Coups in the Kremlin
What the History of Russia’s Power Struggles Says About Putin’s Future
After the events of the past six months, few people on either side of the Atlantic would dispute the view that the concept of Atlantic partnership and the imagery of "twin pillars" and "dumbbells" need reconsidering. As applied, the imagery has obscured the disparity in European economic and strategic strength; it has overlooked the contrast between America's genuine desire to see European economic strength increase and cohere, and its equally genuine reluctance to encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons; it has assumed an identity of political interest between the United States and Western Europe which can, one hopes, be evolved but may not exist prima facie; and it has rested on an important confusion between the six West European countries of the Community and the 12 European countries in NATO, whose interests also are not identical with one another.
For nearly 20 years American policy has cherished the vision of a united Europe whose leaders could talk the same language of power and responsibility as its own. During the early years of that policy there was little conflict between its economic and political aspects, for almost all the strategic power of the West was effectively in the hands of the United States. Moreover, if military technology had pursued a less breakneck course, it is possible that the United States would have viewed the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a united Europe-or its individual countries-with a reasonable equanimity. The United States might have calculated that to enhance European pride, lessen European fears and promote Western security as a whole would hasten the day when the two systems could look each other in the eye with confidence. Indeed in the mid- 1950s, when the British V-Bomber force with nuclear bombs was becoming an actuality, it was accepted in Washington as fulfilling a useful complementary role to that of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), in that, with its speed and proximity to Russia, it could be in action faster than American bombers.
It can be argued, of course, that for a complex of political reasons, the United States has viewed the British and the French programs in a different light, and that it was bound, in terms of its relations with the Soviet Union, to become restive as soon as other European nuclear projects began to raise tensions in Germany. But even so, forms of nuclear coöperation conceivable five years ago are not conceivable today, for it was primarily the introduction of the missile into the strategic balance, rather than the political overtones of European projects, that made American strategic experts insistent upon the centralized command and control of nuclear weapons. Doubt was thereby cast upon the feasibility of a true Atlantic partnership long before phrases like "twin pillars" or the "dumbbell" had even been coined. The speed of the missile compressed the time margins available for political decisions from hours to minutes; whereas in the days of manned aircraft some "hot-line" communication might just have sufficed for a great power to dissociate itself from the action of a smaller ally, no such option is available when weapons fly at 16,000 miles an hour. The anonymity of the missile immediately inculpates the largest power in any alliance, no matter whose national emblem may originally have decorated the one fired against the adversary. The unchallenged penetration of the missile makes it necessary to deter its use by the adversary, through the development of a second-strike capability which sets a premium on complex and expensive systems for achieving invulnerability, on numbers of units of strategic delivery, on areas of low population density, on warning time-in short, on exploiting the assets which the United States happens to possess and Europe does not.
Thus, those who concentrated primarily on the economic aspects of the Atlantic relationship, whether in Europe or the United States, saw by the early 1960s the prospects of an early fruition of that equal and interdependent European-American relationship, to which so much good will and patient toil had been contributed from both sides of the Atlantic; but those responsible for strategic planning and its attendant diplomatic problems-including arms control-saw the balance of responsibilities becoming increasingly uneven. There are some bitter Europeans who now argue that the American insistence on central strategic control-explicit, for instance, in Mr. McNamara's public statements and implicit in the Nassau proposals-is evidence that the United States has never intended to relinquish its political hegemony within the Alliance, and that repeated statements of the American desire for a strong and independent Europe, such as President Kennedy made last July 4, were mere phrase-making. On the contrary, I would argue that much of the muddle in Atlantic relationships arose from an overeagerness in every Western capital, including Washington, to believe that a strong Western European pillar could somehow be created without confronting the fact that economic and strategic trends were going in opposite directions, and without evolving any but the haziest notion as to what kind of political portico would connect these "two pillars" which were to replace the existing multilateral relationship in NATO. Such loose thinking has now been usefully exposed by President de Gaulle. But it is unlikely to shake the conviction of those who will make American strategic policy in the coming years that centralized command and control is the only safe course for the Alliance; some other part of the "grand design" is more likely to be jettisoned than that conviction.
