June 5, 2021

1955. The Murrow Boys on the Cold War

Years of Crisis: 1955

This edition of the annual news roundup "Years of Crisis" aired on January 1, 1956. CBS foreign correspondents gathered with Edward R. Murrow to discuss the international developments of the past year. The correspondents included: Bill Downs, Richard C. Hottelet, Alexander Kendrick, Robert Pierpoint, David Schoenbrun, Daniel Schorr, Eric Sevareid, and Howard K. Smith.

From CBS, January 1, 1956:
ANNOUNCER: "Years of Crisis: 1955." At this time, CBS Radio presents the seventh annual year-end report by CBS News correspondents who have gathered in New York from their posts around the world. Eight members of this distinguished team of reporters are meeting today with Edward R. Murrow to bring you this recorded analysis of the year's major news developments. Now, here is Mr. Murrow.

EDWARD R. MURROW: Let's begin, gentlemen, with the question: What kind of year has it been? First, Bob Pierpoint, stationed in Tokyo, who is just back from a trip through Southeast Asia.

ROBERT PIERPOINT: It's been a year of change, of awakening, and of opportunity.

MURROW: Dick Hottelet from West Germany.

RICHARD C. HOTTELET: In Germany, fulfillment has been clouded by fear and frustration.

MURROW: David Schoenbrun from Paris.

DAVID SCHOENBRUN: For the French, a year of terror in North Africa, and the end is not yet in sight.

MURROW: Eric Sevareid, the chief of our Washington bureau.

ERIC SEVAREID: In America, a year of bigness in everything from business to basketball players, but not in doubts. The doubts were small.

MURROW: Howard Smith, our chief European correspondent from London.

HOWARD K. SMITH: In Britain I suppose it's been a year of converting the nation from the stern Cold War fortress of Churchill to what might be called the prosperous "Garden of Eden."

MURROW: Dan Schorr from Moscow.

DANIEL SCHORR: In the Soviet Union, the year of aggressive coexistence. The year when Kaganovich proclaimed "this is a century of communism."

MURROW: Alex Kendrick from Africa.

ALEXANDER KENDRICK: In most of Africa, a year of dawn, but in South Africa, a year of sunset.

MURROW: Bill Downs from Rome and the Middle East.

BILL DOWNS: In the Eastern Mediterranean this has been the year of the hot grenade and the concrete kindergarten.

MURROW: Well it would appear then, gentlemen, that we still live in a time of crisis. Do you find that the nature of this continuing crisis has changed? Dave Schoenbrun, how do you feel about this as you view it from Paris?

SCHOENBRUN: I feel the crisis has changed in time and place and kind. In time, there's no longer the sense of immediacy, the ever-present fear of war that characterized the last decade of history. In place, the crisis has shifted from Europe to the Middle East and Asia. Finally, it's a different kind of crisis. The Russians call it "competitive coexistence." Mr. Dulles calls it "peaceful competition." So apparently the Americans and Russians do agree on one thing: the crisis has changed in form. But I would say that we could all agree that fundamentally it is still the ancient crisis of freedom versus tyranny.

MURROW: Eric Sevareid, how does it look to you in Washington?

SEVAREID: About as it looks to Dave in Paris I think, Ed, but this is not only a struggle of ideologies, it's also an old-fashioned power struggle for purely national ends. Russia has not yet balanced the air-atomic equation. She has gone only two thirds of the way. First, our advantage was in the supply of the weapon itself, and she equalized that. Our next advantage was in the means of delivering the weapon. Judging by this year's report on her long range bombers, she is about to equalize that.

Our last remaining advantage is in the location of the bases from which the weapon can be delivered, and Russia's immediate objective is to equalize that one. She can't get our bases out of Europe anytime soon. She is trying to remove them from the Middle East. She is determined to break up the American-British alliance system now extending along her southern borders. She began that process with an end run: the arms deal with Egypt.

MURROW: Dan Schorr, what do you say as someone who has just spent four months in Moscow?

SCHORR: In the Soviet Union the big change is the recognition of an atomic stalemate, or the "senselessness of war" as Bulganin and Khrushchev have put it. The idea of inevitable war followed by inevitable victory of communism is out the window. Now it's recognized war might be followed by inevitable nothingness. In the Communist Party Congress in February, the first since Stalin's death, will have to face up to that.

MURROW: Bob Pierpoint, what about the continuing crisis in Asia?

PIERPOINT: In a sense the crisis in Asia, Ed, has become more of a standing threat now that the communists have at least temporarily halted their military aggression. Only in the Formosa area is there still a shooting war. Elsewhere during this past year the Reds switched their emphasis from the military to the political and economic. They've started a sales campaign. The Soviet Reds even sent their two super salesmen, Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Bulganin, old baldy and bulgy as we call them in the Far East, to spread the good word of communism through India and Burma. It's the new soft line.

MURROW: Howard Smith, how would you explain these new tactics?

SMITH: Well, let me put it this way, Ed. I think we were on the road to war, then both we and the Russians became afraid that war in the fusion bomb age would mean mutual annihilation, so in 1955 we both tacitly agreed to turn off onto a new road which might be called "struggle by all means other than war."

I think the Russians were not sure what our intentions were, so they paid some high prices in 1955 to get us to declare. They gave Austria her peace treaty, they abased themselves before the Yugoslavs, they cut some amiable capers in the presence of American reporters who reported this home, and this affected public opinion.

That public opinion enabled the president to reject his party's right wing, which was opposed to negotiation, and persuaded the president to go to the Geneva Summit talks and show, by his behavior, what the Russians wanted to know: that America very much wanted peace and could be counted on to remain peaceful unless militarily provoked. With that assurance, the Soviets proceeded to what is called "the new phase of the conflict." Courting Asian countries, spreading bad will propaganda. The new phase is troublesome, but I think it's a decided change for the better.

