Foreign Affairs: 100 Years
The Future of History
Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?
The German scene has changed beyond recognition. After years of drift and indecision, a new sense of vigor and purpose permeates Bonn. By 1966, stagnation had bred discontent; growing vexation touched off a leadership crisis which eventually engulfed the unfortunate Dr. Erhard; out of this crisis emerged the government of the Grand Coalition. For the first time in the history of postwar Germany, Christian Democrats and Social Democrats joined forces in a federal administration. In forging this new link, Kurt- Georg Kiesinger and Willy Brandt installed in power the biggest majority bloc any freely elected German parliament has ever seen-marshalling 447 out of 496 Bundestag votes. On this overwhelming combination turn both the anxieties and the hopes of the German people.
While the hopes center around the attainment of specific short-range and medium-range policy goals, the anxieties focus on the long-range effects which this tremendous concentration of power in the ruling coalition, and the attendant diminution of the opposition's influence, might have on the political health of the nation. May not such a great disparity grievously harm West Germany's fledgling democracy? Is it not bound to sap the vitality of parliamentary life? And might not the amenities of shared power induce the shareholders to perpetuate the present arrangement? These questions have been asked in Germany as well as abroad, and as yet there are no definite answers. But at least it must be conceded that the Kiesinger-Brandt government is sensitive to the problem and determined to ward off the dangers inherent in a Grand Coalition. "In this coalition," Chancellor Kiesinger has promised, "there will be no sharing of power and sinecures between the partners, there will be no glossing over of mismanagement, and the forces of parliamentary life will not be paralyzed by arrangements behind the scenes. . . . The strongest safeguard against possible abuse of power is the firm resolve of the partners to maintain their coalition only for a limited time-that is, until the end of the present term." These were strong words, and they must have put some, if not all, doubts to rest.
There are other misgivings, however, arising not so much from the sheer numerical preponderance of the Grand Coalition as from its ruthless matter- of-fact approach to politics. It is not, indeed, an ideological partnership. On the contrary, the alliance between Christian and Social Democrats marks the end of ideology and the triumph of pragmatism. The political antagonisms and the personal animosities of yesteryear have all subsided, and along with them have vanished many of the principles on which they had been based. Naturally this is regretted by some observers. Yet Germany has seen too much needless ideological discord in recent years and for too long has been harking back to the past. This explains the urge to move on to a policy oriented toward issues, not one fed from preconceived notions. It also explains, perhaps, the unlikely troika of Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, Willy Brandt and Herbert Wehner-a former member of the Nazi party, a former emigrant and resistance worker, and a former communist. Incongruous as their combination may seem, it is deeply significant, and reassuringly so. In more than one respect the new cabinet is a cabinet of national reconciliation (embracing even Franz Josef Strauss, long cast in the role of West Germany's incorrigible bad man). It is an assembly of men who have all been through their own individual purgatories. Together they represent much of the folly and a great deal of the glory of Germany's past, and together they can afford to let bygones be bygones.
Commentators abroad have not failed to note the coincidence of Dr. Kiesinger's take-over and the rise of a new radical right in West Germany, but many of them have drawn unwarranted conclusions. There is no causal relationship at all between the two events, and, more particularly, there is not the faintest resemblance between the businesslike attitude of the new government and the vulgar "know-nothing" slogans of the National Democratic Party. True, West Germany may be expected to be a less pliant and more assertive partner from now on; in a world where sovereignty and national interest are again writ large, its enthusiasm for collective ventures will be no more automatic than anyone else's. It will begin now to live up to its material weight, as The Economist recently put it. But this is a far cry from the distortion of nationalism into the megalomania which many suspect possesses the new rightist movement.
At any rate, the National Democrats, their recent electoral successes notwithstanding, are nothing to be mortified about. The Germans, remembering to remember 1933, will do well not to underestimate the dangers of right-wing extremism; but observers abroad should take care not to overestimate them. The salient fact is that even in recent Landtag elections the overwhelming majority of voters supported the established democratic parties-92.1 percent in Hesse, 92.6 percent in Bavaria. This is not 1932, and the Nazis are not about to take over. What has happened can be explained without resort to dramatics. In fact, it was bound to happen some day.
