Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
THE end of the Cold War still seems to be so far away that there is a tendency to forget what great progress has been made in both the economic stability and the military security of the Western World since 1948 when the Communist coup in Prague and the Russian blockade of Berlin revealed the depth of the cleavage between East and West. To the American taxpayer, still supporting a vast program of foreign aid, it may seem that comparatively little has been accomplished, but to the people of Western Europe it appears that in less than five years the outlook has been transformed.
Economic recovery, so bountifully primed by Marshall Aid, has checked or curtailed the power of the local Communist parties, even in their great Western strongholds, France and Italy. Thus the threat of indirect aggression, on the pattern of Czechoslovakia, has undoubtedly diminished. The danger of direct attack has also declined since the creation of the North Atlantic Alliance made it clear that any aggressive move against any member of NATO would precipitate a world war. Moreover, during the past 18 months the military strength of the Western Powers in Germany has been so greatly increased that the Russians can no longer count on being able to overrun Western Europe in a lightning campaign with the forces at present stationed in the Soviet Zone of Germany. Finally, even though the Soviet Union has developed its own atomic bomb, the deterrent power of American atomic weapons is certainly as great as it was in 1948, and is probably greater now that the United States has proved its mastery of the scientific and industrial problems involved in the production of the far more terrifying hydrogen bomb.
These developments have made the Russians pause, and since 1950 they have been content to consolidate their gains in Europe and have concentrated on extending Communist power in Asia, either by proxy, as in Korea, or by insurrection, as in Indo-China and Malaya. It seems that the present Soviet leaders are most anxious to avoid becoming involved in a major conflict, but this should not be taken to mean that they have abandoned the hope of gaining control of Western Europe. The experience of the last 15 years indicates that Stalin and his colleagues are both persistent and patient in pursuit of their long-term objectives and that these differ from the traditional aims of the Tsars only in being more ambitious. During the Second World War, whether they were dealing with the Axis Powers or with the Western Allies, the Russians were quite consistent in their aims. They sought to acquire a defensive cushion of territory along their western borders, to gain access to warm water ports in the North Atlantic and the Yellow Sea, to secure a voice in the control of the Black Sea Straits, and to obtain a foothold on the Persian Gulf, which Molotov significantly described--in a telegram to Ribbentrop in November 1940--as the "center of the aspirations of the Soviet Union."
These aims were so consistently pursued during the war that the NATO Powers must act today on the assumption that the Russian leaders are still determined to achieve them and that the absence of any aggressive move west of the Iron Curtain since 1948 is evidence of a change only in tactics, not in ultimate purpose. The present Soviet policy appears to be to create the maximum tension and trouble short of war in the hope that the burden of rearmament will bring about an economic crisis which will undermine the unity of the North Atlantic Alliance and afford an opportunity for Communist penetration through political channels especially in France and Italy. This is a most dangerous policy, for as the rival camps become more heavily armed there will be a mounting danger that the tension will lead to war without either side deliberately seeking it. It is against this danger that the Western Powers must be constantly prepared, not only because the territory of the European members of NATO is directly threatened, but also because the Communist conquest of Western Europe--and its heavy industry--would turn the balance of world power overwhelmingly in favor of the Soviet Union.
II. EUROPE DECISIVE
As in the Second World War, therefore, Europe is the potentially decisive theater, the one area where defeat would be irrevocable since it would destroy the European foundations of the Atlantic Alliance. The Truman policy of giving priority to the defense of the Atlantic area seems to have been as sound strategically and politically as was President Roosevelt's insistence on "defeating Hitler first." During the last war the "pull to the Pacific" was very much stronger than was generally appreciated at the time and was due not merely to the natural desire of the United States to be avenged for Pearl Harbor, but also to the genuine doubt in the minds of the American Chiefs of Staff about the sincerity of Britain's support for the Second Front project which they regarded as the best and quickest means of defeating Germany.
