upper left. Mrs. Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel.
upper right: Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of West Germany.
lower left: Elliott Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada.
lower right: Richard Nixon, a President in trouble.
by Alan West
In times of crisis, the people of the world often look to strong leaders to assure them that everything is going to be alright.
Usually citizens of the Western democracies can take heart from the observation that these governments remain stable, even through periods of great stress.
But something worrisome appears to be happening to those democracies this year, and those who look for strong leaders to reassure them must be feeling highly insecure.
For 1974 has seen a rash of governments which toppled and leaders who died or left office through unforseen circumstances. A few examples of the ones who didn't survive:
In London, a February strike of 269,000 English coal miners brought such a crisis that Prime Minister Edward Heath called a general election for the country. When he failed to win a clear majority, Heath resigned and his predecessor, Harold Wilson, returned to office.
In France, President Georges Pompidou died on April 2, after weeks of speculation on his failing health. The death of Charles de Gaulle's successor led to the election of Valery Giscard d'Estaing, a virtual unknown outside of France.
A scandal in the West German government, triggered by the discovery that one of Chancellor Willy Brandt's top aides had been a communist spy, led to Brandt's abrupt resignation in early May. He named Finance, Minister Helmut Schmidt to take his place.
Nobel prize winner Brandt's departure shocked the world. It means that the men who had inherited the mantle of leadership from three of Europe's giants - De Gaulle, Winston Churchhill and Konrad Adenauer - had left the scene.
Heath, Pompidou and Brandt, it was noted, had worked together to create the nine nation European Economic Community. Their exeunt led to uncertainty as to whether that bond of closeness would still continue to grow.
Surprises have visited other Western capitals as well. And the destiny of dictatorships, as well as democracies, has been affected.
One of the most shocking developments came in December when an explosion on a Madrid street killed Spanish Adm. Luis Carrero Blanco, the man that aging Gen. Franco had chosen as heir to power. A Basque group claimed responsibility for the killing which led to Franco's appointment of a civilian, Interior Minister Carlos Arias Navvaro, in the dead man's place.
Then, on April 25th, a military coup ended the 42 year old dictatorship in Portugal. A seven man junta unta ran the country until Gen. Antonio de Spinola took over in the middle of May as president. He in turn named lawyer Palmas Carlos to run the country as premier.
Meanwhile, other democratic governments have suffered traumas as well. Most recently, Italian Premier Mariano Rumor's government collapsed. His coalition had only been in power since the middle of March.
In addition, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau saw his minority government defeated by a hostile parliament in May. He'll have to win a majority from the nation's voters in an upcoming election to remain in office.
Many other lands face unstable situations. Among them: Sweden, Norway. Denmark, Iceland, Belgium and Australia. Inflation is cited as a factor in the difficulties faced by many of those nation's leaders.
Of course, Israel has changed leaders in recent months. Mrs, Golda Meir has stepped down and her successor, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is having a hard time putting together his new cabinet
This is a time when many of these nations would like to look toward the United States for a feeling of stability. This can never be the case as long as Richard Nixon's future remains in doubt.
The House of Representatives is expected to decide sometime this summer whether Nixon shall become the second President in American history to face impeachment and *** … missing words ***
Possibly the only world statesman currently accepting global respect is Henry Kissinger, the American Secretary of State. Successfully staying above the Watergate scandal, Kissinger won world-wide acclaim by putting together the recent Israeli-Syrian ceasefire pact.
But even Kissinger has had his headaches recently. Angered by charges that he played an improper role in the surveillance of government aides and newsmen during a period when government secrets were being leaked to the press, Kissinger threatened in June to resign unless such claims were laid to rest.
All of these are scary developments if one must have a strong father figure to cling to But, added up, they could be just one more step toward that day when all men and women will look inside themselves for true peace.
The humble soy bean, long used as animal fodder in the U.S., may in the future liberate animals from human consumption. The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization expects soy bean production to increase by two thirds by 1985. Rising meat prices and increased world-wide demand for cheap protein sources are given as reasons for this increase in soy bean production. Meat consumption in the U.S. dropped about 10 percent since 1971. The FAO is attempting a global approach to coordinate food supplies as drought in Africa's Sahelian Zone continues and decreased crops are expected for India, Southeast Asia and Latin America. FAO officials are urging developed nations to increase soy bean output for export to food-short nations.
The Hare Krishna movement has gone political. Recently a Divine Times staff member was stopped on the street by a bewigged Krishna devotee dressed in civies. He spoke against corruption in government and offered a copy of their new newspaper, The New World Harmonist. The Harmonist is the mouthpiece of the newly founded In God We Trust Party for Purified Leaders. The party is anti-communist, prescribes a strict moral code for all politicians, advocates the caste system for American schools and recommends chanting the non-sectarian names of God.
The Federal Energy Administration has discovered that the recently printed gas rationing coupons work in dollar-to-coin changing machines. Like the one dollar bill, the coupons are engraved with George Washington's likeness. Officials said there are no immediate plans to change the coupons.
Want to leave this realm of maya in elegance? Kane Kwei of West Africa designs burial coffins to suit your style. Current designs range from replicas of a jet plane, to a Mercedes-Benz, a giant cocoa-pod or how about a whale?
April 30 was declared "National Day of Prayer"' by the United States Senate in response to a proposal by Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield. Hatfield said that the American people because of their "corruption and waste have helped to create a moral abyss that produces a disdain for honesty and humility in high levels of national leadership." He sees America as "torn apart and lacking a spiritual foundation which would restore its purpose and vision." The proclamation passed by the legislators called for Americans to "humble themselves before Almighty God, confess their national sins and pray for clemency and forgiveness."