Extremists belong to politics like crabgrass to suburban lawns. Every democratic nation has its minority of primitives, ranging from French Poujadistes, British Fascists and Italian neo-Fascists to America's John Birch Society. In Germany, both the radical right and the radical left have been outlawed for many years, but it was naïve to assume that extremist views would not seek new outlets. So far as left-wingers are concerned, they will not find much response as long as communism rules in East Germany.
Yet there have always been both right-wing parties and right-wing voters, and many factors have recently militated in their favor. Germany, 22 years after the war, is still partitioned; the Atlantic Alliance appears to be coming apart at the seams; European unity, seemingly within reach ten years ago, is again a remote ideal; and no one could reasonably have expected that General de Gaulle, preaching the virtues of nationalism to the French, would not find a few disciples across the Rhine. Some kind of "nationalist backlash" was probably inevitable after two decades of vain pilgrimage toward a supranational ersatz fatherland. In this respect, it is easy to agree with Edwin D. Canham's shrewd observation: "The wonder is not that an extreme party has grown up to represent at most 10 or 15 percent of the people, but that there has not been more protest in the form of nationalism."
Domestic developments also helped revive rightism: disquieting signs of an economic recession, the frustrating spectacle of a government slowly losing its grip and fierce infighting amongst the leaders of the Christian Democratic Union (C.D.U.). The weakening of the democratic center presumably contributed as much to the N.P.D. successes as did all other factors put together. The N.P.D. is a hodgepodge of divergent groups. Normally it would attract the disgruntled ex-Nazi, the professional nationalist, the genuine conservative, the fearful petit-bourgeois; but in the autumn of 1966 it also attracted a great many disappointed democrats who wanted to register their protest against the protracted malaise in Bonn. These protest-voters did not turn their backs on the principle of democracy, they only deemed its actual practice inept and inefficient. They can easily be won back again if the new government gives convincing proof that democracy can and does work.
The founding fathers of the Grand Coalition know this full well. They realize that they can find salvation, as it were, only through good works. This is why they have tackled the immediate problems at hand with resolve and speed: balancing the budget by rigorous cuts while simultaneously resuscitating the economy by judicious pump-priming; preparing reforms to ensure a more equitable distribution of income between the federal government, the länder and local authorities; introducing a degree of guidance for medium-term financial planning. But impressive though these first steps were, the new departures in German foreign policy are even more significant.
In this field, the task of innovation has long been awaiting action by the Bonn government. While the outside world kept changing ever more rapidly, the Erhard Administration far too frequently acted as though the axioms of 1949 were still valid. To be sure, some adjustments were made, and Dr. Gerhard Schroder, Brandt's predecessor in the Foreign Office, can claim most of the credit for them. The "opening toward the East," for instance, was cautiously begun under his aegis; and the "Peace Note" of March 25,1966, marked the first serious attempt to play upon a theme which the German Communists had so far been permitted to monopolize. But Schroder failed in breaking up the old thought patterns. His "policy of movement"- Germany's timid contribution to the post-Cuban détente-foundered on the opposition put up by the conservative wing of his own party; and the Peace Note, ill-explained before its circulation and with no follow-up effort afterwards, remained a one-shot operation. Only now is there a government that can face the uncertainties of the future with the comforting feeling that its home base is intact. Probably it took the Grand Coalition to provide a reliable parliamentary majority for any policy of innovation and to produce the new style of leadership: relaxed though determined, self- confident but not arrogant, matter-of-fact but imaginative.
In three major areas the new government is about to rethink and refashion German foreign policy in order to cope with the changed world situation: in its relations with its Western allies, in its relations with the communist nations, and, finally, in its relations with the communist-dominated eastern half of Germany. In none of these areas will reappraisal prove easy, nor is it going to produce any perfect answers. Despite the obvious difficulties, the present government will not shy away from the task. And while it may still be too early to predict just how far the Kiesinger- Brandt coalition will venture toward new shores, some of the main ingredients of its thinking are already discernible. The chief element would seem to be somber realism.
