Peaceful Coexistence

November 26, 1954

Report Outline
Debate Over Concept of Peaceful Coexistence
Coexistence in Pattern of Soviet Diplomacy
Tests of Coexistence in the Atomic Age

Debate Over Concept of Peaceful Coexistence

Recent international developments, combined with growing realization of the terrible consequences of atomic and hydrogen warfare, have been thrusting the term “peaceful coexistence” into almost every discussion of relations between the free and Communist worlds. A lengthy series of Soviet overtures has led western governments to re-examine their estimates of Communist intentions and review their own foreign policy positions. At the same time, the West is pressing ahead with plans for speedy ratification of the London and Paris accords on European security, while the Kremlin continues to issue warnings against German rearmament. Each side is keeping up its guard, but each hopes to find ways of avoiding general war and ultimately modeling the world to its own design.

Different Meanings of Coexistence in East and West

The phrase “peaceful coexistence” conveys different meanings to Communist and non-Communist nations. To the people of the Soviet Union it connotes a more or less temporary balance between the opposing forces of capitalism and Communism, which ultimately, according to Marxian doctrine, are bound to come into mortal conflict. Soviet leaders have used the term for years as a propaganda slogan to persuade foreign nations of their peaceful intentions at times when they sought to avoid, or postpone, a premature conflict. The slogan is being used today by both Russia and Red China to advance the new Communist peace offensive.

The idea of coexistence has various shades of meaning in the non-Communist world. To some writers and statesmen it represents the only alternative to atomic war; to others it conveys the idea of appeasement or surrender to Communist threats. In Asia the phrase has been taken up by Prime Minister Nehru of India, who has called coexistence the only alternative to “codestruction.” In the West, the concept has been given currency by Prime Minister Churchill in connection with his pleas for a cool appraisal of Soviet purposes and an eventual meeting between leaders of the Soviet Union and the western powers.

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