To many people in Europe and to some in the United States the setbacks of recent months-the exclusion of Britain from the Community, the tensions within the Community, the deterioration in Franco-American relations-all point in one direction: toward eliciting a higher degree of European common interest and a stronger basis for partnership through the creation of a collective European nuclear force. Thus, from Paris, M. Jean Monnet has declared, "Equal partnership must also apply to the responsibilities of common defense. It requires, amongst other things, the organization of a European atomic force including Britain and in partnership with the United States."[i] From Harvard, Professor Henry Kissinger has advised his countrymen that "Instead of being hostile to the French nuclear program, and, at best, indifferent to the British effort, we should use our influence to place them in the service of a European conception."[ii] And from London, The Economist has advocated "a collective European deterrent organized with American backing and woven in with the American defense network."[iii]
Such suggestions, authoritative though they may be, are so cloudy that it is essential to give some precision to them. The first question concerns Britain. The present American Administration and its predecessor have been unequivocal-despite political and academic criticism-that they will not assist with the development of nuclear forces in Europe which are not integrated with those of the United States. Congress would be likely to hold to this view even if some future Administration changed its mind. Therefore, in asking Britain to throw in her lot with Europe at this time one is asking her to renounce her very intimate military relationship with the United States, in return for coöperation with a group of allies who have little to offer her in the way of technological secrets and to whose political aims she does not fully subscribe.
In the second place, even if Britain and France were to strike up a successful nuclear partnership-and this is a questionable proposition for two countries whose military élites have distrusted each other ever since 1914-there is no indication that the other Western European countries, especially Germany, would accept an Anglo-French force as a substitute for the American guarantee, any more than they have been prepared to accept an autonomous British force operating "on behalf of Europe." It would be very difficult in any case to persuade German or Italian opinion that any European effort could be an adequate substitute for the American guarantee. Consequently, the idea makes political sense only if all the countries of the present, or an enlarged, Community have a full share in planning and operational control.
The technical difficulties of creating a European force, financed by the whole Community and posing a strong counter-city threat to the Soviet Union, are formidable, but they can be overestimated. If Britain, with her large aircraft industry and established nuclear weapons program, were to combine with the considerable technical resources of France, Germany and Italy, a new generation of European strategic weapons could probably be developed by the early 1970s-or without Britain by the mid-1970s. With Britain participating, it would involve increasing European defense expenditures by about one-quarter-without Britain, by about one-third. The increase in either case would still represent a lower percentage of European national incomes devoted to defense than in the United States.
The real difficulty about a European deterrent would be the problem of control. A European nuclear force would have to represent a common effort by a group of middle and small powers; it could not, therefore, be controlled unilaterally by any one country. (If President de Gaulle's concept of a Europe des Patries should prevail, the idea would, of course, be stillborn.) Hitherto the European Community has owed its success to the fact that it has not wasted time in arguing over blueprints for supranational institutions, but has attempted to develop those which reflect the highest community of interest. The planning decisions concerning a separate European nuclear deterrent-types, range, deployment, finance and so on-could perhaps be taken by the Council of Ministers of a Europe which had achieved a confederal structure; but the decision to use, threaten to use or withhold such weapons in a crisis could not. To become an operational nuclear power the Community would (after accepting Britain) first have to become a genuine federation with a powerful central government like that of the United States. More than that, its peoples would have to have acquired that sense of common identity which would make an Englishman or a Frenchman ready to see operational control over nuclear weapons placed in the hands of an Italian or a German, and vice versa. Moreover, as the resort to nuclear weapons is the most awful decision that a political society could be asked to contemplate, it could hardly be taken by any collective body (especially if "Europe" were to embrace the Scandinavian and Mediterranean countries), and might require, if a European deterrent were to be politically credible, the concentration of power in the hands of a President of Europe with authority analogous to that of the President of the United States.
Conceivably Western Europe-with or without Britain-may be able to take the very big step from confederal to federal institutions within the next ten years. But is it possible to create, within the next decade, the highly centralized form of government that would be necessary to make credible the deterrent threat of a nuclear weapons system under the control of the Community itself? It has been suggested that the need to control nuclear weapons may have a decisive effect upon the structure of European institutions. This is possible, but by no means certain, especially as long as the European powers have an alternative-namely, association with the control of American weapons.
