Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat
PUBLIC opinion everywhere is anxious to know how the question of the unification of Europe stands today. What were the original objectives? What has been done to attain them? How can the remaining obstacles be overcome? To find the answers we must begin by reviewing the progress already made, not in any mood of self-satisfaction--though it is reasonable to be gratified that such a revolutionary idea has taken shape so fast and without the violence that usually accompanies revolution--but in order to learn from the past what to do in the future.
The first question to ask ourselves is why attempts to organize Europe failed before 1948. In 1930 Aristide Briand wrote a memorandum which called for a pact to bring about a "European Association"--the first time that the question of unity was officially raised. But the Briand proposal confined itself mainly to outlining a legal structure, in particular a system of arbitration. An economic aim--the establishment of a common market--was suggested only summarily. More important still, any infringement upon national sovereignty was definitely excluded. In thus making it a matter of principle that not a particle of their sovereignty was to be relinquished the signatories would have promised to deprive themselves of the chief means of achieving their goal. It was to be accepted in advance that the proposed organization would be powerless.
The plan had no practical result. But even if the French Government had suggested limiting sovereignty, it still would have had no chance of success, for no European country was ready for the concept of a supranational authority. The idea was not acceptable to a man like Poincaré, and still less to a Mussolini; and though Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries had rallied to an international organization of the traditional type, there was no chance that they would go beyond that. The French plan was stillborn because it was ahead of its time, and even if it had been tried, it would not have worked.
There was also a special, in fact basic, reason for Briand's failure. He had tried to settle the Franco-German problem by signing the Locarno Pact in October 1925; but in point of fact nothing was settled. Peace had been restored by the Treaty of Versailles, but certain provisions of it held Germany in an inferior status, and the question of reparations--a thorn in the side of both debtors and creditors--seemed insoluble. What hope could there be of common action by France and Germany, when the former clung to her unsatisfied legal rights and the latter clamored for equality and revision of the Treaty? In such an atmosphere there was no possibility of coöperation.
German nationalism, nourished by incessant but futile scoldings, grew until its supporters at length felt strong enough to deny that Germany had suffered any military defeat or bore any political responsibility. Banking on the fact that the German economic and industrial plant was intact and that an alliance with Russia was possible, they moved rapidly to split Europe. Hitler completed the break when he came to power in January 1933.
At the end of the Second World War the situation was entirely different. This time there could be no doubt that Germany had suffered a crushing military defeat. Ravaged by war, fully occupied by Allied troops, the country was in a state of political collapse, without either an army or a central government. She could get back to her feet only with the aid of the Allies. Moreover, the régime imposed by the Soviets in their zone of occupation did not attract the German people as a whole; they were now thoroughly immunized against the virus of Rapallo.
In 1947 the Western Allies became aware of Russia's military threat, evidenced by the network of 27 treaties binding her satellites to her. At the same time Moscow rejected the collective aid offered to Europe under the Marshall Plan. It was plain that the Russians intended to install themselves firmly in the heart of Europe, and to retain a free hand to spread their domination over the Western part of it by propaganda and intrigue.
The three other Allies soon countered this move. To allocate and put to work the funds made available by the Marshall Plan they created, in April 1948, the first permanent pan-European organization--the O.E.E.C. Under the threat of danger, and prompted and encouraged by generous assistance from America, Europeans began to acquire a consciousness of "Europe." Whereas the Treaty of Dunkirk, concluded between Great Britain and France on March 4, 1947, had been directed primarily against a possible German menace, the Brussels Treaty of March 17, 1948, laid the basis for coöperation among five countries, and the London Agreements of June 1948 inaugurated a constructive policy toward Germany.
This change of direction called for new methods, and it was then that France played her full part in organizing Europe. Up to that time, coöperation had always been confined to agreements between governments, operating under the rule of unanimity. Since each contracting Power had the right of veto, action often became impossible. Before anything effective could be done, the dogma of national sovereignty had to be breached. The way had been cleared by private groups which had worked energetically to popularize the idea of an authority above that of any single state. This idea found expression in the preamble to the French Constitution of 1946. In August 1948 the French and Belgian Governments (the latter headed by M. Spaak) called a conference to study whether some sort of political tie among all the European countries was practicable, and this conference (consisting at first of representatives of the five countries of the Brussels Treaty) met at Brussels on October 25, 1948. Here the dispersed efforts of all the private groups were gathered together in the "European Movement."
