The Day After Russia Attacks
What War in Ukraine Would Look Like—and How America Should Respond
A NEW EFFORT TO BUILD EUROPE
THE politics of Western Europe center around two great achievements-the Atlantic Alliance and the Common Market. At this point in time, one would be blind not to see that both are in danger. How could this have come about?
The Atlantic Alliance was concluded in Washington in 1948, born of the fear aroused among the Western democracies by Soviet imperialism, and particularly by its recent and spectacular demonstration in the coup d'état in Czechoslovakia. The signers aimed to defend the free world against possible Soviet aggression. They intended, in any event, to raise what they hoped would be an insurmountable barrier against any Soviet advance in Europe and North America.
The idea of a united Europe came back to life at a congress at The Hague in 1948, after a state of unconsciousness into which it had been plunged by fascism, Hitlerism, Communism and the Second World War. Its advocates (who included some of those who had signed the Washington treaty) aimed to lift Europe out of weakness to its former level of strength and influence, so that it might become a full-fledged partner of its great American ally.
There was no contradiction or conflict between the concept of the Atlantic Alliance and of the European alliance. Rising from its ruins, Europe rallied to both ideas, and-let it never be forgotten-found peace and prosperity.
How is it possible that a system which brought peace and prosperity can now be in danger? The answer is perfectly clear. The enemy we thought we had defeated raises his head once more, not yet strong enough to win but vigorous enough to cause serious trouble. The enemy is nationalism.
Obviously, I do not mean to cast aspersions on a reasonable love for one's fatherland and its traditions, a legitimate reverence for the memory of great historical events, and, for that matter, a preference for certain features peculiar to one's own community. What I wish to condemn is an idea which is untenable in the twentieth century-the idea that individual peoples, no matter how strong, can solve by their own efforts alone the political, military and economic problems they encounter.
For 15 years collaboration and coöperation prevailed within the Atlantic Alliance and throughout the various attempts to organize Europe. Many realized that above individual and often selfish national interests there was a higher community interest, and that to it some sacrifices must be made. The time had not come for a world government, but it was indispensable to group together those who shared the same political views and had attained comparable standards of living.
During those years we hoped that we had made some progress on the road which some day, however distant, would lead to the unity of nations. Our twofold Atlantic and European experiment developed in breadth and depth. Both military integration and political consultation within the Atlantic Alliance and economic collaboration within Europe-the Little Europe of the Six, at any rate-were progressing satisfactorily, and much more rapidly than the most optimistic of us had dared hope.
Then came General de Gaulle. It implies no disrespect to the President of the French Republic to describe him as a stumbling-block. On the contrary, it is an acknowledgment that what is happening in the world cannot be explained without first analyzing the positions he takes and trying to understand his intentions-which means giving due recognition to the vast part he plays.
I should begin by noting that General de Gaulle did not sign either the Washington treaty or the Treaty of Rome. He was not in office when the Atlantic Alliance and the Common Market were formed, but he inherited both from the Fourth Republic. Now he does not much care for anything that does not bear his own stamp. Further, he does not care greatly for an alliance in which the United States, being the strongest partner and having been the most generous contributor to the common defense, necessarily plays a leading role. Nor does he have a fondness for the Common Market, an initial step toward an organized Europe, for in it he sees a first manifestation of supranational power.
As early as 1958 he demanded that a basic change be made in the Atlantic Alliance by setting up a political triumvirate consisting of the United States, Great Britain and France. The United States and Great Britain rejected this proposal, wisely, because it would have been unacceptable to all the other members of the alliance. The consequences of that refusal are still being felt today.
General de Gaulle did not wish to oppose the Common Market as such because the financial and currency reforms successfully carried out by Mr. Pinay put France in a position where she did not have to take advantage of various exceptions in her favor, and more, allowed her to play a most important part in the new economic organization.
Within both organizations, nevertheless, he has opposed every development that might conceivably lead to integration. He considers the idea of integration to be wrong; he refuses to support it, and fights it in the name of nationalism. He rejects political and military integration within the Atlantic Alliance, for there, since France is not the strongest, France would not benefit by it. Perhaps, he would be less intransigent if integration were to be offered only to continental Europe, for then it might result in a French hegemony. And within the Common Market he will not have economic integration either, for it would mean-and here he is right to some extent-that the technicians would have more power than the politicians.