Realism dictated a new approach vis-à-vis France, if only to clear the air after three years of growing mutual irritation and recrimination. To this extent Kiesinger and Brandt were successful during their January visit to Paris. The Chancellor declared that there had been "an absolute reanimation" of the Franco-German friendship treaty of 1963, and General de Gaulle observed that this treaty was "now reappearing in the light." But no one in Bonn deludes himself about the actual import of such rhetorical harmony. There was a large measure of agreement in the realm of lofty words and ideas, especially about Franco-German coöperation being a perennial necessity. On most significant matters, however, there was only agreement to disagree-though not to let such disagreement stand in the way of steadily growing convergence. Germany continues to support the entry of Great Britain into the Common Market, while Gaullist France is still hostile. Bonn deems it in its best interest that American troops remain on German soil, while de Gaulle would prefer to see them go. Like his predecessor, Dr. Kiesinger sympathizes with Washington's Viet Nam policy, which the General has repeatedly denounced in the harshest terms. Nor do German and French statesmen see eye to eye regarding Europe's ultimate institutional order.
All these differences were glossed over for the time being, with the joint enthusiasm for building bridges with Eastern Europe providing a conveniently distractive backdrop. But they are bound to crop up again, and one can reasonably doubt whether the new era of Franco-German friendship ushered in last January could long survive another round of debate about fundamentals. The government is not anxious for such a debate. It is prepared to leave insoluble issues aside for the moment and to devote its efforts to the possible rather than to the ideally desirable. The question, of course, is whether General de Gaulle will settle for less than total German acceptance of his views. If he does not, the second blooming of Franco-German amity will quickly fade.
In the meantime, however, Bonn will be careful not to snub the General. This goes especially for Great Britain's renewed effort to enter E.E.C. It is true that in his inauguration speech Chancellor Kiesinger said: "The Community of the Six should be open to all those European states who agree with its aims. We should, in particular, be gratified if Great Britain and other EFTA countries were to become members of the European Communities." Yet this judiciously worded statement did not commit the government to any particular course in support of Mr. Wilson's application. In this matter Bonn shows extreme reluctance to take positive action. As long as France is opposed to the British entry, Bonn considers it quite useless to press the point. It has little leverage vis-à-vis General de Gaulle, and would not want to jeopardize the recent improvement in relations with Paris and the concomitant appeasement of "German Gaullists" by embarking like Strauss on a pro-British campaign probably doomed to failure. "We favor British E.E.C. membership, but we shall not act the part of the bulldozer," was the way one spokesman put it. Seen from London, this must appear as realism with a vengeance, but it reflects the prevailing mood of the new administration.
The same kind of realistic approach leads to somewhat different conclusions with regard to the United States. The new government, like the old one, refuses to be talked into making a choice between Paris and Washington. It does not consider Franco-German friendship a bar to continued close relations with America. West Germany cannot but value and foster its transatlantic ties. As Chancellor Kiesinger phrased it in his inauguration speech: "The Government will not forget the big aid which the United States has afforded us in the past two decades. It is aware that its alliance with the United States and the other parties to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is still of vital importance to it today and in the foreseeable future." But while the principle of alliance remains undisputed, its modalities are certain to come under close and critical scrutiny.
It would be dishonest, in this context, to deny that a heretofore unknown resentment has built up with regard to the Johnson Administration and its handling of both bilateral relations and alliance affairs. It is generally accepted by now that Dr. Erhard's fate was sealed after he returned empty- handed from his last visit with President Johnson, having failed to move the Americans from their currency offset demands. Even those who were content to see Erhard go regretted that, in the last analysis, it was American insensitivity which brought him down. Prominent "Atlanticists" gave vent to their irritation, and inevitably it was Secretary McNamara who came in for most of the criticism. The Secretary of Defense has long been rubbing even staunch friends of the United States the wrong way. He has frequently ruffled German feelings by not only being right but being rudely so; he appears to many as a tireless arms merchant with shockingly high- pressure sales techniques, and there are leading figures in both coalition parties who blame the present disarray of NATO as much on him as on General de Gaulle. To all this must be added the agitation over recent Soviet- American negotiations for a nonproliferation treaty. American handling of this issue created the impression in Bonn that Germany was to be stampeded into signing a document about whose previous history it had been informed only spottily and belatedly and the implications of which remain unclear. Suspicions were aroused that the Johnson Administration was putting its common interests with the Soviet Union above the common interests of the Western Alliance.