Even if there were American support for the idea of a separate European deterrent, there are still three questions to be answered. First, could it be evolved without weakening the American commitment to Europe? Those who advocate the European solution agree that Europe would require only a limited strategic force targeted on Soviet cities. But the difficulty of a coördinated relationship between a smaller and a larger force is that, in an emergency, the former can only force the hand of the latter, not restrain it. Thus, even though Europe behaved with great responsibility, there might be growing pressure in America to make clear to the Soviet Union that the United States was no longer automatically committed to the support of Europe in all eventualities-the very thing that some advocates of a European force most fear. At the least it might lead to pressure to withdraw American forces from Europe, for nearly half a million American lives could be jeopardized by actions over which the United States had no control.
The second question concerns the effect upon the Soviet Union of a decision to create an independent European deterrent. It now regards the European Community, in its purely economic aspects, as a major challenge. If Western Europe decided to develop its own weapons of mass destruction, would the Soviet Union be content to do nothing during the six to ten years while this force was growing from drawing-board to actuality? If not, there are many vulnerable and exposed points in Europe against which it could exert pressure.
The third question concerns the effect upon the European Community itself. So far it has been grounded upon a foundation of common economic interests, but the unresolved disputes within the Community show that the next stages- the evolution of a political framework or of a common foreign policy-are going to be extremely difficult. In view of the different attitudes about nuclear strategy that exist among European governments, within governments, or between governments and their people on this question, might not the attempt to evolve European strategic nuclear programs within the next decade break up the Community itself? M. Monnet, Professor Kissinger and The Economist write as if nuclear weapons were a unifying political influence; the evidence of the past decade hardly supports this. And to disrupt one of the most promising experiments in supranationalism that this century has witnessed merely to satisfy an unproven equation between political stature and the possession of nuclear weapons would be a profound tragedy.
Are these risks the United States or Europe can face with equanimity? Even if they did not materialize in this form, would not the attempt to carry the analogy of partnership beyond the economic into the nuclear field lead, not to increased confidence between the two halves of the Alliance, but to distrust, to American isolationism or European neutralism? Leaving aside the question of whether such a Europe might become a third force, do we deliberately wish to foster the development of two Western strategies which even if coördinated could have as fatal results for world peace as a similar relationship between Germany and Austro-Hungary had in 1914? Are adult communities like Europe and the United States really prepared to squander resources on this kind of duplication of effort, laying themselves open to most telling accusations of the less privileged and less adult?
If one accepts the view that premature attempts to endow Europe with the attributes of a great nuclear power may destroy the very objectives at which the concept of "partnership" is aimed, then we must tackle more directly the basic sources of malaise to which the multilateral Alliance has given rise.
There is little difficulty in tracing this uneasiness to its original source: on the European side it springs from the sense of irritation, impotence and even despair which the individual allied countries feel in doing business with a nation which has many times their own strength and resources, a nation which is self-sufficient to an extent they can no longer hope to be, and whose policy, once painfully evolved by a cumbrous process of internal debate, is extremely hard to alter. On the American side it comes from weariness with the complexities and intrigues of the "entangling alliance," and the discomfort of negotiating individually with a number of countries much weaker than itself. Yet since these tensions will not be alleviated by casting our eyes upon an objective which is at present unattainable and which on deeper consideration may prove undesirable, then what needs discussing is how the multilateral system can be made to work more satisfactorily. Here I would like to confine myself to the politico-military aspect and attempt to sketch how the problem presents itself to many Europeans who, like myself, are convinced that the Atlantic house needs to be built on a firmer foundation than "twin pillars."
It can be argued that the collapse of the "grand design" has created an artificial atmosphere of crisis which need not persist. The proposal for a multilateral force of surface ships is not regarded in Europe as a comprehensive solution to the control of strategy within the Alliance. Since the force itself is marginal to the strategic requirements of the West, it represents no real shift of the American burden to Europe, and obscures the question of control. But it may serve as the basis of a more satisfactory German-American military relationship. If this did no more than allay the somewhat unreal American belief that Germany may soon be tempted by the British and French example to become an independent nuclear power-thereby enabling Washington to adopt a rather less fearful attitude to Franco-German friendship-it will have served some useful purpose.
Then, if Washington can cease making offensive statements about the French nuclear effort, misconceived though it may be, it may become rather harder for President de Gaulle to resist the views of his professional advisers that the force de frappe must be coördinated, at least as to targets, with SAC. From that beginning much else could flow.
