Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
From history, climate, the cultivation of the olive and other aspects of a common civilization, the Mediterranean region has a certain unity. One can see it on the map. Yet it is too much a part of Europe, too much a part of the larger strategic concerns of non-Mediterranean powers, too diverse in the nations which encircle its waters, to constitute a subject of specifically regional politics, economics or security. A Tunisian foreign minister may call plaintively for a Mediterranean freed from the presence of superpower navies. A Soviet leader may float a suggestion for its denuclearization. A Yugoslav may propose a system of Mediterranean security to complete the work of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. A president of France may speak of a community stemming from his nation's historic and cultural ties with nations on both sides of the inland sea. Such proposals have had an occasional echo. But the Mediterranean area is not ready for a big international conference on security, for a negotiated set of principles of coexistence, or for the withdrawal of American and Soviet naval forces. Everyone sees a crisis there, but none agree on its description and no regional solution, no regional procedure for getting a solution, is at hand.
The Mediterranean today is the scene of serious local conflicts, of which those over Cyprus and over Palestine are the most intractable and the most dangerous. At the same time it has experienced the devastating results, both in international tension and internal instability, of the events which began with the 1973 October War and continued with the effects of the high price of energy. Add to this the continuing competition between the United States and Russia, the erosion of alliances and shifts in alignment, and the uncertainty on all sides as to how far détente will be applied, if at all, in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. One consequence of the oil crisis was to expose the weakness of the belt of southern European states from Portugal through Spain, Italy, and Yugoslavia to Greece and Turkey. Suffering the same financial drain for oil imports as the rest of Europe, they had less capacity for compensating through trade and investment.
The following simple description of the state of affairs in the spring of 1975, one sentence per country, gives a rough idea of the piling up of troubles. Portugal, in the hands of a radical group of military officers working closely with the Communist Party, is moving toward positions increasingly hostile to constitutional democracy and to cooperation with fellow members of NATO. Spain, coming to the end of the Franco era, is already witnessing the struggle for the succession. Italy is racked by civil violence as the Christian Democratic Party, after 30 years in power, seems less and less able to master the situation and to deny the demand of a powerful Communist Party for a share in the responsibility of government. Yugoslavia, its leadership trying to find an institutional base to preserve both party authority and national unity, cannot be sure of making the transition to the post-Tito era without internal strife and outside pressure. The Greeks, having replaced a dictatorship with a democratic regime, are unable to turn fully to reconstruction of their own society as long as the Turks insist on subjecting them and their compatriots in Cyprus to continuing humiliation. Finally Turkey, though riding the crest in Cyprus, can produce at home neither a stable government based on the last election nor an agreement to hold a new one.
In no one of these countries is there much sign of faith in NATO or in American leadership. Many seem to be blaming the United States for all that has gone wrong.
Over the past 20 years at least, American policy for the Mediterranean has been based on some fairly straightforward propositions. The first was to maintain naval superiority. The second was to strengthen NATO, so that any challenge from the Soviet Union, military or political, could be countered. A third was to support those allies which were in the most exposed position, such as Greece and Turkey, to resist Soviet pressures and aggression. A fourth was to encourage Yugoslavia's independent stand, and thus block the Soviet Union from the Adriatic. A fifth was to contain and reduce the gains made by the Soviet Union in its relations with Arab states on the Mediterranean's eastern and southern shores. And a sixth was to protect and strengthen Israel, primarily to help it maintain its existence but also, in the absence of an Arab-Israeli settlement, to enable it to play a part in the regional balance countering the Soviet position in certain Arab states.
In pursuing all these aims the United States developed the habit of talking about Western solidarity but in fact taking the lead and acting alone. This seemed a natural result of its central place in NATO, of the primacy of American naval power in the Mediterranean, of the special relations with Greece and Turkey, of the interests and obligations which the United States acquired in the Arab world as British and French influence declined, and especially of the commitment to Israel. Hence the easy assumption of the task of "managing" the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 and its aftermath, the preference for the step-by-step approach over the Geneva route as the way to Arab-Israeli settlement, and the annoyance with European efforts for a dialogue with the Arabs. Hence, too, the conviction that only the United States could usefully mediate between Greece and Turkey on the vexed question of Cyprus.
One has only to compare the list of today's problems with the axioms of the American approach to realize how far conditions have outrun policy. The Sixth Fleet is intended to help deter Soviet aggression and defend Greece and Turkey if deterrence fails, but Greeks and Turks are far less concerned with hypothetical Soviet aggression than with their quarrel with each other, and both see the Sixth Fleet as a symbol of a power which failed an ally at a critical moment. It does no good to invoke NATO as background for American diplomacy, since in Greek and Turkish eyes NATO evokes no higher loyalty and has been, for all practical purposes, the United States. For Arabs and Israelis, moreover, NATO was and is irrelevant.
