IT sometimes seems that the U.S., like a man with an aching tooth, can think of nothing but Viet Nam. Man and nation begin to feel bad all over. But more detached historians could conclude that in the spring of 1967, the general state of the world is more promising than discouraging, more optimistic than gloomy. There is rapid, continuous change, and much of it is in the direction of hope and betterment.

One major factor is the altered character of the Communist challenge. By every indicator, Russia's two-headed leadership is cautious and conservative, having learned from the ignominious failure of Khrushchev's...

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