Germany is not about to take up a Gaullist attitude toward the United States. Opinion polls bear out the belief that America is still regarded as an indispensable and reliable partner. But the government of the Grand Coalition will no doubt take a more independent stance in defining Germany's national interest. The Federal Republic no longer feels like a ward of Washington. It will not hesitate to disagree with, and if necessary to deviate from, American-sponsored policies. The formula that obtains vis- à-vis Paris best describes the changed relationship with America too: coöperation wherever possible, frank and friendly dissent wherever necessary-and for the rest, avoidance of useless ideological disputes.
As far as NATO is concerned, the new government has not had time yet for a thorough reappraisal. Officially, the word is that the alliance must be "consolidated and developed in keeping with present-day requirements." Unofficially, it is realized that this will be less easily done than said, and that, indeed, the twin goals of consolidation and adjustment may be mutually exclusive. Small wonder, therefore, that little is any longer heard about NATO reform. Priority is now being accorded to a more modest salvage operation designed to save as much as possible of NATO's integrated structure as an insurance against renewed communist aggressiveness. But three propositions now seem to be widely accepted.
First, the Atlantic Alliance will not survive the year 1969 in its original shape. The spirit of integration is waning. Not only France but Britain and the United States as well are trying to regain or reinforce their autonomy of decision. The apparently unavoidable galloping proliferation of committees and subcommittees will provide new channels for procedural procrastination, yet is is unlikely to produce any political answers; problems will be buried rather than solved. What ails the alliance has long been recognized. It is hard to conceive of a more lucid diagnosis than that submitted by the Three Wise Men as long ago as 1956. But their therapy, reasonable though it was then and topical though it still is today, proved politically unacceptable ten years ago and would find even less favor today. Inevitably, the fabric of the alliance is weakening. Differentiation will go on, looser structures will evolve. NATO as a dominating, all- pervading feature of everyday life is bound to disappear-it will become one fact of life amongst many.
Second, it would be unrealistic to expect that British and American troops will forever remain stationed on German soil at present force levels. In this respect, Bonn seems to be resigning itself to the inevitable. It will no longer try to prevent just any reduction-one reason being that its financial dilemma prohibits further attempts to "buy" undiminished allied presence; the other, that in the absence of acute crisis in Europe present allied strength may indeed be considered unnecessarily high. Instead of roundly opposing any and every withdrawal, the government will probably endeavor to keep it within reasonable limits and to affect its modalities, making sure that sufficient air transport capacity and pre-positioned matériel depots are maintained to allow speedy reinforcement of garrisons in times of renewed crisis. It will also attempt to effectuate a reasonable measure of tacit or explicit East-West reciprocity. Moreover, if the trend toward a thinning out of forces continues, no one ought to be surprised if the Germans themselves conformed to it. This might be by a drastic restructuring of the Bundeswehr-possibly cutting down the Army from twelve to, say, eight divisions, turning it into a largely professional body and backing it up with a sizeable militia-type force for static defense. Such a reform is certainly not an immediate prospect, and Dr. Schroder, now Minister of Defense, is reported to take an extremely critical view of it. But there is now an incipient public debate on the subject, and it is by no means assured that Minister Schroder will ultimately prevail.
Third, Bonn now recognizes that there is little hope of arranging institutional methods to reinforce America's nuclear guarantee for Europe in such a way as to remove the last doubts which the protected may harbor about the sincerity and trustworthiness of their protector. The M.L.F. idea of nuclear co-ownership and co-determination has finally been buried. The McNamara approach through a Select Committee ended in something of a disappointment, and it must be expected that efforts will be made to arrange more participation in planning than presently envisaged. Such participation, however, will henceforth be the limit of Germany's aspirations.
