America’s New Realism in the Middle East
Biden’s Saudi Trip Reflects an Acceptance of the Region as It Is
ORGANIZING WESTERN DEFENSE
WHEN the Western European Union was founded, and when the Federal Republic of Germany became a member of NATO, there existed a uniform political concept which was supported by all partners in the alliance. On it was based the strategic concept, which in turn was the basis for setting force requirements that were to be built up and maintained by all the members. In the course of the last few years, however, we have seen a growing divergence of opinion on the basic questions of our common defense and strategy. By the time President Kennedy took office, the concept which had been in effect up to that time-namely the principle of massive deterrence and, should it fail, of massive retaliation-was no longer considered by the United States to be credible. Strategy was adapted to the development of modern weapons technology and flexible response was made the official and binding American military doctrine.
After a decade, during which all American military effort had been centered around the nuclear potential, the consequence of the new doctrine was that conventional units and their weapons systems again came to be emphasized. At the same time, the airlift capability was sizably increased. With regard to nuclear weapons, the idea of the "second strike capability" became important, which meant the development and introduction in increasing degree of weapons that could still be employed effectively after the enemy had launched the first strike. The objective of these measures was to gain a wider political margin for the employment of these weapons.
Of course, the American attempt to make the new strategic doctrine the basic doctrine of NATO as a whole was not successful because a major member of the partnership objected. The result has been that the old concept is still officially accepted, even though most of the members of NATO no longer consider it binding. It was modified by the so-called "Athens Guidelines" and by the new Emergency Defense Plan of SACEUR (Supreme Allied Command, Europe). However, no formally approved new concept as yet exists. Hence it is a top priority task to work out a new strategic concept which will meet with the approval of all the member nations.
Before turning specifically to the European situation, I must note, in order to avoid misunderstandings, that the Federal Republic of Germany is the only member nation which has assigned all its combat troops of all three services to NATO.
The reason is that for us a purely national war is completely out of the question. We have no national German operational command with a separate strategic concept. Our security is inseparably linked with the security of our allies. Thus we believe it is in the interest of all the NATO partners to do everything in their power to develop a common concept as rapidly as possible. Even though the national interests of each partner determine its security policy, the common interests of all partners will be decisive in this process. This is also the view of my French opposite number, Pierre Messmer, who very clearly underscored it in my talks with him in Paris not long ago. He was of the opinion, moreover, that a common concept could be found.
At the time I write, the third week in November, I do not suppose that European members of NATO would question the fact that, in view of the world situation, Western Europe can be effectively protected only by NATO, that is, only in the closest partnership with the United States. The importance of the military potential of Western Europe in any East-West conflict is undeniable. Since any war would be a catastrophe not only for Europe but for all the nations of the alliance, it is of the highest importance to see that the risk for the potential aggressor remains incalculable and that deterrence remains credible. The maintenance of that credibility in the atomic age calls logically for a system of graduated deterrence, since resort to a system of total nuclear defense, which would be tantamount to self-destruction, is not credible. Hence all levels of possible aggression must be matched with the appropriate means of defense. This means, so far as concerns the defense of Europe, in contrast to other parts of the world, that the atomic threshold must be very low, because Western Europe- considered as part of the whole NATO territory-is only a strategic bridgehead without depth which can neither accept loss of terrain nor diminution of its potential.
That is why the strategy of forward defense along the Iron Curtain, which SACEUR made official for NATO on September 1, 1963, is the essential prerequisite, not only for the Federal Republic of Germany but for its European partners as well. This is a matter of life and death for my country. To regard the Federal Republic, or even a larger part of Western Europe, solely as a battlefield, which NATO forces would have to liberate afterward, would forecast the total destruction of Western Europe, This appears to me hardly a valid objective of defense policy.
The human and material sacrifices which are called for to maintain freedom- sacrifices made by the German people as well as by others-can be justified only if they result in keeping deterrence effective, and on the assumption that, should the deterrent fail, we can conduct our defense in such a way that a favorable outcome can be achieved within a very short period. The objective is to force the enemy to give up his idea of aggression by demonstrating that his only alternative will be willfully and deliberately to initiate escalation, which would be equivalent to his own self- destruction.
The concept of flexible response in Europe-both political and military-must not be interpreted to mean that the so-called atomic threshold can be raised unduly high, without reference to political considerations. Apart from the fact that this would lead the potential aggressor to think that he could calculate his risk, it would create a situation in which he could seize pawns for future negotiations.
In order to prevent this, atomic demolition mines, nuclear air defense weapons and, if need be, nuclear battlefield weapons must be made ready for employment in an early phase of a recognizable attack on Europe. Only in this way, as I see it, can a last determined warning be given the enemy without involving escalation as a consequence. Further supporting this view is the fact that a prolonged conventional war would lead rapidly to attrition of forces, jeopardize the operational readiness of the nuclear capability and thus rapidly shift the balance of power in favor of the enemy.
