For several years now disputes have rent the Atlantic Alliance. They have focused on such issues as nuclear strategy and control, the organization of Europe and the nature of an Atlantic Community. However, the most fundamental issue in Atlantic relationships is raised by two questions not unlike those which each Western society has had to deal with in its domestic affairs: How much unity do we want? How much pluralism can we stand? Too formalistic a conception of unity risks destroying the political will of the members of the Community. Too absolute an insistence on national particularity must lead to a fragmentation of the common effort.
One does not have to agree with the methods or policies of President de Gaulle to recognize that he has posed an important question which the West has yet to answer. There is merit in his contention that before a political unit can mean something to others, it must first mean something to itself. Though de Gaulle has often acted as if he achieved identity by opposing our purposes, our definition of unity has occasionally carried overtones of tutelage.
There is no question that the abrupt tactics of the French President have severely strained the pattern of allied relationships which emerged after the war. But no one man could have disrupted the Alliance by himself. Fundamental changes have been taking place in the nature of alliances, in the character of strategy and in the relative weights of Europe and the United States. A new conception of allied relationships would have been necessary no matter who governed in Paris or in Washington. The impact of particular statesmen aside, a farsighted policy will gear itself to dealing with these underlying forces. It will inquire into the degree to which objectives are common and where they diverge. It will face frankly the fact that different national perspectives-and not necessarily ignorance-can produce differing strategic views. It will examine the scope and limits of consultation. If this is done in
Loading, please wait...