it, was one of the rare
strengths of the late Senator Kennedy
that he had the vision to recognize the
close linkage between moral consider-
ations and political events.
Unfortunately as the tone of his
narrative makes clear, Senator Ken-
nedy was sufficiently imbued with
Cold War psychology to consider our

actions" during the missile crisis justi-
fiable on a moral balance.
The fanfare surrounding the pub-
lication of this memoir coupled with
its extensive newspaper and magazine
serialization have contributed to the
almost universal political conviction
that President Kennedy's actions dur-
ing the crisis were all but impeccable.
The gpneral, conviction that this
totally favorable account of America's
most precipitous exercise in nuclear
brinkmanship should become the bed-
side manual during world crises, un-
derscores the importance of attempt-
ing to answer Kennedy's question
about the ethical justification of our
actions in October of 1962.
Throughout the crisis there was a
definite danger of war with the Soviet
Union. Sorenson in his own 1965 mem-
oir. Kennedy quotes the late President'
as commenting retrospectively that the
odds on whether we would go to war
seemed "somewhat between one in
three and even."
The important question was what
were the justifications for our seem-
irigly rational policy makers to take'
such grave risks.
Unless one is Melvin Laird and re-
gards anything less than massive nu-
clear "superiority" as a grave threat
to ournational security, it is hard to
see how the presence of Soviet mis-
siles in Cuba significantly upset the
nuclear balance of power.

Even Arnold Horelick writing a
Rand Corporation Memorandum for'
the Air Force on the crisis admitted,
"As a Soviet first-strike force, the
Cuba-based force .deployed or being
readied as of October 1962 was in it-
self too small to destroy the U.S.
strategic' nuclear strike force. Even
together with the large long-range
strategic force based in the USSR, it
seems most unlikely that the force
would have been adequate in the fall
of 1962."
While supporting Horelick's view,
Sorenson argues that our actions were
nonetheless justified because the
strategic balance "would have been
substantially altered in appearance
and . . . such appearances contribute
to reality."
Sorenson seems to imply that our
actions were taken because neither
domestic political opinion. nor inter-
national opinion were sophisticated
enough to recognize the strategic
limitations of the Cuban missiles. In
short, risking war is easier than de-
stroying prevalent falacies,
I. F. Stone in a brilliant article
written in 1966 uses this Sorenson
statement to argue that the real stake
in the missile crisis "was prestige. The
question was whether with the whole
world looking on, Kennedy would let
Khrushchev get away with it."
Stone goes-on to observe, "This was.
magnificent as drama ... But one may
wonder how many Americans . . .
would have cared to risk destruction

to let John F. Kennedy prove himself."
Elie Able in his compresensive al-
though uncritical, book, The Missile
Crisis, argues that if the United States
did nothing, "the Soviets would cer-
tainly succeed in exposing the hollow-
ness of all United States commitments
to use its great power in the defense
of smaller nations everywhere."
If this sounds disturbingly like Dean
Rusk on Vietnam, it should not be sur-
prising. Both events reflect our danger-
our tendency to create semi-mythical
tests of our will to resist which lead
to precipitous military adventures de-
signed to reassert our virility.
Abel indicates that most policy
makers believed that Khruschev
placed the missiles in Cuba in order to
exast concessions in exchange for re-
moving them. Some believed that
Khruschev would only withdraw the
missiles in exchange for Western aban-'
donment of Berlin, while others argued
that all the Russians wanted was the
removal of American missile bases in
Turkey and Italy.
All these calculations add up to a
strange sort of illogic. The belief
that Khruschev placed the missiles in
Cuba presumably to remove them later,
underscores the minimal strategic
value of the missiles.
If the Cuban missiles were of such
small strategic value, it is strange that
we were concerned that Khruschev
would offer to trade them for Berlin.
We could always reject the trade as

unconsciounable without jeopardizing
our security.
Senator Kennedy describes our mis-
sile bases in Turkey as "antiquated
and useless" and reveals that the
President's order to have them dis-
mantled had been countermanded by
the State Department. Nonetheless
Kennedy writes that the President "did
not wish to order the withdrawal of
the missiles from Turkey under threat
from the Soviet Union."
When a U-2 was shot down over
Cuba Kennedy notes that "at first,
there was almost unanimous agree-
ment that we had to attack early the
next morning . . ." This was the at-
titude at a time when Khruschev's
harshest terms called for exchanging
the outmoded Turkish bases for the
missiles in Cuba.
Before the attack was mounted for-
tunately our policy-makers. regained
some sense of proportion, but the
hardline attitude reveals how our pri-
mary concern was winning a decisive
victory over the Russians, rather than
ensuring the peace.
Rather than providing a model for
President Nixon's behavior in future
crises, the missile crisis should be re-
garded as serious an American mis-
calculation as the war in Vietnam.
The only difference is that we were
damn lucky in Cuba.
Nonetheless there is still a haunting
quality to I. F. Stone's semi-rhetorical
question, "What if Khruschev hadn't
backed down?"




