In the QIAR work, we were asked by the AFSC to attend the International Peace Council conference in Warsaw, Poland -- as Quaker observers, not participants. Briefly, the national Peace Councils in the East were virtual annexes of their countries' foreign ministries. In the Western countries, they were made up of communists and communist sympathizers. Nevertheless, they were an important aspect of the Cold War, and the AFSC was therefore interested in them.

At that conference I ran into Baron Allard, whom I had met the previous year at a somewhat similar peace conference in Brussels. He informed me that he had just returned from China, where he had spent two months visiting officials. I asked him, "Can you explain for me the Chinese point of view toward the West and toward the Soviet Union?" At that time, the Chinese Communist Government was at its high point in paranoia, not only extremely hostile toward the West, but also toward the USSR. He responded that he had prepared a thirty-page analysis of the Chinese attitude, and he gave me a copy. It was in French, but I was able to manage understanding it and felt that his analysis was very helpful in answering my question.

The very next morning, I put it to good use. I should explain that all attenders of the conferences were lodged in two of the best hotels in Warsaw. As elsewhere in Europe, the custom in the dining room was to have large tables where perfect strangers could seat themselves on any vacant seats, no matter who was occupying the others. At breakfast, Peg and I sat at an empty table, and soon we were joined by two Peace Council members from Argentina.They were both Communists, and one was a Catholic priest. We introduced ourselves as we sorted out languages. I was able to speak Spanish with one of them, but Peg had a harder job. She does not speak Spanish, and the priest did not speak any of Peg's possible languages -- English. German, French, Italian, Dutch. So Peg and the priest had a somewhat limited conversation -- in Latin!

Peg and the priest had a hard time of it, but made out somehow. Meanwhile, Roland went bravely ahead trying to explain to an Argentine Communist in Spanish the position of China toward the Soviet Union, which he had read in French from Baron Allard's report.

We avoided the American Peace Council people, but though Communists and sympathizers, they seemed a nice bunch. They arranged to spend an evening conversing with the head of the Chinese delegation, and kindly invited us to join them, which we did. They maintained an obsequious attitude toward the Chinese official -- everything that China did was right, and everything the U.S. did was wrong. It was a most interesting session for Peg and me, but we found the Americans disgusting.

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