Courtesy Reuters

Our Alternatives in Europe

Nato's "disarray" has been made into a crisis by President de Gaulle's decision to withdraw French forces and facilities from the integrated structure of the Alliance. For the other NATO powers, and for the United States, this has provided a shock, but-in some ways-a salutary one. The fundamental issues of Europe's future, of Soviet-Western relations and of American policy are now more likely to be addressed. Before the French action these issues would likely have been evaded. Now there still is time to think relatively slowly and carefully about the objectives of the European-American alliance and of the United States itself in Europe's affairs.

But some of the possible responses to the immediate Gaullist challenge could foreclose certain options in dealing with these larger issues. Decisions may be made now in haste, with consequences that might not be easily disentangled later. In responding to France's NATO action, it is most important to keep open our long-range policy options, to practice moderation in the face of what appears to be provocation and to use the time thus gained to reappraise our needs and interests in the Europe of the 1970s.[i]

What would be the likely result of a harsh response to France? One pessimistic but reasonable supposition-not a prediction but a cautionary illustration of certain issues that must be considered-might be as follows:

With American urging, the NATO powers adamantly resist changes in the Alliance. France then circulates proposals for an all-European political settlement with the Soviet Union-including a plan for German unification or neutralization-which are held to be acceptable in Moscow. These proposals are said to signify the "end" of the cold war and a normalization of political relations among all the nations of Europe-a normalization chiefly resisted, French and Soviet spokesmen note, by the United States, which indeed presses West Germany to reject these overtures, to require the removal of all French forces from Germany and take economic reprisals against France. The French, in turn, grant de facto recognition

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