MURROW: Well some of you fellows have mentioned the phrase "the Geneva spirit." Whatever happened to the Geneva spirit, anyway? Hottelet?

HOTTELET: The "Geneva spirit" was a fabulous piece of political ectoplasm. Howard has described how the Russians conjured it up. Austria, Belgrade, establishing relations with Adenauer's Germany, cutting the Soviet army by 640,000 men, and finally, at the summit, swearing that they want peace as much as we do.

But what the Kremlin really wanted was a breathing spell. It wanted outer calm to cope with difficult internal problems, political, economic, and military. Meanwhile, it wanted to hold its ground and soften up the West by getting Western recognition of the status quo. "Live and let live" is an appealing slogan, but it was designed to weaken Western resolve and kill the hopes of people in communist hands. The Western foreign ministers at Geneva showed how phony it was.

MURROW: Bill Downs, what do you think happened to the "Geneva spirit?"

DOWNS: Well I think that so-called spirit was only "coexistence with a smile." Then, when Molotov frowned at the foreign ministers conference four months after the summit conference, the West for some reason felt hurt and disappointed. But the basic fact of coexistence as a substitute for war has not changed in Geneva or anywhere else.

MURROW: Howard Smith, that summit meeting produced a lot of high hopes. What do you think went wrong?

SMITH: Well the spirit of cordiality that was so obvious there, that was visible there, was simply not followed up by either side I think, Ed. We know that the Russians refused to come closer to us by yielding vital interests like their hold on East Germany. We found that they were still afraid to let their people have too much free contact with Western people. In a very marathon of conferences on disarmament they proved that they still wanted to make propaganda on that subject but there was still no basis of trust on which to construct any real agreement to disarm.

We know all these things, but what we tend to overlook, I think, is that we too did nothing to develop the spirit. We continued, for example, to build military bases on Russia's frontier in Iran, for example. I think it's a little misleading of us to blame the Russians entirely for the failure of the Geneva spirit.

I would say that the basic truth probably is in present circumstances a spirit of friendship between us is out of the question. The Geneva spirit really had no foundation. I would like to emphasize however that I believe the Geneva Summit talks did radically change the terms of the world argument from war to less dangerous methods, and I think that was an achievement.

MURROW: Alex Kendrick, what do you think was achieved by the Geneva meetings?

KENDRICK: Well don't forget there were three Geneva conferences this year and not two, and it may be that the middle one turns out to be the most important. That was the one devoted to the peaceful uses of atomic energy based on the exchange of information and the reestablishment of scientific relations between East and West. Now this was done on a limited scale, but nevertheless it was done. And it's too early to see to what degree this liaison is being maintained, but I think an important step has been taken in the realm of competitive coexistence. The three Geneva conferences—two political and one scientific—canceled out the atom and started East-West competition on a new basis. I think that's what the Geneva spirit really means, and I think it's still around and likely to be so for some time.

MURROW: Well, Dan Schorr, from your base of operations in Moscow what do the Russian people think about the Geneva spirit?

SCHORR: Well, oddly enough, the Russian man on the street isn't aware of any change in climate since the Geneva foreign ministers' conference. I think we've misunderstood what the Soviets meant by "Geneva spirit." To them it meant a standoff among the atomic powers to allow them to pursue their aims without fear of a general war.

But the trouble they've been stirring up in Asia and Africa—well, that's just their idea of competitive coexistence. When President Eisenhower talks of freedom for satellite states, Khrushchev gets mad because under their idea of "Geneva spirit," or let's say the Moscow spirit, we're supposed to accept the status quo in Europe. In a word, we're not supposed to rock their boat while they're trying to rock ours. That's their idea of coexistence.

MURROW: And Bob Pierpoint, what about the Geneva spirit in Asia?

PIERPOINT: The new communist approach during the past year—and that's what I think we're already talking about here, Ed—it emerged in Asia at Bandung even before the first Geneva conference. Delegates from twenty-nine different African and Asian nations met in April at Bandung, Indonesia to discuss the problems and the ambitions of the world's colored peoples, the non-whites. It was the first time in history that a strictly racial conference of this scope has ever been attempted. Well over half the population of the world was represented.

It was the Afro-Asian conference at Bandung that gave the communists the opportunity to peddle this thing we call the "Geneva spirit." The five principles of coexistence, the peaceful, friendly line. The sort of naive faith that the communists sold at Bandung is still going very well. I'd say, Ed, that the hopes inspired by Bandung and Geneva are far from dead in Asia.

MURROW: Well the Geneva spirit would seem to be a much livelier ghost in the Soviet Union and in Asia than it is in the West. Now let's try to find out what you gentlemen think was the single most significant change in your area during 1955. Kendrick, what did you observe in Africa?

KENDRICK: The most significant change in Africa in 1955 was the unilateral declaration of independence by the Sudan. The Sudanese just couldn't wait to go through the proscribed constitutional process, and this urge to get rid of colonialism on a can't-wait basis is spreading through Africa.

MURROW: Howard Smith?

SMITH: I think probably the main change in Britain was the one that took place in Princess Margaret's mind.

MURROW: And like everything else in Britain that was a gradual change, wasn't it? (laughter) Hottelet?

HOTTELET: West Germany became a sovereign nation. It put aside the cushions and crutches of Allied occupation and went ahead on its own. Adenauer's Germany now has complete freedom of choice, and unlike Princess Margaret it has not changed its mind. It's still carrying its full share of responsibility in the Western alliance, and it feels the full force of communist pressure.

