Time Essay: Red Star over Europe: Threat or Chimera?

Communism has sometimes succeeded as a scavenger, but never as a leader. It has never come to power in any country that was not disrupted by war, internal repression or both.

—John F. Kennedy, July 2,1963

It is doubtful that an American President could confidently make that kind of statement today. In a handful of European countries, Communist parties are approaching the threshold of political power—not at the barrel of a Soviet cannon but in open and free elections. As a result, the specter of a Communist presence in Western Europe is stirring more concern and debate than at any time since the...

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