New Vistas for Diplomacy

By Richard Hadden
Volume 6, Number 1 (Fall 1995)
Issue theme: "Infamous immigrants"

Anyone concerned about the causes of failed American diplomatic efforts in Vietnam, the Lebanon civil war, Iran and the Sudan, or eager to know the behind-the-scenes successes of what Joseph Montville has called 'Track II Diplomacy' in Rhodesia, the Philippines, and in post-World War II France and Germany, will find this book a fascinating and exciting read.

Years of scholarly research by Douglas Johnston, Cynthia Sampson and their team of contributors has produced fully-documented evidence of religious or spiritually-motivated groups and individuals resolving internal or international conflicts long considered insoluble by seasoned statesmen. Former President Jimmy Carter confirms this in his Foreword to the book and cites Camp David, Zambia and Nicaragua as examples from his own experience.

Edward N. Luttwak, political philosopher and author of 'The Endangered American Dream' cites Moral Rearmament's contribution to 'one of the greatest achievements in the entire record of modern statecraft the astonishingly rapid Franco-German reconciliation after 1945.' The prevalent hatreds at that time and the repressive nature of the Morgenthau Plan made the mere concept absurd. Further, if as Luttwak claims, 'the moral bankruptcy of the established churches,' with their vast resources, had rendered them ineffective in reconciling the French and Germans on the basis of their common Christianity, what could MRA hope to accomplish with its smaller numbers and limited resources?

The evolving plan included inviting large numbers of representative German leaders to the MRA World Conference Center at Caux, Switzerland, where they could meet their counterparts from the other war-ravaged countries and - in an atmosphere of trust, honesty and forgiveness - be welcomed back into the family of nations. As no Germans were permitted to leave Germany and few Americans could enter, it required the highest level of clearance from Washington for MRA representatives to visit General Clay, in command of the Ameri-can Sector, and arrange for visas.

Over tea at the House of Lords, in the fall of 1989, with the Berlin Wall crumbling and East Germany's border with the West opening, Lord Longford mentioned to me how, in 1947 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, War Office, and in charge of the British Occupation Zone (he was then known as Lord Pakenham), he arranged for 55 Germans to go to Caux, with the assistance of General Robertson, the Zone Commander. A devout Catholic, he was convinced that, along with food, MRA's work of bringing about a moral and spiritual awakening would do the most good.

From 1946 to 1950 a total of 3,113 Germans from all branches and levels of society, and 1,983 French, attended the Caux meetings. Large numbers of coal and steel industrialists and trade union leaders of both countries developed warm personal relation-ships there. Italians, Dutch, Belgians, Scandinavians and British were among the 50 nations attending.

In 1948 an MRA force of 250 became the first international civilian group permitted into Germany, invited by German leaders, taking with them a musical, The Good Road, and a play, The Forgotten Factor; the musical was seen by 200,000 people in 16 performances in 15 days in Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Essen and Dusseldorf - the play, with a German cast, remained that winter and was seen by 120,00 miners, industrial and political leaders. One-and-a-half million copies of a handbook portraying the spirit of democracy were distributed in all four zones of occupation. Management and work councils attended some 400 meetings.

The Communist Party had set 1951 as the date for its take-over of the Ruhr, with Germany and Europe next, but on February 9, 1950 the Manchester Guardian stated that more than 40 leaders of the Party had either resigned or been expelled because of their connection with Moral Rearmament - a setback from which the Party never recovered.

This writer was in France during 1950 when similar events occurred in the Communist-dominated industrial "red belt" around Paris, and in the coal mines of the Nord where the senior Catholic prelate of France, Cardinal Lienart (Diocese of Lille) termed MRA's effectiveness there "a crack of the whip to Christians who have forgotten their mission." In England, a number of miners, dockers and steel-workers left the Communist Party after being at Caux - among them Fred Copeman, a leading British Communist.