Though differences quickly emerged, 12 governments signed the Constitution of the Council of Europe on May 5, 1949--one month after the signing of the Atlantic Pact. Here was something new. It was not a committee of foreign ministers bound to reach unanimous decisions, but for the first time a permanent assembly common to 12 countries, with parliamentary delegates who voted individually and not as members of an instructed delegation. This assembly has consultative powers only, but it draws authority from the fact that it can give free voice to the diverse opinions held in the participating nations, thus embodying a European spirit and creating a permanent relationship among the most representative men of these countries. The work done by committees provides an opportunity for thorough study of the delegates' ideas, and for preparation of recommendations to governments.
In 1949 a German Federal Parliament was elected and formed the first government at Bonn. On April 1, 1950, West Germany was invited to join the Council of Europe, with full constitutional rights as soon as the Western Allies had restored its sovereignty over the conduct of foreign relations. Germany's entrance into the Council of Strasbourg was the first recognition of her right to join an international organization. It was in keeping with the development of the occupation régime into a contractual arrangement, negotiated between the three occupying Powers and the German Federal Government.
On the basis of this broad European policy West Germany reentered the community of free peoples. Only Europe as such could have provided the practical machinery for such a move. It could not have been done through the United Nations, where a Soviet veto would have interposed, nor under the Atlantic Pact, which presupposes the existence of an army. The integration of Germany with Europe was one of the primary aims of French foreign policy. From the beginning, the effort to organize Europe had had a double purpose: first, to strengthen the European countries, which if left to fend for themselves would be condemned to political and economic dissolution; and second, to bring Germany into the common endeavors so that she would not repeat her former errors. A democratic Germany on an equal footing with the other members of the European community will have no excuse for rebellion, aloofness and dreams of conquest and domination.
Participation in the Council of Europe was the first step in this direction, but it was not enough and France did not hesitate to take another. She envisaged the creation of such strong organic bonds among the European nations--Germany in particular included--that no German Government could break them, and the establishment of a living and permanent community that would put an end to old antagonisms and usher in an era of profitable collaboration. Such a community must be based on mutual good faith and confidence--and that is possible only if all members find it to their interest to keep faith with the others, recognizing that what promotes the common advantage will promote their individual welfare.
In a solemn declaration on May 9, 1950, France proposed to Germany and the other European countries that they put their production of coal and steel under an authority independent both of governments and private interests. For the first time in history there was to be an agency above national parliaments and private business which would reach its decisions in consultation with producers, workers and political bodies and which would be responsible only to an assembly representing the participating Powers. Thus we hoped that considerations of narrow national interest would be replaced by regard for the common interest, that national antagonisms would be transcended, and that, since none of the partners had control of its own coal and steel, war among them would be unthinkable. The objective was to remove the danger of war between rival nations and to develop a community spirit which would not weaken national attachments but provide a wider basis for new activities and new goals. Such a community would also be able to solve problems which arise from the uneven distribution of natural resources and technical skills.
Within ten months the treaty was drawn up and signed, and on August 10, 1952, it became effective among the six signatory Powers. Since February 10 of the present year there has been a single market for coal and iron ore in Western Europe, and after April 10 steel will also move freely among these six countries without customs duties of any kind. Their total population, incidentally, is almost exactly that of the United States. The unification of Europe is irrevocably under way. The treaty is due to run for 50 years, and though it is limited to two industries they are ones which are essential for every national economy. The territory to which it applies is also limited; yet it includes half of free Europe--the part of Europe which in the past has been most often at war. We have gone beyond the stage of talk and theory and shown what we want to do and can do.