The task of trying to mediate deeply rooted opposing positions has become impossible to carry out. These local conflicts are too stubborn even for virtuoso diplomacy. And when the miracles run short, failure is foreordained. American diplomacy has not been able to sustain the momentum of Arab-Israeli negotiation and agreement. It could hardly have done worse in Greece, where the triumphant return to democracy left America scorned and discredited, or in Turkey, where the embargo on further arms shipments was taken as an unpardonable insult. And there has been little American impact in Portugal, where extreme left-wing elements have apparently settled into power despite the clear results of the election of April 25.
From a wide variety of political circumstances, governments at both ends of the Mediterranean are now questioning the American bases in their countries: Greece, because American policy favored Turkey; Turkey, because the American Congress favored Greece; Portugal, because she has repudiated the record of the former regime and is edging away from its international connections; Spain, because the American bases there are resold by the Franco regime at each renewal period and the time for negotiation is again at hand-and it can be assumed that a more democratic government after Franco would modify the agreements or drop them altogether. Even in Italy there has been strong popular protest against the possible transfer there of U.S. bases no longer acceptable to Greece.
These developments do not mean that America's allies are intent on driving the Sixth Fleet out of the Mediterranean. But they are symptomatic of a malaise that finds the U.S. military presence a natural target for the pent-up resentment of those angry over American support of former regimes or of rival states, over slights to their national pride, suspicion of CIA activity, or just things in general-to say nothing of extremists of the Right or the Left who have been waiting for years for just such an opportunity. There are not many other targets around. Britain is reducing its naval strength in the Mediterranean close to zero. France has moved ships there from the Atlantic but remains outside the NATO military structure and has been carefully cultivating Mediterranean nations, divorcing her own interests from those of the United States. All of the allies, moreover, suspect Washington of wanting to use their territories and their bases for the prime purpose of being able to supply Israel with weapons in the event of another round of war in the Middle East, a purpose which they feel has nothing to do with NATO and which they are not prepared to support.
It is possible that as base negotiations proceed the demands of "Yankee, go home!" will not be as loud and insistent as they now are in statements made for public consumption. Moreover, the United States might be able to compensate for the loss of some bases without irremediable damage to its military capabilities. But that is not the main point. In challenging these symbols, the most easily visible signs of America's influence, the Mediterranean countries were challenging policies which they found no longer compatible with their own interests. Somehow, nobody seemed to be interested in the common defense.
This sad state of affairs did not appear full-blown in the spring of 1975. The Portuguese revolution had begun to lose its democratic luster by the fall of 1974. And soon after the Cyprus crisis broke last July, it was clear that the United States could not control it, and that in the absence of a solution it would be blamed by both sides. Similarly, the leading role which Henry Kissinger took upon himself in mediating the Arab-Israeli conflict, while winning applause as long as it succeeded, was sure, if it failed, to shake America's newly won position in the Arab world and give the Soviets an unearned bonus.
What looked like failure-the suspension of shuttle diplomacy between Egypt and Israel-then happened at a time when the pro-American governments in South Vietnam and Cambodia were entering the final stages of collapse; when the disputes between the President and the U.S. Congress over the conduct of foreign policy were advertising American weakness to the world and, in relation to the Cyprus question, were depriving American diplomacy of necessary flexibility; when the oil producers organized in OPEC had demonstrated their strength in maintaining high oil prices and their unwillingness to discuss cooperation, except on their own terms, at a conference with consumers; and when the advanced industrial nations of the world were suffering from the worst economic depression since the Second World War. America was questioning and doubting herself. It is no wonder that small Mediterranean countries, many of them long accustomed to look to America for security and support and all of them respectful of her power, are also having doubts about her wisdom and will.
It is not the purpose here to prescribe a set of policies either for the general Mediterranean crisis or for the specific situations which have turned sour. But a few observations which may be relevant for future policy are in order. The first is that, despite all the turmoil and the obvious situations of weakness, the Soviet Union has not yet "moved in"-but may do so if the present drift continues. A second observation is that the problems are basically political and cannot be solved by military strategies or deployments, although military facts are not irrelevant. A third is that the United States has overextended itself in the Mediterranean, politically and diplomatically, and should look especially to (1) a greater role for Europe, and (2) some understandings with the Soviet Union both on specific questions and on the general ground rules of Soviet-American competition.
In this context let us look at three situations: the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Cyprus question and relations with Greece and Turkey, and political developments in the states of Europe's southern tier.
The situation at the end of the October War was favorable for an American effort to get negotiations started between Israel and its Arab adversaries, and Secretary Kissinger made the most of it in promoting the interim agreements reached in 1974. But these successes, in which the Soviet Union and the Europeans had no part, created an illusion that the United States alone could somehow bring the parties to an overall political settlement, although the two sides' conflicting conceptions of their inalienable rights and vital interests, which had blocked peace for the past 25 years, remained all but impervious to argument. Moreover, the differences which existed on the Arab side, especially those surrounding the Palestinians, were almost certain to carry the process beyond the ability of American diplomacy to control; and other outside powers, principally the Soviet Union, could find innumerable opportunities to play a spoiling role.
