Can Putin Survive?
The Lessons of the Soviet Collapse
If the Labor Party wins the General Election, the prime concern of a Labor Government would be the maintenance of the Western Alliance and, above all, Britain's close relationship with the United States. This does not mean that things can simply go along as they are. I am much disturbed by developments in NATO. This treaty is, in any case, drawing toward the end of its 20-year term and we must all soon begin to think very hard about its renewal. The British Labor Party has for some time given close thought and attention to the future of the Western Alliance-even before the American proposal for the Multilateral Force. We think our ideas offer a far better solution to the problems that the M.L.F. is intended to meet.
Over and above all these particular problems, the world situation-the framework within which defense and foreign policy must be framed-is changing. I think that the Cuba crisis was a major turning point. In those heart-stopping days President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev, as the representatives of humanity, looked together over the abyss of actual nuclear war. Both men not only drew back from the edge with very considerable political courage; both also left a way open for the other to withdraw.
This was because it was nuclear weapons that were in play. If the world had still had only the weapons of the Second World War, these would almost certainly have gone off. But nuclear weapons are weapons of suicide-this was what became clear in the Cuba crisis in a more vivid and actual way than ever before. At last weapons wholly new in kind brought with them a corresponding change in kind in foreign policy. It became clear that nuclear weapons could never, of purpose and intent, be deliberately used. For the first time in human history the settlement by force of major and vital disputes between the great powers became impossible. Simultaneously, the United States and the Soviet Union realized more clearly than before that, besides all their real conflicts, they had a certain field of common interest at least in regard to nuclear weapons.
First, there was a common interest in stabilizing the nuclear balance at about its present level. There was no point in ever more astronomical expenditure to preserve an ever higher, more precarious and dangerous balance in weapons that could neither be used nor yet dispensed with. This common interest translated itself fairly easily into the test-ban treaty, which greatly inhibited the experiments upon which further development of nuclear weapons depends.
Secondly, there was a common interest in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to other powers. It would cease to be possible even to stabilize the nuclear balance if other nations produced nuclear weapons, made tests and built up stockpiles. American and Russian monopoly of nuclear weapons became a genuine mutual interest. It is significant in this connection that the Soviet Union was prepared to risk a grave split with China in order to hinder the latter's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
The British Labor Party has thought out again its defense and foreign policy in the light of these immense developments. On the whole, we have found that our basic ideas need little adaptation.
We accept without question the need for a Western nuclear deterrent so long as Russia has nuclear weapons. We are ready to bear the full moral and political implications of membership in an alliance which possesses such weapons. There is no trace or hint of neutralism in our attitude or policy. We do not, however, believe that Britain herself should seek to make or possess nuclear weapons of her own. Here we have changed our policy. The cancellation of Blue Streak was the turning point. It then became obvious that Britain had not the means to remain in the nuclear race.
We do not accept Sir Alec Douglas-Home's argument that we must continue to buy an American weapon as a sort of status symbol that would purchase us a place at the peace table. It seems to us pointless and wasteful to have a weapon that could not be used by itself and which adds nothing to the power of the American nuclear armory. Moreover, the British Prime Minister's argument is an open invitation to other countries to do likewise and must, therefore, tend to the dissemination of nuclear weapons.
From the point of view of Britain's own military power we have come to the conclusion that, since the Cuba crisis, it has become clear that the only usable form of force is conventional. This applies equally to the superpowers. Provided that the nuclear balance is maintained, America's actual power in the world depends upon the conventional forces that she maintains in Germany and elsewhere and upon such conventional capacity as "Big Lift." This applies a fortiori to a power like Britain.
Labor's defense and foreign policy is based upon the realities of the world. There are only two superpowers that can afford the full panoply of nuclear weapons that is necessary to a real nuclear power. There are in addition great powers that can play an important part in the world. Because of her resources, her place in the world, her Commonwealth connections, Britain can hope to be the most significant of these great powers. The condition of Britain's greatness is that she recognizes the facts of life and that she adopts wise and suitable policies.
The Labor Party believes that Britain cannot disassociate herself, in the world as it is, from nuclear weapons. We do not intend to throw away the nuclear weapons that we now possess-the V-bombers, which constitute a formidable but wasting striking force. The problem that faces us is what we do when the V-bombers become obsolete. We think we should not replace them with weapons bought from America. Such weapons would not be independent, they would not be usable and they would divert expenditure from conventional forces.