MURROW: Pierpoint, what was the most important thing that happened in Asia?

PIERPOINT: Perhaps it was the realization, partly inspired by that Bandung conference again, that Asians as a people are a powerful force in the world today. The men who met at Bandung are now fully aware that when they get together they make up the largest share of the world's population. And this realization of their potential has given them added and needed confidence. Asians are becoming increasingly aware that not only can they throw off the domination of the white colonials and successfully rule themselves, but even that they can grow industrially and militarily strong. Today the people of Asia are beginning to understand that it's not only the Westerner who can be rich and powerful.

MURROW: Dan Schorr, what about the Soviet Union?

SCHORR: Well, there the most significant change was the opening of windows on the West and the way the Russians have flocked to those windows for a breath of fresh air. It's now officially permitted—in fact almost compulsory since things that are not prohibited there are compulsory—to note American superiority in some technical fields. Russians are meeting a few Americans, and there's an explosion of enthusiasm about the whole West as if they were starved for these contacts.

Last week I saw members of the Porgy and Bess Company almost mobbed by admirers on the streets of Leningrad. And the whole Soviet world of art and culture is breaking through the old Stalinist crust, groping for new freedoms. All this may go further and faster than the rulers intended. The thaw has already reached a point where even now it would take some grave international crisis to turn it off.

MURROW: Bill Downs, what's the single most important thing that happened in your area?

DOWNS: Well, out of right field in the Eastern Mediterranean I'm sure it's the new conditions created by the communist arms sale to Egypt. This not only represents a Russian foothold in the Middle East, but also reveals a new pattern of foreign economic policy now being employed by the Soviet bloc.

In fact, probably of more importance than the sale of Stalin tanks and MiG jets to the Egyptians is the Russian offer to finance the High Dam on the Nile—though as of now the revolutionary government of Premier Nasser has not chosen to further mortgage its future to the communists. But it would appear that the Russians are now embarking on their own brand of economic aid to win alliances and support among the uncommitted peoples of the world. It's a challenging Moscow Marshall Plan.

MURROW: Eric Sevareid?

SEVAREID: Well, Ed, of course the President's heart attack, but in connection with that the start of, I think, a great change in the institution of the presidency, towards trimming its responsibilities to manageable size which might soon take actually statutory form.

MURROW: And Dave Schoenbrun from Paris.

SCHOENBRUN: I think a social revolution began in France this year almost unnoticed. The nationalized Renault automobile company offered its workers a guaranteed wage increase if they helped to increase production. The communist unions rejected the offer as a capitalist trick—a speed up system—but the workers accepted it. They forced their communist labor leaders to endorse the contracts.

This has been a severe setback to communism, for it means that the French workers no longer believe a basic Marxist axiom, the inevitable corporatization of the working class in capitalist society. Or translated simply, that the bosses just won't share increased profits with the workers. This I think has been a direct result of an American example, which was the granting of a guaranteed annual wage to the auto workers. It opened up the eyes of the French workers, and I think it blackened the eyes of the communists.

MURROW: Well, gentlemen, unrest exists in great areas of the world. There has been something of a disposition I think to credit this to communism. But much of it, I suspect, may be a natural reaction to colonialism. Would you fellows care to comment on that? Will you start, Pierpoint?

PIERPOINT: Colonialism still exists as a burning issue in the minds of millions of Asian peoples, Ed. Peoples who've won freedom only in the recent past. It exists because they cannot quickly forget the indignities and the frustrations of colonial rule. And because they simply don't trust the white man. The question that bothers me is whether it's really necessary for America to stay neutral on this problem of colonialism. In Asia people say bitterly that America refuses to oppose colonialism anymore because it may hurt our relations with our NATO allies. What about this, is it true?

SMITH: No, I don't think so, Bob. Our allies are not in NATO merely to please us. They're in the alliance for their own survival, and I don't think we need support their colonial rule just to keep them as allies.

MURROW: Alex Kendrick, what about colonialism in Africa?

KENDRICK: It's a hundred years old there, and in one form or another it may survive in some places for a good while to come. But this year I think its death knell was heard. The Sudan took its own independence and there was nobody there to say no. After keeping him in exile for two years, the British were compelled to let the Kabaka, the tribal ruler, come back to Uganda in order to keep their slight grip there. A major event is about to occur in Kenya. The black man will be given the vote. Nigeria and the Gold Coast, longtime British colonies, should be getting their independence in 1956.

And the interesting thing is that all this, Africa busting out all over, has taken place without any reference to the Cold War. Colonialism is not being ended by the power and assistance of international communism, as Khrushchev and Bulganin boasted just the other day. But it's by the deep-seated, natural instincts on the one hand, and the acceptance of inevitability on the other.

MURROW: Well of course you don't mean to imply that the communists are not interested in Africa, Alex?

KENDRICK: No not at all, Ed, because as colonies become independent, their first reaction is to be over-independent and to avoid East-West complications by staying neutral. And that, a communist would like. The uncommitted nations that Khrushchev and Bulganin are wooing lie in Africa as much as in Asia. The Bandung conference was as much African as Asian.

But it's easy to blame unpalatable developments on communism, and I think we make that mistake most often in Africa. In the first place, the ending of colonialism should not be unpalatable for us. And in the second place, there's no credit to communism there. African nationalism owes less to Marx than to Woodrow Wilson, and even Mao Mao was the result of a London, and not a Moscow, education.

MURROW: Dave Schoenbrun, you recently visited North Africa. What's the outlook there?