It may be instructive, at this point, to analyze the conditions under which the plan evolved and was brought to completion. At first it created some astonishment in France, but in general the French people were pleased to see that their government had taken the lead in European affairs. The next stage was one of increasing worry about the danger of "omnipotent technocracy," that is, the fear that Germany would escape from all restrictions and dominate the other partners. A campaign, at times very violent, was unleashed against the plan. The chief manufacturers' association led the attack, while labor unions rallied to the defense. Meanwhile, lawyers dissected the text of the treaty and economists pointed out all the risks--all of which made a great impression on the French parliament. But public opinion looked upon the idea as a practical attempt to end the threat of war and strengthen a divided Europe; and, as a result of this public support, the treaty was ratified by an unforeseen majority: in the National Assembly by a vote of 377 to 233, and in the Senate by a vote of 177 to 31, with 87 abstentions. Once ratification was settled, hostility died down and all interested parties gave the plan their loyal support. The intractable enemies are the Communists, who cannot conceive of a European policy not dictated by Moscow.
In Germany, the plan met with a warm welcome from the governmental majority, and the Bonn parliament approved it by a vote of 232 to 143. Chancellor Adenauer had given it his support from the beginning, just as he had supported with his strong convictions and powerful personality the general trend toward solutions of individual problems on a European basis. He has set himself against the nationalism which twice led Germany to disaster; but, like every leader in a democracy, he has to reckon with public opinion, play for time and take precautions. This is something to be kept in mind whenever important negotiations are under way, as they are now in regard to the Saar. Many problems would be simplified if the parties involved would make a greater effort to understand each other's difficulties. The German Socialists are dogmatically opposed to a policy of European integration, which in their opinion bars any chance of agreement with Russia on the question of reuniting the two zones of Germany; they are under the illusion that Russia would deal frankly and on terms of mutual confidence with a unified, independent Germany. West Germany has not given up the hope of unity, and is all the more anxious for that very reason to regain its sovereignty and establish its security. Farsighted Germans know that only the integration of Europe can achieve this double objective for them in the foreseeable future.
Thus all the problems of Germany have come to a head at once. France would have liked to postpone the question of Germany's rôle in the joint military effort until European integration was in the final stage. However, faced with the plan for raising a German Army, the French Government put forward the proposal for a European Army at a meeting of the Atlantic Council in September 1950. Mr. Churchill had used the same term in addressing the Council of Europe in Strasbourg a month earlier, but with a different meaning.
On October 24, M. Pleven, who was then Premier, explained the French proposal to the National Assembly; and the Paris Conference which opened on February 15, 1951, drew up the Treaty eventually signed on May 27, 1952, by the same six nations participating in the coal and steel pool. This Treaty sets up a defense community and stipulates that the six existing armies are to be replaced by one common army. Only France is to retain additional forces of her own, for the defense of her overseas territories. No element of the common army is at the disposal of any government acting alone; all six must approve its use. The Council of six Foreign Ministers defines the general policy and gives the general directions, which are to be carried out by a nine-man executive commission. Command is integrated on the model of the Atlantic Army, of which the European Army will be one of the chief land forces. But in the European Army integration is carried still further. Not only is the high command integrated, but the same is true of all units larger than a division, as well as of the services of supply and other auxiliary services; each will be composed of officers and men of different nationalities. There will be German soldiers but no German Army; German officers at every level but no German general staff; and the same will hold true for continental France and the other signatory nations. There will be no distinction between the participating nations except that overseas territories (which France alone possesses) will come under separate jurisdiction.
The Atlantic Command has recognized the value of this system, and the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and the other Atlantic Pact countries have given it their backing. Most of the criticisms come from the countries which are being asked to sign the agreement. Technical matters of language, pay, equivalence of rank and so on present obvious problems. But the main difficulty is psychological. To give up the long-standing tradition of a national army represents a real sentimental sacrifice for any people. Italy will find it hard to have no army of her own, when Jugoslavia has one next door. There will still be British soldiers both in Britain and Germany, but the only French soldiers to wear the national uniform will be stationed abroad. Will the average Frenchman wear a European uniform and follow a European flag with the same pride and enthusiasm that he has always displayed in the service of his own country? Can men of several nationalities, with different temperaments, habits and discipline, fuse their activities to such an extent?