These ideas were the subject of discussions in Washington in the middle of November between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Wheeler, and the Chief of the Federal Armed Forces Staff, General Trettner, as well as between Secretary McNamara and myself. It was particularly satisfactory to find that the views expressed by the two sides were the same in all essentials. This harmony is a valuable contribution toward reaching a NATO-wide agreement on the strategic concept.
I should make clear, however, that we continue to draw one political and military consequence from the aforementioned principles-the necessity of integrating the NATO forces. And on this question there is some divergence of opinion within the alliance.
However, the evident necessity of further developing the Atlantic Alliance, of adapting it to changing political and military requirements, and of solving the complex problems that will be encountered in the course of that evolution, should not make us forget that the basic structure and core of the alliance are sound. No partner in the alliance is unaware of the necessity-in his own interests-of countering any aggression with all the means required to thwart it.
I believe that the projected Multilateral Force will play an essential part in the future planning of the alliance.
It will be remembered that SACEUR responded to the threat caused by the establishment of a belt of land-based medium-range ballistic missiles in the Soviet Union by deciding to build a similar missile belt on the NATO side. However, it has not proved possible, over a period of seven years, to implement this plan; nor does there seem to me any great likelihood that it can be realized in the foreseeable future. Apart from the fact that the weapon itself has not yet been developed, its deployment on European territory would cause major difficulties. Nevertheless, we should not lose sight of the project.
On the other hand, the Soviet M.R.B.M.s constitute an undeniable threat. Undeniable, also, is the interest of the non-nuclear West European partners of the alliance in obtaining a bigger say in nuclear strategy and targeting. They have good reason to fear that if nuclear weapons are employed they will be exposed to situations which they cannot foresee or fully comprehend, and with unknown consequences.
When we consider what forms of effective defense NATO could set against the Soviet M.R.B.M. belt, it seems clear that a sea-based M.R.B.M. system-i.e. the M.L.F.-could be created more easily than a land-based one. Equipped with Polaris missiles, the M.L.F. would form a new, primarily European component of the deterrent, and under a European command, i.e. under SACEUR, would be able to cover most of the targets that constitute a direct threat to Europe. My view is that this nuclear force should be tied-through the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command in Omaha-into the over-all nuclear potential of the United States. The targets in question are largely covered by SAC, which is not subordinate to SACEUR; but deterrence would doubtless be considerably increased by the M.L.F., as an essentially European-oriented force, and the defense preparedness of Europe would be made unmistakably clear to the Soviet Union.
The military effect of this integration will be valuable, by adding power to the deterrent. It will also indicate that the leading power of the alliance is making an effort to take into consideration European interests, while maintaining the doctrine of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons-a doctrine, by the way, which should also be in the interest of the Soviet Union. In addition, it will be extremely valuable politically in increasing the close political ties with America which are vitally important to the security of Europe. I have followed closely the course of the M.L.F. working group negotiations in Paris. I still hope, as I write, that in spite of all political, military, personnel, financial and legal difficulties the project will end in bringing in as many European partners as possible, thus merging the United States and Europe into an inseparable community.
In my talks in the Pentagon, the M.L.F. was, of course, an item on the agenda, but just one item amongst others. I must make it unmistakably clear that the basic attitude of the Federal Government with respect to the M.L.F. has remained unchanged, viz. that the project is both militarily useful and politically extremely valuable. Obviously, however, its value will increase with the number of the nations participating. The United Kingdom has a new government, and I think it only logical that it should have what time it requires to make its decision. If the British should propose suggestions for modifying or amending the original plans, the rest of us in the alliance will have to discuss them and ultimately agree on a result which will be of the highest general benefit. It is the joint responsibility of all the NATO nations which joined the M.L.F. working group to work out the details. The decisions will be made there.
Let me make it quite clear that the M.L.F., as its name implies, must be a multilateral force, and not a bilateral one. It also has to be an Atlantic force, not a European one, since a European nuclear force could have a disintegrating effect on the Atlantic Alliance and would be bound to whittle down the United States engagement in Europe, to Europe's severe disadvantage. The necessary basis for a European nuclear force would be a politically united Europe; and even when such unity has been achieved, Europe must not allow herself to be isolated by the fact of possessing her own nuclear force, but must rather strengthen her standing by playing an active part in the strategy and in the nuclear weapons systems of the Atlantic Community.
There is no member of NATO which is not deeply interested in achieving genuine disarmament. But the limits for disarmament or for measures to restrict armaments must be drawn so that the possibilities of Soviet aggression are reduced and not increased.