Towa16rds a

College cuirri~culum and student a1

College Curriculum and Stu-
dent Protest, by Joseph J.
Schwab. The University of Chi-
cago Press, $4.95.
Joseph Schwab has a tre-
mendous plan for revising col-
lege curricula so as to improve
education and to eliminate the
frantic, anti-intellectual aspect
of student protest. And like
most tremendous plans, it will
never see the light.
The basic premise, as Schwab
says in his introduction, 'is to
analyze "student protest as pre-
senting symptoms of evils of
their education." Such an ap-
proach is not necessarily critical
of either the students who pro-
test or the faculty which doesn't
It is not some Freudian ap-
proach which defines anti-in-
stitutional or anti-authority ac-
tions as automatically aberrant
and degenerate.
Rather, Schwab honestly at-
tempts to find in student
protest understandable failings
which seem. to result from weak-
nesses in education.
These include alienation ("to
use the word correctly for once,"
Schwab notes), students' inabil-
ity to argue and formulate and
achieve coherency, irresponsibil-
ity ("especially "with respect to
decisions affecting the collegi-
ate institutions"), inability to
work toward proximate goals,
ignorance pf the role of facts in
decision-making, and ignorance
of the processes of decision and

In students' failure to get ed-
ucated, they are missing the
various critical abilities, the in-
tellectual abilities in their pur-
est form. They are receiving in
the process only the shell, the
gloss of material and inforna-
tion that passes for intellectual
What they miss, Schwab says,
is the development of the "re-
covery of meaning," of retriev-
ing from given information and
situations the implications and
subtleties which lie therein.
What they miss is "the knowl-
edge of the character and loca-
tion of meaning and are conse-
quently irresponsible in their
use and reception of language.
They are ignorant of canons of
evidence and argument, and
hence poorly equipped to judge
solutions to problems."
These are all legitimate fail-
ures. These are all abilities
which are teachable anM learn-
able. Like most skills, that can-
not be read about and then un-
derstood, they must be practiced
out, worked at, developed and
Where then does the solution
Schwab. wanders through a
wide range of solutions, some
feasible, some very much half-
He suggests on the one hand
very "practical" additions to the
college curriculum, courses on
law and legal reasoning, public
policy and practice in simulated
deliberation and decision mak-
He also suggests some m o r e
academically-oriented innova-

tions, Interdisciplinary a p -
proaches to large areas of learn-.
ing, an emphasis on intellectual'
process rather than completed
academic product, more sensi-
tive personalized teaching meth-
ods, sensitive tests which seek
to measure what students can
do, not what is given to them.
But then 'we must ask, is It
workable, practically, in our
academic world, in the present
institutions? The answer is a
simple, quiet, but complete, "no."
First, there are the most sim-
ple, institutional problems which,
a school like the University of
Michigan faces - it cannot af-
ford to change to such a pro-
gram, and could not afford it
once it got there. The key de-
mand, and Schwab notes it
explicitly, is the need for great
coitact between student and
professor, where the professor
not only interacts with students
in exhibiting his intellectual
skills but also provides a model
toward which the student may
-choose to work.
With a Legislature watching
carefully to get the maximum
number of Fiscal Year Equated
Students (FYES) out of each
professor, and with educational
standards that are mechanical,
not human, it is clear that no
program even close to this could
ever get off the ground. Why
have ten professors meet with
200 students, in groups, once a
week, when one professor can
lecture the whole bunch three
times a week just as easily and
much more cheaply? That's how
they think, and there ain't nu-
thin' any of us can do about it.
But that problem, insurmount-
able as it may be, it not the
worst one. Supposing we could
get the money and the facilities
and all the other physical, buy-
able requisites, we would still
not be able to staff such a col-'
lege or university.
Teaching such as Schwab en-
visions really requires that each
professor be much more than
just a scholar, and much more
than just a teacher. He must be
a more complex and sensitive
combination of the two, and they
are hard to come by indeed.
The instructors that Schwab
needs must not only be scholars
in their own right, but they
must be able to exhibit their
scholarly skills in such a way
so as to involve and lead the
student. Not only must the pro-
fessor be able to exhibit his
skills, but he must also be able
to interact with students, lead
them carefully from ignorance
to perception, play upon what
skills each student has, his in-
terests and inclinations, to draw
from each student all there is
to-be drawn in the time avail-
But colleges and universities
aren't nade the right way.
There is no effective source
within the colge tn insure that