These are real objections and must not be minimized, particularly in the case of France, for though France is the cradle of revolutions, the French for that very reason distrust reforms which are so radical that they may get out of hand. They like to calculate the risks of anything new, and, in general, cling to tradition. But it also is true that most of them are good Europeans and desire Franco-German reconciliation and coöperation among all the nations of the West. The strength of this feeling was revealed at the time the Coal and Steel Community was approved.
This is a critical moment. We owe it to our fellow signatories of the European Defense Community treaty and to our allies in the Atlantic Pact, whose own action depends on ours, to reach a decision soon. We are not responding to an ultimatum, which would be wholly unacceptable; but we must recognize that there is a situation which exists whether we like it or not and which time will not improve. If we reject the treaty one of two courses is possible. Either we may give up the German contribution to the common defense, or we may admit Germany, with an army of her own, to the Atlantic Community. In the first of these cases the experts are in agreement that Western power would be glaringly insufficient. The Atlantic Pact would become a mere piece of bravado and we should have to revise our whole policy toward Germany and Russia. The second solution would involve raising up a German danger with which to counteract the Russian danger--far too dangerous a game for most Frenchmen ever to accept.
Existing doubts about the European Defense Community must, therefore, be overcome. The present French Government is calling for the discussion of protocols, or annexes, which do not necessarily change the substance of the treaty as signed but clarify the text by defining more carefully, or in some cases excluding, certain methods of applying it. The temporary commission appointed by the signatories already has such additions under consideration. There is, I repeat, no intention of bringing either the principles or the general purport of the treaty into question. In the discussions among the signatories, and also with third parties such as Great Britain, which has already assumed obligations toward the common defense, the French Government will state its position, taking into account the constitutional limitations and political exigencies of the others, but insisting upon the gravity of what is at stake. For whether or not the guarantees against violations or misinterpreations of the text are strengthened may decide whether it is ratified and affect the whole future of the Atlantic Community.
Our friends may be surprised that we seek so many safeguards in addition to those provided by the general nature of the text itself. It would be unjust, however, to believe that there is any contradiction between this and the need of basing the accord with Germany on mutual confidence. Confidence cannot be restored in our relations with Germany by a wave of the wand; it must come as a result of an experience of agreements faithfully fulfilled, and be based, not on individuals, but on a harmony of interests developed in a framework of common institutions. In political life, confidence is not a matter of generous sentiments, but of demonstrated facts. And when a treaty is to last for 50 years all possible defects must be foreseen.
The need for this is particularly clear when we remember that a companion treaty signed at Bonn on May 26 determines the future relationship of Germany to the three occupying Powers. The two treaties are closely linked and must be ratified together. The second, known as the "Contractual Agreements," brings Germany a number of benefits, including virtual sovereignty and release from most of the limitations imposed after the war. Without waiting for the signature of a formal peace treaty, France will recognize that her neighbor has regained the status of a Great Power. But this can be done only if the Allies guarantee that the new European community will function properly. France feels that the guarantees she requests will not only be for her own benefit but are essential to the new institution on which world peace and security depend.
The task to be done is a great one for all of us. To unite the free peoples of Europe is primarily a European responsibility, but whether it is done or not is of the utmost importance to the whole free world. The United States deserves thanks for having seen as early as 1947 that all our fates are linked together. We Europeans must realize that foreign aid will not save us by itself, and that we must put forth the maximum effort allowed by our resources. Europe cannot be saved in spite of herself; her future lies in her own hands. This conviction has made France take the various steps described above and will hold her on the same path. The two treaties already concluded confront us with the problems of establishing a political authority among the six participating countries--in other words, of constructing a political as well as an economic and military community. In logic, political unification should have come first. The existence of a common political authority would have facilitated the creation of the Coal and Steel Community, and would have been even more useful in carrying out the joint defense effort; for such an authority could have made concrete economic and military decisions which now have to come before the Coal and Steel Authority or the committee of Foreign Ministers (which acts only by unanimity). The "functional" approach was chosen, however, for the practical reason that it seemed wiser to begin with integration in a restricted, technical sector of national life: the important thing was to go ahead quickly so as to catch the public imagination and win over doubters and scoffers. Also, though the fields in which unification was achieved are of the first importance, they lie somewhat outside the areas of sharpest political controversy. As we have noted, the coal and steel plan has now become a symbol of European political unity. It has created an atmosphere in which integration can develop further and it also represents a concrete and lasting step in the program of Franco-German reconciliation.