There is another factor peculiar to the United States, and that is its special commitment to and relationship with Israel. This has been an advantage in that only the United States could offer the Arabs the hope of significant concessions from Israel. But whether it could or would effectively bring Israel to make such concessions is as real a question as whether it could get for Israel anything substantial from the Arabs with the Soviets supporting their maximum demands. As protector, patron, partner, and sole supplier of essential arms, the United States has had to be constantly alert to keeping Israel in a position to fight, whether events turned toward peace or toward war. Washington has had to pay attention to Israel's views regarding its own security requirements; it cannot be second-guessing at every step. Strong congressional sentiment for Israel has been an added factor.
To state these facts is not to discount any reassessment of policy undertaken in Washington after the (perhaps temporary) failure of step-by-step diplomacy in the spring of 1975, or to ignore the importance attached to America's renewed but still fragile relations with Arab countries. The fundamental question is whether an administration, President Ford's any more than those of his predecessors, can maintain over the long and complex process of negotiation an effective mediating capacity with both parties against the background of the historic relationship with Israel. It is not just a matter of whether pressure could be exerted on Israel and what guarantees could be substituted for the loss of strategic territory. Managing the Arab side of the process could be even more difficult, for in the absence of a steady progress toward settlement the reasonable would tend to give way to the unreasonable in Arab leadership and Arab politics. To play the game successfully would require moving the parties to an agreement along the lines of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (including the return of all or virtually all of the territories occupied in 1967), plus creating a Palestinian state on the West Bank.1 This would be difficult enough in itself, but the time element would be crucial. There would be a danger of a new war at any point along the way, a contingency against which the United States would have to be planning simultaneously on two fronts-how to resupply and perhaps defend Israel and how to weather Arab anger and renewed resort to the "oil weapon." With this prospect, it is no confession of inadequacy to conclude that the task of single-handedly and even-handedly promoting an Arab-Israeli settlement is beyond the capacity of the United States.
No other power could do as well, for the United States is uniquely placed, but Europe could play a key supporting role and has been playing virtually no role at all. The limiting factors are obvious enough: the European countries are not significant in the balance of power in the area; they are not the major arms suppliers; they could not do much to control a new war. In November 1973 the nine states of the European Community were so fearful of the loss of oil supplies that they issued a statement leaning further to the Arab side than ever before. Israel did not like it and was simply confirmed in its conviction that Europe had no role and should have none. The United States did not disagree.
The situation is now different. Europe and America have learned some lessons from the experience of 1973. Under the impact of the general oil crisis the consuming nations have come together in cooperation to meet any new emergency and to work out a long-term energy strategy. All are aware of the connection between the oil problem and the Arab-Israeli problem, not in the sense that the first dictates a pro-Arab attitude on the second, but in that failure to get a durable solution of the second will inevitably aggravate the adverse consequences of the first. The principal West European states, moreover, have made it absolutely clear since their statement of November 1973 that they support Israel's right to live in security. Alongside its economic relations with the Arabs, which are increasingly important to both sides, the European Community has economic ties also with Israel, made manifest in a recently signed comprehensive agreement. It is wrong to think that the only role Europe would play in the negotiating process would be one of complaisance to Arab demands inimical to the security of Israel.
The European nations, like the United States and the entire world community, have an interest in an Arab-Israeli settlement for reasons of world peace, an even more important consideration than Arab oil. They can represent that interest, parallel with and in support of American efforts, in helping to move the parties toward agreement. They could have a role in upholding a settlement after it was reached.
True, the European Community, despite the progress made through the Davignon Committee, has not reached the point where it can speak with one voice on this issue or name a single envoy as negotiator or mediator on Europe's behalf. But its individual members can make their voices heard in ways that would reflect general community views. If Britain and France were invited to take part in the Geneva conference, they could speak for Europe, symbolically and in fact if not formally, as well as for themselves.
Should this prospect trouble the United States? Would it interfere with the delicate balances Mr. Kissinger has wrought in relations with Israel and with Egypt? Hardly, after the failure of the most recent phase of step-by-step tactics. The time has come for the United States to seek company in the quest for peace and to fend off the prospect of a new rift with Europe when the next Middle East crisis breaks. American and European ideas on the main lines of a fair settlement are not far apart. If they cannot work toward it, both may be driven into rigid positions helpful neither to common Western interests nor to peace in the Middle East.
The Cyprus question reveals a similar pattern, although there the United States has not been directly involved in negotiations between the two Cypriot communities and has made little or no progress toward a procedure of third-party mediation or direct talks between Greece and Turkey. As the major ally and arms supplier of both Greece and Turkey, Washington might be expected to have powers of persuasion and indeed has been ready at all times to proffer good offices. Unfortunately, the military events of 1974 in Cyprus, unlike the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, did not improve the prospect for negotiations and settlement, for they left one party, Turkey, in possession of the field; another, Greece, humiliated and bitter; and the third party, the Republic of Cyprus, partitioned and impotent.