Whatever the reasons, however, the diversion of American resources to the campaign against Japan appears now to have seriously impinged upon operations against Germany and to have delayed Hitler's final defeat. To take only one example: the shortage of landing craft was the most important factor in the planning calculations for the invasion of Normandy and it was so acute that the original intention of making simultaneous assaults in northern and southern France could not be carried out. The craft most urgently needed were LSTs (Landing-Ships, Tank). In June 1944, according to its own records, the U. S. Navy had 409 LSTs in service but it provided only 188 for the Normandy invasion. At the same time in the Pacific no fewer than 87 LSTs were employed in the assault upon the small island of Saipan garrisoned by only one Japanese division.
Today there are similar influences at work in the United States supporting a renewed "pull to the Pacific." On the one hand there is the desire to take a stronger line with Communist China and to end the running sore in Korea; on the other there is the belief that America's European allies are not doing all they should or could in their own defense. The result if one may judge from the Republican Party's election campaign and especially from the importance given to the Korean question has been to strengthen the hands of those who would give priority to the struggle against Communism in Asia and would curtail the flow of American aid to Europe. That may be an oversimplification but it is the conclusion which America's transatlantic partners have tended to draw from the campaign and its outcome. Here General Eisenhower is still regarded as Europe's staunch friend but many of his admirers have been dismayed by his apparent readiness to come to a compromise with members of his party who are known to disagree radically with him on issues of principle in foreign policy. On the Continent if not in Britain there is a sincere and widespread fear that he may be persuaded to concentrate on Asia at the expense of Europe and that the new Republican Administration will require America's European allies to undertake military burdens which will threaten their economic stability. Even with President Truman in the White House, the United States has been calling for European rearmament on a scale that the British and most other governments consider to be far beyond their means.
Any substantial reduction in American military or economic aid to Europe would have two consequences directly favorable to Russia. It would revive the danger of either internal or external aggression in Europe, according to whether priority were given to economic recovery or military preparedness; and it would prejudice the ability of Britain and France to continue their present considerable contributions to the struggle against Communist aggression outside Europe. The French have the equivalent of six divisions in Indo-China; the British have three divisions in the Far East and another three in the Middle East; but these forces can be maintained only if the Soviet threat to Britain and France in Europe is kept within measurable bounds. It seems, therefore, that an "Asia First" policy on the part of the United States would reduce rather than increase the chances of containing the spread of Communist power in the Far East and would mean, moreover, that almost the entire burden would have to be borne by America alone.
III. DEFENSE AGAINST DIRECT ATTACK
The main threat to Western Europe comes, of course, from the powerful Soviet forces in Eastern Germany. Here the Russians have 22 divisions (ten armored, eight mechanized, and four rifle) so deployed that they could launch an offensive at short notice provided that the units, now presumed to have 70 percent of their war strength, were first brought up to full establishment. At full strength these divisions would have some 5,000 tanks, of which more than 600 would be heavy "Joseph Stalins" to which the NATO armies have as yet no counterpart. These divisions are backed by a strong tactical air force with at least 5,000 aircraft, and as many more readily available as reinforcements. The majority of the fighter squadrons in Eastern Germany are already equipped with jets--including a considerable number of MIG 15s which have proved their worth in Korea--and the bomber squadrons are being reëquipped, though slowly it seems, with the Russians' equivalent of the British Canberra.
Apart from the conversion of the air force to jets the Russians do not appear to have reënforced their garrison in Eastern Germany to counter the build-up of NATO forces in the West, but they have converted the Bereitschaften, the German security forces, into heavily armed military units which now have the strength of a corps of three divisions. At the same time, they have greatly increased the strength and efficiency of the armies in the satellite states. On paper these countries now have 60 to 70 divisions and, though weak in trained officers, they are steadily becoming more battleworthy as they receive modern Russian equipment. In the event of war, it is unlikely that these satellite divisions would be employed offensively, but they would be very useful for the protection of the Red Army's lines of communication and its exposed flanks on the Baltic and in the Balkans. Since there are probably another 60 active divisions in White Russia, and the Ukraine, the Soviet garrison in Eastern Germany could be reinforced more quickly and more heavily than could the NATO armies in the West.