What we are witnessing today, then, is a struggle between these two opposing fundamental principles-collaboration leading to integration on the one hand, and nationalism on the other. From that struggle come our present troubles and difficulties.
They abound, both within NATO and within the Common Market. Make no mistake, they are all interrelated. Today, a purely military alliance is no longer conceivable. Peoples which might have to fight side by side in the future must think about helping each other in their daily life. The picture of a community effectively united for possible military operations but at the same time torn by political or economic conflicts is an illusion. The price of grain, which has been a major problem in the Common Market, is bound up with the success of the Kennedy Round, while the further development of NATO will depend on agreement or lack of it among the six countries of Little Europe. Lastly, the success or failure of the Multilateral Force will have direct repercussions on the organization of Europe.
With a threat of crisis impending in the Europe of the Six, many people thought another attempt should be made at achieving European political unity. I was one of them, for a number of reasons. To begin with, the European Economic Community has been having increasingly heavy going. The community spirit is losing ground and the spirit of nationalism is gaining. Each government defends its positions passionately, indeed obstinately. No distinction is drawn any longer between what is essential and what is secondary. Hours, days and months are wasted in discussing unreal problems. With no one prepared to make concessions, it becomes more and more difficult to arrive at a compromise.
Secondly, there is anxiety over the mood prevailing in Germany. Nationalist tendencies are once again coming to the fore. The thing is contagious. If nationalism is good for France, why not for Germany? The argument is naïve, and there is no answer. But if French nationalism seems to me unfortunate, nationalism in Germany, the only European country which still has boundary problems, strikes me as dangerous. All reasonable Germans, in whose number I include Chancellor Erhard and Foreign Minister Schroeder, believe that the only alternative to the rebirth of German nationalism is the development of the European idea. I think they are right, and that we must help them. For some time Mr. Erhard has been talking about a fresh attempt to achieve political unity in Europe. We should follow him.
Lastly, it is obvious that the idea of a united Europe, which is inherently dynamic, loses much of its force when it is seen to be marking time. Since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, nothing has been done except to develop the Common Market. Political Europe has made no advance whatever.
The authors of that Treaty said that they conceived of the economic community as only a stage-an important one certainly, but still only a stage-on the way to a politically united or even politically integrated Europe. They were convinced that by tightening the economic bonds the signatory states would be led step by step to unite in other ways. No doubt they were right, but only in the long run; and it is dangerous to leave things to historical processes.
Meantime, doubts have arisen. The idea of the Common Market having received wide backing, and industrialists having based their plans on certain assumptions about where it was leading, people now are beginning to wonder whether they were not mistaken. They hesitate; they refuse to commit themselves fully. It is time to give them renewed confidence by demonstrating some progress.
For all these reasons, a fresh attempt to achieve political unity in the Europe of the Six is now essential. But how is it to be made? On what basis would it have a chance of success? For an answer we must go back and consider the reasons for the failure of the Fouchet Plan in April 1962. That Plan was prepared largely on French initiative with a view to giving a new impetus to the idea of a politically united Europe. Although the intention was excellent, the methods for realizing it were unacceptable.
There are two major schools of thought in Europe on the subject of political union: the partisans of "l'Europe des Patries"-a Europe of separate nations-and the partisans of a supranational Europe.
For the former, the national being is of primary importance and must not be tampered with. All powers of decision must continue to rest with the national governments, and it is unthinkable that these should delegate any of their sovereignty to a supranational body, especially in the important matters of foreign policy and defense. In this view, consequently, it is enough to arrange that chiefs of state or ministers should meet at regular intervals, inform each other of their projects, discuss them and go home- each retaining full freedom of judgment and action. Anything that goes beyond this conception is an idle dream.
The partisans of a supranational Europe, on the contrary, claim that an international organization can function effectively only if it has a higher authority to guide it, if decisions are taken by the majority, and if the minority, as in all democratic organizations, is obligated to accept such decisions. They stress that a system of meetings which does not go beyond exchanges of information and discussion would be incomplete and ineffective, and that it is futile to speak of a united Europe in which each country continues to act exactly as it pleases, even on occasion against its partners' wishes.
The Fouchet Plan was based entirely on the Europe-of-Nations idea. It was the subject of long and arduous negotiations among the governments of Little Europe, but in April 1962 it ended in resounding failure. Three points in particular were discussed: the relationship between a united Europe and the Atlantic Alliance; the new organization's relationship to the Common Market; and the prospects for the future.