To sum up this line of argument, NATO is still counted upon for the maintenance of peace in Europe, but is not seriously expected to produce the answers to even its own problems. No longer is it considered absolutely immutable. When Foreign Minister Brandt was reported to have expressed doubt, during a visit in Paris, that there would still be a NATO in the seventies, that was later explained away as witty banter with the press, not a weighty political prognosis. Yet there could have been more to it than the official interpretation allowed for: the recognition that NATO may not be a permanent fixture of the international scene but rather an organization with a limited span of useful life, guaranteeing a temporary order against forcible change but not frustrating the movement of history toward new horizons. Astonishingly enough, there is almost total congruence between this view and that formulated by President Johnson in his last State of the Union Message: "In Western Europe we shall maintain in NATO an integrated common defense. But we also look forward to the time when greater security can be achieved through measures of arms control and disarmament and through other forms of practical agreement." Delicate problems would arise, however, if the United States should unduly force the pace and refashion its policies without paying proper heed to its partners' sensitivities and interests. And possibly damage may already have been done in one case: the nonproliferation treaty.
This case deserves at least brief analysis because it sheds significant light on the way the new German government thinks and acts. The Kiesinger- Brandt administration does not hesitate to drop claims that are either unrealistic or unsubstantial, but wherever actual substance is concerned it remains adamant.
The Erhard government had grave doubts about achieving nonproliferation by universal treaty and seriously considered withholding its signature unless four options were kept open. The first was the chance to use a total German renunciation of nuclear weapons as a bargaining counter in future negotiations with Moscow on German unity; (indeed, the Foreign Office toyed with the idea of signing a nonproliferation pledge only with the Western allies). The second was the possibility of taking part in an allied nuclear force on the basis of co-ownership. The third was participation in alliance arrangements for nuclear planning and crisis management-on the principle that permanent renunciation of nuclear weapons must be compensated for by permanent participation in a reliable system of nuclear deterrence. The fourth was the creation of a European nuclear force.
The new government has now deleted the first two options from its program. The artificial link between total nuclear abstinence and progress towards reunification was dropped; and the claim to ownership has been abandoned (though not publicly) as the basis of Bonn's practical policy. The third and fourth options are still insisted on, but they are now presented in a different conceptual framework. "In regard to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons," Willy Brandt has stated, "the Federal Republic has no special interest other than the natural one it shares with other non- nuclear countries." Indeed, the new brief does not contain a single argument that could be considered exclusively German. Rather it points out basic interests which are common to all non-nuclear states: security, untrammeled development of nuclear research and technology for peaceful purposes, mutuality of duties and privileges between atomic haves and have- nots, maintenance of an open road to regional associations of a supranational character.
Bonn's main concern in this connection involves the economic uses of atomic energy. The weapons monopoly of the superpowers, it is argued, must not harden into a technological monopoly. While West Germany agrees to forego nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes on its soil, it has an overriding interest in ensuring that the nonproliferation treaty does not impair scientific research and industrial development. This is so in particular as regards the development of plutonium techniques and the enriching of natural uranium in German plants. While the Federal Republic does submit willingly to stringent EURATOM controls, it would be extremely reluctant to accept universal control without adequate safeguards against industrial espionage; nor would it accept one-way inspection that would lay open the technology of the civilian nuclear states to the superpowers without some reciprocal baring of industrial secrets by the latter.
However the Geneva negotiations turn out, the politically significant fact of the nonproliferation dispute is easy to grasp. When the big nuclear powers put their common interests ahead of everything else, the non-nuclear powers were expected to do likewise. What is astonishing, even revolutionary, about this is the fact that the Federal Republic for the first time refused to follow America's lead in a matter of vital importance and fell into line with the other nuclear have-nots. It discovered that its vital interests dictated concerted action with states like Japan, India, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Canada-only two of which, one notes, are members of NATO. In the end, Germany will sign, but it will not be rushed into signing without trying to protect its scientific, technological and industrial interests. And although it would be rash to jump to conclusions, one would do well to note that this first deviation might turn out to be of more than passing significance.