Although the Russians still possess ample power to conquer Western Europe if war should break out, they no longer have the necessary margin of superiority in the balance of forces in Germany to make a successful attack without substantially reënforcing their garrison in the Soviet Zone. In Western Germany there are now the equivalent of 18 NATO divisions (six American, five French, four British, and two Belgian, plus Canadian, Norwegian and Danish brigades amounting to another division). In reserve, though not in Germany, there are a further half-dozen French, Belgian and Dutch divisions available at short notice though these could be employed only in a static rôle. The divisions in Germany are supported by a tactical air force of some 1,800 jet aircraft, not counting the resources of R.A.F. Fighter Command operating from bases in Britain. Few of the NATO squadrons are yet equipped with the most modern jet fighters, but they are likely to have a very considerable advantage over the Russians in the experience of their operational command and the efficiency of their system of control.
These forces, aided as they would be by strong support from American and British strategic bombers, should be sufficient to deny the Soviet leaders the temptation of an easy victory. They could fight a valuable delaying action even though they could not be expected to defeat the armies that Russia could bring to bear against them. Their greatest handicap lies not so much in the limitations of their numerical strength as in the lack of a strong natural defensive position east of the Rhine to provide the necessary depth for armored manœuvre and for the deployment of tactical air forces. This lack of depth is NATO's greatest strategic problem in Western Europe, for the experience of the Second World War emphasizes the importance of having adequate room for manœuvre especially in defense against the Red Army.
The European campaigns of 1940-45 provide two significant lessons in this respect. First, a powerful enemy breakthrough on the Rhine cannot be checked short of the Channel if there is no strong mobile force in reserve. This was proved by the Germans in 1940 and was revealed again in reverse by the Allies in 1944 after their break-out from Normandy. Secondly, in dealing with the Soviet preponderance in numbers, the defenders must be free to yield ground in order both to cushion the assault and to canalize the thrusts so that they become vulnerable to counterattack by armor and air power. One of the main reasons for the failure of the Germans to hold the Russians on the Eastern Front in the last two years of the war was Hitler's insistence that his troops must hold every yard of ground. This rigid strategy allowed the Russians to exploit to the full their advantage in numbers and prevented the Germans exploiting the bounty of space which they had acquired by their conquests. Today, for different reasons, the NATO forces would be obliged to adopt a strategy almost as rigid. Militarily they have not the depth in Western Europe to enable them to yield sufficient ground to absorb the shock of a Russian offensive, and politically they have an obligation to defend the national territory of all members of the alliance. Thus the strategy imposed on NATO by geographical and political factors is not necessarily the best method either of frustrating a Soviet attack, or of ensuring the defense of any one area.
Owing to the difficulty of reconciling the different elements in this strategic problem, the various national commanders in Germany did not find it easy to reach agreement about the way the defensive battle should be fought if Russia were to attack. The French suggestion--no doubt a revulsion from the Maginot Line concept--was that the NATO forces should adopt a policy of mobile defense. Since the Allies were sure to be outnumbered, the French argued, they should fight a series of delaying actions from one river-line to the next, avoiding any decisive battle until the Red Army had outrun its administrative resources, and relying on Allied air power to accelerate the process of logistic exhaustion. The Americans, on the other hand, were bent upon holding a continuous front along some major obstacle such as the Rhine. They spoke of defense in depth by a series of mutually supporting localities, and accordingly they called for a faster and greater build-up of ground forces, especially infantry, to hold the line.