SCHOENBRUN: Great crisis ahead, Ed, but for the first time I think some hope. Slowly, painfully, with mental reservations but irrevocably, France is coming to terms with North African nationalism. Home rule was granted to Tunisia this spring, and now nothing can stop Tunisia's evolution to complete independence whether the French grant it or not. The same is true for Morocco. I was there a few weeks ago, and saw the sultan restored to his throne and independent government set up.

Now, this didn't bring peace overnight, of course. The French are still paying the price in blood for years of oppression. But the turning point has been passed and hope is ahead, except in one place: Algeria. The crisis there is desperate. The French made Algeria part of France in law, but not in fact. Almost one million French settlers are an oasis of wealth and privilege in a desert of misery for eight million Arabs and Berbers. I don't know how they can resolve this built-in conflict between two such huge and almost irreconcilable masses. But I am sure of this—Algeria too means to be, and will be, free.

MURROW: Howard Smith, the British have had a lot of experience with colonialism and have liquidated most of their empire. What's the future as viewed from London?

SMITH: Well, there's a casebook example of some people giving the communists credit they don't deserve, and that I'm afraid is Britain's handling of the Cyprus question. It's a case of pure British bungling with no assists from any other quarter.

MURROW: Eric Sevareid, on this issue of colonialism, does it seem to you that our country is stepping a bit out of its traditional character?

SEVAREID: I think it is, Ed. We have a 180-year-old tradition of very vigorously opposing colonialism, because we were a colony. I think we're downgrading this tradition now. Maybe not in our words—there's still a lot of words about this—but in our acts or our non-acts. The reasons are rather obvious. Our chief allies happen to be colonial powers, and also I think because apparently we do not dare to appear to be on the same side of any question with a communist. But I don't know, Ed, maybe it's not so important. To judge by what these boys have been saying, colonialism seems to be liquidating itself.

MURROW: Well, Dick Hottelet, what about the Soviet-style colonialism?

HOTTELET: That is not liquidating itself. You know, the hypocrisy with which the Russians have capitalized on colonialism is nothing short of staggering. It's they who've brought a new, twentieth century brand of colonialism into world history. The satellites of Eastern Europe are Soviet colonies. They're exploited for Russia's profit, molded on the Soviet pattern, and for them there's little present hope of liberation.

Look at East Germany. The whole economy is geared to the Soviet five-year plan. Moscow sets the terms of trade and gets the gravy. The people live in poverty. Collective farms are taking over agriculture. The middle class and the little businessmen are being wiped out. Opposition is destroyed. Only the communist bosses are sitting pretty. That's Russian colonialism for you.

KENDRICK: Yes, and don't forget, Dick, about Soviet Central Asia. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

MURROW: Well certainly Russia practices colonialism. The United States often merely abstains. Alright, fellas, what's the best thing we did in your area last year? Let's start with Sevareid.

SEVAREID: Let's see, we sent the Salk vaccine abroad, and we kept [inaudible] at home. (laughter)

MURROW: Bill Downs?

DOWNS: Well, we set up a program to share the atom instead of only threatening to drop it.

SCHOENBRUN: I think that we did a good thing to bring the Comédie-Française from Paris to New York. News that their national theater company was a box office hit on Broadway boosted French morale, and it helped them love us just a little more because we love what was best in them.

HOTTELET: The best thing the United States has done in Germany this year is to continue radiating economic and political strength. This country is still the most important stabilizing force in Europe.

PIERPOINT: Frankly, I'd say that about the best thing we did in the Far East was when the State Department brought the Symphony of the Air Orchestra out. They made a tremendous hit. On a political level, we seem to have made a smart move in strongly backing President Diem in Indochina. Despite the prophecies of all the doom criers, my colleagues, and myself, President Diem has performed a near miracle this year in South Vietnam.

SCHORR: In the Soviet Union, the best thing we did was to exchange farmers and engineers and newsmen, to lift passport restrictions on travel to Russia, to send a company like Porgy and Bess, in a word, to blow a little fresh air into the window they opened.

SMITH: Well, so far as the British are concerned, I think possibly the best thing was the meeting in Geneva on the ambassadors level between the United States and the Red Chinese. Red China, as you know, is the only important issue dividing Britain and America now, and that meeting, plus the decline of tension over Formosa, have contributed to make this the year, I think, of the least anti-American feeling in Britain since the war.

KENDRICK: The best thing we've done in Africa on the moral plane was to outlaw segregation in our own country, and on the practical plane our decision to help finance the Egyptian High Dam project even though it was on a late, limited, and grudging basis.

MURROW: Well now gentlemen those are some of the good things we did. What, from your vantage points, were some of the worst things we did? Smith?

SMITH: Well, commercial television opened in Britain in 1955, Ed, and I have heard it said that perhaps the worst thing the US has done to Britain has been Liberace at 3 PM every Sunday. (laughter)

MURROW: Well but that was a free and voluntary decision on their part, wasn't it?

SMITH: (laughing) Yes.

KENDRICK: In Africa the worst thing we did was to keep equivocating on the colonial issue in the UN. But on a personal level, the stupidest thing Americans have done in Africa this year was to start an American club in Addis Ababa which does not allow Ethiopians in. The only example of segregation in the whole country, and it's somebody else's country.

SEVAREID: Well I'd say that Americans suffered the rather distressing loss of prestige inside the United Nations by our fumbling and switching on the big question of the new memberships above all. So we find ourselves abstaining on votes, a rather footless position for a great power, and as a result we no longer enjoy an automatic majority.

SCHOENBRUN: Well, in France...I don't think I can really think of anything. It's been an excellent year in French-American relations, and no major frictions to report.

HOTTELET: What shook the Germans most this year, albeit only temporarily, was the apparent effect of the Geneva spirit on the United States. The Germans are secretly just as much afraid that we'll sell them out to the Russians as we are that they'll make a deal with Moscow. Illusions like the Geneva spirit gave them the creeps.

