The growing season

Among men and nations as on the broad grain fields this is the season of growing, not of action. A lot of things are maturing in ways which will affect some future harvest, but none can yet be sure whether the harvest will be full or short.

In American politics Walter Mondale is groping for a vice-presidential running mate, and Ronald Reagan has decided that he would like to talk to someone from the Kremlin after all.

But the election in November is not going to turn on whether Mr. Mondale chooses a woman or Mr. Reagan is popularly believed to want truly to talk to Mr. Chernenko.

It is going to turn largely on whether the latest economic indicators - still on the positive side - are an accurate or misleading forecast of where the US economy will be as the voters trudge off to the polls.

In world affairs it is remarkable how many old problems are being left more or less alone to mature in their own natural way. The most obvious is Lebanon where there is still fighting in the streets of Beirut, but a cabinet made up of all of the factions has been meeting daily and working away at arrangements which may someday give Lebanon a form of government representative of the elements in the population.

Next door in Israel a lot of thinking is going on and a lot of maturing. The government has actually put on trial 22 Israeli citizens accused of terrorist acts against Arabs. A few Israelis are shocked at the idea that there is anything punishable about use of terrorism against Arabs. But the government is acting on the contrary assumption that Arabs too have rights in Israel.

The trial itself is an essential first step if someday Israel is to move toward reconciliation with the Palestinians. The trial did not happen while Menachem Begin was prime minister. It has happened now and it is symptomatic of much rethinking of Israel's future relations with its Arab neighbors.

Also in that same part of the world the lull continues in the Iraq-Iran war. Shelling of town and cities has largely ceased. There is still no sign of the long predicted Iranian offensive. The war seems to be dwindling down. Time changes perceptions about wars.

Perhaps Ayatollah Khomeini has encountered resistance to the idea of sending waves of old men and children against the trained and entrenched professionals of the Iraqi army.

In Europe there is much thinking going on about its form and organization. The movement towards European unity is stalled in all three departments - military, political and economic. Most of the European members of NATO, Britain excepted, are short on their goal of increasing their conventional armed forces by 3 percent a year, in real terms. The European parliament at Strasbourg is a debating society devoid of real power. The Common Market is a long way from being a true common market and is slipping rather than advancing toward the goal.

Yet Europe yearns to be independent both of the Soviet Union and of the US. And it could be. If, by a regained urge to unity, it could truly unite it could be the greatest single power on earth. The resources of Western Europe combined would exceed the resources of either the Soviet Union or the United States in almost every important respect except for oil and acreage.

Western Europe could defend itself, if it chose to make the effort. Washington gave it a nudge in that direction last week. The Senate debated the idea, proposed by Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, to pull 30,000 US troops out of Europe each year for three years beginning in 1987 unless the Europeans ''shape up.'' He did not expect it to pass. He wanted to nudge the Europeans. He did.

The episode is bound to stimulate the idea of more independence among the Europeans. The idea is there and could grow depending on human elements which can be as variable as rain and sunshine.

And what of Moscow? The Soviets are back in a new-old season of isolationism. But ideas sprout and grow even inside the Kremlin. We have no way yet to estimate that harvest.

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