Moreover, it is possible that there will be a marked change in the climate of European politics over the next two years or so, which may make it easier to reconsider the Atlantic relationship. By 1965 there may be a Labor Government in Britain, left-center governments in Italy and Holland as well as Belgium, and a government in Germany with very different perspectives from that of Chancellor Adenauer's, whether it be C.D.U., S.P.D. or a coalition. The left-center in Europe is at present more Atlantic in its outlook than the right, readier to accept American leadership, probably readier to assume greater financial burdens, less concerned with asserting the independence of Europe, more concerned with the dangers of the arms race and therefore more sympathetic to American views on arms control. President de Gaulle may soon find himself in conversation with a different set of European leaders, and the great internal debate within Europe between the original concept of community and his own concept of union, and the relationship of either to the United States, may ultimately be resolved in a different setting from today. But it might be a serious mistake to assume that time and normal political change will come to the rescue of the Atlantic Alliance or obviate the need for more fundamental thought and action on both sides of the ocean.
Mr. Harold Wilson has indicated cautiously that a Labor Government might relinquish the British nuclear weapons program. It is certainly probable that it would abandon the attempt to build new generations of strategic weapons, including Polaris; but even a Labor Government might well have second thoughts about removing Britain from the ranks of the nuclear powers altogether, if it meant exclusion from nuclear arms-control negotiations and unemployment in the weapons industries, or if France's strategic nuclear program is still going steadily forward. And a change in the political leadership of her neighbors is unlikely to dissuade President de Gaulle, or any successor, from the view that the risk that the United States might not support Western Europe in some unforeseen crisis, however small, justifies an independent French nuclear program.
But apart from the question of the two European nuclear weapons programs, there are three aspects of the strategic relationship, in its broadest sense, where there may be underlying conflicts of interest. The first concerns arms-control discussions and negotiations. There is a strong feeling among European governments, which recent events have accentuated, that there is now a permanent dilemma in American policy. On the one hand, the nature and risks of the arms race are such that if the United States does not seek limited agreements with the Soviet Union, both great powers will become involved in so complex and dangerous a deadlock that they risk losing control of the course of international relations. Yet such limited agreements may jeopardize European interests, especially if they take the form of some bilateral agreement that involves American "nuclear disengagement" from Europe or the withdrawal of American bases and forces in return for some equivalent Soviet concession. American writing on arms control assumes an almost completely bipolar world. The American decision to dismantle the Thor and Jupiter missile bases in Britain, Italy and Turkey has been widely noted in Europe both as a foretaste of things to come and as evidence of a tacit Soviet-American deal, to which Europe is not privy, in the wake of the Cuban crisis. The fact that British opinion, on the whole, favors a bilateral Soviet-American dialogue on arms control tends to divide London from the Continent rather than bridge the gap between American preoccupations and European suspicions.
A second source of tensions, which is related to this, concerns the military posture of NATO forces in Europe. Over the past two years the Kennedy Administration has been increasingly insistent that the conventional forces of the European allies should be enlarged and improved. At the same time semi-official spokesmen of the Administration have aired the idea of a purely conventional defense of Western Europe. The lack of enthusiasm in Europe for strengthening conventional forces and for the doctrine of "flexible response" has disappointed many American officials, and has been variously attributed to complacency, naïveté or stinginess. But in fact it may derive from a genuine conflict of interest. Europeans who dispute the wisdom of current American policy do not necessarily take the extreme view that the American commitment to the integrity of Europe has diminished, and those who dispute the wisdom of current American policy do not minimize the financial and moral sacrifice which the United States makes by keeping 400,000 troops in Europe. But it is realized that the way in which the United States can honor this commitment has been profoundly affected by the development of a delicate over-all strategic balance; discounting what Mr. Herter or General Taylor may or may not have said on earlier occasions, the United States clearly cannot stake the survival of North American civilization against a Soviet raid on the Denmark Straits or Thrace. It must seek safer alternatives if it is not to loosen its commitment to Europe.
But to Western Europe, with its small and crowded land area, with the horrors of conventional war upon its own soil still fresh in men's minds, this attempt to stress the "conventional option" seems to offer the Soviet Union the temptation to make some limited promenade militaire against an exposed part of Europe, to destroy its conventional defenses, and to open negotiation from well inside the present perimeter of free Europe before the United States could take the agonizing decision to risk a strategic nuclear exchange. This view does not imply any slight on American courage and determination, but is based on a considered judgment that to deter all war in Europe requires leaving the Soviet Union in constant doubt as to whether an aggressive act of any scale would invoke a nuclear response. This in turn means keeping tactical nuclear weapons sited well forward, and perhaps decentralizing the decision to use them. I think that there are ways in which this argument could be resolved to the relative, if not the complete, satisfaction of both sides; but this will not be done by behaving as if the other party did not understand the problem.