In another field, Eastern policy, American and German paths fortunately are converging; it is here that the innovating spirit of the new government has wrought the most sweeping changes. The revised attitude toward Eastern Europe is plain to see. Bonn has quietly dismantled the Hallstein Doctrine, the principle which had come to mean that the Federal Republic refused to entertain diplomatic relations with any state, apart from the Soviet Union, which recognized the Ulbricht régime. This principle has been reinterpreted to permit ties with former satellites which, according to the "birthmark theory," never had a genuine choice in the matter. Establishment of diplomatic ties with Rumania was the first result of the doctrinal revision. The two sides formally registered their differences about the status of East Germany but agreed to ignore them in practice, thereby creating a pattern that may make history. Contacts have also been made with Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. Only Poland spurns Bonn's overtures outright. The East German reaction to the prospect of further West German breakthroughs has been a spate of vilification, supported by the Soviet Union with massive propaganda blasts if little else. It seems unlikely that these protests will prevent other Eastern countries from following Rumania's example. Bonn, at any rate, will not be deflected from its course; it expects to open diplomatic relations with at least one additional East European state in 1967.
Yet the actual measure of achievement does not tell the whole story. Of deeper significance is the revolutionary change of mind which the new policy mirrors. The Grand Coalition has left the trenches of the cold war. It has scrapped the old concept that reunification must precede détente, as well as the philosophy that any step toward relaxation of tension in Europe must be linked with a step toward German unity. In doing so, Bonn has finally fallen in step with nearly all its Western allies. Kennedy's "peace strategy," Johnson's concept of "peaceful engagement," de Gaulle's vision of "détente, entente, coopération"-all are now accepted and echoed. "Germany was for centuries the bridge between Western and Eastern Europe," stated the Chancellor. "We also should like to fulfill this mission in our time." His Foreign Minister, in an eloquent plea before the Council of Europe, testified to the sincerity of Germany's new approach: "The Federal Government intends to make its contribution to détente in Europe. The problems of Europe, like those of Germany, simply cannot be settled in a cold war atmosphere. We are therefore striving for an overall improvement of our relations with all the East European states. . . . We shall not let ourselves be discouraged by difficulties or disappointments."
Such difficulties and disappointments will be inevitable. Obviously, the shadow of history weighs less heavily on the "southern tier" of the Warsaw Pact states-the Balkan-Danubian group-than on the "northern tier." Normalization of relations with the southern grouping may prove comparatively easy; rapprochement with the northern will be difficult. Prague, it seems, is relenting on its former condition that the Munich Agreement of 1938 be declared null and void from the moment of its signature; Kiesinger's formulation about the treaty's invalidity may have cleared the way for a settlement. But Poland refuses normal relations until Bonn undertakes to forego any access to nuclear weapons, recognizes the Oder-Neisse frontier and, for good measure, the East German régime. Both Kiesinger and Brandt have repeatedly had friendly things to say about Poland; particularly, they reiterated the old offer of nonaggression declarations and amended it to include "the unsolved problem of the division of Germany." which is a roundabout way of registering respect for both the Elbe and the Oder-Neisse line. Yet they still insist that the boundaries of a reunified Germany can be determined only in a settlement freely ratified by an all-German government. A majority of West Germans would now be prepared to recognize the Oder and Neisse as the Eastern border of a united Germany, but this is not yet reflected in government policy.
Other difficulties are in store. For example, Jugoslavia recognized East Germany as late as 1957, thereby causing Bonn to break off relations with her. Jugoslavia is not eligible under the birthmark rule for normalization of relations, but it would seem absurd if the rule worked against ties with the most liberal of the communist states.
The Grand Coalition has made clear that its new Eastern policy is not directed against the Soviet Union nor designed to divide the Warsaw Pact members among themselves. But some difficulties with Moscow are unavoidable. The Soviet leaders, worried by China, are bound to resent Bonn's initiative. And East Germany, determined to frustrate what it regards as a dangerous outflanking man?uvre by West Germany, is proclaiming a kind of Hallstein Doctrine in reverse-no diplomatic relations between communist countries and the Federal Republic without Bonn's full recognition of East Germany. In its fury it is risking isolation even within the "socialist camp." The irony is, of course, that Walter Ulbricht is belatedly assuming the part of a communist mirror-image Adenauer exactly at a time when Bonn is preparing to scrap many of the concepts that guided its conduct toward East Berlin during the past decade.