Political factors enter more directly into the problem of a common defense, for this is an integral part of the field of foreign affairs. In the absence of a political unity, the Treaty specifies that all political decisions are to be turned over to the committee of six Foreign Ministers. This, however, is a makeshift arrangement that cannot hold long. In every nation decisions on questions of security--and perhaps of survival--hinge upon a parliamentary majority. In the Atlantic Pact, each country determines how it will join in the common action; but the refusal of one to act does not paralyze the others. The European Army, on the contrary, cannot be used unless there is unanimous agreement.
This procedure will have to be changed promptly so as to give a joint organ the authority to make its own decisions and impose them on all the members. The organ might be an assembly elected directly by the people of the member states. A special committee in Strasbourg is studying this question and will shortly submit its findings to the governments concerned. The subject is vast, involving as it does the question of the extent to which the European nations are ready to sacrifice a portion of their sovereign rights in favor of a supranational authority.
There is a tendency to underestimate the difficulty of bringing about such a sacrifice, and Switzerland, the United States and the old German Reich are cited as examples of the way it can be done. But let us remember that it took these nations years to achieve what the nations of Western Europe are trying to do in a few months. Moreover, the European countries have been sovereign for centuries and have fought wars to preserve their independence. There is no real comparison, then, between their problems and those of the thirteen former British Colonies after the American Revolution or of the Swiss cantons and the German states which grouped themselves together in nations. Our present efforts will not succeed unless we understand the difficulties and allow time to work them out.
Along with major general problems of this sort there are disagreements over troublesome specific situations--the problem of the Saar, for example. For exactly a year I negotiated with Chancellor Adenauer on this subject, and I found him possessed of thorough personal understanding and the will to find a solution. France is not striving for open or disguised political annexation of the Saar. But hardly anyone disputes the fact that France and that area have special interests in common which call for particular bonds between them. Ever since 1871, when the Saar was industrialized, it has lived in economic union with Alsace and Lorraine--first during the period when it was incorporated in the Prussian state, which lasted until 1919; then, under the Versailles Treaty, when both Alsace and Lorraine and the Saar were returned to France (which situation lasted, as far as the Saar was concerned, until 1935, when Hitler triumphed in the 1935 plebiscite by employing his familiar methods of rounding up the vote); again, beginning in 1940, when Hitler took over the two French provinces; and finally after the Allied occupation of the Saar which led to the present connections with France. Only from 1935 to 1940 was the Saar separated from the industrial basin of Lorraine, and at this time it ran into a maze of economic difficulties. Now that we are trying to unite Europe it is irrational to set up new barriers, which is why France proposes that the Saar be given a European status--that is, autonomy in internal affairs and close economic ties with France, all controlled and guaranteed by a European body on which, among others, would be representatives of France, Germany and the Saar itself.
There is still disagreement over the economic aspects of this arrangement, and here the Bonn Government should be more explicit in stating its position. So far as the political régime is concerned, the German and French points of view are close together. France is willing to agree that the last word on the subject be left to the eventual peace treaty. As a matter of fact, the status of the Saar will develop according to the way the unification of Europe develops; it is there that the European idea will be tested and given, as it were, bodily form. We may reasonably hope for a satisfactory settlement in the course of the next few months; the longer the delay, the more matters will be complicated by the approaching German elections. Meanwhile, the present arrangements between the Saar and France which constitute the chief obstacle will have been modified in anticipation of the future European status of the area.
In spite of the dreadful heritage of the Nazi occupation, in spite of many disappointments, and in spite of the question of the Saar, relations between France and Germany are steadily improving. The Locarno idea, fortunately, has been left far behind. Faith in the future does not rest now on the fragile guarantees of a pact that lasted hardly eight years, but on a coöperation which, since it derives from a fusion of economic interests and the growth of common institutions, ought to be permanent. The idea of a united Europe will no longer be a theme for poets, a utopian vision; it will be a living reality, because the conscience of the European people will have recognized it as their one chance of salvation.