A third kind of friction, which changes in European governments will not modify, concerns military research and production. The pride and ambition of European science and industry are rising fast. At the same time the United States maintains not only a complete war potential of its own, but, in order to solve its balance-of-payments problem, is anxious to sell more and more armaments to Europe. Every advanced country in Europe has had an unhappy experience in trying to reach interdependent arrangements on research and production with the United States; in addition, except for certain very advanced weapons, there is increasing doubt about the efficiency of manufacturing American-designed aircraft or weapons in Europe. In every major European country there are ambitious firms and designers who are anxious to foster interdependent arrangements within Europe rather than continue to depend on the United States. Here Britain's interests coincide with those of her neighbors. One of the most common arguments in Europe for a major nuclear weapons program is that otherwise European industries will be denied the "spin off" benefits which their American competitors acquire-including important ramifications in employment, civil progress and economic activities.
The most important reason why the Alliance must soon decide whether to pursue the concept of partnership to its logical conclusion, or to work toward a complementary and interdependent relationship, is that in less than six years' time the North Atlantic Treaty will have to be reconfirmed. This means that there is a shorter time ahead of us than the period between Suez and the present day in which to decide what form the political structure of the Alliance will take in the 1970s and 1980s. Just ahead of us the road may fork toward two Atlantic alliances or one. Since the lead time of modern weapons is six to eight years, since official positions on such momentous questions require prolonged thought, and since public opinion in the NATO countries is not yet even aware that this deadline confronts it, there is no time to waste in carrying the debate forward.
The point which I should like to emphasize could easily be misinterpreted as underrating the vast resources of wealth, skill and brains which the United States devotes to the defense of its allies. It is simply that, if the United States decides that it will remain firmly the leader of the Atlantic Alliance rather than accept what in effect would be a separate European alliance, connected merely by some tenuous coördinating machinery, then American methods and perspectives in the years immediately ahead may have to change more drastically than those of any other country. If the logic of centralized control of strategic decisions is to be accepted, then new techniques for mitigating the frustrating effects of the independent U. S. deterrent, and for limiting the careless use of America's vast political and physical power, have to be considered. In this sense, the period of preoccupation with partnership rather than leadership has been one of retrogression rather than advance, for it has obscured the means a leader must use to command continuous support and confidence.
A number of examples come to mind. For one thing, in recent years, American strategic policy has been evolved with less consultation with the European allies than at any time in the history of the Alliance. As the vitality of the internal American debate has increased, it has apparently seemed less and less necessary to draw the allies into it. No one in Europe underrates the formidable ability and remarkable achievements of Mr. McNamara; yet, not only was there no consultation with America's allies on the level and kinds of strategic power that should be constructed for the mid-1960s, but the strategic doctrine for the employment of Minuteman and Polaris-that of "controlled nuclear response" in the event of war-emerged out of an entirely American discussion and was presented as established policy a year ago to a bewildered collection of allied governments whose officials had little inkling of the considerations which had shaped it. Hence it is not surprising that it was greeted with considerable suspicion.
The same is true of the argument over conventional forces in Europe on which, in the words of Mr. Paul Nitze, "the United States campaigns within NATO, by example and persuasion."[iv] No one can dispute the American example, the magnificent quality of the U. S. Seventh Army in Germany; but it is no substitute for a better attempt to argue out the implications of the "conventional option" with its allies. There is a fog of European suspicion about American ideas and, as M. François de Rose has pointed out, "Misunderstandings have reached the point where motives are being questioned."[v] Here lies one of the real danger points, for in a few years' time the United States will not be the only source of tactical atomic weapons in NATO.