pa th y
they available, but there is just
no guarantee of long range ef-
But let us suppose that we did
have a faculty disinterested
enough and a student body per-
ceptive enough to choose t h e
right type of professors. A r e
there enough people of the ne-
cessary ability to fill the posi-
tions? Right now, probably not.
But with this under our col-
lective belt, we must ask whe-
ther Schwab's prescriptions are
sufficient (which is r e a11y
another way of asking whether
it is a problem of education or
whether it is inherent in so-
ciety itself). On this the an-
swer seems to be, again, sadly,
He is asking, it seems, that
colleges and universities create
in their students a desire, a
commitment, to the life these
institutions represent. That is
what I think I've heard in many
student protests - a desire to
find a commitment, something
to make life worthwhile and to
which work can be directed;
something more, happily, than
And I don't think the univer-
sities can answer it on restrict-
ed, solely academic grounds. But
this brings us to another, rela-
tively unpleasant point - the
nature of universities today.
They are simply no longer the
bastion of learning and scholar-
ship they are conceived as.
These are state-supported (some
of them), mass-appeal colleges.
They seek to do more than turn
out more scholars, to educate
a great number of people f o r
many different functions in so-
ciety. Studetns who come here
do not come with a commit-
ment,talthough many seek one
nonetheless. Also, many stu-
dents, this one included, see
more outlets for intellectual
growth and development than
academe, yet these are not uti-
lized as they might be, under
the present system and probably
under Schwab's.
Students come to a college
wanting something, but not
knowing what, and the faculties
think they- should be, and pro-
bably never will be.
All in all, the prognosis is a
sad one. Perhaps it is a result
of our affluence, I cannot say,
but there is a lack of desire and
commitment that no curriculum
can fill for enough people to be
meaningful. An end to student
protest may come, but is will be
through repression, not c o n -
structive innovation.
Today's Writers . .
quent contributor to the Books
Page, has viewed politics with
a jaundiced eye since he slept
through the election of 1964.

new coalition
Disobedience and Democracy: Nine Fallacies on Law and
Order, by Howard Zinn. Random House, $3.95, Vintage, $1.45.
As universities across the country are being swept up in student
turmoil, activists find more and more of their professors deserting


New York University's Prof. Sidney Hook is touring the country
persuading faculty members to bolster institutional defenses against #
the activist demands. Our own Prof. Arnold Kaufman suggests that
thespians' threatened with arrest for performing nude should put
their clothes on: "Our main responsibility is to protect artistic in-
tegrity and see that the laws are complied with." And at San Francisco
State, semantics professor S. I. Hayakawa has taken the acting presi-
dency in a determined effort to squelch student demands.
But in the midst of all this, a few outspoken professors have con- W
sistently championed student rights. One of them is Howard Zinn, a,
government professor at Boston University. His pamphlet ,(it is
scarcely long enough to be a book) is a timely reminder for those ad-
ministrators and faculty members who insist that all decisions must
be made by their committees after hearing student pleas. And it is
also fair warning to those who believe the interests of the state always
reign over the interests of the people.
"The government is not synonymous with the people of the
nation: it is an artificial device, set up by the citizens for certain pur-
poses. It is endowed with no sacred aura; rather, it needs to be
watched, scrutinized, opposed, changed ' and even overthrown and
replaced when necessary."
Zinn's book is written as a response to Supreme Court Justice
Abe Fortas' widely disseminated' pamphlet, "Concerning Civil Dis-
obedience." Fortas argues for law and order: "Each individual is bound
by all the laws under the Constitution."
Zinn reminds us of the way government whim supplants civil
rights. He argues that a wide variety of tactics, including civil dis-
obedience, are absolutely necessary if citizens are to protect their
individual rights. ,
He reminds us that the government is using the law to hide the
truth. Order is of course the pretext on which totalitarian regimes in
every nation ban political parties, make secret arrests and censor
"Our government," he says, is "trying to preserve a social peace
which harbors drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, crimes of
violence, and all those thousands of instances of despair which will
never be entered in hospital records or police blotters because they have
been safely contained by society's instruments of control. The nation
remains unperturbed by the disorder within each individual and is
quite pleased so long as that does not break out and reveal itself
as a 'disturbance of the peace.' "
When things get tight the ruling forces can slap on a few extra
laws to inhibit all personal freedom. Take San Francisco State.
Traditionally rallies on the central campus commons were a right
enjoyed by all. The school banned the rallies there, but students as-
sembled anyway and 500 were arrested. Were they really breaking the
law? Or were they just being suppressed?
Zinn seems to devote a bit too much time to arguing with Fortas
'-who no doubt will be better remembered as a Johnson crony than
as another Oliver Wendell Holmes. Still, when he moves away from
Fortas, the message is clear:
"Now we are the imperial power in many areas of the world;
having crossed all the oceans our power is smack up against the na-
tionalism and radicalism of the Third World, demanding change.
Neither President nor Congress seems to read the signs; they react
slowly, cautiously, laboriously, as Louis XVI, and George II, and Tsar
Nicholas did in their time. Vietnam is the tip-off."
As the American power structure continues to isolate itself from
the rest of the world and from its own young, the situation becomes
more critical. There are burgeoning numbers of young people' who
share Zinn's doubts that the United Staties will change fast enough
to salvage either itself or the world.
The current student revolt is perhaps our best indication of the
future. If the universities are unable to resolve the challenge of civil
disobedience with anything short of MACE, then it is doubtful that
the country will be able to cap the rising wave of social revolution.
Blacks just aren't going to sit around spitting watermelon seeds *,
at racist cops. Young people aren't going to be content with shoveling
manure into draft board files, students aren't going to sit in the
president's officepatiently waiting for a conciliatory phone call.
With these rapidly developing battle lines, the faculty have a
choice. Either they can cower with the administration or be like Zinn.
and come out into the open with the students. Those naive enough
f. . _ __ i... ... i'.. .,.aY w , ~ vsn~ n inv nr t ei l (O l a C9Yf- ".' i

