Vladimir Putin

Buchan, Hon. Alastair

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Some quite personal impressions about American policy. The speaker's background as a Washington newspaper correspondent and a brief description of the task. A first impression: the absolute impossibility of separating foreign policy from domestic politics or of treating them in different compartments. An illustration. A brief historical explication of the American system of government. The immense strain of America's world responsibilities imposed upon those who have to operate its government, with examples. The American constitution; surprise by the fact that it works at all, and why the speaker finds that to be so. A second impression: the American map of the world is not yet completely unrolled. Looking at the situation in the Middle East and American involvement there to illustrate this point. The reluctant involvement of the United States. The speaker's suspicion that much the same situation will happen with regard to South East Asia in the next few years. The moral that there is no such thing for the U.S. as a limited commitment to the outside world. The hard pill that this will be for the American opinion to swallow, and why. The speaker's belief that we in the Commonwealth, especially in Britain, should exercise a certain humility and restraint in watching the reluctance of the U.S. to face up to the full implications and obligations of being the strongest power in the world. Reasons why. Another impression of Washington: one of the subjects on which opinion is least well informed and most puzzled is the Commonwealth. "They have observed the signs of weakness in the Commonwealth and they have failed to see its inner strengths." An illustration of this attitude revealed over the death of his late Majesty King George and the accession of Queen Elizabeth. The mistake of taking the signs of growing autonomy among the nations of the Commonwealth for evidence of a desire to break up the system itself. The American constitution ill designed for the tasks of world leadership that America is now called upon to undertake. The U.S. in the midst of a profound internal psychological revolution which will take many years to resolve itself. Threads running through American policy as expressed in Congress. The U.S. needing proof of our support as allies in the defense of freedom in the West to an extent that Great Britain when she was the leading power did not. Reasons for that need. The long hard road ahead for the Nations of the West. The Cold War with many years to run. Other difficult problems ahead. Canada's role.