The British were reluctant to accept either of these views. They felt that the American policy meant maintaining in Germany more forces than the Allies could afford economically; and that the French plan would mean yielding more territory than the Allies could afford politically, since neither the Dutch nor the Germans could be expected to fight with enthusiasm if their homelands were to be sacrificed. The British proposed, therefore, that the NATO armies must be prepared to stand and fight on ground of their own choosing as far east as possible, but must not try to hold this ground with a continuous belt of defenses. The French attempt to avoid decisive action might result in a retreat to the Pyrenees; the American attempt to hold a line in depth might lead to the Allied forces being destroyed in detail. The British solution was that the NATO Powers must maintain in Germany sufficient armored and mechanized divisions to hold the Russians off long enough for the reserve infantry divisions to be mobilized and established in defensive positions organized as self-supporting strongholds. These bastions, they argued, would serve both as breakwaters to check and channel the Soviet advance, and as bases of manœuvre from which the armored divisions, having pulled back without becoming too deeply involved, might deliver a telling counterstroke.
This British concept was given a practical test during the 1952 manœuvres in north-west Germany. Before this exercise, Marshal Juin, C-in-C, Allied Land Forces, Central Europe, had been rather skeptical, but in summing up the results he told a conference of senior officers: "This is a good solution because it enables you to get the best out of both the static and the mobile forces." It seems now that this plan will become the basis of NATO strategy in Western Europe; but, if it is to be successfully applied, there must be certain changes in the character and composition of the Allied forces in Germany. The plan promises to be cheaper in terms of mobilized manpower but more expensive in terms of modern equipment and especially armor, for the first essential is to maintain east of the Rhine in peacetime sufficient armored and mechanized divisions to fight the covering action and to gain time for the mobilization of the infantry reserves.
Of the 18 NATO divisions in Germany today, only eight are armored, but at least twice as much armor will be required if the Russians are to be checked without the NATO Powers having to maintain the mass of infantry divisions which would be needed to hold a continuous line. This requirement leads in turn to two more: 1, the earliest mobilization of the 12 divisions which the German Federal Republic is expected to contribute to the European Army; and 2, the continued provision by the United States of the tanks and other items of heavy armament which the European countries cannot produce for themselves. These can be provided only under the Mutual Security Program either directly from American production or indirectly under the offshore procurement scheme, as in the case of the 500 British Centurion tanks recently ordered by the United States for Holland and Denmark.
At the same time it is equally important that a greater effort should be made on the Continent and in Britain to create reserve divisions which can be brought in to hold the infantry bastions. At present there are not sufficient reserves for this task and there is no indication that they can be made available--at an adequate standard of training and equipment--before 1954. The weakness of the reserve forces is chiefly due--so far as the smaller Continental countries are concerned--to the shortage of trained officers and NCOs, and this results partly from their lack of war experience and partly from their reluctance or inability to create a substantial professional cadre. This problem is not easily solved, especially in countries like Holland and Norway which have a strong anti-militarist tradition and a national dislike for giving the professional soldier a fair reward compared with what he could command in civil life. Yet the reserves must be found if the covering forces are to check a Soviet advance while there is still enough depth for effective defense.
It is this need for strategic depth which makes it so important that Western Germany should be incorporated into the defense structure of Western Europe. How this may or should be brought about politically--whether through the European Defense Community or by direct German membership in NATO--lies outside the scope of this article. Militarily, however, the need for substantial German contribution is clear, since the Allied Chiefs of Staff insist that the security of Western Europe, including Italy, calls for the maintenance of at least 50 to 60 active divisions, and the greater proportion of these must be stationed east of the Rhine. Since the occupation of Western Germany is virtually ended, a new relationship must be established, and the only basis which provides an effective counter to the Soviet offer of German unity seems to be that of partnership with the West.
This means, of course, the acceptance of the division of Germany as a political fact. The Soviet Union will never agree to German unification on terms which would allow a united Germany to belong to the Atlantic Alliance. Nor could the Western Powers accept German unification on conditions which would mean the withdrawal of all foreign troops from German soil and the creation of a nominally neutral Germany, as the Soviet Union has repeatedly proposed. Strategically, the Russians could afford to withdraw from the Elbe to the Oder, but Western Europe would be indefensible if the NATO forces had to be stationed west of the Rhine. Quite apart from the loss of depth, the withdrawal of the Allied garrison from Western Germany would create the risk that the Russians might gain control of Germany by an internal coup, and, even if this should happen, there would be the constant danger that a united Germany would make an alliance with the Soviet Union in return for a revision of her eastern frontier.