This policy of ours is necessarily dependent upon agreements reached with the United States. In the first place, we would want to renegotiate the Nassau Agreement. But we do not wish simply to cancel it. We want to negotiate a far-reaching new arrangement with Washington. The opening of talks to this end would be one of the first acts of a Labor Government.
We would want to have a real share with the United States in shaping nuclear policy and strategy and we accept, both as a fact and as something desirable, that the last decision must be in the hands of the President. But we want to participate fully, intimately and without limit in the formulation of the ideas, policy and strategy that together make up the doctrine upon which any particular decision of the President must depend. We would want to share in the decisions about the deployment and targeting of nuclear weapons and in future production plans. We would also seek to conclude agreements under which we could execute enough specialist work to benefit from the industrial fall-out that comes from the production of nuclear weapons.
This would be to ask a lot from America. But in exchange we would recognize and support the ultimate nuclear monopoly of the United States in the West. We would also, by example and policy, help to counter the spread of nuclear weapons. We believe also that if NATO is to survive the termination of its treaty-life some reorganization of this kind must be undertaken.
A Labor Government would want France and Germany to play the same role as Britain in the Western Alliance. As regards France, we must be ready to wait until she is ready. A welcome place should be left for her. Meanwhile, no help should be given to France in the production of her own nuclear weapons. This would be against the true interest of the Western Alliance. As regards Germany, this is-as we see it-the only way by which Germany can be given a full and equal place in the alliance, without acquiring nuclear weapons of her own. This would provide a far more satisfactory and lasting solution than the M.L.F.
Here is one reason why the Labor Party opposes the proposed M.L.F. It would not, in our view, be wise to launch an elaborate plan for a weapon of little importance in order to secure only a short-term solution of the German problem. If indeed there is such a strong psychological demand in Europe fox nuclear equality as is alleged by proponents of the M.L.F., then it won't be satisfied by the appearance of nuclear independence.
The M.L.F. would also inevitably divert European effort and resources from conventional forces to a nuclear weapon that would add nothing either to the reality of Europe's defenses or to the strength of the West. If it should turn out that the M.L.F. were the only way of avoiding the spread of nuclear weapons to Germany, we would, of course, look at the proposal again. But we do not believe that it is the only way, or even an effective way, of achieving this end.
Labor's ideas for a reorganization of NATO and the Western Alliance would also help to create the framework of an Atlantic community within which it would be much easier to tackle the problem of Britain's relations with the European Economic Community. The "Kennedy Round" would also contribute greatly to this end; a Labor Government would throw all its weight behind the success of this proposal.
Until there has been significant progress toward the achievement of an Atlantic community, it is extremely improbable that there will be any dramatic changes in Britain's relations with the European Economic Community. A Labor Government would not risk a second failure of negotiations to enter the Common Market; that would have catastrophic consequences.
We would set about improving our relations with France. We cannot conceive of a British foreign policy conducted in enmity or coolness toward France. We would not seek to line ourselves up with the "Five" against France. That would be a barren policy, for there is no such thing as the "Five." There is either the European Community or six separate countries. Whether or not we become a member of the Community, we hope for its success and prosperity. Like the United States, we regard this development in Europe as a healthy one and as a stabilizing factor.
Our general policy would be to create as close relations as possible between ourselves and the European Community. We would seek to proceed by pragmatic steps. Wherever possible we would want to equate our tariffs with those of the Common Market. We would encourage cross-investment. We would be eager to undertake joint European projects, such as the development of nuclear propulsion or communication satellites. We would be ready for a mutual abolition of passports and for reciprocal social security arrangements.
We would keep an open mind about whether or not these and similar steps would one day lead to the reopening of negotiations. If this seemed possible we would prefer to start with general discussion of the fundamental political question at issue-namely, whether it is possible for Britain to enter the Common Market without severing her independent relations with America and with Commonwealth nations. This was the question that was never overtly raised in the Brussels negotiations.
In all this we would act in concert with our partners in EFTA. We are determined with them to show that in many ways a Free Trade Area works better than an Economic Community.
We would want to take part in any discussion of steps toward a closer political union in Europe. We would oppose the idea of a European nuclear deterrent. This would be at complete variance with our concept of a single, indivisible Western Alliance.
An essential feature of our defense policy would be (for reasons given above) to improve our conventional forces. We believe we can raise the number of troops that we need without conscription. Our main aim would be to carry out a program of modernization and equipment. We want troops with great firepower and we want a large Transport Command.