Second, there is a strong feeling in Europe that, despite talk of "shifting the burden" and of greater European participation in the defense of the free world as a whole, the effect of some American suggestions would be to create "spheres of influence" and to confine European energies primarily to Europe itself. Thus the proposal for a NATO multilateral force, as a solution to the association of Europe with nuclear strategy, would give European countries some control over a small part of the nuclear deterrent forces of the West, but not necessarily association with the worldwide responsibilities of the United States. Apart from its other disadvantages, this proposal might well foster an inward-looking Europe if it were ever fully implemented. Europe is inclined to suspect that the United States- perhaps as a hangover of the earlier colonial crises in NATO-does not really want its coöperation in the problems of Asian, Pacific or Caribbean security. This suspicion may be quite unjustified, but if it is, then it becomes a prime American interest to involve Europe in the problems of global policy.
Here I think one can detect a fallacy arising out of the purely financial approach to the problem. In his testimony to the House Armed Services Committee last January, Mr. McNamara said: "We have no desire to dominate NATO. In fact, we would be very happy to share more equitably the heavy burdens we now carry in the collective defense of the Free World. But as long as we do carry so great a share of the total burden, we cannot escape carrying a proportionately large share of the responsibility for leadership and direction." This would be a sound principle for the control of a great industrial corporation; but in terms of the Alliance it may be self- defeating, by promoting European parochialism and separatism. Probably, it is only by asking the European allies to assume a greater responsibility for participation and direction than their present contribution entitles them to that they can be given the impetus to assume a larger proportion of the total burden.
Third, American policy sometimes hampers those kinds of European coöperation which do reflect a genuine community of European interest. Because the United States has played such a vigorous role in European defense, the European members of NATO have tended to feel, if anything, a diminishing sense of responsibility toward each other. Thus the countries of North and West Europe now feel little responsibility for the Mediterranean countries and vice versa. The defense of the central area has become increasingly a German-American affair and there is now talk of Germany's integrating her military logistic system with that of the United States. Without embarking on the very dubious course of encouraging European coöperation in nuclear weapons, it would still be possible, by the development of European interdependence in conventional weapons-aircraft, tanks, electronics, short-range missiles and the like-to express a genuine community of interest and give greater outlet to European scientific and technical ambition.
This has an important implication for American policy. It is that the United States should not try to alleviate a balance-of-payments problem, which it has undoubtedly incurred in the defense of Europe and the free world, by the indirect method of pressing American weapons upon Europe (except where they are clearly superior), or by attempting to persuade Europeans to bear the cost of a marginal source of military strength, such as the multilateral seaborne force. It would be far sounder to ask Europe to make a direct contribution to the support of American forces in Europe, or even to help bear part of the costs of an essential weapons system like Minuteman in return for closer association with the planning of its use. When the day comes that a U.S. Secretary of Defense orders a European plane, missile or ship for the American armed forces, Europeans may become less convinced that they are dealing with a monolith and therefore must become one themselves. The development of a complementary rather than a competitive military relationship between Europe and the United States will require deliberate acts of forbearance on both sides, and strong governmental control over commercial instincts. If a European Defense Authority could be created to foster interdependence in military research and production it could acquire a second and equally important role: namely, to translate into terms of the budgets and plans of individual European countries agreements with the United States about the European share of the over-all burden of European and non-European defense. If there is to be a 30-division force in Germany, and if the United States and Canada continue to supply six of these, it should be an intra-European argument, not a debilitating series of American arguments with individual European governments, as to how the other 24 are to be found.
Finally, NATO, the instrument of multilateral consultation and planning, has been allowed by all the major governments to decay. It lacks a powerful Secretariat, and most particularly the kind of American military intellectuals who provide the grist of ideas and calculations on which policy decisions in Washington are based. There is thus virtually no European-American dialogue on matters of defense planning and policy below the plane of the ministers and ranking generals-a level at which national positions are not easily adjusted. NATO's structure does not permit using the techniques of civil-military planning which have been increasingly adopted by national governments, but tends instead to keep the military and civilians in separate compartments, to the detriment of both. In consequence, it has failed to become the powerful clearinghouse of national policies which its founders intended and has become one party to a series of loud and prolonged arguments between governments. Britain has, at last, had to revise her view that NATO is basically an Anglo-American arrangement for the defense of Europe, and it is now becoming her principal channel of discourse with her European allies. It would give heart to many in Europe if the United States took a similar decision.