Most of the governments concerned demanded that there be clearly defined links between a united Europe and the Atlantic Alliance, and that faithful adherence to NATO should be strongly affirmed. They did not want the new organization to infringe on the rights of the European Commission; in particular, they insisted that all its prerogatives in economic affairs established by the Treaty of Rome remain intact. On those two points, compromise formulas were finally worked out, though with difficulty.
As regards future prospects, on the other hand, no compromise could be reached. Some countries which were able to accept arrangements that did not go beyond "l'Europe des Patries" as a first step felt unable to accept such a limited field of action permanently. They therefore asked for future guarantees; and when these were not forthcoming, the negotiations broke down.
In launching anew the idea of a politically united Europe, we cannot possibly ignore the lesson of those negotiations. If an attempt is to be made, as I believe it must, there will have to be a basis for compromise. What compromise? A fundamental reconciliation of the idea of "l'Europe des Patries" and the idea of a supranational Europe is today out of the question. It therefore appears impossible to conclude a final treaty now. However, it may well be possible to make an experiment of three, four or five years' duration and to be guided by its outcome. That is the new approach I have to offer.
In matters of substance, I feel that there is little chance of departing from the basic concept of the Fouchet Plan. It would not seem possible to go beyond regular meetings with ministers for purposes of information and discussion. Some advance could nevertheless be attempted-namely, to apply to the new political organization the results of our six years of experience in the Common Market.
No one familiar with that organization's work will deny the important and indeed often decisive part played in it by the European Commission. The fact that economic progress has been much more rapid than expected and that the groundwork has been laid for a common agricultural policy is due in large measure to the Commission, or at least to the constant dialogue between governments defending their national viewpoints and the Commission defending the interests of the community. Why not extend this successful experiment to the purely political sphere?
In the first stage, it should be possible to set up an organ composed of three members, with the main task of preparing the ground for the meetings of ministers, of carrying out any decisions taken and of drawing up, in the light of experience, a definitive treaty providing for a united Europe. This Committee of Three would have no power of decision; that would be retained entirely by the ministers. One of the principal features of the Europe-of-Nations concept would thus be safeguarded. On the other hand, the agreement to set up the Committee of Three would constitute recognition that there exists a community viewpoint which may be opposed to the national viewpoint, and that the solution of some of the problems arising out of that opposition may be found by means of the ensuing dialogue. This could be the basis for a compromise, whereby the parties would content themselves with a very modest immediate achievement, but whereby the community viewpoint would be recognized and the future left open.
Not long ago it seemed that a resumption of negotiations on the basis of such ideas could reasonably be expected. However, several recent speeches by Foreign Minister Couve de Murville and Premier Pompidou have put the whole problem in a new light. In their view, there are three prerequisites for any fresh attempt at a political unification of Europe. First of all, there must be a solution to the problem of the price of grain in the Common Market. That question settled, Europe can then make progress only if a European foreign policy is formulated, and if agreement is reached on a common system of defense, more particularly nuclear defense.
A question of diplomatic tactics now arises. What is the best reaction to these categorical French statements? Some, pretending not to understand, ignore them; they attempt to overcome the difficulty they present by looking away and by saying as little as possible about it, in the hope that it will solve itself. Others (I am of their number) feel that refusing to see facts does no one any good, and that they should be resolutely faced. In other words, there should be an early, open and complete confrontation.
Let us examine the French prerequisites, and see what can be done about them.
On the question of the price of grain, the French position has seemed to me basically justified, for two reasons. It is surely inconceivable that, with the Common Market developing in the industrial sector at a faster pace than foreseen, no way can be found to formulate and develop a common agricultural policy. Secondly, even though the agricultural provisions in the Treaty of Rome tend to be vague, the spirit of the Treaty certainly calls for parallel efforts in industry and in agriculture.
It should also be borne in mind that in January 1962 the six governments belonging to the Common Market decided that the grain price should be definitely set as of December 31, 1969, and that in the meantime the gaps between the prices in the various countries should be gradually reduced. Yet nothing was done about it in 1962, or in 1963, or so far in 1964. The French are entitled to demand that the commitment be met, and it now appears that it will be. Germany has indicated a willingness to lower its grain price and, though it may not wholly meet the French demand, compromise now seems within reach.