Although these considerations lend strong support to the case for reestablishing German military forces in close association with NATO, it must be recognized that the governments and peoples of Western Europe accept this policy with reluctance and misgiving. Their cautious approach is due not only to a rightful hatred of German militarism but also to the fear that a rearmed Germany might involve the West in war with the Soviet Union in the hope of recovering the lost German territories in Eastern Europe. In the case of the French, there is the further suspicion that as soon as German divisions are available the United States will want to withdraw American ground troops from Europe. Accordingly, any unilateral initiative by the United States to rearm Western Germany--in the event of the E.D.C. Treaty not being ratified--and to treat her as an ally outside NATO would be bound to cause a serious breach within the Alliance. In that event the gain in military depth would be offset by a weakening in political cohesion. But whatever the fate of the E.D.C. plan, it is already clear that no substantial German contribution to the defense of the West will be available before 1954. In the meantime the lack of adequate depth and strength on the central front makes it the more necessary for NATO to develop the positions it holds on the flanks of the Soviet Empire.
IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FLANKS
One of the decisive factors in favor of the Western Allies during the Second World War was the command they gained of the sea and air. This gave them the advantage of being able to threaten Axis-held territory from many different quarters. The strategic result was that Germany and Japan were compelled to keep their forces widely dispersed defensively, with the further consequence that after 1942 they could not concentrate at any one point the power necessary to gain an offensive victory or even to frustrate an amphibious invasion. In contrast to their aggressive mobility in the early years of the war, they became strategically immobile once they were eclipsed in the air and at sea, for they were then prisoners of their own conquests.
The flexibility provided by air and naval power was employed to better advantage--so far as the United States was concerned --in the Pacific campaigns than it was in the war against Germany. In the Pacific, Admiral Nimitz's bold penetrations and General MacArthur's skilful "island-hopping" proved the value of the indirect approach and the surprise move. In Europe, however, where the army not the navy was the predominant service, American strategy both before and after the invasion of Normandy was more conventional and direct. Here the policy of the American High Command--and especially of General Marshall --was to defeat Germany by overwhelming power, not by subtle manoeuvre. Consequently, General Marshall advocated from the outset a head-on assault across the Channel into France and he grew impatient with the British in their determination to expose Germany's southern flank before attempting to attack her western front. In this respect the British strategy eventually prevailed--with the broad result that, before the cross-Channel invasion began, Hitler was obliged to deploy as many divisions in southern Europe as he had in the West, and the German reserves which might have defeated the Normandy invasion were pinned down on the Mediterranean front.
In the present situation the Western Allies must again exploit the capability that sea and air power give them for exposing the enemy's flanks, since they can never hope to match the strength of the Russian ground forces in the main theater. In applying its strategy of containment, the NATO High Command must maintain pressure or the threat of pressure in northern and southern Europe if it is to limit the concentration of Soviet forces for a campaign in Central Europe. Hence the importance of Norway and Denmark on the one hand, and of Greece and Turkey on the other.
The northern flank has a special significance, for it protects the supply lines by which the NATO armies in Western Europe are maintained. It is now assumed at SHAPE that the Russians have built a large number--some intelligence estimates place it as high as 300--of the most modern submarines, developed from the revolutionary electro-U-boats which the Germans started producing in the last year of the war. These craft have an underwater speed greater than that of most merchantmen and they seldom need to come to the surface. They are thus extremely difficult to counter once they reach the open sea. The best answer is to "bottle them in," to prevent them debouching from the Baltic and the Barents Sea, but this remedy can be applied only if Norway and Denmark remain in Allied hands.