The inability of the United States to be effective in the situation had other reasons as well. American officials had known of the Greek junta's plan to overthrow Makarios but did not convey an effective warning to Athens to block it. And after the coup Washington remained passive to the point of seeming to accept the unspeakable Nikos Sampson, at a time when Turkey's intervention might still have been forestalled. By the time the Turkish army moved forward again in Cyprus, in the next month, the American pattern of inaction had been well established. In the end, the Americans were blamed by Greece for partiality to Turkey, and then, because of the suspension of military aid, blamed by Turkey for partiality to Greece.
Yet the inability of Washington to "manage" the Cyprus crisis of 1974, as it had the prior crisis of 1967 when the last-minute mission of Cyrus Vance kept both sides from military action, was not due mainly to a tragedy of errors or to historical accident. It was due, above all, to changes in the outlook and priorities of the parties themselves.
Until the mid-1960s the guideline of Greek and of Turkish foreign policy was NATO solidarity, and for all practical purposes that meant following the leadership of the United States. But with détente in Soviet-American relations came détente and the erosion of alliances and great-power authority in the eastern Mediterranean. The fact that Greece and Turkey have come to place their own conflict ahead of the Soviet threat in the forefront of their concern, and to judge NATO accordingly, reveals a drastic change. The United States, basing its policies toward both allies on the need to preserve NATO's military posture and valuable bases, ends up by losing political capital and military positions as well. The effects on the Western defense posture are apparent. Greece leaves a gap by withdrawing from the military structure of NATO and begins a renegotiation of base agreements. Turkey says it will fill the gap, but for obvious geographical reasons cannot do so; meanwhile its military strength for defense against Russia is diminished by the congressional cut-off of American aid, which it regards as unwarranted pressure and therefore a good reason for not making concessions on Cyprus. Secretary Kissinger deplores the congressional self-assertion which has hamstrung his diplomacy. But the real responsibility lies with Greek and Turkish nationalism and with East-West détente.
If American diplomacy and the NATO mystique are ineffective, what about the nations of Western Europe? They too, of course, are partners in NATO, but their relations with Greece and Turkey are not seen on either side primarily in that context. The salient factors are economic and political. The economic relationships the Common Market has developed with Greece and Turkey-both now associate members moving slowly toward full membership-have a significance beyond fresh fruit or chrome ore or credits. The European connection has meaning for Greece for reasons of history and political culture, and especially because of the way the Council of Europe and the EEC, having taken a stand against the colonels' regime and "frozen" relations with Greece, gave a warm welcome to the restoration of democracy and to the government of Constantine Caramanlis. For Turkey, facing west was an essential part of the Kemalist revolution, and so it remains despite the appearance of Islam-centered currents in latter-day Turkish politics. And like Greece, Turkey seeks to match a lessened dependence on America with greater flexibility in foreign policy and stronger relationships with others-the Arab world, even the communist world, but above all, Europe.
As in the Arab-Israeli case, the outlines of a possible and practical settlement are not difficult to discern. Union of Cyprus with Greece and partition between Greece and Turkey are ruled out. All agree that Cyprus should remain an independent federated state with largely self-governing Greek and Turkish zones. All but the Turks agree that the Turkish zone or zones should take up substantially less of the island than the large area (roughly 40 percent) which has been occupied by Turkish troops and declared an autonomous state, and here there is room for compromise. The constitutional issues are complex, and years of negotiation between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities have not solved them. It could take many more years unless there is sufficient initiative from those who hold the reins in Athens and in Ankara, especially the latter. Perhaps nothing will be possible until Turkey has a general election and a strong leader with a solid parliamentary position and the necessary freedom to negotiate-Bulent Ecevit, the man who won popularity by the decision for military action in July 1974 and now finds himself out of power, may be the only one who could fill the bill.
In any event, the Western world is in for a difficult and dangerous time as long as Greece and Turkey remain close to the brink of war-not only over Cyprus but over other contentions such as territorial limits and oil-drilling rights in the Aegean. Their destinies, like their territories and populations, are so interlocked that the two peoples are condemned either to cooperation or to war. To tip the balance toward cooperation may call for the statesmanship of an Atatürk and a Venizelos, which served so well for a generation, but it may also require, especially in this uncertain time, outside help and counsel which Europe is better placed than the United States to provide.
One European state could perhaps make a more concrete contribution at an appropriate time. Great Britain, which has a legal position in the Cyprus question as a party to the agreements establishing the island's independence in 1960, also possesses two base areas on the southern coast. Those bases no longer serve any British strategic purpose. They could not be turned over to NATO without raising too many problems. But since Turkey's interest in Cyprus is in large measure a concern for its own military security, one of those bases might be ceded to Turkey in return for a less greedy attitude on the size of the area to be assigned to the Turkish Cypriots in the new federated state.