All of this facilitated acceptance of the Schuman Plan when it was proposed in 1950. As Luttwak points out, Schuman's chosen device to guarantee non-aggression and promise full reconciliation was the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community, "now universally recognized as an initiative of world-historical importance," progenitor of the Common Market which in turn is parent of today's European Community. He states, "If MRA had done nothing else, its ancillary role in the creation of the ECSC would alone give it importance in the history of Europe it facilitated its realization from the start." Meanwhile, Paul G. Hoffman, Administrator of the Marshall Plan, launched in 1948 for economic recovery and eventually reaching $12 billion in goods and services, evaluated MRA as "the ideological equivalent of the Marshall Plan."

Both Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Foreign Minister Robert Schuman visited Caux and each decorated MRA's American founder, Dr. Frank Buchman, on behalf of their governments in recognition of his efforts for Franco-German reconciliation.

This book is notable for its many other choice in-depth illustrations of conflict resolution: 1) The Rhodesia-Zimbabwe transition, for its combination of efforts by the Catholic Church and the Quakers, as well as by MRA which already had established a network of friendships across racial lines enabling it in February 1980 to arrange for the secret meeting between Mugabe and Ian Smith, which, according to researcher Ron Craybill, "without a doubt altered the history of the nation."; 2) The Moravians' role in building bridges between the Sandinistas and the East Coast Indians of Nicaragua in the 1980s when the wider Contra war monopolized the headlines; 3) the Quakers' selfless conciliation efforts during the Nigerian civil war; 4) the Catholic Church's powerful influence in the Philippines during the 1986 election and the People Power revolution; and 5) the work of the churches, in a) bringing down the East German government, and b) facilitating the peaceful transition in South Africa.

Henry Kissinger, an exemplar of balance-of-power "realpolitik," and perhaps typical of the diplomatic fraternity's general disregard of religious and moral factors in statesmanship, has at least given this book a nod, calling it a thoughtful collection of essays on "a topic of increasing importance in contemporary world politics." As there is no suggestion of such a conviction in his monumental volume, Diplomacy, published several months before this one (a few historical references to religion, none to any diplomatic influence), his comment may give hope that men of Dr. Kissinger's calibre and experience will yet tap this resource. (Where even our President failed to solve the shocking Major League Baseball Strike, Dr. Kissinger might have presented his own double-play combination of "Richelieu to Metternich to Bismarck!")*

Cardinal Richelieu, First Minister of France from 1624-1642, is characterized by Kissinger as a prime example of the traditional separation of church and state, religion and diplomacy: "Though privately religious, he viewed his duties as minister in entirely secular terms. Salvation might be his personal objective, but to Richelieu, the statesman, it was irrelevant." That secular mind-set, which still typifies society and the Realist School and deeply concerns the editors of this book, is today a rather tired product of the 18th-century Enlightenment, of Comte and Max Weber with their dismissal of moral values and religious principles as unscientific and therefore irrelevant. The evidence presented here makes a strong case for redressing that imbalance.

The United Nations, having reached its 50th anniversary, but facing formidable challenges, should have brighter prospects due to the availability of non-governmental organizations with significant exper-ience in creating trust, healing and reconciliation. With more than 100 armed conflicts in the world in any given year, and, as Edward Luttwak suggests in his Foreign Affairs article (July/Aug 1994), with the former Great Powers no longer able or willing to prevent or contain them, the time has come to reassess our role in the world.

If Samuel P. Huntington is right that the world of the future will be one of different coexisting civilizations, then the U.S. must gain an under-standing of the religions and cultures of those civilizations and the extent of their influence. We must stop dictating to other nations how they should act and concentrate on practicing here at home, and abroad, the democratic ideals we so love to proclaim to others. If we do this, our partnerships with the Asian nations can be beneficial to the entire world. If we don't, to echo Kipling, the dawn that comes up "outer China 'crost the bay" will be a thunderous one indeed.

* An oblique reference to the famous trio, "Tinker to Evers to Chance," all of whom are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.