The Scandinavian flank plays an equally important rôle in the defense of Britain and the Atlantic ports of Europe against attack from the air. Russian bombers, following a Great Circle course from their bases in the Leningrad-Moscow area to London, would pass over southern Norway. To cover this northern approach effectively the NATO Powers need fighter airfields and radar stations in Scandinavia. So far, however, the Norwegian Government has refused to permit other members of NATO to station military forces or to maintain operational establishments in Norway in peacetime. This policy, which originated from an assurance given to the Soviet Union in 1949 when the Atlantic Alliance was formed, is liberally interpreted and does not prevent Norway from preparing bases for NATO forces to use during manœuvres or in the event of war. The Norwegians argue, however, that if Allied air squadrons were permanently based in Norway, the Soviet Union would extend its bases in northern Russia and might demand the right to use airfields in Finland. Although this caution is understandable politically, it is unrealistic militarily. The Norwegians cannot provide for their own defense, and if war were to break out it would be some weeks before any substantial reinforcements could reach Norway. Last year's large-scale manœuvres in Scandinavian waters (Exercise Mainbrace) were designed to reassure the Norwegians and Danes that their allies would and could come to their aid with considerable air and naval strength, but it also indicated that this aid could not be provided quickly enough to save their countries from invasion, unless stronger forces were stationed there ready to provide air protection and to fight a covering action on the ground.
The main weakness of the Scandinavian flank is the extreme vulnerability of its southern hinge in Schleswig-Holstein, for this cannot be protected until the Allied armies now in Western Germany are reinforced by German divisions. This is one reason why the Norwegian and Danish Governments have accepted the policy of rearming the Germans, but in return for supporting this policy they are likely to insist that a strong German force must be allocated to defend the neck of the Schleswig-Holstein Peninsula. In the far north of Norway the outlook is more promising. As in 1945, when the Russians pursued the Germans out of Finland, the lack of good roads would very strictly curtail the size of the force the Red Army could employ, and the Norwegians have a strong defensive position north of Narvik which they are confident of holding provided that their flanks are protected by Allied air and naval forces on the one side and by the Swedish army on the other.
Sweden remains neutral, but she is not so aloof from her Western neighbors as she was when they first joined the Atlantic Alliance, and there is no doubt that the Swedes will fight if their neutrality is violated by the Soviet Union. This provides an additional reason for the Western Allies to strengthen their foothold in Scandinavia. Sweden has a formidable air force, ranked in numbers and efficiency after the forces of the Soviet Union, the United States and Britain. The Swedes have no fewer than 50 front-line squadrons, equipped with at least 800 jet aircraft, and these include several hundred of the Swedish designed and built J-29s, which are recognized as being in the same class as the American F-86s and the Russian MIG 15s. Such a strong air force deployed on the northern flank of the main Russian armies in Eastern Germany provides a threat which the Soviet High Command would be reluctant to ignore. This threat must already be causing the diversion of a considerable amount of Russian air power, but in war it would remain alive only so long as the Western Allies were in a position to help Sweden defend her air bases.
The other NATO flank, in Southern Europe, is not perhaps of such direct importance for the protection of the Allied forces in Central Europe, but it offers much greater opportunities for compelling the Russians to disperse their forces defensively. The extension of the Atlantic Alliance to embrace Greece and Turkey was a diplomatic move of great military consequence. At one stroke it brought the Western Allies closer to the great Caucasian oilfields than the Wehrmacht ever came in 18 months of costly attack, and the diversionary influence of this development is being enhanced by the construction of a strategic road from Alexandretta in the Eastern Mediterranean across Turkey in the direction of the Caucasus.
