THE AMERICAN PROSCENIUMnTransatlantic ChatsnIn January the Committee for the FreenWorld held a conference in Washington,nD.C. at which debaters from both sidesnof the Atlantic pondered our commonnpresent dangers. The CFW is a worthynoutfit dedicated to the restoration of rationalitynin an age of neoscholasticism,nwhen dogmas determine intellectual effortsnrather than vice versa. The generalntheme of the meeting could be describednas a two-day divagation on the Atlanticnalliance—its instrumentality, logic andnmystique. Fifteen distinguished Europeansn(among them Jean-Francois Revel,nLudwig Graf von Stauffenberg, LuiginBarzini and Lord Chalfont) confrontednfifteen assertive Americans (amongnthem, well, Irving Kristol) on those elusivenmatters. There was plenty of Europeanncharm and sophistication of thoughtncast against American bluntness, andnbeautifully conceived European relativismncollided with the made-in-Americanconcoction of idealism cum tenacity.nAmericans were concerned with recentnmanifestations of anti-Americanism innthe European peace movement; the Europeansntried to explain that actuallynAmerica is not hated but loved on thenContinent. Both sides complained aboutnunilateralism, isolationism and neutralismnas ideological forces that could wreckneverything, from NATO to Western civilization.nA British social democratnwarned that there are people in Europenwho live and think in accordance withnnew values which prompt them to benvery, very critical of America. But henfailed to explain what those new valuesnare—whether they free people from gastricndistress, or from the threat of Sovietntotalitarianism—thereby reinforcing ournsuspicion that there does exist such anthing as timeless values whose rewardsnare perhaps best exemplified by freedomnand good digestion. Mr. Barzini, in finenMediterranean tradition, presented thenworld, life, politics and military preparednessnas a lovable mess. Some Germansnclaimed that the blue-jeaned and American-rock-singingnthrongs prove the inconsequentialnessnof the peace movement,nbut this is an old-hat argument; itnproves only that American cultural imperialismnis a fiasco which has degeneratedninto sleazy syncretism. Americanncredibility suffered a blow when a certainnMr. Sonnenfeldt, a stalwart of Nixo-nKissingerian detente, blithely announcednthat their policy had contributednto the “devolution,” “dilution”nand “destabilization” of East Europeannsatellite regimes. None of the Europeansnwas discourteous enough to give Mr.nSonnenfeldt a well-deserved raspberry.nWe listened in bcmusement to thentournament of ideas. There was muchntalk about war between the superpowersn—something we dare to doubt. Russiandoes not need ail-out war; it needs onlynVietnams, Angolas, El Salvadors—nsmall, effective showdowns in which thenWest, diluted and destabilized by thenScreen Actors Guild, peace marchers, etnal., has no chance. In a perverse way, thenconvulsively hateful crowds in Amsterdamnand Bonn who chant anti-Americannobscenities are correctly sensing Russia’sncontrived nonbelligerency and America’sndesperate inability to unravel thenmonstrous lie by any means other thannone great, final battle. European pacifismnand the demise of NATO seem tonus to be the inevitable consequencesnof America’s catastrophic ignorance ofnthe nature of communist power. Thenroots of our fallacies go very deep, andnthe blame can be evenly distributednamong Yale, Cambridge, Sorbonne, LenMonde, New York Times, Hollywoodnand the Old Vic.nApropos of the Times, or the Post, ornany other organ of enlightened Americannopinion which basks in the FirstnnnAmendment and to which Fidel Castronowes so much: with the exception of reportingnon official (Professor Rostow,nAmbassador Kirkpatrick) or semiofficialn(Professor Kissinger) utterances, thosenvoices of liberal decency and fairness werenperfectly mum on the subject of thenCFW conference. No reporting, no newsnfit to print, not one word about the firstratennames of men and women whoncould have said openly that the peacenmovement in Europe stinks, that suicidalnimbecility, politely called appeasementnor Chamberlainery and propped up withndirty Russian money, is once again antenportas, and that the bomb is ticking.nPresident Reagan’s ChoicesnEver since his inauguration, we havenexpressed forebodings about Mr. Reagan’snchoice of entourage and style. Wenare sorry to say that the correctness of ournpremonitions has exceeded our earliernfears. Judging from the way things looknat this point in Mr. Reagan’s adminisuation,nand from the current White Housenambiance, we are witnessing tendenciesnwhich may have catastrophic dimensions.nMr. Reagan may prove to be morendestructive to what we call the conservativenorientation than anyone before him.nThe departure of Lyn Nofziger and MartinnAnderson from his immediate circlenof power, though not politically andnpractically fateful, transgresses basicnprinciples of personnel management andnproves that even relatively simple conservativenand libertarian influences maynbe excluded from the image of allegedlynconservative policy-making.nThe disaster goes much deeper. Mr.nReagan seems not to understand thatnmodern conservatism, like modern liberalism,nis an intellectual and spiritualnproposition—its strength lies precisely innits freedom from trivial political pragmatism.nThe President has surrounded himselfnwith Republican managers whosencleverness can be tested only on the levelnof smart political moves and shallow administrativenvictories. Intellectually andn•45nMay/June 198Sn