Europeans are apt to feel that American officials lose their authority if they are away from Washington for any length of time. Certainly, by the light of hindsight, many would feel that NATO would be stronger today if the Council and Secretariat had been located in Washington rather than Paris, so that the representatives of the allied countries could be in closer touch with that other multilateral process whereby American policy emerges out of fierce debates between the Executive and Congress, Defense and State, the services and industry. Large organizations cannot readily be moved, but a good case can be made for double-banking the NATO Council, perhaps by a consultative council of the Ambassadors of the NATO countries in Washington, with its own small permanent staff, meeting regularly with the Secretaries of Defense and State. Its central purpose would be to provide a multilateral setting in which American ideas or proposals could be raised before they solidified into official policy. It would also have advantages in a period of high tension such as Cuba, and would be essential if Europe were not to be misled and made suspicious by the fruition of any Soviet-American arms-control discussions.
The improvement of the transatlantic institutions we have so laboriously developed over recent years can derive only from a belief that they are worth using and that they fulfill a function which bilateral diplomacy no longer can. Certain modest steps toward the strengthening of the NATO system have already been taken or proposed: the establishment of the Nuclear Committee of the NATO Council (though its machinery has hardly been used); the plan to group the inter-allied forces concerned with nuclear interdiction into a single command, which was approved at Ottawa in May; the likely proposal of the Canadian Government to make NORAD into a NATO command; the plan to station European NATO officers at SAC headquarters. The multilateral seaborne force may gain wider acceptance now that the German Government appears seriously interested in it.
But these will remain a patchwork of repair jobs, holding together a fabric whose foundations may be sinking, unless there is a more candid reconsideration of the European-American relationship, free of false analogy and imagery. I would suggest that a useful point of departure would be to examine the truth or falsehood of four propositions.
The first is that the concept of "partnership," in its political and strategic aspects, can be considered a secure basis for planning the future structure of the Alliance only if it is believed that Europe-the Europe of the 12 NATO allies, not just of the six Community countries-can develop over the next few years powerful, central political institutions which command widespread popular support. The second is that if this objective should prove unattainable, and it becomes necessary to concentrate on improving the present multilateral system under American leadership, then important modifications in the way this leadership is exercised will be necessary. The third is that the countries of Europe will not make a move to lighten the American share of the common burden until they are first asked to share a larger part of the responsibility for formulating and directing allied policy. The fourth is that a satisfactory solution to the problem of the command of nuclear weapons and the control of strategic decisions is inseparable from that of long-term political consultation and confidence within the Alliance.
Only the last point needs any elaboration. The literature of contemporary strategic analysis is strewn with the wrecks of schemes for allied control of nuclear weapons, executive bodies and weighted votes, "hot lines" between capitals and rights of withdrawal. What they mostly overlook is that without political intimacy they are certain to break down, while in any atmosphere of real confidence they might prove unnecessary. And this may be as true of the multilateral seaborne force as of any paper proposal. Here the contrast between British and French experience is relevant. The debate in Britain as to whether her nuclear program is worth the cost and friction it creates derives not from any "special relationship" to the United States in the sense of guarantees which her allies lack, but from the fact that for many years there has been a continuous Anglo-American dialogue, often very acrimonious, so that there is a wide range of politicians, officials, soldiers and journalists in both countries who know each others' minds. France's determination to build a nuclear force is connected, just as directly, with the fact that the Franco-American dialogue dried up many years ago, and is only now beginning to be reopened.
The beginning, therefore, of a solution to the problems of command and control of nuclear weapons lies in confronting the sources of distrust and the conflicts of interest which they have engendered, rather than in devising ingenious mechanics of command. It lies in making the European allies partners in the Washington debate from which emerge policies on arms control, for the defense of Europe and for meeting the world-wide responsibilities of the United States. If the multilateral process is insufficient for all purposes, there are few people in Europe who would not welcome the deliberate cultivation of a "special relationship" between France and the United States. This is most particularly so in Britain, the country which has most to lose from strained relations between Paris and Washington.
As 1969 approaches, more drastic solutions may appear necessary: the commitment of the whole of the independent American deterrent to NATO, an Atlantic Executive Authority, even an Atlantic Union. But before we know whether such ideas are even worth discussing, we have first to discover whether the oldest political union in the modern world and the component nations of a union that is still unborn can exercise sufficient self- restraint to make the term "Atlantic partnership" more than a mere phrase.
[i] Interview with Corriere della Sera, April 6, 1963.
[ii] The Reporter, March 28, 1963.
[iii] May 4, 1963, p. 410.
[iv] Speech at Cleveland, March 2, 1963.
[v] Foreign Afairs, April 1963, p. 489.