With Turkey and Greece incorporated in NATO, and with Jugoslavia hostile to the Soviet Union and inclining towards the West, it seems fair to say that at least half the satellite forces in Eastern Europe would have to be used to safeguard the Red Army's southern flank in wartime. The impact of these developments on Soviet policy is already apparent. In rebuilding and reequipping the satellite armies the Russians have given priority to Bulgaria, even to the extent of providing her with some "Joseph Stalin" heavy tanks, the most valuable equipment in the Soviet armory. The need for this priority is clear: the Greeks have eight active divisions and the Turks are steadily building up to a strength of 16 infantry divisions and half a dozen armored brigades. By the standards of Western Europe those are substantial forces, for these two countries between them have more divisions in the field than SHAPE has in Germany. They are neither so well trained nor so well equipped, but they are very much closer to areas the Russians must defend. As in the Second World War, therefore, the Mediterranean affords the Western Allies the opportunity of distracting strong enemy forces away from the potentially decisive battle in the main theater.
V. PROBLEMS OF COMMAND
The strengthening of the flanks and of the NATO forces in Germany during the last two years has made the strategy of containment very much more practicable, but America's superiority in atomic power is probably the greatest deterrent to further Soviet expansion in Europe and it may offer the only means of gaining a decisive victory in a "hot war." In that case the NATO forces at the disposal of SHAPE could do little more than hold the ring, while the U.S. Strategic Air Command endeavored to deliver a knock-out blow by attacking the main Soviet centers of population and production with atomic weapons.
The necessity for employing the atom bomb in reply to Soviet aggression is generally accepted by America's allies, but in Britain and on the Continent there is strong support for the view that the decision to use it should be a NATO decision and should not be taken by the United States Government acting alone. The resources, and the ultimate responsibility, are America's, but Russian retaliation is more likely to be directed at Britain and France than at the United States, since American strategic bombers operate from British and French bases. Because they are so exposed to counterattack, America's principal partners have a right to be closely consulted before atomic warfare is initiated, but at present there seems to be no agreement regarding the method by which the decision is to be taken, nor any assurance that the NATO Council will have a chance to intervene.
During the Second World War the American and British strategic air forces operated under the control of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, but today these forces are not subject to any Allied jurisdiction exercised through the NATO High Command. Control rests entirely with the Governments of the United States and Britain. It is right that it should remain on the highest political level, since aircraft carrying atomic bombs cannot be regarded merely as military instruments, but there is reason to argue that this of all decisions should be endorsed by all members of the alliance, or at least by Britain and France. The natural reluctance of America's allies to entrust this decision to the United States is supported by the impression, which developed during the Second World War, that American military leaders are given too much discretion by their political superiors and are not accustomed to take account of the political consequences of their strategic decisions. This impression was reënforced during 1952 by the Yalu bombing episode which revealed an alarming failure in effective consultation not only between the Allies in Korea but also between the Pentagon and the State Department in Washington.
The question of the employment of atomic weapons raises a further command problem which has not yet been solved. As Supreme Commander in Europe, General Ridgway controls no strategic air forces, but it is presumed that he would be able to call upon their support in an emergency and that atom bombs would be used tactically in direct support of the land battle. In that rôle the aircraft carrying atomic bombs would be employed under the operational control of SHAPE and plans for their employment must be made accordingly. At present, however, this planning cannot proceed on a NATO basis, because American security restrictions forbid General Ridgway to discuss even with Field Marshal Montgomery or Marshal Juin the operational implications of the use of the tactical atomic weapons which the United States has developed. Thus a vital phase of military planning has to be carried out solely by American staff officers even though non-American troops are directly concerned with the outcome. General Bradley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has recently proposed that the McMahon Act should be amended so that the senior Allied commanders in Europe could know what atomic weapons will be available to them in wartime and what the potentialities of these weapons are. Without that information, much of the planning now going on at SHAPE and in the subordinate commands is unrealistic and may well be unnecessary.
The development of greater understanding and closer coöperation with regard to the employment of atomic power is perhaps the most important internal problem facing NATO today. Unless the Alliance can develop the mutual confidence necessary to solve this problem it is unlikely to achieve full success in its military purpose and there will be little chance of its expanding politically into a wider Atlantic Community.