Now, no nation can have a greater interest in disarmament and in a détente than the Federal Republic of Germany. This is not just an empty phrase. Our government proved it through voluntary waivers in the nuclear field, by armament restrictions accepted under the W.E.U. Treaty, and by signing the partial test-ban agreement. But any measures for disarmament or détente must be carried out only on the basis that our security is maintained.
There is complete agreement in the alliance that the Soviet politico- ideological objective-Communist world domination-has remained unchanged, even though the methods and tactics to arrive at that objective have been altered and refined. We also agree that there is no reason to believe that the Soviets would not revert to the ways of force, or threats to use force, if they saw advantage in it. We are all aware that it is solely the Atlantic Alliance which bars that way to them.
Recent events in the Soviet Union have once again made clear how suddenly and unexpectedly changes are possible there. It thus is in the highest interest of all NATO members to see that "disarmament measures must not offer any advantage to either side"-as agreed upon by the United States and the U.S.S.R. in September 1961. This must remain as our unwavering doctrine. So far as can be seen at this time, the agreements reached and the statements made concerning the partial test ban, the direct line between Washington and Moscow, the renunciation of stationing nuclear weapons in outer space and the reduced production of fissionable material for military purposes have taken this principle into account.
The decisive obstacle to further negotiations is the Soviet refusal to accept any form of inspection and control on Soviet territory. We would not be justified in agreeing on disarmament measures with the Soviets on the basis of mere trust, or to make arrangements solely for the sake of arrangements. Let us remember the assurance of the Soviet Government that it would not conduct any nuclear tests as long as the United States did not, and that despite this the Kremlin covertly prepared a gigantic series of tests and included weapons of the very highest yield. This experience confirms the view that we can never renounce the requirement for a genuine and effective control system.
In spite of attempts by the Soviet Union to enlarge its area of influence in other continents, Europe remains of special importance in Soviet politico-military objectives. Everyone, and not only those who are living close to the Iron Curtain, should realize that the Kremlin considers coexistence and détente as means of destroying the protective belt which the West set up around the Communist bloc. However alluring the Soviet proposals and plans for regional armament reductions in Europe may be, and whatever the fascination of slogans like "military thinning-out," they are incompatible with the security of the alliance.
The military forces of the nations in Central Europe have never reached the strength that NATO considers necessary. Thus those which do exist for both deterrence and forward defense must be considered at best a minimum; they must remain available. Any military thinning-out would have quite different strategic consequences on the two sides of the Iron Curtain, and would change the balance of power to the detriment of the West. The various plans that have been proposed have been studied by expert military authorities down to the minutest details and the unequivocal conclusion is that to accept them would be tantamount to ending the defense capability of Western Europe. Any policy which takes the values of peace and freedom seriously will have to respect these facts.
I personally foresee a genuine chance for a détente in Central Europe only at such time as the Soviet Union changes its political objectives vis-à-vis Europe. It would be a fatal error to assume that the Kremlin has already given up its objectives simply because it, too, does not desire world war, and because the danger of a universal conflagration is dwindling. Correct though this reasoning may be, it would be wrong to draw the conclusion that the Kremlin had given up its objective of world domination. Events such as the Cuban crisis and the developments on Cyprus, in the Congo and elsewhere have shown how rapidly politics can move to the brink of war; but apart from that, no one can refute the fact that it is solely the defense efforts of the West that bar the way of brute force in the furtherance of a militant ideology. The real nature of the so-called Soviet peace strategy is shown by the fact that the Russians continue, as in the past, to try to weaken the internal coherence of the alliance, to paralyze its defensive military power and to neutralize its capacity for deterrence. Effort at neutralization through the Rapacki and other plans-all in the name of easing tensions-is only another phase in Moscow's policy of sapping the Western defense system in Europe. An important aspect of these efforts is the Communist calumny against the Federal Republic on the score that it is revanchist-an absurd accusation considering the fact that our military forces are integrated in NATO. But by this means they hope to man?uvre Germany out of the Atlantic Alliance.
To my mind, the only convincing proof of a change in Soviet objectives vis- à-vis Europe would be for the U.S.S.R. finally to recognize in fact the right of self-determination, which it verbally supports, and to agree to let the German people be reunited in freedom. Only then would any meaningful arms limitation in Europe appear to be feasible; for only then would it afford objective and subjective security to all the nations concerned, the Soviet Union included.
We still can continue, however, to search for possible arrangements to reduce the danger of war. Because of its political and geographical situation, my country is perhaps more interested in this than any other. Negotiations with the Communist nations, in particular in Geneva, should be continued patiently and with determination, for which purpose I suggest that timely and detailed consultation among the Western allies is necessary. But let me repeat that efforts to arrive at a political détente are meaningful and offer prospects of success only if the causes of tensions have been eliminated beforehand. A simple reduction in armaments in itself cannot eliminate these tensions.