Our third area of inquiry, the belt of states in southern Europe afflicted by economic weakness and political instability, differs in that the vital issues appear in the guise of internal affairs rather than of international conflict. But the effects of what is happening could be of the greatest moment for the international balance. Where is Portugal's revolution in progress heading? And will Spain's revolution to come take a similar course? Will Italy, her political leadership stale after years in power and her social problems reaching the verge of class warfare, also turn to the left? Radical political change, as we have seen in the cases of Portugal and of Greece, may generate anti-American feeling, because of close American association with a former regime, and bring revision of arrangements for U.S. military bases. That is expected, and the chances are that we can adjust to it. A much more important question for Western security is the entry of communist parties into government: whether the Soviet Union, through them, will be sitting in the councils of NATO; or whether, in pushing for nonalignment, they will prepare the way for emasculation of Western defense in the Mediterranean and in all of Europe.
The keys to power in Portugal appear to be held by radical officers of the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), men who helped make the revolution of April 1974 and speak in its name. Together with the Communist Party, whose members hold a number of important ministries, they have pushed ahead in the field of social reform, where changes were inevitable and long overdue. But these two groups have also worked together to gather into their hands the levers of economic power and political action, such as control of the trade unions, at the expense of the non-communist political parties. Potential opposition forces, from conservatives to socialists, have been subjected to pressure, intimidation, and "salami tactics" strikingly like those by which the communist parties of East Europe cemented themselves in power in the late 1940s. The democratic parties may be in a potentially stronger position after their popular victory in the election of April 1975, but though still in the government as of this writing, they have no real power, and they had agreed under duress, prior to the election, to the continuing ascendancy of the military.
The Communist Party of Portugal is a Moscow-line party. Its leader, Alvaro Cunhal, takes his proletarian internationalism undiluted from the Kremlin. Much will depend, therefore, on how the Soviet Union chooses to use the Portuguese Communists, as well as on whether the latter gain or lose in the internal political struggle in Portugal. The recent elections exposed the relative weakness of the Communists in public support and also had a deflationary effect on the prestige of the military leaders, whose call for the casting of blank ballots evoked only a feeble response. As of late May it remains an open question whether the leadership of the MFA will move back toward the center, conciliating the moderate officers in their own ranks and reaching out to cooperate with the democratic parties, or whether they will push on toward a totalitarian dictatorship with the help of the Communists or by dispensing with all parties. It should not be assumed that the military would allow the Communists to become a dominant or even an equal partner or would allow Portugal's foreign policy to be made in Moscow. But the possibilities are disturbing enough even if the worst does not happen.
Admittedly, what America and Europe can do about Portugal is limited. Force is ruled out. They have no "Brezhnev Doctrine." There are those in Washington who regret that the covert arm of foreign policy has been crippled by public exposure and tied by new rules and regulations; but that is misplaced nostalgia. The problem is not one for spectacular coups nor even primarily for conventional diplomacy. It is one of attitudes and influence. To have influence, outsiders must first of all have channels of communication to the government, the political parties, and the people of Portugal. They should not rebuff the government because it contains communists. They should not prejudge the domestic issues under debate or challenge measures of social reform. But they quite properly could and should strengthen economic ties, provide financial aid, and treat Portugal with the friendly respect due a country which has rid itself of a repressive regime and has rapidly liquidated a colonial empire. To reduce contact or cut off trade, as the United States did with Castro's Cuba, is to invite the same result, a rapid turn to Moscow.
In these respects Western Europe is better situated than the United States, which cannot shed its status of superpower, its concern with bases in the Azores (which are needed above all for Atlantic naval operations, rather than for the much-discussed supply line to Israel), and perhaps not even its ideological fixations about communism. Democratic European countries have a spectrum of political parties which are counterparts of those which have come onto the political scene in Portugal. Mário Soares and the Socialists, whose reward for winning a popular vote of confidence has been subjection to increased pressure, need the moral and financial support of the powerful socialist parties of Europe. The more Europe can develop constructive policies, finding the middle way between neglect and open pressure, the better will be the chances for democratic forces and institutions to survive.
Of course, saying there is an important role for the Europeans to play does not mean they will play it. They reacted very slowly to the Portuguese revolution and to the new regime, watching the steady shifts to the left in Lisbon in fascinated inaction. Soares, visiting Brussels as Foreign Minister in 1974, could not make the EEC bureaucracy aware of what the real problems were, and the governments could not agree on economic action which might have increased their leverage. But opportunities have not yet disappeared. It is most important, as the EEC countries finally seem to be realizing, to show the MFA leaders that the European doors are open.
For the moment Portugal remains in NATO, and the other members must endeavor to keep her there, making whatever practical adjustments may be necessary regarding such matters as intelligence and nuclear planning. Should the Lisbon government emulate those of Greece and France in withdrawing from the military structure (but not the alliance itself), it would be no serious handicap to Western defense. A Portuguese choice of nonalignment, however, with its effects on Western strategic positions and possible influence as an example to others, would be a very damaging blow indeed. And a decision to join the Soviet bloc, challenging the balance in Europe, would be a disaster. Such possibilities raise the question of preventive diplomacy, directed not to Lisbon but to Moscow; let us return later to this theme.