We come now to the third area in which the Grand Coalition is rethinking and refashioning German policy; it acts here with greater hesitation, perhaps, and less fanfare, but with equal incisiveness. The new point of departure is the frank admission that reunification is not just around the corner. This admission makes an interim policy imperative-a policy which, while not losing sight of the ultimate goal, aims at rendering partition less intolerable. Willy Brandt has announced the revised doctrine, which rests on three axioms:
1. German unity remains our goal, but it is not a goal which we expect to attain in the short run or without contradictory developments.
2. Détente in Europe must embrace détente in Germany. We shall endeavor to exploit to the full all possibilities of intra-German contacts so that the two halves of our people do not grow even further apart from one another.
3. We are striving for a regulated coexistence (geregeltes Nebeneinander) in Germany, such as might be useful to prepare for more comprehensive solutions.
In effect, this means that the doctrine of détente will also be applied to the precarious relationship between the two Germanys. The old idea of isolating East Germany has been dropped, for it was realized that isolation of the régime would inevitably serve to isolate the seventeen million East Germans, too. The new concept calls for coöperative partition instead of antagonistic partition. "We wish to ease the situation, not harden it," said Chancellor Kiesinger. "We wish to bridge the gulfs, not deepen them." To achieve such a moderate and sane policy the government must uproot many deeply ingrained official attitudes. But it is obviously willing to tackle this task without letting itself be unduly handicapped by homemade doctrinal fetters. While the new policy requires the establishment of contacts between West and East German authorities, it is argued, this does not imply any recognition of a second German state, nor the legitimation of the Ulbricht régime. (Possibly this position will be formulated in a "general disclaimer," denying any intent of according recognition and freeing Bonn for any specific action deemed necessary to alleviate Germany's plight.)
The limits of the new concept are clearly indicated. Bonn is prepared, for the time being, to accept the existence of a Communist Germany, but it will not accord it recognition as a separate national entity. For this reason, the Hallstein Doctrine must be expected to remain in force with regard to non-communist countries, especially the emerging states of the Third World, although in future it might be less rigidly applied. On the one hand, East Germany's recognition of, say, an African state need not necessarily imply automatic rupture of diplomatic relations with Bonn; there exist less formal but more damaging punishments. On the other hand, it is quite conceivable that the exchange of trade missions with East Germany will henceforth be looked upon more benevolently.
The Kiesinger-Brandt line has not yet hardened into a detailed program of action. East Berlin in any case is in no mood to match Bonn's new-found realism. It has responded to Bonn's signals with a campaign of hate that seems almost pathological. But the cold warriors in East Berlin are bound to lose friends and influence even in their own camp, and then the moderates will have their say. Once that comes to pass, the road leading toward a détente between the two Germanys will be open.
This will not mean reunification, but a more tolerable state of affairs than what prevails at present. For what ails the Germans is not so much that their nation is divided; it is rather that seventeen million of them have to live under an oppressive régime. If that régime became less oppressive, if it were democratized and liberalized now though remaining communist, partition would be less unbearable than it is now. This has long been one strain of German political thinking. Recently Herbert Wehner, chief Socialist architect of the Grand Coalition and now its Minister of All-German Affairs, went as far as to say that he would not exclude a revision of Bonn's nonrecognition doctrine if East Germany evolved along Austrian lines-(separate but free)-or even on the Jugoslav pattern- (communist but free). It was amazing to see how little uproar these unorthodox views caused. There are, in fact, more and more German politicians who would be prepared to accept the statement that the goal of German policy must be reunification-or else the creation of conditions that make reunification superfluous or at least its absence tolerable.
This is not, of course, official policy-not yet; and neither are a number of the other ideas outlined above. But they are all elements which will go into the making of Germany's future foreign policy. Some of them will no doubt be toned down, others will not. Together, they indicate the general direction which the new departures initiated by the Grand Coalition will take.