Détente through Firmness


SOME 15 years ago the editor of this journal wrote that "the present risk of war seems to me to come chiefly from allowing the world to continue in a twilight zone where one side assumes that collective security exists and the other counts on taking advantage of the fact that it does not."[i] At that time, the United Nations had disappointed many people in their belief that the provisions of the Charter, and in particular the powers attributed to the Security Council, would not only be a means of bringing the world powers together around the conference table but would also help to create the collective instrument of a U.N. Force which would be able to bring to bear the wish of all mankind for peace.

At that time-some 15 years ago and three years after the establishment of the United Nations-the possible failure of such effort was already the subject of discussion. The essential element of the measures envisaged to ensure peace, the establishment of an effective system of collective security capable of taking rapid and unanimous action, has remained a field without crop. Since this fact was generally recognized, nations reverted to the means of individual self-defense with no collective concept. The abuse of the right of veto by the Soviet Union within the Security Council gave rise to those considerations which eventually resulted in regional military alliances. Under these alliances, NATO has since outgrown the framework of a purely military assistance pact and has given birth to a political community. It has succeeded in eliminating the twilight with regard to the problem of security, has maintained peace in Europe and established close links across the Atlantic.

Nevertheless, an uneasiness similar to that of 15 years ago can now be observed among the public. Questions are being asked as to whether we may continue to rely on the idea of an Atlantic Defense Community for the next 15 years. People no longer seem to listen to

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