Portugal's neighbor, Spain, may present the West with another "communist problem" which deserves some thinking about in advance. Spain also is at the end of an era: there does not seem to be much chance that the Franco regime can long survive Franco. Indeed, the outlines of a successor regime, in the form of a coalition of political forces, are taking shape while he is still there. The coalition notably includes a well-organized Communist Party hardened by years of repression and resourceful opposition to dictatorship, a test which communists seem to meet more successfully than liberal democratic parties.
Europe and the United States, if they are to deal with Spain at all, will presumably have to adjust to the presence of communists near the center of power-although events there will not necessarily follow the path of Portugal, where the critical factor was the Communists' alliance with a military faction radicalized by the experience of the African war. The main international significance of the end of the dictatorship, whether it comes by evolution or by revolution, will be the return of Spain to easier and more friendly relations with the democratic countries of Western Europe. A European attitude of cordial welcome, such as was shown to Greece after the fall of the Athens junta, could simultaneously strengthen both the non-communist forces in Spain and the degree of European influence there. It should also give time to judge where the relatively untried Spanish Communists stand and what they will do.
To accept a communist role in Spain so calmly, even initially, may seem an exercise in naiveté; the point is that the differences among communist parties have become too striking to discount. The Communist Party of Spain is committed to broad coalition politics and to a West European model of socialism. It is unlike its counterpart in Portugal in that its leader, Santiago Carrillo, has opposed the Soviet Union on many issues, including that of Czechoslovakia. He successfully resisted Soviet efforts to create a new group with docile leadership to replace him and his party in the international communist movement. He has established close relations with the Italian, Yugoslav, and Romanian leaders in the common cause of asserting each individual party's independence of decision. Thus, a new degree of cleavage between orthodox and independent parties has become evident lately, notably at preparatory meetings for the conference of the European communist parties scheduled for the summer of 1975.
The Italian Communist Party (PCI) is the largest and most prestigious of the communist parties of Western Europe. It carefully nurtures its image of moderation and independence of Soviet direction, and proclaims its acceptance of Italy's democratic institutions, participation in the European Community (PCI deputies now sit in the European Assembly), and alignment with NATO. This has been a long-range strategy aimed at a "historic compromise" with the Christian Democrats by which the Communists will enter the government. Whether they succeed will depend on economic conditions and the ability of the Christian Democrats not merely to keep together their succession of unstable coalitions with other parties, including the Socialists, but by discipline and constructive reforms to reverse the loss of authority and public confidence they have suffered in recent years.
That communist parties can be transformed by their local environment is more than a theoretical proposition. Yet the historical record is one of adaptation and tactical change rather than of democratic evolution. For all its declared moderation, the Italian Party is a tough and disciplined organization with a sophisticated and resourceful leadership well able to shift its tactics; its ultimate aim can hardly be other than to exercise full power. At the very least, its taking a share of governing authority in Rome would bring new elements of uncertainty into the international order.
What happens in Portugal may affect what happens in Spain, or more significantly, in Italy or France, either to encourage an opening to the Communists, or by way of warning, to convince all other parties to bar the door to them. NATO and the European Community must at least contemplate the possibility of communists becoming the "sinews" of non-communist governments, as Henry Kissinger has warned, and to be prepared to cope with it. Dangerous as the prospect may be to Western security, an automatic reaction of exclusion and hostility could be self-defeating. Europe's freedom rests on the strength of her own institutions, both national and European. It is especially in the growing development of a more united Europe that the weight of her underlying democratic beliefs can be brought to bear on the role of a communist party in any individual country, to maximize the possibility that it will play according to the democratic rules and to minimize and contain the effects if it will not.
The worst may happen. If communists enter a government, they may set out to disrupt the European Community and to sabotage Western defense. They may outmaneuver their coalition partners and move from shared responsibility to effective control. They may, as good communists, give their highest loyalty to the Soviet Union and not to their own countries or to Europe. In the Iberian peninsula it would be a most serious challenge. And Italy's choice of a neutralist or pro-Soviet policy would destroy the balance in the Mediterranean and in Europe.
Such "worst-case" speculations carry certain assumptions about détente and the whole complex of Soviet attitudes and policies toward the West. As the coming political crisis of southern Europe unfolds, and as the Western allies attempt to cope with it on the local and on the European level, the other arm of policy must be the direct approach to Moscow, and here the United States may hold the key.
For the past five years or so, in accordance with the line laid down at the 24th Congress of the Communist Party in 1971, the Soviet leadership has been following the policy of peaceful coexistence, or détente, in its relations with the West. Its lines are familiar: a reduction of tension and of the danger of war; a willingness to negotiate some limitations on the arms race; a strong desire for trade and credits in order to get Western goods and technology; and stabilization in Europe through general acceptance of the status quo. It has not included a comparable stabilization in the Mediterranean, the Balkans, and the Middle East, where Soviet competition with the United States goes on increasing the dangers residing in the Arab-Israeli conflict, inter-Arab disputes, the Cyprus affair, and the uncertain future of a number of Mediterranean countries. The Soviets have also made it very clear that they do not believe in ideological coexistence. Détente is a means of carrying on the unceasing struggle with capitalism.