I am therefore confident that the "agricultural crisis" is on the way to being resolved. If I am proved wrong, the situation will be very serious, for all other European and Atlantic talks will become much more difficult, if not impossible. But on the basis of my optimistic hypothesis, let us turn to the remaining difficulties.
There is nearly always a hard core of logic in French positions. When the French maintain that there can be no united Europe unless it has a common foreign policy, and that a common foreign policy cannot exist so long as there are different or opposed European systems of defense, one must admit they are right. The question, then, is whether today the Europe of the Six can have a common foreign policy and reach agreement on the problems of nuclear defense.
Should there be a European foreign policy, and what should it be? The answer is simple. Yes, of course, a united Europe must have a common foreign policy. Secondly, that policy cannot be anti-American nor must it be such as to separate the Europe of the Six from the Anglo-Saxon world. If agreement cannot be reached on this proposition, further discussion is useless.
Personally, I believe that agreement can be reached. Those who have worked in recent years for a united Europe have never for a moment thought that the Europe which they wanted to restore to its place in the world, by endowing it with the strength to hold that place, should be a satellite of the United States. They wanted this new Europe to be a worthy partner of the United States, able to deal and negotiate on a footing of complete equality. Having said that, I think it is equally self-evident that the unity of the Western World must be maintained. None of the new problems with which the world is faced-neither the evolution of the Communist countries, nor the conflict between the Soviet Union and China, nor the growing political significance of the Asian and African countries, nor the fact that the United States no longer has a monopoly of nuclear weapons- justifies any weakening of Western solidarity.
At the moment, sincere agreement on the principle is enough. Since there is no question for the time being of a supranational authority, and since in the last analysis the governments retain their freedom of decision, there is no need for agreement on each and every issue that might possibly arise. Desirable as it is to reach agreement whenever possible, a degree of flexibility is none the less acceptable.
The problem of working out a common position on a system of nuclear defense is much more complicated, because the instinctive reactions of the different European countries vary a great deal, depending on their strength, their place in the world and their traditions. It would be foolish to expect France and Belgium to have the same reaction to an issue of this sort. France quite legitimately can refuse to place itself in certain situations to which Belgium would make no objection. Belgium can agree to the United States having a monopoly of nuclear power in the West; it can agree to having the nuclear defense of Europe entrusted to the United States; it does not ask to participate either in planning nuclear strategy or in putting the plans into operation. However, courses which are possible for a small nation are not necessarily so for a great nation.
The French seem not to rule out the possibility of an old-fashioned sort of war in Europe in which the aggressor can attain a considerable success without the United States making any nuclear response. This hypothesis seems to me untenable. I cannot foresee the Soviet Union launching an attack with conventional arms against Europe and leaving the United States free to choose the timing and form of its response. As things stand, it seems to me out of the question for the United States to let its armies in Europe be crushed without making use of the tremendous nuclear force which it has concentrated there.
However, what I consider right or wrong is irrelevant for the moment. I am trying to understand the French point of view, and I am convinced that General de Gaulle will never consent to France being dependent on the United States for nuclear defense. That is a fact which cannot be ignored.
In these circumstances, is it not possible to conceive of a system of Atlantic defense which would permit countries to withdraw their own nuclear forces in case of national necessity? Might not the same system which applies to conventional forces within NATO be extended to nuclear forces?
On the other hand, if it proved feasible to create an Atlantic system of atomic defense, plans for using it ought to be coördinated eventually with plans for using the nuclear forces which remained entirely American. In this way coöperation for the defense of Europe would become indispensable and certain great powers could be associated in working out the required nuclear strategy and in executing it.
Though I am opposed absolutely to a political directorate for the Atlantic Alliance, I would not hesitate to accept the idea of a nuclear directorate. The conception of an authority split among 15 governments which would try in a crisis to agree on the use of a nuclear striking force seems to me impractical. But it seems to me reasonable to take that course in associating the United States with the great European countries for the defense of Europe. Those who reject this procedure will not be able to prevent the spread of atomic weapons and the creation of national striking forces-certainly the worst of all possible solutions.
The Europe of the Six and NATO recognize the difficulties confronting them. The French position is clear. There is nothing to do but to grapple with the problems it raises, to study them in detail and at once. It is simply not true that problems solve themselves. But if we set to work at them with frankness and sincerity, and with a pinch of imagination, we can save the solidarity of the West and give Europe a chance to move forward toward unity.