SEVAREID: They've given us some creeps in the past, Dick. (laughter)

PIERPOINT: In my opinion the worst thing we did in Asia this past year was to evacuate Chiang Kai-Shek's troops from the Tachen Islands. And the second worst thing was not to evacuate them from Matsu and Kimoi. This may sound like doubletalk, but what I mean is this: by encouraging the Nationalists to defend these islands at first, and then by pulling the Nationalist troops off as soon as the Reds start putting on the pressure, we play directly into the hands of Chinese communist propaganda.

DOWNS: Do you mind running through that again? (laughter)

SCHORR: To my mind, the worst thing we did in the Soviet Union was to refuse to go in for freer trade. I think if there's any hope of mellowing the Russians, it's only be ensuring they have some more of the good things of life.

DOWNS: How would you mellow a Russian?

SMITH: That sounds a little like mellowing an enemy by refusing to shoot at him and getting him unaccustomed to being shot at.

HOTTELET: I think Dan believes that candy is candy and liquor is quicker!

SCHORR: Well candy and liquor are fine, but I've found that the Russians are crazy about American gadgets.

DOWNS: Well in Italy gentlemen, I—

KENDRICK: That'll un-mellow them! (laughter)

DOWNS: In Italy, I submit that our biggest failure was that of not importing Gina Lollobrigida. (laughter)

SEVAREID: I'll speak to Foster about that. (laughter)

MURROW: Well, gentlemen, for the most part we've been threshing around here with some rather weighty subjects to the best of our ability, but let's look at some of the smaller, insignificant things you've noticed. Dick Hottelet, what did you see in West Germany that reminds you of home?

HOTTELET: I'd say Coca-Cola, laundromats, public relations, and the installment plan.

KENDRICK: And the biggest American soda fountain in all Africa, in fact I think the only one, has been opened in Khartoum.

SCHOENBRUN: Well, in Paris I've seen two American innovations: self service in restaurants and a striptease act in nightclubs. And I've seen Parisians behaving in the latter as though they were in the former.

DOWNS: Well the land of the lasagna last year, they began manufacturing corn flakes and cocktail crackers.

SMITH: I'll still take lasagna. (laughter)

SCHORR: In the Soviet Union, the first American-style nightclub, young people listening to American jazz on the Voice of America.

PIERPOINT: The Japanese built a television tower on top of Mount Fuji.

SEVAREID: Didn't they used to jump off it?

PIERPOINT: They still do. (laughter)

MURROW: Moscow claims that communism is still on the march and will ultimately win the world struggle. Let's see what's happening to communism outside the Soviet Union. Italy has the largest communist party outside the Soviet Union, and you cover Italy—what's been happening there, Bill?

DOWNS: Well I think the picture not only in Italy, Ed, but in Western Europe is generally good. Would you agree, Howard?

SMITH: Absolutely.

DOWNS: Dave?


DOWNS: Well, there have been no definitive popular elections in Italy, but in the major factories such as Fiat there has been a sharp decline in communist union strength. The Sicilian elections also showed a decline in the communist vote, but a corresponding increase in the fellow traveling socialist vote. In other words, the strength of the left has not declined, but there are signs that the workers and intellectuals are getting sick of the vacillations of Marxist dogma.

MURROW: Alex, what inroads have the communists been able to make in Africa?

KENDRICK: So far they've been able to make some economic penetration. The Czechs and the East Germans especially are doing lots of business. The Czechs sold out their exhibit of cheap consumer goods at the Addis Ababa fair. But then, why not? The American exhibit consisted mainly of a Ford Thunderbird, 3600 bucks.

MURROW: Dan Schorr, what would you say about communism in Russia?

SCHORR: Well, the GHQ of communism—they're apparently getting ready for another shift in tactics. There's new emphasis on expanding the Communist Party. That's reversing the Stalin-Beria policy of a small, hard core of trustworthy members. Membership in the party is going up, and more people will be recruited.

Outside Russia, perhaps as a reaction to what's been described by Bill Downs, the popular front is going to be given another whirl. And one of the most significant things was Khrushchev's recent offer of cooperation with a Norwegian socialist party, bypassing the Norwegian communists. Communist parties abroad may be given greater independence of action. But if you think the Soviets are ditching the communist parties for good, just remember this: at a Kremlin reception a few weeks ago, Khrushchev told two French communists, "Every year we gain is a promise for the future."

MURROW: Well there are certainly, and I think we would all agree, three obvious danger points. One in Berlin, the other the conflict between Israel and the neighboring Arab states, and the third around Formosa. Let's examine those briefly. Will you start off, Hottelet, with Berlin?

HOTTELET: The tension in Berlin is terrific. And Berlin is only one part of the continuing bitter contest for all Germany. The Russians are using every device to pull Germany out of the Western camp. They know as well as we do that Germany is the keystone of Western security in Europe. They're tempting the Germans with neutralism and the promise of markets in the East. They whisper in the dark and they shout in propaganda. And when deceit gets nowhere, the Soviets resort to open blackmail. They sold Adenauer ten thousand prisoners in return for diplomatic relations. The means keep changing; the struggle and the danger never stop.

MURROW: Bill Downs, you've just made a trip through the Middle East. What about the Arab-Israeli powder keg?

DOWNS: The critical time for Israel will be this spring. It's reported that important amounts of the new communist arms being delivered to Egypt are going into training centers north of the Suez, and this forms a tempting prize for Israel's army if that nation feels that it must try to invoke a settlement by force.