The Western nations have not been unduly alarmed about Soviet declarations of ideological faith as long as the practical policies were those of stabilization and trade. But the magnitude of the West's economic and social troubles in 1974 and 1975, with widespread concern in the West itself about economic collapse and political breakdown, inevitably turned the thoughts of Soviet observers to a possibility not in view when the policy of détente was adopted. Is this a major crisis of capitalism, perhaps the ultimate crisis which Marxist teaching had predicted? If so, is a policy of cooperation based on the assumption of continued Western strength and growth still valid? Or should a more positive effort be made to exploit new situations of weakness? Recent Soviet speeches and articles show that such questions are indeed being asked. Some statements with ideological authority behind them, directed mainly to members of the apparatus of the Soviet and other communist parties, ring with a new confidence and militancy.
For the Soviet leadership the real question is not whether but how to take advantage of the situation, and especially how to make gains in the Mediterranean and in Europe without losing the benefits achieved through détente or increasing the risks of war. The present line seems not to contemplate a switch to aggressive or revolutionary tactics but to continue the softening process of détente both with Western Europe and with the United States. A new hard line would tend to isolate the communists in the big European countries, where they have worked so hard for a common front with socialists and others. Still, the Soviets have given financial support to the Portuguese Communists, and they appear to be angling for naval facilities in Portugal. We must contemplate the possibility that they will do the same elsewhere, that they will take small bites here and there, weakening European resistance and Western defense.
It should therefore be the conscious policy of the United States, with the backing of its European allies, to undertake certain approaches to Moscow-to propose, to test, and to warn. Specifically, the crises in the Mediterranean offer possibilities for expanding the scope of détente, with benefits for both sides and increased chances for peace. They also call for the United States to make clear that moves to upset the existing balance can bring détente to an abrupt end and greatly increase the chances for war.
First, the positive side. Whether the Middle East question is tackled bilaterally again or at Geneva, it is useful and perhaps essential to seek a prior understanding with the Soviet Union on the general nature of an Arab-Israeli settlement, the procedures for reaching it, and the means of enforcing it. The two powers got further into these questions in their exchanges in 1969 than they have since the onset of summit meetings and the spate of talk about détente. Their agreement on the proposition that the Middle East is the most dangerous place in the world is hardly the point to stop talking. We urgently need U.S.-Soviet agreement on measures to limit arms deliveries and to discourage provocative or violent moves by respective friends and allies, in order to prevent another round of war or stop it if it starts anyway. Such an agreement would take the two powers well beyond where they were before the October War.
The Soviet Union does not have the same claim to a role in the Cyprus affair or in Greek-Turkish relations, which ought to be settled within the Western community. But the fact is that the parties to the dispute and their Western friends have failed, and unless they succeed soon the Soviet Union, which has been vocal on the subject in the United Nations, is almost certain to get a foot in the door. Actually, since the U.S.S.R. has naval power in the Mediterranean and is in a position to put pressure on both parties, it would make sense for the United States to smoke out the Soviets to see if there is a chance of their supporting and not sabotaging a settlement. Like the Americans, they seem to be caught in the dilemma of trying to make hay with all parties and succeeding with none, but they can be counted on not to forget that the strategic prize is not Cyprus or Greece but Turkey.
Second, the preventive side: the need for clarity as to the limits of Soviet action. In the Middle East, the Soviet Union should be left in no doubt that access to oil is a vital Western interest and that the American commitment to Israel is firm. Israel's existence must not be put in jeopardy. In the eastern Mediterranean, at a time when the United States and NATO are sorting out their policies and positions and where Greece and Turkey are still at odds and assessing their joint and separate security needs, it may be useful for the United States to talk to the Soviets to clarify interests and identify points of danger. If Greece or Turkey chooses to eliminate U.S. bases or to move away from NATO toward a nonaligned position, it may be necessary for Washington to let the Soviets know that the United States has security interests of its own in the region and that there is no open invitation to the Soviet Union to move in and establish a dominant position in the eastern Mediterranean. The basic motive which produced the Truman Doctrine of 1947, to uphold the independence of those two countries against Soviet pressure, remains.
The question of how to forestall Soviet pressure or manipulation in other Mediterranean states is difficult but not to be avoided. Presumably one deterrent to Soviet adventurism is the likelihood of a Western reaction which would put an end to détente. The Western nations, and particularly the United States, should not hesitate to tell the Soviets frankly that tampering with the Western alliance or certain countries outside it like Spain or Yugoslavia, and thus with the balance of power in Europe, would indeed have that result, blowing up the conference on European security and the structure and hopes it may have created. We should not raise this question in a way which assumes or concedes Soviet control of communist parties in cases where we should be doing everything possible to let those parties show their independence. But the Soviets can be told that what they do to pull strings and intervene in other countries will be watched and weighed. The main thing, of course, is not to play a game of threat and counter-threat but to get understandings for mutual restraint, and also to let the Kremlin know that all of détente-trade, technology, scientific exchange, stabilization in Europe, arms limitation, the whole range of bilateral and multilateral cooperation-is at stake.