We recognize our duties in Europe. But we have also a role to play in the Indian Ocean-a role that fits in with America's strategic needs. We may well want to increase our forces in the Indian Ocean and in the strategic reserve. Our idea is to create two or three small floating bases that would enable us to give military assistance to our friends in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. We would by this means be able, in due course, to give up sovereign bases in Aden and Singapore. A sovereign base in someone else's country is never secure. We would far prefer to hire dry-docking and other facilities.
We would like, if we could, to reduce our defense expenditure, as the United States is doing. But I cannot foresee any chance of an early substantial cut in it. The money that we saved by not replacing our V- bombers would have to be put into the equipment of our conventional forces.
A Labor Government would pay increasing attention to North-South relations- to the relations between the advanced countries in the Northern Hemisphere and the hungry nations in the Southern Hemisphere. This seems to us in the long run to be of more fundamental import to the world than the division between East and West.
There must, of course, be massive and increasing aid for developing countries, but, fundamentally, the problem as we see it is one of psychological relationship. Aid should as far as possible be without strings. This means that the democratic world must be much more self- confident in the competition with Communism for the friendship and affection of Southern Hemisphere countries.
We must go on the general assumption that a country that has gained independence-either from colonial rule or from alien economic domination- will want above all to maintain that independence. It will not, therefore, be attracted by a Communism that wants to dominate it. It would be far more attracted by democracies that are true to themselves and to their belief in the right of individuals and of peoples to live as they wish.
We must be tolerant of social revolutions in countries where these are long overdue-even if they sometimes take unpleasant forms. A lot of patience goes into the establishment of good relations with touchy, newly independent nations.
We must all try to get away from direct bilateral aid. The relationship of charity is a difficult one both for donor and recipient. In the main, a Labor Government would wish to proceed by raising the price of the primary products of developing countries. We would put much effort into the negotiation of world commodity agreements. Aid given in this form is anonymous, without strings and permanent. It is a form of aid that the West can give without rivalry from Communist countries.
A Labor Government would seek to refresh and strengthen Britain's relations with Latin American countries. We recognize the primacy of the United States' interest in Latin America, but we feel that there is a part we can play in this potentially rich and powerful area of the world.
We dislike United States' pressure to prevent our legitimate trade with Cuba. We accept, and will ourselves enforce, a ban on shipments of military value. But we do not accept a distinction between shipments of wheat to the Soviet Union and of buses to Cuba. When asserting its own vital national interests (which we accept and recognize), the United States must accept the vital national interests of other members of the alliance. Trade and the freedom of the seas are among Britain's vital interests.
A Labor Government would want to make closer its relations with China and would press actively for the admission of China to the United Nations. We believe that an isolated China is a wild and uncontrolled force in a very dangerous part of the world. We should begin to try and talk with China and to subject her to the pressure of world opinion in the United Nations. At the same time, we want to avoid any suspicion that we are playing China off against Russia. In the conflict between Russia and China our sympathies must be with Russia.
The general guiding line of a Labor foreign policy would be to extend the field of common interest between the United States and the Soviet Union. We would do our utmost to help in the achievement of this end. We will support measures of arms control and measures against surprise attack. We would be prepared to put forward further proposals for areas of thinned-out armaments and, as part of a more general and precise set of agreements, a nonaggression pact.
We would, let me add, stand firm for the independence of West Berlin and for the Allied right of access to the city. We would not extend diplomatic recognition to East Germany. However, we would not exclude dealings with the Pankow régime as part of a wider international arrangement that would guarantee Allied access to Berlin.
We accept that the Oder-Neisse frontier cannot be discussed except in a final German treaty: but, as we have often said, we cannot conceive of such a treaty that does not recognize this frontier.
We would do our utmost to press on with general disarmament: our immediate aim would be to bring closer the American and Russian draft disarmament treaties. A Labor Government would set up an Office of Disarmament (closely related to the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defense) for the close, hardheaded and detailed study of disarmament and arms control.
We would in all our policies seek to strengthen the United Nations. We regard the enlargement of the United Nations as an admirable development; it has created a genuine forum of world opinion.
We believe that Britain's role depends not upon a bought nuclear weapon, but upon our strength, our position in the world, our unique relationship with Commonwealth countries in every continent. This last is something that neither America nor Russia can match.
In the last resort, Britain's place in the councils of the nations depends upon the fact that we cannot be left out. The other nations cannot make general settlements in which we do not participate or to which we are not committed. At the same time, of course, we must pursue a wise and appropriate defense and foreign policy. The whole aim of a Labor Government would be to heighten and enhance Britain's influence in the world.