However, there is a school of diplomatic thought that says war is not made inevitable because of the communist arms sale; that Premier Nasser has gained so much prestige and strength that he can now maneuver diplomatically—possibly even make a settlement of some kind with Israel.

The Israeli dilemma is whether to place their hopes on diplomacy—thereby losing valuable time and possibly their military superiority—or to move while they feel that they can win. On both sides of the line I found no popular desire to go to war, but if the hope of settlement ever disappears in the Middle East, then watch out.

MURROW: Bob Pierpoint, what are the particular danger points in the Far East?

PIERPOINT: Just one, Ed. If the communists attack Matsu and Kimoi this spring, as it looks like they may do, war could spread to Formosa and beyond.

MURROW: And it could also be reopened in Korea, couldn't it?

PIERPOINT: It might be. But we certainly hope not.

MURROW: Well, gentlemen, let's examine now a problem that is perhaps best described as being below the surface. What undercurrents have you observed, as you've wandered about in your areas, that have particularly affected the lives of the people? Things that have not made big banner headlines, but which nevertheless have been significant in the life of the countries where you're stationed. Kendrick, what's happening in the African countries?

KENDRICK: Every country in Africa is different. There are forty-odd countries, and almost as many kinds of colonialism; almost as many kinds of nationalism. But there is a definite pattern to the main current beneath the surface. In order to develop the natural resources of the continent, the White Man has had to educate the Native to new skills. The Native gets improved living standards, the death rate from disease goes down, the Native becomes more prosperous, he demands more education, and more education means more nationalism; more urge to govern himself. So the White Man starts out as boss and ends up lucky to be partner. And frankly, there are not many people in Africa who are sorry—for independence is just as magic a word there in 1956 as it was here in 1776.

MURROW: And Hottelet, what about the groundswells in Germany?

HOTTELET: In Germany you begin to see the contours of a new society. High prosperity and political stability have given more people something to defend; have made them more conservative in the good sense. The old social extremes, the arrogant aristocracy and the militant Marxist proletariat, are being whittled away. A new, larger middle class is taking shape, and it's a middle class such as Germany has never had in all its history. In Parliament it is now exercising political leadership with growing self-assurance.

MURROW: Wouldn't you say, Schoenbrun, that French society is undergoing a somewhat similar change?

SCHOENBRUN: Exactly the same thing, Ed. A vigorous comeback of the democratic middle classes in France, and I think this will be the big story to emerge from tomorrow's national elections there. The democratic parties will win at least two-thirds of the votes. And when all the returns are in, I think we'll find two big democratic blocs on top. The non-communist left of Mendès France and the non-fascist right of Antoine Pinay and Edgar Faure. Neither one, I fear, will win an absolute majority, so there's no immediate prospect of stable government in France, but the trend is towards larger, more cohesive, and democratic blocs. That's quite a difference from 1951 when the Gaullist and Communists were crushing a weak and frightened Centre, and when democracy seemed doomed to die in France.

MURROW: Howard Smith, what sort of social weather vane do you observe in Britain?

SMITH: I suppose it's as important as anything else that a London borough after fifty years renamed a local club from "The Working Men's Association" to "The Community Centre." That, I think, adequately indicates the steady elevation of the Western worker into the stratum of great middle classes in these years of prosperity.

I don't know whether it fits your question, Ed, but another thing—all the color has gone out from Parliament since Winston Churchill retired, and reporting in London has become a much less rich experience than it was.

MURROW: I'm sure all of us who have had that experience would agree with you, Howard. Pierpoint, what about the basic changes in Asia?

PIERPOINT: In Asia, Ed, as in Alex's Africa, many nations, many currents. But one thing is becoming increasingly evident: the fact that Asians as a people really desire the material riches of Western civilization. It's easy to say that the average Asian rice farmer must be perfectly content if he can provide himself and his family with enough food to eat and enough clothes to wear and a decent place to live. That's a cliche, and it just isn't true anymore, if it ever was. Today, Asians see all our bright, shiny goods in our movies and in their own newspapers and magazines, and they don't see why we should be the only people to have them.

MURROW: Now, Dan Schorr, would you say there is a restlessness in Russia?

SCHORR: Oh, I don't know if you'd call it restlessness in Russia, but there is something, Ed. It's especially among the younger generation, who seem to be getting a little bored with theoretical communism. They're even starting to tell jokes against their regime.

This one may not be very funny or very new, but it is being told at Moscow University: Someone says, "You know, Adam and Eve were Russians." And when you ask how that could be, the answer is, "There's absolute proof, you see. They shared an apple between them, they had no clothes, and they though they were living in paradise."

KENDRICK: No it isn't. It's new, anyway. (laughter)

SCHORR: Now, don't get me wrong. I don't say there's widespread dissension—there isn't. But there is a generation maturing to whom the revolution is just something they read about; to whom ideological teachings are a bit boring. These young people are not disaffected, they're just unaffected.

MURROW: Well, Eric Sevareid, what about our own society?

SEVAREID: Ed, I really think we're changing very rapidly in our minds and in our matter. There's a certain swing away from preoccupation with great international themes and issues, and toward a preoccupation with our personal, family, community problems; our health, our juveniles, our neuroses, our cars, gadgets, and sports. Television rating show this. So do the new emphases in big magazines and papers. We're interested in the problems and the opportunities of our wealth and leisure. We seem to be in a period at least superficially like the '20s.

And in physical and economic terms, the change is rather breathtaking. It's a new country just in the last ten or fifteen years. Bigness is everything. The old family-sized farm is disappearing, the overall profits of big business grow while those of small business shrink, the number of mergers is incredible; hundreds of corporate mergers this year in manufacturing and mining alone, hundreds of bank mergers; even labor has merged into a giant semi-monopoly. But there are fewer individual business titans with great personal power as we used to have, because ownership is being more widely spread, including a lot of employee ownership.