A oldvirus in the bodpolitic

Anatomy of Anti-Communism, by the
Peace Education Division of the Amer-
ican Friends Service Committee. Hill
and Wang, $1.50.
Not too long ago, the Senate Internal
Security Subcommittee, the less flamboyant
but equally repugnant counterpart of the,
House Un-American Activities Committee,
listed the name of the American Friends
Service Committee on one of its periodic
catalogs of suspected "subversive" groups.
Now, after publication of a book called
Anatomy of Anti-Communism, it is note dif-
ficult to understand why the furtive, vig-
ilante Senate group would be concerned with
the Friends Service Committee.
The short book goes almost dangerously
too far when it treats anti-communism as
something more than the fanatic antics of
the John Birch Society or the Minutemen.
When the book begins to interpret the basic
foundations of American history, politics,
and foreign police, the Friends Committee
becomes guilty of what concerned Con-
gressmen and PTA groups might call pat-

we contracted the disease, what its symp-
toms are, what it does to us, and how we
cure it.
The basic picture of the disease of anti-
communism is comprehensively outlined.
Anti-communism is articulated as the build-
ing stones of American foreign policy as it
grew through reactionary hostility to the
New Deal to its paranoid expression in Cold
War politics, both at home' and abroad.
And since the nature of the disease is so
well explored, it is not surprising that the
prescriptive treatment for eradicating the
disease makes finding the cure for cancer
look like a task for an elementary chemistry
The prescription is fundamentally a total
re-ordering of our basic assumptions in fore-
ign policy, a complete treatment of our do-
mestic ills, and a complete reshaping of
American thinking.
Unfortunately, we are well aware, as the
authors are, that in order to swallow our
cought medicine we must stop coughing.
But even if the book does not give us
much hope for finding a rapid end to Amer-
ican anti-communism, it does delineate the
disease in a complete and important way.

success story is the passage of the McCarran
Act, which required all "communist-type"
groups to register with the Attorney General.
Too few of the sugar-sweet texts find it rele-
vant to mention that Congressional inter-
pretation of "equal justice under law" meant
that a "subversive" leader who failed to reg-
ister his group could have received up to
five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for
each day that he went without registering.
An equally frightening section of the law
gave the Attorney General the right to de-
tain any person who would probably engage
in espionage or sabotage during an emer-
When this denial of judical safeguards is
put into the context of J. Edgar Hoover,
who reportedly said in 1950 that he would
jail twelve thousand "enemy suspects" if a
war ever broke out, it is easy to see the al-
arming proportions of the anti-communism
The most obvious deficiency of the book is
the treatment of the psychological impli-
cations of anti-communism. The authors
were content to deal with only the most ap-
narent ohservations of how the anti-com-

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