The Mediterranean Sea could turn red. Its nations could drift into disorder and chaos. These are not unthinkable possibilities after what has actually happened in the past few years. If such calamities come to pass, it will be through the inability of these peoples to find common interests above the din of their domestic and regional strife, rather than through what is decided by way of global strategy, or left undecided, in Moscow or Washington. But the fate of the Mediterranean deeply affects the fate of liberty in Europe, and it is on the governments and peoples of Europe that the greatest risks and responsibilities lie.
France, in the era of de Gaulle and Pompidou, was the only European nation to articulate a Mediterranean policy, compensating for her reduced world role by fostering the concept of a Mediterranean community with France as its natural leader. In practice there was more articulation than effective policy, for France, in the absence of support from the rest of Europe and in the context of opposition to America, did not have the weight to carry it through. Italy and Spain did not rally to French leadership, Greece and Turkey were skeptical, Israel was hostile, and the Arab states maintained their reserve.
What France could not do alone the European nations might do together. The Mediterranean policy of the European Community, mainly economic but with political overtones, is thus far a very modest affair. It consists of a set of differing types of preferential agreements with a wide circle of Mediterranean countries, covering trade and various forms of economic cooperation, plus development aid to the Community's own needier members and associated states. On the purely political side it has produced only the occasional pronouncements on the Arab-Israeli question, inspired more by fear than by thoughts of leadership, memoranda from the Commission in Brussels, and periodic discussions among the foreign ministers.
Ironically, it is the opening to the Arab world-now tempered by a firm position on the survival of Israel-that offers the greatest opportunities. As de Gaulle saw, the Mediterranean is the meeting place of European and Arab cultures and of complementary economic interests. For years not only France but Italy, Spain, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and now Greece and Portugal have sought openings to the Arabs, and not just for oil; but the results brought no great benefit to those countries or to Europe as a whole. The possibilities before the European Community are much broader. Hence the importance of the European-Arab dialogue. It is quite true that Europe's dependence on Arab oil puts most of the bargaining power on the Arab side of the dialogue for the next few years. But the goods, technology, and skills of Europe as a whole, including a thriving Germany, provide the basis for cooperation and, not least, for a massive infusion of capital and technology for development on both shores of the Mediterranean.
This is the dream of some at the Community's headquarters who yearn to see Europe find herself by tackling a big and imaginative task. Perhaps only thus can Europe overleap her current frustrations and disunity, cope with her "communist problem," and play her part in bringing greater order to the region. The Mediterranean cannot be Europe's mare nostrum without the presence of American power. But even political and economic success there could turn the Soviet Union's position from potential dominance to irrelevance. Judging by the present state of the Community and the flagging of the drive for unity, the portents are not promising, but it is not impossible that the need, if clearly recognized, could produce the will and that making a start could generate momentum.
For the United States, the failures of an overambitious Mediterranean diplomacy are no reason for retreat. It should maintain and even strengthen its naval forces in the Mediterranean. They no longer have a vital role in strategic deterrence. Nor are they largely there to beat the NATO drums or to engage in complex military maneuvers with NATO allies. Ultimately, their purpose is partly to meet uncertain military contingencies, but still more to supply an intangible element of weight and concern. The precise relationship between naval power and political influence in a given area has yet to be proved. Yet, in the situation that prevails today in the Mediterranean, most of the unsettled problems, if they are not to grow worse, require the assurance of an American military presence and a continuing equilibrium of forces. Not only the Western allies but nonaligned states such as Yugoslavia and Egypt recognize the importance of that equilibrium for their own security. At some time the American and Soviet fleets may be limited by mutual agreement, with those of European and other Mediterranean countries largely taking their place. At some future time they may all be living in happy nonalignment. But that time is not now. And at this juncture when American commitments are being put in doubt, the Sixth Fleet's presence is an essential sign of a resolve to stay the course.
The real problems, however, are political and social. They call for an understanding of new forces, for shaping rather than meeting them head-on. The Western alliance will be better served by strengthening the common political base than by rigid adherence to timeworn military formulas. The United States must learn to balance continuing commitment with a division of labor with others and more modesty in leadership than has been its wont. All, including the Russians, have a vital stake in Mediterranean security. But in most other aspects of taming what we have come to know as the Mediterranean crisis-blunting the edges of nationalism, settling the terms of access to oil, the growth of societies and cultures in a modicum of harmony within themselves and with each other-the more direct interests and responsibilities belong to the Europeans and to the other peoples who live on the shores of the inland sea.
1 On this point of the American approach to the terms of a settlement, see the following articles in Foreign Affairs: John C. Campbell, "The Arab-Israeli Conflict: An American Policy" (October 1970); Richard Ullman, "After Rabat: Middle East Risks and American Roles" (January 1975) ; Stanley Hoffmann, "A New Policy for Israel" (April 1975).