I think all in all, Ed, that we're tending to become smaller individual cogs, and bigger mass machines. Now the material result, of course, is fabulous. We seem to have truly discovered the Midas touch. The question is, do we pay a price in moral and intellectual terms as we more and more work and think and dress alike? As big government, big press, and big business tend toward a kind of coalescing, are we losing our individuality, our moral toughness, our courage to think and speak differently? One American puts it this way. He says it's like "great, jagged mountain peaks melting down into one vast, level molten mass."

MURROW: I wish I had said that because I believe it to be true, Eric.

SEVAREID: Well I rather do too, Ed, and it seems to me the great question now for our country is whether this is the way to strength and to world leadership, or the way to some kind of terrible ultimate weakness.

MURROW: And these, you think, are the real national issues for this country today?


MURROW: Bill Downs?

DOWNS: At the beginning of the show I said this past year was the year of the "concrete kindergarten." Well, it was reinforced concrete. I discovered that building on an Israeli collective farm on the Gaza border. The settlement needed a new kindergarten—birthrate was up. But government specifications just about has wrecked the economy of that farm because of that kindergarten. It was ordered that the kindergarten be made of reinforced concrete in order to protect the children from mortars and shells. And on the other side of the Gaza border, there now are a third generation of Arab refugees who don't have any kindergartens at all.

MURROW: Well, gentlemen, could we examine for a moment ultimate objectives? What do we want, and what do the forces of communism want? First, Eric, what do you think we want?

SEVAREID: I think, Ed, we want what we have always wanted, and that is a genuine peace of world tranquility. The great rich country always wants peace. It doesn't want real change. But we'll settle, I think, for a reasonable, non-atomic facsimile. And I believe that this means that, in truth, we will settle for a world that is part free and part slave as long as the slavery is not extended. You might call that the Missouri Compromise on a world scale. We never of course say this, but I think it's really the fact of the matter. At Geneva, at the summit meeting, the president wasted no more time than the simple decencies required talking about freedom for the satellites, for example, then dropped the subject then.

I think we ought to face it. We're not going to do anything overt about those satellites or about the communist possession of China; we're not going to go out of our way to help the colonial people get their independence. I have the feeling that we're drawing away in everything but our words from a tradition that goes all the way from the Declaration of Independence to the Korean intervention. But I am not saying that this is wrong or evil. I suspect it's inevitable; part of the price of great responsibility for human lives in a hydrogen world. It all seems to me it's a little like an individual who grows to middle age and finds that he has to come to terms with life. Perhaps America's come of age; age always brings some disillusionment and some compromise.

MURROW: Dan, what about the ultimate objectives of the Russians?

SCHORR: Well I think the Russians want something quite different. I think that the Soviet Union could not afford to admit that it has come of age even if it were true—and it's not true. But the communist want is still communism.

First of all, they want to be assured of peace so they can build communism in their own country. Then they want to see it spread, or make it spread, although they are now reconciled to a longer haul than they originally contemplated. Khrushchev has said in effect, "Let's fight it out with production, with propaganda, with everything but war, and then let's see who wins." Kaganovich said in November that communism travels without passports or fingerprints.

Seeing the Soviet leaders at close range, you get the impression that they're supremely confident. That opinion is shared by diplomats of long experience in Moscow. That confidence may or may not be well-founded, but they're prepared to act on it. Furthermore, I think they have to act on it. They have to push ahead in order to rekindle the flying revolutionary spirit.

MURROW: Well, gentlemen, if this competition is to go on—if this grinding, wearing process is to go on and on always in the shadow of the possibility of mutual annihilation—what must we do to be saved, or more particularly, what must we do as a nation in order to compete successfully with the communist world? Kendrick, what do you say?

KENDRICK: Obviously the best way for us to compete in colonial Africa is to remember that we used to be a colony ourselves. And to give moral, political, and financial encouragement to the idea of independence in Africa, no matter how many of our colonial allies may be offended. The Russians certainly use the anti-colonial theme to a high degree in their propaganda, and we were able to do that once also. But I think American sympathies are instinctively on the side of self-determination in Africa, but we have sometimes let short-term political expediency confuse and divert us. Our reputation on the Dark Continent this year has been dark too, but we can still redeem ourselves.

MURROW: Dick Hottelet?

HOTTELET: Well I think that in Germany we have a concrete example. There, we have so far competed successfully with the Russians; we're away from theory. The most important thing we have done in Germany has been to help kindle and feed a desire for freedom. This has made the Germans highly resistant if not impervious to communist and fascist pressure. What we've done is to tie Germany to the West with every bond of legitimate self-interest. The German people have prodigious vitality, and we've given them a wholesome outlet for it.

Economically, we've given them the satisfaction of working hard and the profit of enriching themselves. Politically, we've given Germany the influence and responsibility which is due a great nation in the councils of the Western world. Our policy has made Germany a genuine ally, and it's imbued the defense treaties, which might otherwise have been empty and meaningless hooks, with a spirit of solidarity. This is a practical precedent. It might have come unconsciously, but we might do well to apply it elsewhere.

MURROW: Dave Schoenbrun, what do you think we must do in order to compete successfully?

SCHOENBRUN: Well I think first of all we must keep strong. We must continue to give support to the North Atlantic alliance, not forgetting that it was the fact that this alliance created a military stalemate in the heart of Europe that made the Russians shift their tactics and the place of their attack to their new challenge. And I think we should accept this new challenge with confidence—in fact, with joy. For if the Russians really want to compete with us politically and economically rather than militarily, then this is exactly what we are best equipped to do, or say we are.

Our democratic way of life is surely richer in spirit and resources than the communist's. So why don't we exploit it? We could build bigger and better dams for the Egyptians than the Russians can. We can buy more rice from the Burmese, and we can give it to the hungry Indonesians. And we can give it without political strings tied on to the rice bags. When people are forced to sign a military pact or something like that just in order to eat, then everything they swallow tastes like crow.

With their rice, too, I suspect they want something else. They want respect perhaps even more than they want rice. This may be a gamble. It may be a gamble to offer aid to people who won't join our team; people who want to be neutral. But I would suspect it's the kind of gamble we're going to have to take as this new Soviet challenge grows.

MURROW: Dan Schorr, from your position in Moscow, what do you think this nation must do in order to compete successfully?

SCHORR: I'd like to see the gamble that David talked about carried even further. I'd like to see it carried to the home grounds of the Soviet Union. Because just as they're convinced that their system will stand the ultimate test against capitalism, so am I convinced that we can beat them. And I mean in Russia. I think democracy can also travel. I think we should seize every opportunity to penetrate Soviet Russia, with trade, with travelers, and with ideas. I think the more that Russians are exposed to Americans and to other Westerners, the more we can implant a certain kind of doubt in their minds about their system.

Because you know, despite all their talk about exchanges, the Russians so far are sending only pig delegations abroad, and in Moscow some of us have the impression that they don't dare to let their people travel freely. Yet they say Americans can go to Russia. Well, I'd like to see a lot of Americans try to go and get there—as many as possible. I should like them to see Russians on their home grounds and talk to them and see what effect that has on them. Incidentally, I'd like some company. (laughter)

MURROW: Bill Downs, what do you think our nation must do in order to compete successfully?

DOWNS: Well, despite all of this excellent advice being handed out here, I think this question is going to be settled among the American people. I think we've got to make up our mind if we really want to compete. We have lost, or appear to be losing, the international title as the greatest revolutionary power in the world, and we seem to be losing it to a revolutionary form of totalitarianism. We might be getting so fat and happy that maybe we're not interested any longer in the title. And being so tremendously successful, maybe the American Revolution really is over. Most of the people in my part of the world don't think so, but if it is true and we let the championship go by default, we know who's going to pick up the gloves and, who knows, that we might some future time have to revolt again. This time against the commissars.

MURROW: Howard Smith, as our chief European correspondent, how do you see this?

SMITH: Well, Ed, I think there are two general things for this generation to worry about in the realm of international affairs we're talking about. First, what may happen to Germany in the wooing and pressures she is to be subjected to by the Russians from now on. And second, how far Russia may succeed in courting the uncommitted Asian and Near Eastern nations, which she's begun.

In regard to the first of these threats, that in Germany, the answer seems to me to be what it always was. We must do all we can to urge the creation of European unity. Once Germany is embedded in a United States of Europe as solidly as, say, California is in the United States of America, our fear of Germany going neutralist or pro-Russian will be over. In the uncommitted countries, a big increase in monetary aid is obviously called for. I think we should not be too worried about Russia offering help also. Economic aid tends to reinforce whatever system prevails in a country, and if Russia wants to help reinforce non-communist governments I think we should encourage her in this praiseworthy endeavor. We should do so to the extent of ourselves offering very large amounts to, say, India, on condition that Russia will match the amount. The United Nations could administer it. I think it would be good for our Asian friends and acquaintances to hear Russia's answer to a proposal of this kind. I think we would soon be much less concerned about bad will tours of those countries by Bulganin and Khrushchev.

MURROW: Bob Pierpoint, as you view the situation from Asia, what do you think the United States should do to compete successfully?

PIERPOINT: Nothing revolutionary, Ed. We've already got the formula. In Europe it was called the Marshall Plan. I think we can successfully compete in Asia by putting in more of the same—more aid and more effort. Except that we need a change in emphasis, playing down the military side of American aid with an increase in the political and economic would help our program a great deal.

Certainly we can't afford to let out military guard down while the communist threat still exists, but the Reds are beginning to hit us on another front in Asia: the propaganda and progress front. The Asian people want progress. They want economic development as fast as possible, and the communists claim their system can bring it faster. They're wrong, and I believe that we can show Asia how to get this progress better than the Russians can. To successfully compete now we should take advantage of our opportunity by pouring more aid and more effort into a program that's already underway.

MURROW: Eric Sevareid?

SEVAREID: Well surely, Ed, we must keep the great image of America—the finest, the humanitarian face of America—turned to the world. Remain militarily strong, stay prosperous, extend our own democracy within our own borders including racial democracy, strengthen others; open our gates wider to others, try by every means to keep the present small gates in the Iron Curtain open. Peace may depend on ushering—and quickly—half the people of the world into the twentieth century.

MURROW: Gentlemen, you appear to agree that in this struggle between the forces of freedom and tyranny, the danger of mutual annihilation has receded somewhat. The economic and ideological competition has increased. You feel that this country has become somewhat pact-happy, demanding military arrangements as preconditions for economic aid. You note areas where limited conflict could produce unlimited nothingness, turning citizens into cinders. You report a situation in which there are no easy or quick solutions. Some of you wonder whether this country has the patience and fortitude, the willingness to sacrifice that may be required. You all feel that people who are struggling to be free have a claim upon our conscience.

Thank you very much gentlemen. Good luck, and good news.

ANNOUNCER: The team of correspondents who participated in this recorded broadcast can be heard throughout the year on regular CBS News programs. Around the clock, they cover the top developments in this country and throughout the world. This is the CBS Radio Network.